Posted in Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Independent living skills, Parenting Special Needs

Blog #251~ DS-ASD: Independent Living Skills at Home

Blog #251~DS-ASD: Independent Living Skills at Home

As a parent, teacher and caregiver, how do you help a child reach their full potential and become as independent as possible? I am a parent of a 29 year old son who has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD). I work daily with my son Nick, on how to be responsible and do things independently. This gives him a sense of accomplishment and belonging. Last week’s blog focused on how to teach skills and jobs you can introduce in the kitchen. Click here to view: https://wp.me/p2ke99-3aS

This week, I have a full list of jobs for the kitchen, laundry and around the main floor living area.

Home Management Skills:

  • Cleaning up toys, putting away in bin/basket
  • Sweeping/ mopping the floor
  • Vacuuming the floor
  • Dust furniture
  • Throwing away items in the trash
  • Taking out the trash
  • Empty out recyclables and can crushing
  • Taking garbage and recycle bins to the curb
  • Picking up the mail
  • Wiping off countertops and windows
  • Set the table
  • Assist with meal planning, food preparation and making choices of food and snacks
  • Washing dishes
  • Loading and unloading the dishwasher
  • Feed pets
  • Put dirty clothes in the hamper
  • Carry and load laundry into washer and dryer
  • Folding clothes
  • Put away clothes
  • Hang up coats
  • Making the bed
  • Bring in and put away groceries
  • Water plants

In last week’s blog I mentioned the that these jobs didn’t happen overnight. We have built on these for many years. I suggest you start small and use lots of praise and rewards. Over the years we have modeled the jobs ourselves, used visuals, and video modeling to teach these tasks. It can be very beneficial to work with a BCBA behaviorist who can help you target skills, by meeting the child where they are at, breaking down the task and using the hand over hand technique as well as point prompts to support the child.

These home management skills will help to build self-esteem, along with a sense of ownership and belonging. Building a skill set of independence will give your child housing options when they become an adult. The next blog will move into the bathroom and include some personal hygiene skills. We hope that you feel inspired as a parent, teacher or caregiver to help your child to reach their full potential.

That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa ūüôā

For more information on navigating co-occurring DS-ASD. Click here to order: https://amzn.to/2W3Un6X

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Posted in Behavior/ ABA, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Independent living skills, Parenting Special Needs

Blog #250~DS-ASD:Teaching Independent Living Skills

Blog #250~DS-ASD: Teaching Independent Living Skills

The ultimate goal for parents, teachers and caregivers is to help the child reach their full potential and become as independent as possible. I am a parent to a soon to be 29 year old son who has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD). I strive and struggle daily to help my son Nick, but also coach and encourage and other families by offering strategies to assist their children. Independent living skills teach kids how to be responsible and give a sense of accomplishment. How do you start teaching these skills? That’s what I want to focus on for this week’s blog and it’s also a goal that I set for myself and Nick this year.

5 Tips for teaching independent living skills:

*Meet the child where they are at and build activities around their strengths

*Use visual schedules, task strips, token boards, modeling/video modeling, point prompts and hand over hand techniques

*Start with a preferred activity and include fun tasks

*Focus on one area or task at a time and build from there

*Use a highly preferred reinforcer that is motivating to your child

The first thing to do when starting to teach a skill is to identify an activity or task. Then, you want to meet the child where they are at according to their skill level. It’s helpful to pick something that you can build around the child’s strengths. My son Nick is very good at matching and knowing where things belong. He’s always had a keen eye and we play upon this strength. It helps to focus on one area of the house at a time. Let’s start with the kitchen, what tasks could your child do?

Kitchen Task Ideas:

*Help load or unload the dishwasher/ wash and dry dishes

*Wipe down countertops and windows

*Sweep and mop floor

*Feeding pets

*Help with garbage and recycling/ can crushing

*Set the table

*Assist in meal preparation and making choices of food and snacks

*Sweep and mop floor

*Put away groceries

Using visuals can help the child make choices and understand the steps involved by breaking down the task. Schedules and token boards give the child a clear beginning and end to what is expected and provide predictability. Task strips like the one below help to break down the activity into smaller steps:

Nick’s kitchen tasks includes unloading groceries and the dishwasher and emptying the recycling container to the outdoor bin. When the weather permits, he helps push the garbage and recycling bins to the curb. This is followed by a highly preferred reward= Sprite. Nick also helps with meal prep and wiping the countertops down. He takes great pride in his jobs and this gives him a sense of accomplishment.

