Posted in Down syndrome, Down Syndrome Awareness

Blog #181~Iceland and Down syndrome

Blog #181~Iceland and Down syndrome

Last week CBS News ran a story about Down syndrome in Iceland. The CBS report opens like this:
“With the rise of prenatal screening tests across Europe and the United States, the number of babies born with Down syndrome has significantly decreased, but few countries have come as close to eradicating Down syndrome births as Iceland.”

cbsn-oa-agusta

“On 14 August 2017, CBS News ran a segment for their program “CBSN: On Assignment” in which correspondent Elaine Quijano traveled to Iceland to report on that country’s disappearing incidence of Down syndrome. Since prenatal screening tests were introduced in Iceland in the early 2000s, the vast majority of women — close to 100 percent — who received a positive test for Down syndrome terminated their pregnancy.”

To view the story click here:
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/down-syndrome-iceland/

I’m going to throw my two cents in about this news story. This week’s blog is not a debate about a moral decision of whether to choose to have a baby with Down syndrome. It’s not my place to comment if someone decides to terminate a pregnancy for whatever reason.  I can only speak from own experience of having a child with Down syndrome. My son Nick is 23 years old and has Down syndrome and autism.

There are 3 comments that I would like to make regarding this news story:

*1. Expectant parents should first do their research first and get the facts. Doctors often know little about Down syndrome beyond their own medical experience. The delivery of news about the possibility of a baby having Down syndrome is often delivered grimly and with pity. This was the case in my son. I would like to see the medical community and society to become more educated on Down syndrome. When you know the facts, you can make an informed decision that is not based on fear.

Here are a few good places to get the facts about Down syndrome:
http://www.ndss.org/Down-Syndrome/Down-Syndrome-Facts/
http://www.ndsccenter.org/new-and-expectant-parents/
*2. Down syndrome in and of itself, is nothing to fear. Yes, there are health issues associated with Down syndrome. Click here to view: http://www.ndss.org/Resources/Health-Care/Associated-Conditions/

A baby with Down syndrome may take a little longer to reach developmental milestones. But, with early intervention with physical, occupational and speech therapy can guide a baby/child with Down syndrome to hit those marks.  Sometimes, we fear what we don’t know or understand.  When you get educated about the facts, it will help to reduce the fear.

*3. Society needs to see more of what Down syndrome looks like. Persons with Down syndrome are people first! “The Emmy winning A&E show, Born this Way follows a group of seven young adults born with Down syndrome as they pursue their passions and lifelong dreams, explore friendships, romantic relationships and work, all while defying society’s expectations.”  I wish the whole world could have access to this great show! Click here for more information: http://www.aetv.com/shows/born-this-way

btway

Another excellent site I highly recommend is Noah’s Dad!  I’ve had the extreme pleasure of following Noah’s Dad and his journey with his son, who in entering first grade this year. He gives us a view of how full, and rich their lives are having Noah in it. You can find Noah’s Dad-Down Syndrome Awareness on Facebook and at http://noahsdad.com/

You can also follow my son, Nick on Facebook and Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice of Autism, Instagram @nickdsautism and Twitter #tjunnerstall

Nick scuba diving in the Diveheart program……

Diveheart 2013 336

Down syndrome is nothing to be feared once you know the facts, and see what the lives of these wonderful individuals are like. It has been a true privilege being Nick’s mom. He has taught me more about life, and made me a much better person in the process. I couldn’t imagine a world without people like Nick and others, who have Down syndrome.  I’m 100% sure that anyone who has been touched by Nick, would say the same.

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That’s what is in my noggin this week. 🙂
~Teresa

Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Recreation/Leisure and Special Needs, Resources for Special Needs

Blog #84~ Resource Links Related to Down syndrome and Autism

Blog #84~ Resource Links Related to Down syndrome and Autism

Today is President’s Day, so there is no school.  My ability to focus and write is hindered by interruptions from Nick who is making loud mooing noises, pushing the fan button on the microwave, dropping things behind the TV and watching “The Other Guys” while tapping a can of tennis balls against his mouth.  Yes, that’s a slice of  Down syndrome and autism here this morning………

Nick tennis balls

So this week I’ve included my favorite resource links related to Down syndrome and autism:

Down syndrome links:

DSAwarenessMagnet

www.ndss.org  The National Down Syndrome Society is the national advocate for the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome.

www.ndsccenter.org  The country’s oldest national organization for people with Down syndrome, their families and the professionals who work with them.

www.nads.org   NADS is the National Association for Down syndrome and a solid support group in the Chicago area.  There is also more links for dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism here (including a complete list with signs and symptoms for parents wondering if their child has more than just Down syndrome). 

www.gigiplayhouse.org   Down syndrome Awareness Centers all over the Midwest and expanding to New York, NY and Mexico. These centers provide play, fitness and social groups.

www.noahsdad.com   This site is invaluable for parents who have a baby or child with Down syndrome. There is some great information and useful tips and links and positively focused.  It is one of my favorite websites.

www.futureofdowns.com   Run by parents of children with Down’s syndrome.  Covers a wide range of topics regarding babies and children with Down’s syndrome, pregnant and in need of advice on screening and tests or have just received a positive diagnosis following an amnio or CVS.

