Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Fun Side of Nick

Blog #151~OBX Vacation

Blog #151~OBX Vacation

What is OBX?  It’s an acronym for the Outer Banks.  OBX is a 130-mile stretch of barrier islands just off the coast of North Carolina. Along this coastline you will find quaint towns, sleepy fishing villages, lighthouses and a beautiful coastline lined with dunes covered in sea oats.

Sea Oats

OBX lighthouses

It’s the place to go and unwind, let go of worries, and relax.  The biggest decisions for me would be which swimsuit to put on along with what book and cold beverage to have in my hand.

OBX signs

For the past six years, our destination has been Duck, NC.  My son Nick, is 22 years old and has Down syndrome and autism.  He absolutely loves to come here.  Vacations and travelling can be tough on our kids with special needs.  Having a regular vacation spot gives Nick predictability. This in turn makes him feel secure, thus keeping his anxiety level down.  New environments and being out of a routine can be tough for a person with special needs; especially autism.  Anxiety can lead to serious meltdowns.  We are fortunate to be able to return here to Nick’s Uncle and Aunt’s beach house. A place where Nick feels at home.

Nick and Uncle Ron at the crows nest…..

Nick and Ron OBX

Nick is comfortable in their house and helps out by vacuuming and unloading the dishwasher.  He loves swimming in the pool and soaking in the hot tub.

Nick with his “stim” of choice, the tappers.  My beverage of choice; a Lime-A-Rita 🙂

Nick pool obx

Sensory issues related to autism can be another challenge on vacations.  Nick struggles with the texture and unevenness of sand as well as extreme heat.  It can be hit or miss getting him to even walk out to the beach.  The weather conditions were just right this year, with mild 80 degree temps and a nice breeze to cut the heat.  He did well hanging with us all on the beach a few times.  He even dipped his toes in the surf; success!

Nick Beach OBX

The dynamic was different this year.  We missed some family members including Nick’s grandparents, his brother and cousin.  Health issues, a new job out of college and a summer internship kept them from coming.  We missed having everyone together, along with the laughs and good times we’ve shared over the years here.

Nick and his brother Hank, OBX 2011

Nick and his brother, Hank at the Outer Banks, NC

OBX 2011

OBX Family 2011

OBX is where we let the stress fade as the waves washed away worries.  We each find our ways to unplug; whether it’s fishing, biking, tennis, manicures, massages, swimming, sunbathing and cracking open a good summer read.

My book of choice, following the extraordinary journey of retired Secret Service Agent, Clint Hill with five Presidents.  I highly recommend reading Five Presidents (#1 New York Times Best Selling Authors, Clint Hill with Lisa McCubbin)….

Five Presidents

The book is finished on OBX vacation, 2016.  Nick enjoyed his time there and still seems very happy.  We will take back some great memories, new tan lines and a good feeling of being restored.  That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa

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Posted in Down syndrome, Fun Side of Nick

Vacation and Special Needs Child

Vacation and Special Needs Child

Last week, Nick put together this task strip.  I think he is ready to go on our annual vacation to the Outer Banks, NC (OBX)!

OBX Task Strip

We have been going to the Outer Banks for the past 5 years. Nick loves the water.  It’s not easy getting a child with special needs to swim independently.  Nick is now 21 and has Down syndrome and autism.  Here’s some information on how he learned how to swim and why we love the beach so much@https://nickspecialneeds.wordpress.com/2012/08/13/blog-17-lifes-a-beach/

I hope that you all find your happy place and get to relax this summer.  I know Nick is ready to go!  That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa 🙂

 

Posted in Down syndrome, Recreation/Leisure and Special Needs

Blog #17~ Life’s a Beach

Blog #17~ Life’s a Beach*

Drip, drip drip… Last Wednesday morning we were met with nothing but grey skies and the sea blending as one. It put a damper on the day in which we just wanted to bask in the sun and splash in the water. The rain tried to beat down our souls.  But all we had to do was crack open the patio door and hear the waves.  There is something about the ocean that energizes and grounds me all at once. Here is a favorite quote of mine…..

