Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Fun Side of Nick

Happy Labor Day

Happy Labor Day

Happy Labor Day

I hope everyone is having a nice, relaxing Labor Day weekend.  I’m taking the day off and will press a new blog next week.  Until then, if you haven’t read “Stuff On My Cat, Part II”, kick your feet up and enjoy @

~Teresa 🙂

Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Fun Side of Nick

Blog #106~ Pets and Children with Special Needs

Blog #106~ Pets and Children with Special Needs

Having a pet in the home can be beneficial for a child with special needs. Pets can boost mental and physical health, alleviate stress, be soothing and reduce anxiety. For a child with special needs, a pet provides unconditional love and affection along with helping a child become more social. In addition, having a pet in the home can teach responsibility and empathy. Feeding and caring for a pet allows a child to shift the focus to a pet’s needs. 

I witnessed this first hand with Nick. My 20 year old son has Down syndrome and autism.  His speech is limited. He uses a  picture book to communicate his wants, needs and feelings. On several occasions he has handed me these two icons:

This is our cat Miss Mellie of 17 years that passed away…..

Mellie Sad Icons

For as long as I can remember, there has been a tabby cat in my life.

Me with Tiger back in the late 70’s……

Tiger and T

When Nick was first born, we took him to get screened for the early intervention program. One of the questions they asked was, “What other family members were there?” They were pleased to hear this included an older brother and a cat. Both of them would help Nick become alert and engaged in the world. His brother could shake toys to get him to look up. A cat with a bell on his collar would also get Nick’s attention. Each time he would look up it would strengthen his neck and trunk. This in turn, helped to fight the low muscle tone associated with having Down syndrome.

Nick, Hank and Woody our cat….. (You can see Nick’s low muscle tone as he is propped up against his brother)

Woody and the boys

Woody was my faithful friend since college and lived to be 17.  Several months later, we adopted Miss Mellie. You can read all about Nick and Miss Mellie’s relationship in the archives under the category, “The Fun Side of Nick”.

Nick thought she made a great task strip for his PECS icons…..

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Now,  we are in a new chapter having recently adopted a new kitten from the shelter.  For more information click@…needs-families   She has been here for a few weeks and is settling in well.

We decided to name her Kibbie……


Kibbie is a 5 month old tabby.  At first she was jumpy when Nick made his loud noises. But like the rest of us, those stimming sounds and yells are becoming white noise to Kibbie as well. (Well for the most part) 🙂  I am working on getting Nick to dangle the wands and throw cat toys for her to fetch.  He is also serving her food dish each evening.  My heart swells when Nick plants kisses on her head.  I posted a video last Friday on the Facebook Page (Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism).  There is also a video of the kitten playing fetch posted the week before.

It looks like the two of them are getting along nicely……… (yes we like taking sleeping photos in my family)

Kibbie and Nick

According to Brain Balance Centers, (, “The right family-friendly pet may be just what your child needs to better cope with daily stressors and other overwhelming sources of stimulation. Owning a pet may help ease these daily anxieties and help to better facilitate socialization and understanding. It may also benefit a child who struggles with sensory, social or behavioral issues.”  I look forward to sharing the new adventures of Nick and Kibbie with you.  Stay tuned for this and most likely a third installment of “Stuff On My Cat”.  Thank you for reading and sharing Nick’s world (and humoring me when I write about cats).  That’s what is in my noggin this week. 🙂



Posted in Autism, Fun Side of Nick

Blog #63~Furry Family Members

Blog #63~Furry Family Members

It is with great sadness that I begin this piece by telling you that our cat of 17 years has passed away.  She has been such a part of our family history and will be dearly missed.

I posted this picture on Facebook last Saturday and received so many thoughtful sentiments.  I often post pictures and updates about Miss Mellie.  It appears she had quite a following……..

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I loved her from afar.”

“She warmed the hearts of many of us on Facebook too.”

“Miss Mellie stories have been endearing and a bright spot in my week.”

“We take in theses wonderful animals, love them, take care of them and they become part of our family. Part of our daily routine, part of our home and part of our life. When they are gone it is like an emptiness that is hard to explain to someone who doesn’t have a pet. But those of us who do…we understand your pain and wish we could help you. miss seeing her face.”