Autism Links:

autism ribbon

www.facebook.com/autismdiscussionpage  This page was developed by Bill Nason, MS, LLP to discuss tools that help children on the spectrum. This is one of my favorite links related to autism.

www.autismspeaks.org  Autism Speaks provides information and advocacy and good general information and links.

www.autism-society.org  The Autism Society improves the lives of all affected by autism through education, advocacy, services, research and support.

www.tacanow.org  Talk About Curing Autism and has a ton of links and articles along with coffee groups.

www.brianraymondking.com  Brian King teaches his proven methods to individuals and their parents across the country in a private one-on-one format using the latest technology. He  writes a variety of articles, is an author, speaker and trainer  for schools, parents and support groups.

www.bridges4kids.org  Great resources for special needs families. One of my favorite go to sites.

www.myautismteam.com Parents share daily trials, triumphs, questions and recommendations

www.mayer-johnson.com  Boardmaker software for assistive technology/AAC devices

www.teeach.com  Information on TEEACH materials

www.pottytrainingsolutions.com Gathers the most common problems and their solutions to help take the stress out of this major milestone.

www.easterseals.com Easter Seals offers programs, training and equipment for families.

www.specialedadvocacy.org  Advocacy site for parents and teachers

Down syndrome and autism links:

down syndrome and autism intersect

www.nickspecialneeds.com My site which provides information on topics specific to a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism including supports, communication and speech/feeding issues, occupational therapy, behavior/ ABA and much more.

www.ds-asd-connection.org  Offers good information related to a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism.

www.theupsideofdowns.org  Provides support, advocacy and information specific to Down syndrome and autism.

In addition, let me add that there are several Facebook groups directly related to Down syndrome and autism.  These groups are a safe place to share information, ask questions, and share the crazy things that our kids with a dual diagnosis do.  No one in these FB groups would  bat an eye if you posted a picture like this……… (In fact they would hit the like button and add in their own pictures in)…….

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There is help out there right at your finger tips.  Let me know if you have any more to add in.  Thank you for reading and sharing my blog. Now, it’s time to gather up the contents of my purse that Nick decided to dump all over the living room floor.  That’s what is in my noggin this week! 🙂

~Teresa

Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Feeding, Personal Hygiene, Toileting

Blog #67~Dear Abby, Down syndrome and Autism Style

Blog #67~ Dear Abby, Down syndrome and Autism Style…

Dear Abby

Advice Columnist, Dear Abby 🙂

It’s comforting to know that as a parent of a child who has Down syndrome and autism I can click the mouse and find support online. When Nick was born 19 years ago, a nurse handed me a couple of brochures on Down syndrome.  That was it!   This is the vision sustained me after hearing of Nick’s diagnosis of Down syndrome. Thank you, Chris Burke…..Actor, advocate, icon, my rock star!

Chris Burke

Ten years later we would meet Chris in person at the National Down Syndrome Congress convention.  (For more information: http:// www. ndsccenter.org)

My older son, Hank with Chris Burke at the NDSC  Convention……

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There are several groups that I belong to on Facebook. (Just type in “Down syndrome and autism” in the search engine.) These parents are going through many adversities trying to get through the day and night with their kids.  Most are sleep deprived because their children are up all night turning on lights stimming, banging things against the wall, and opening and slamming doors.  I dedicate this week’s blog to these brave warriors who get up weary, reaching for the Visine and Advil to take on another day.

autism and sleep cartoon

Down syndrome and autism support groups are a safe haven to share war stories, tips, get advice, commiserate and laugh.  No one flinches when a parent writes about a walk on the local nature trail, and stopping to go back to their dawdling child.  The 11 year old stood there having just pooped in the middle of the path. What can I say but, it happens.   Topics last week were varied.  One mom needed help on how to explain and guide her daughter about getting her period.  I added a comment about a great book that tackles puberty and body privacy issues called:  “Taking Care of Myself,” by Mary Wrobel.  There were dozens of helpful tips from other parents who had daughters that had dealt with this issue.  Another parent had just given birth to a baby who has Down syndrome.  I was moved by all the support given to this new mom. Here are just a few of the many offered to her:

  • “Go home and bond and love your baby”
  • “Congratulations you have been blessed.”
  • “Get regular checkups and a heart echogram to rule out heart defects.”
  • “Low muscle tone may make it difficult to nurse your child but don’t give up.”
  • “Focus on the baby, not the Down syndrome.”
  • “Go to www.noahsdad.com it has great information presented positively.”
  • “Check out www.futureofdowns.com it has a lot of good information.”