These jobs didn’t happen overnight. Over the years we’ve used visuals to teach tasks but also modeling/ video models, using the hand over hand technique and fading back to point prompts. It can be a a lot of frontloaded work getting started and teaching your child. Working with a BCBA behaviorist can be very beneficial in identifying target behaviors and building the skill set to complete living skills independently.

This blog will be the first of many to focus on teaching independent living skills around the house. Nick and I will take you through one room at a time. Our goal and passion is to make this road of a dual diagnosis easier for other families. We also want to inspire you as a parent, teacher or caregiver to help your child reach their full potential.

That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa ūüôā

For more information on navigating co-occurring DS-ASD in my book. Click here to order: https://amzn.to/2W3Un6X

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

Nick’s World Update

¬†Nick’s World Update

Have you settled into 2017 yet, after the busy holiday season?¬†¬†I’m so¬†happy to be back to share Nick’s world with you!¬† Nick is 22 years old, and has Down syndrome and autism.¬† Here are some of the highlights of Big Guy’s holiday fun.

We spent the holidays at home,¬†here in Chicago. Nick enjoyed seeing family.¬† He’s always happy to see his brother, Hank and share elbow bumps!

nick-and-bro-x-mas

Kibbie¬†had a very “Meowy Christmas”¬†ūüôā

kibbie-stockings

Nick was excited to get a new iPad mini.  The new Big Grip case for the iPad mini is called the Big Grip Tweener.  It is much slimmer, more age appropriate in design, and best of all still protects as well as the original Big Grip case.

big-grip-tweener

Nick¬†relishes a nice reflective bag¬†almost as much,¬†as his new iPad mini ūüôā

nick-red-bag

Over the holidays, we entertained family and friends.  Nick is use to a certain schedule in the evenings.  It can be tricky to get him to stretch out the time, once the sun goes down. He was very patient and social during happy hour, and a leisurely dinner.  Inevitably, once the meal is over, he wastes no time.  He springs up, grabs his Little Debbie snack cakes and evening meds, then sets them on the kitchen island.  After dessert, he will beeline upstairs, strips off his clothes and is ready for a shower.

beelinne-pic

At the family gathering,¬† we tried stalling¬†him while the¬†desserts were being passed and the coffee was brewing.¬† I made the mistake of¬†setting the¬†Swiss Cake Rolls¬†and meds off¬†to the side for just¬†a few more minutes.¬† Nick would have no part of this, and let it be known.¬† He took his iPad mini and¬†did a huge karate chop right into the……

nick-pumpkin-pie

Nick was done!¬† We deflected the incident with an “uh-oh” comment and swiftly got his snack cakes¬†back, to avoid a meltdown.¬† Sometimes, you have to compromise on your holiday schedule, and respect your child’s need¬†to keep¬†a consistent routine.

After the holidays, Al and I went on¬†his company’s year in trip incentive¬†to Costa Rica.¬† Nick was in very good hands with his respite care giver, Jodi. There was a good amount of¬†logistics to do¬†when leaving your child with a caregiver.¬† We put together temporary custody, child care and medical authorization agreements along with a detailed schedule.¬† In addition,¬† I prepared a social story so that he could see the change in routine and his schedule.¬† Here it is in part, below.¬† Social stories help to give the blueprint for understanding schedules and what each day will bring.¬† For more on using visual schedules,¬†check out¬†my last post,¬†Blog #164~Why Use a¬†Visual Schedule?

costa-rica-social-story

Nick had so much fun with Jodi going out to eat and hanging out at home. His other respite care giver, Miss R. also took him out over the weekend. We are blessed to have such caring, capable, and patient women to take such great care of Nick.