“So sad, I will miss the Mellie stories.”

“Oh, I am so sorry. A furry loss is a tough one.”

Our son, Nick who has Down syndrome and autism had a lot of fun with Miss Mellie over the years.  If you are a regular follower of the blog you know about a lot of the pranks he has pulled on her.  Nick’s antics have given me enough material to write two blogs, Stuff on My Cat (Blog #33 located in the December 2012 archives) and Stuff on My Cat, Part II (located in the July 2013 archives.)  Here are the last two things he put on our sweet, gray tabby 🙂

Oh no, looks like Miss Mellie is getting some deep pressure with the therapy ball….

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Nick thought she might enjoy some music, rock on kitty……

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Harold makes a rough landing into the cat food.  Hardy har har, Nick 🙂

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On our cross country move from Livermore, California here to the Chicagoland area we stopped for the night in Reno. Six year old Nick decided to do a little “Magic Mike” action for Miss Mellie.  I don’t think she was too impressed……..


A sweet moment between Nick and our cat. By the way, he hasn’t handed me the icon picture of her out of his PECS communication book yet.  But I know he will soon.  That moment will be a tearful one for me 😦

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She shared so much love with our family and friends. She adored being in Hank’s arms and seem to comfortably nestle there……

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Snuggled in with Al, she was a good lap cat…..


She insisted on being on my lap, helping me to write 🙂

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I will miss so many things about our cat like how she follows the sun beams throughout the day and running into the kitchen whenever she heard the can opener, tuna!…….

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How she parked herself in front of the fireplace during the winter months waiting for  the hearth to be prepared for her……

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Most of all I will miss our lap time together, the sound of her purring, her warmth and the love that she gave all of us. Thank you KB (my cat loving friend), for framing this picture and giving it to me last Christmas.  I will cherish it always…….


A younger and heavier Mellie that my sister, Laura gave me… Aaahh she’s so cute…..

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My friend Jimmie P. shared this quote on my Facebook wall…..

There has never been a cat who couldn’t calm me down by walking slowly past my chair.”
~Rod McCuan

That’s what is in my noggin this week.  Rest in peace, Miss Mellie.


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Posted in Autism, Fun Side of Nick

Blog #61~Stuff On My Cat Part II

Blog #61~ Stuff on my Cat Part II

Stuff + Cats= Awesome

stuff on my cat book

That’s the motto for the internet phenomenon called “Stuff on my cat.”  Here’s what Amazon wrote about this book by Mario Garza:

“It began with a handful of digital photographs of office supplies, toys, and spare computer parts thoughtfully placed on Mario Garza’s snoozing cat, Love. Over time, the objects became bigger: remote controls, shoes, empty pizza boxes. And then cat owners everywhere were sucked into the Internet phenomenon that is defined by a simple motto: stuff + cats = awesome.  Culled from the thousands of outrageous photographs submitted by mischievous animal lovers, here are 200 of the most unbelievably entertaining images of cats with all manner of things on them: wigs, Easter eggs, dogs, cheeseburgers, cookware, gummi bears, action figures, tiaras, beer cans, pinecones, a statue of the Buddha, and much more. An introduction by the site’s creator explains the Stuff on My Cat philosophy, and playful illustrations and graphics are sprinkled throughout.”

In Blog #33~Stuff On My Cat (located in the December 2012 Archives), I wrote and shared numerous pictures of random objects we put on our cats over the years.  Why do we do this?  I have to embrace Mario Garza’s philosophy to answer this one.  Our cats rule the house.  Sleeping all day long wherever the sun radiates, claiming the fresh, warm laundry as their “personal paradise” and plopping on your lap even if you just want to sit down for a second.