It’s good to know that the struggles of feeding, toileting, hygiene, sleeping, sensory, gross and fine motor issues are felt by so many parents.   For a long time I was alone.  I pulled away from the Down syndrome support groups because I didn’t fit in.  Nick didn’t progress like the kids who just had Down syndrome.  After Nick’s diagnosis of autism I reached out to the Chicago based group, National Down Syndrome Association: http://www.nads.org.  Within NADS, there is a group is called “More than just Down syndrome.”  I found a new home here.  We have a unique bond because these parents get it!

We’ve have been through it all with Nick.  Our days are far from perfect. He still wakes up some nights but at least he isn’t banging the walls or turning on all the lights.  But some things have become easier as he has matured into an adult.  Just yesterday we gave him the best, most cooperative haircut ever!  Miracles do happen. 🙂

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As I wrote about in Blog #66, reaching out to a support group has helped me realize that I am not alone on this path. I’m not the only one who has bent down and had to clean up my child’s poop.  Bless these warrior parents for getting up and fighting the good fight!  That’s what is in my noggin this week!

~Teresa

Posted in Down syndrome

Blog #26~ Down Syndrome Awareness Month!

Down syndrome awareness month

Blog #26~ October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month!

Each October everything turns pink for breast cancer awareness.  Even the NFL players and referees wear pink.  Everything is illuminated including the Tower of London, The White House, Eiffel Tower, Empire State Building and even Rio’s iconic Christ the Redeemer statue is glowing pink.

But did you know that October is also Down syndrome Awareness Month? How much do you know about Down syndrome? Here are a few facts about Down syndrome courtesy of The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS):

  • Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome.
  • There are three types of Down syndrome: trisomy 21 (nondisjunction) accounts for 95% of cases, translocation accounts for about 4% and mosaicism accounts for about 1%.
  • Down syndrome is the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition. One in every 691 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome.
  • There are more than 400,000 people living with Down syndrome in the United States.
  • Down syndrome occurs in people of all races and economic levels.
  • The incidence of births of children with Down syndrome increases with the age of the mother. But due to higher fertility rates in younger women, 80% of children with Down syndrome are born to women under 35 years of age.
  • People with Down syndrome have an increased risk for certain medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems, Alzheimer’s disease, childhood leukemia, and thyroid conditions. Many of these conditions are now treatable, so most people with Down syndrome lead healthy lives.
  • A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm. Every person with Down syndrome is a unique individual and may possess these characteristics to different degrees or not at all.
  • Life expectancy for people with Down syndrome has increased dramatically in recent decades – from 25 in 1983 to 60 today.
  • People with Down syndrome attend school, work and participate in decisions that affect them, and contribute to society in many wonderful ways.
  • All people with Down syndrome experience cognitive delays, but the effect is usually mild to moderate and is not indicative of the many strengths and talents that each individual possesses.
  • Quality educational programs, a stimulating home environment, good health care, and positive support from family, friends and the community enable people with Down syndrome to develop their full potential and lead fulfilling lives.

My boys, Hank and Nick 🙂

Hank Nick 001 (2)

Since this is about awareness, it is important to educate people on the appropriate language that should be used.  People with Down syndrome should always be referred to as people first. Do not say- “a Down syndrome child.” Instead say, “a child with Down syndrome.”  Here are three more improper phrases to avoid are “Down’s child” and describing the condition as “Down’s,” as in, “He has Down’s.”  Finally it should be said “Down” and not “Down’s.”  Down syndrome is named for the English physician John Langdon Down, who characterized the condition, but did not have it.

Down syndrome keep calm

Here are some great links promoting Down syndrome:

* NDSS Buddy Walks take place all over the country raising over 11 million to support local and national programs.

*Times Square jumbotron kicks off with a special Down syndrome awareness video.  Their website is at www.ndss.org.

*The National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC) sponsors their campaign called, “More Alike than Different.”  Check out their website at www.ndsccenter.org.

*Here in the Chicagoland area, the National Association for Down Syndrome (NADS) provides bookmarks and posters that can be distributed in the community to schools, libraries, book stores and businesses.  This group is based in Chicago.  For more information go to  www.nads.org.

*GiGi’s Playhouse is another wonderful group that started in the suburbs of Chicago and has grown to expand around the country. GiGi’s Playhouses are Down syndrome awareness and educational centers that provide resources, specialized teaching, and support to individuals with Down syndrome, their families and the community.  They have a wonderful calendar and notecards available for purchase. More information is at www.gigisplayhouse.org.

*One of my favorite websites is www.noahsdad.com.  Noah is the cutest thing and his dad does a superior job of presenting his son in a positive light.

I hope this week provided some further insight and information about Down syndrome.  That’s what is in my noggin this week.  Most of us have been affected with or by breast cancer in some way.  I hope this month raises awareness and more funding for breast cancer and Down syndrome.  I would love to hear how a person with Down syndrome has touched your life.

My son, Nick rocks that extra chromosome! 🙂

best buddies dance

~Teresa 🙂