Want more pictures and videos of Nick?  Check out our social media sites. Follow Nick: Facebook @Down syndrome With a Slice of Autism, Instagram  #nickdsautism, Twitter @ #tjunnerstall

nick-taco-bell-new

All in all, the holidays and extended vacation afterwards went smoothly,  with only a dented pumpkin pie, and a few more attention seeking behaviors.  Most of these included higher incidences of dropping/ throwing things, turning water faucets on, and peeing on the floor next to the toilet.  Those behaviors are to be expected with busy holiday meal and house preparations,  a house full of company, and changes in routine.

Oh, one more thing, Nick managed to pull another fire alarm on ¬†Friday the 13th. That is,¬†the¬†ultimate attention seeking behavior!¬† Tally count is now at 43 pulls since third grade.¬†Hey, it’s Nick’s world, the rest of us are just trying to keep up.

Here’s to getting back to a regular routine and settling into 2017.¬† That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa

 

 

 

Posted in Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), Autism, Down syndrome

Blog #114~SETT in Motion

Blog #114~SETT in Motion

Last week, I wrote about the process of a SETT meeting.  Recently, we did a SETT meeting at Nick’s school to re-evaluate the device he uses to communicate with. This is called an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Device. Nick is 21 years old and has Down syndrome and autism.  The SETT meeting allows for team members to provide their unique perspectives of Nick.  The members included:

*Support teacher/Case Manager

*Speech and Occupational therapists

*Teaching assistant

*Parent

*Private speech therapist

*School District AT Specialist/Facilitator

These team members did a brain storming session about Nick, including his abilities, needs and concerns.  Here is a re-cap of the meeting notes and will put a lens on what Nick is like:

Student: Nick U.

*Comedian

photo (40)

*Likes to get reactions from people

*Wants to communicate

*Uses many modalities to communicate

*Has been talking more

*Holidays were stressful

*Old behaviors have resurfaced, but starting to

decrease again

*Thrives on routine

*Good at following directions

*Good worker

*Knows how to follow sequence of steps at jobs

Nick packaging door knobs_Habitat_4 (2)

*Wants to please

*Teases

*Visual schedule helps decrease his anxiety

*Gets frustrated when told ‚Äúno‚ÄĚ, if he‚Äôs not doing

something right, or if his AAC device is not

working

*Gets frustrated if he has difficulty manipulating

items

*Frustrated if he feels he isn’t being heard

*Changes in routine can be difficult

*Needs to understand why things are happening

*Goals at school include: requesting a break,

paying routine, cooking, grooming, commenting,

protesting

*Working on commenting about food and videos

with private SLP

*Loves cooking

IMG_8180

*Fake coughs on people and replicates sneezes to

get a reaction

*Trying to shape his sense of humor into more

appropriate behaviors

*Swipes things off the desk

*Prefers adult interactions

*Has some preferred peers

*Babies crying is a trigger for a meltdown ‚Äď he

picks up on the emotion

*He‚Äôs a flirt ‚Äď elbow bump

*Strong receptive language

*Likes to dance

020

*Great at sorting

*Does chores at home ‚Äď dishwasher

*Has an older brother

022

* Loves community trips

*Taco Bell and movies with the respite worker

*Gets right out of bed on community days

*Very aware of his environments, especially fire

alarms

*Always scanning and scoping out the

environment

*Impulsive

*Likes loud buzzing noises (ex: lift buses,

microwave)

*Seeks sensory input ‚Äď auditory input, likes to

watch things get poured

*Uses items to tap on his chin

*Loves music ‚Äď big motivator

*Knows vocabulary on his talker when he’s

motivated

touch chat pic

*Used AAC device to order his meal, Sprite

This should give you a sense of Nick’s attributes.  Exploring a student’s abilities, needs and concerns is the first step in getting things in motion when looking at a communication device.

Next week, I will share the rest of the meeting notes which looks at his environment, tasks we want him to communicate, and what tools will be needed in a device that will be successful for Nick to use.¬† That‚Äôs what is in my noggin this week. ūüôā¬†

~Teresa