Why do we love the sea? It is because it has some potent power to make us think things we like to think. -Robert Henri

What is it about being by the water that awakens a person?  For as long as I can remember, Nick has loved the water. Nick is 18 and has Down syndrome and autism.

Nick age 5 with his Dad, Al……

Too Cool, by the pool, Nick age 14 at the NADS Behavior Retreat….

Nick heading to swim class at MVHS….

The thought of getting Nick to actually learn to swim seemed impossible.   I enrolled him in lessons with the special recreation department where we met Mary who had been teaching for over 30 years.  She had a no nonsense approach and Nick knew she meant business.  About 5 years ago she got him to go underwater and dive for pool toys.  Seeing Nick swimming was amazing.  He looked like all the other kids in the pool. No longer was he the boy that sat in the shallow end stimming with a cup.

A few years later I started private lessons in her backyard pool out in Batavia.  Her task was to coordinate the arms and legs together. Mary put flippers on Nick and suddenly he could feel the kicking sensation that propelled him faster across the pool.

The following summer he was syncing up the movement without the flippers and heading into the deep end.  It was magical!  His technical skills are far from Michael Phelps, but he can do a mean doggie paddle.  Most importantly, he can make it across the pool without sinking.

No flippers or flotation devices….Go Nick!

This is our third year to go to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, (simply as OBX here.)  It is a crazy strip of land known as a sandbar that rose above sea level.  Just turn the knob to Bob, radio 93.3 and chill.

OBX Beach time 2011~Hank, Sam and Nick…..

The house we stayed at has a private pool and the beach access. Nick isn’t crazy about the texture of sand, but we continue to push him out of his comfort zone.  It is important to get him out in the world.  If we don’t then his world and ours will become too narrow.

Here is a bird’s eye view much in the movie “Rear Window” of our back yard here in the OBX….

A walk down the beaches of the Outer Banks is a greeting of many characters.  Floppy hat ladies in low slung chairs reading books. I wonder how many are reading Fifty Shades of Grey (or as my writer friend, Marcia F. calls it “Mommy Porn.”) A glance to the ocean you find the sporty types throwing Frisbees, footballs or out on the water kayaking, paddle boarding, body surfing and skim boarding.  Joggers dot the edges of the shoreline in varied stages of serious (with headphones and shoes) and casual barefoot walkers simply taking in the day.   Sandpipers scamper across the sand and ghost grabs burrow and pop up from time to time.  Gulls and pelicans glide across sky in seemingly perfect formation. Umbrellas act like rainbows adding pops of color across the coastline and the fisherman patiently wait for the catch of the day.

Al with Ron, my brother in law, his happy place….

The Outer Banks may be a narrow strip of beach but it offers up a large slice of chill time that brings families together and fills up the photo album with wonderful memories.  I love this beach quote!

 “Our memories of the ocean will linger on, long after our footprints in the sand are gone.” –Anonymous 

The sun did come back out.  I sat on the beach thinking about life.  It isn’t always smooth as when the full moon casted its glow over the quiet waters the night before.  The waves can get rough when navigating a child with special needs. Especially during vacations, when they are out of their element. But I am not going to let my world with Nick close in on me.  Like the ocean that has no boundaries I plan to keep pushing out to the horizon. That is what is in my noggin this week.  Until next Monday, may your life be a beach!

~Teresa

*There is no direct origin for this phrase “Life’s a Beach. But Word Reference.com says this about the quote, “Although the expression ‘life’s a beach’ may have originated as a pun for ‘life’s a bitch’, it’s also a statement on it’s own, that life is not a bitch at all, rather, life’s a beach. It signifies that the wearer views life as a pleasant beach – sun, surf, relaxation…