Posted in Autism, Down syndrome

Blog #111~ Constant Child

 

Blog #111~ Constant Child

Last Saturday morning, Nick watched the same DVD over and over.  It was a continuous loop of Thomas the Tank Engine’s, “A Big Day for Thomas”.

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Twenty years later I didn’t see myself listening to the dialog, and able to recite every line.  At this rate, there will be no break between Nick watching Thomas and my grandchildren following suit.  I can see it now, Hank Jr. saying, Hey Uncle Nick want to watch Thomas the Tank Engine with me?”  I also didn’t imagine stumbling over plush toys that my son dropped from the second floor.

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I didn’t picture myself scrubbing red marker stains off his clothes at age twenty.

Note to school staff:  Markers + Nick = Skin, and Clothes…….

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This got me thinking, having Nick is like caring for a constant child.  Nick is twenty years old and he has Down syndrome and autism.  He can’t stay at home by himself and requires continuous supervision.  Don’t get me wrong, he has made strides doing much more independently (like unloading the dishwasher, putting away groceries, recycling, vacuuming, etc.).  And he does watch age-appropriate movies and listens to grown-up music on his iPod.

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But at the end of the day, I’m still wiping snot off the flat screen TV and microwave.  Out in public, he can never be more than arm’s length for fear he may take off running, or to pull a fire alarm.

30 Fire Alarm pulls since 3rd grade. Is there a bumper sticker for that?

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I’m not writing this to get sympathy.  I’m simply putting a lens on what the world looks like having a young adult with Down syndrome and autism.  It’s not the end of the world.  But it is a very different world, then I expected.  The stimming, banging, tapping, yelling, dumping, phone intercom and microwave button pushing is constant and mind-numbing at times.  And you never know what he’s going to drop off the top of the staircase.  All I can do is continue working with him to foster independence.  I’ll keep redirecting his inappropriate attention seeking behaviors and have him clean up his messes.

I’ll take Stuart Little and Dora the Explorer over shaving cream any day……

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I will remind myself that the laughter, silliness, sweet kisses and unconditional love of this constant child helps to offset the rest.

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That’s what is in my noggin this week.  Now back to operation red marker removal. 🙂

~Teresa

 

Posted in Autism, Behavior/ ABA, Down syndrome, Fun Side of Nick

Blog #90~Autism Awareness Nick Style

Blog #90~Autism Awareness Nick Style

It’s April which is “Autism Awareness Month”. Believe me I am quite aware of autism. Nick never lets me forget, nor anyone else who is around him. Last week was spring break. My twenty year old son who has Down syndrome and autism was lighting up more than just blue. Here are the highlights…

Day one of spring break:

Nick is pushing every button he can find, microwave and bathroom fans, turning up the TV volume to 99 and finding the one button on the iPod home which blasts Hispanic radio music. It’s going to be a long week. The music is heavily laden with the sounds of trumpets, trombones and accordions. By the way, the radio station is WLEY-FM (107.9 FM La Ley) features a regional Mexican music format focusing on Ranchera.

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Day two of spring break:

It started out with Nick popping up at 6:30am. He came in and pressed the iPod home button to 107.9FM next to my bed as he giggled and let out a big fart. He followed this up with an early screening of “Grown Ups” (volume level 99) and blasting the water faucets. Thankfully Lara, his respite worker took him to see the new Muppets movie and out to lunch. That afternoon, he crawled into bed with his DVD player wearing his blue sunglasses. The “Grown Ups” movie may get deep sixed before this week is over.

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Day three of spring break:

I got a 5:15am wakeup call from Nick, (mind you on any school day I have to throw a stick of dynamite in his bed to wake him up). I put him back to bed and managed to sleep in until 7:30am. Morning coffee time was drowned in you guessed it another showing of the movie, “Grown Ups”. All day long nothing but yelling, tennis ball can tapping, and microwave/ phone intercom button pushing. In between those antics, Nick would run upstairs to push the iPod to 107.9. Viva Nick! The noise can be mind numbing, not to mention the snot rockets he blows and wipes across the flat screen TV. Today is “World Autism Awareness Day”. Believe me I am well aware of it.

Day four of spring break:

It’s cold and rainy, but at least he slept in until 7:30am. Nick watched movies with his respite worker while I went in to teach stability ball and step classes. He was even sillier today, must be the cabin fever. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Silly guy 🙂 …..

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His favorite dumping spot, behind the flat screen TV.  Good news, I found my shoes….

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Poor Stuart Little…..

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Day five of spring break:

It’s my day off from teaching and thankfully Nick slept in until 9:00am so I was able to enjoy my first cup of coffee in peace.  He was pretty good today, with the exception of a few button pushes, blasting 107.9 and flicking the bathroom light on and off while I showered. It was cold and blustery so we bundled up and headed out to Taco Bell.

Nick loaded up with stims……

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He was so excited when we got there. Just one problem, the ice machine wasn’t working. Nick stood there pushing the ice button to no avail for several minutes. He wouldn’t budge. One thing about autism, any change in routine is a possible trigger to set him off.

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I finally got the attention of a worker who was able to fill up our cups with ice behind the counter. Meltdown, deflected….. whew!

Day six of spring break:

Hallelujah, Nick slept in until 10:00am! Thankfully he chose to watch a different movie…….

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I took him out to eat at Burger King. We usually go out later around 1:30pm to avoid the lunch crowds and curious stares. I couldn’t believe it, when we walked up to the drink station guess what? They were out of Sprite…. are you F’ing kidding me?

Nooooooooooooooo…….

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I asked Nick if he wanted Coke or Minute Maid Lemonade. He screamed and pinched his cheeks hard. We made it to the table but he wouldn’t eat.  He kept clutching and pulling at his cheeks.  Finally, he started to eat his fries but wouldn’t touch his drink. “Nick, want to drink your Coke?”   He let out a big yell. Another couple whipped their heads around staring at us. I smiled and said, “That’s autism, isn’t it nice?” After eating all his fries and chicken tenders he finally took a sip of his drink and let out a burp and a smile. Whew, meltdown avoided. This calls for some ice cream…..

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The sun came out and the temps were warming up close to 50 degrees, so we took a walk in the park.  It was a nice, peaceful ending to a long week.

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It’s not all noise, pranks and chaos with Nick. He does sugar coat things with his smile, hugs, kisses, snuggles and elbow bumps. I’ve come to appreciate his creativity and sense of humor that keeps me on my toes. Hope you enjoyed my installments of autism awareness, Nick style. That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa