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 🙂

Posted in Autism, Behavior/ ABA, Speech and Occupational Therapy

Blog #20~ Is That Age Appropriate?

Blog #20~ Is That Age Appropriate?

Yesterday, I ordered Nick’s senior portraits online with the sound of Thomas the Tank Engine in the background. Sometimes it feels like I am living with a perpetual three year old. It got me thinking about some of the toys, music, and DVD’s we have weaned him off of in order for him to be more age appropriate. Yes, he is still drawn to some of that stuff.  Last week, we were in the waiting room at speech therapy and Nick grabbed up a Fisher Price musical toy. A couple of four and five year olds looked at him oddly as he towered over them swaying side to side to the song Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star which blared out of the toy with blinking lights. That is Nick’s idea of heaven. I had a flashback to seventeen years ago of the special needs support group meeting back when we lived in Houston.  The guest speaker was a mother of an eighteen year old who had Down syndrome.  I still remember her words in that sweet Texas accent, “What looks cute at age three is not going to be at age thirteen. She was right, I get that now. I asked him to give me the music toy so he could go in with his therapist, Brian. Suddenly he let out two words clear as a bell…..”Oh shit”…. now THAT was age appropriate.

I spent a lot of time over the years researching toys and activities that would enhance Nick’s development. There are several resources listed on my website.  Just the other day I stumbled upon a great site for age appropriate activities broken down in age groups.  Check it out at http://life.familyeducation.com/child-development/activities/63988.html.    One of my favorite bloggers is Noah’s Dad, he has his finger on the pulse regarding young babies and children with Down syndrome, check him out at: http://noahsdad.com.  He offers a wealth of information, links for great toys for younger kids and Noah is absolutely the cutest thing. One more note regarding age appropriateness for our kids with special needs, take pause in what the age level of manufacturer’s label states. It’s important to look at the developmental age of the child.  For instance, if the child is ten years old and functioning like a six year old, it would be wiser to pick a toy that fits their functional ability. Bottom line, you want your child with special needs to enjoy the toy and not be frustrated.  Autism and frustration is never a good mix!

As a mom, you want your child to fit in.  I can’t control the behaviors of my son that make him stand out in public (hand flapping, rocking, and loud noises that sound like a baby calf mooing.) But I can make sure he is dressed stylish and that he won’t be walking around with a baby toy that will make him stick out even more than he already does. In addition we ditched the Dynavox (aka “The Brick”)  that was his speech output device.  It was too big, bulky and not functional out in the real world. It has been replaced with an iPod touch chat program.

The old school CD player with nursery songs is long gone too…….

Nick had his own playlist at age 5…..

Look at that yoga boy…. so bendy 🙂

So here is the current state of Nick and trying to keep the cool factor going…..

Nick’s iPod playlist= It’s everything from Lady GaGa to LMFAO and in between including some gangsta rap that his brother, Hank got him hooked on.

Nick’s top movie picks= Mrs. Doubtfire, Little Man, Cats and Dogs, Stuart Little, Babe, and Cat in the Hat.  But he really digs anything with Eddie Murphy- Dr. Doolittle, The Nutty Professor and Norbit! 🙂

While I think Nick would be perfectly happy staying with the kiddie stuff, I have this longing for normal.  I wish he could play Wii/ X-Box video games and Angry Birds like other teenagers.  But that is my dream not his.  I have to remind myself to find a balance.  I need to remember the things that bring him happiness, resonate and connect the “dots” for him. Much like that furry, stuffed animal or blankie we hold onto from childhood, Nick still longs for some of those simple toys and watching Thomas the Tank engine every once in a while to make him feel secure. At home we allow it. He is safe with his friends Thomas and Harold the Helicopter.

 Today, naughty Harold made the cat’s head his landing strip, flipped the light switch repeatedly…hardy har har… and proceeded with some “*Tomfoolery”  at the stovetop….  

Soar high Harold……he rocks Nick’s world 🙂

Age appropriate no, but sometimes it’s kind of fun to not act your age.  That’s what’s in my noggin, until next week have a great Labor Day my friends.

~Teresa

*According to Randomhouse.com *Tomfoolery is foolish or silly behavior. A tomfool was originally Tom Fool, with Tom, a nickname from Thomas, being a stereotypical male given name. Tom Fool is thus a sort of fourteenth-century equivalent of our modern Joe Cool. As a (fictitious) proper name, Tom Fool is first recorded in the fourteenth century; a sense ‘a person who plays the part of a fool in various dramas; buffoon’ appears by the seventeenth century. The generic sense ‘a foolish person’ is first recorded in the early eighteenth century.