God forbid you disturb them.  I have to contort my legs with bizarre yoga moves  slinking out of bed so as not to disturb her slumber. She wields her power at 5:00 a.m. letting out piercing cries and meows that sound as if you haven’t fed her in a week.  So, why put stuff on our cats?  Mario Garza is right on his philosophy:  “There is a very satisfying shift of power going on.  Now I’m in control when I sneak up behind her while she naps and put a pancake on top of her head-checkmate.” 🙂

Check out a few from the website……

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stuff on cat with cig

stuff on my cat glasses

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Nick loves to do this too,  he is 19 and has Down syndrome and autism.  Here are some of the stunts he’s pulled on our 16+ year old  tabby……..

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Mellie has some company, Nick’s plush animals and a Taco Bell dog….

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Another deluge of toys along with a package of microwave popcorn…..

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Mellie is trying to relax in her 1:00 p.m. sun spot.  Nick had other ideas his PECS icons, (Picture Exchange System.) I think he was communicating that he missed his brother, Hank and friend/respite worker, Bobby……

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Apparently Nick thinks Mellie is expecting an important call…. 🙂

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More fun with PECS icons….Nick mapped out his agenda last Friday…….

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“Oh Kitty, go get me some Sprite please!”

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I get a kick out of how creative Nick is and appreciate his mischievous side.  Here is one of Nick who had been “stimming” (a trait of autism) with my makeup mirror. He fell asleep next to the cat who had melded herself to a warm towel out of  the dryer…… apparently the cat doesn’t hold a grudge….. 🙂


Speaking of being mischievous, here are a couple I did.  Oh I just can’t resist every once in awhile…. hee, hee, hee…… 🙂

Cinco de Mayo Mellie….. Ole!

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“The Graduate”

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Hope you enjoyed the second installment of stuff on my cat.  Next week I will get back to part two of “Wandering and Autism”.  Sometimes its fun to be mischievous. That’s what is in my noggin this week, meow!

~Teresa 🙂



Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Fun Side of Nick

Blog #33~ Stuff on my Cat

Blog #33~ Stuff on my Cat

December is such a crazy, busy month so I am going to keep the posts light and quick.  I have yet to talk about one important member of the family.  That is Miss Mellie, our 16 year grey tabby.  She has a rough life following the sun coming into the house and basking in the glow……

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When she’s not soaking up the rays she is usually on somebody’s lap.  Here she is not quite a year old with Hank, age 4……


When the boys were toddlers I had an orange tabby named Woody who lived to the ripe old age of 17.  Woody didn’t have much to do with the boys. Note Nick again leaning on his brother.  You can see his low muscle tone which is a characteristic of Down syndrome…


My sister, Laura pointed out a great website called “Stuff on my Cat” a few years back.  This site is a hoot, check it out at

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For as long as I can remember we have been putting random things on our cats.  By the way cat lovers, they also have a book and calendar too. We’ve had a lot of fun with this.  So have Hank and Nick!

Hank put a toy cowboy hat on top of Miss Mellie. Howdy partner…… 🙂


Then he put a Superman cape on my sister’s cat, Paco……It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no its Super Cat!


Nick has followed suit with putting stuff on our cat… not always to Miss Mellie’s liking.  He likes to give her love pats and he thinks it’s hilarious to sneeze on her too.  Nick has Down syndrome and autism.

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Poor Mellie has fallen victim to some of Nick’s dumping (Blog #3 Getting your Goat has the complete list of dumps!)  Let’s see…. baby powder, fajita seasoning, PEC icons, then splat…. Head and Shoulders shampoo….

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Nick thought that was so cool he gave himself a couple of dollops…… 🙂

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Here kitty, hope you enjoy one of my stim toys…..

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Who needs a Velcro strip, Nick just uses the cat…..

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If there are no other laps available she will get desperate and settle for Nick.


Mellie is pretty lazy but there are two things she will jump up for.  The sound of the can opener sends her sprinting to the kitchen.  “Oh yes it must be tuna!”

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The other is the dryer door closing.  That means warm laundry and maybe a dryer sheet on her head………

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Meow to the Easter Kitty…..

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Mellie stoned on Christmas cat nip…..




She seems to be doing well despite the stuff we put on her.  That’s what is in my noggin this week.  Until next Monday may you take time during the holiday hustle and bustle to enjoy what makes you happy like a good cozy lap!


Meow….. 🙂