Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Parenting Special Needs, Resources for Special Needs

Blog #232~Online Links for Special Needs Parents

Blog #232~Online Links for Special Needs Parents

Support hands

This week, I’ve provided a list of online links, to support special needs parents. These links are for parents of individuals with Down syndrome, autism, a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD) and other intellectual and developmental disabilities:

Down syndrome support links:

Down syndrome awareness ribbon

http://www.ndss.org The National Down Syndrome Society is the national advocate for the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome.

http://www.ndsccenter.org The country’s oldest national organization for people with Down syndrome, their families and the professionals who work with them.

http://www.nads.org NADS is the National Association for Down syndrome and a solid support group in the Chicago area. There is also more links for dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism here (including a complete list with signs and symptoms for parents wondering if their child has more than just Down syndrome).

http://www.gigiplayhouse.org Down syndrome Awareness Centers all over the Midwest and expanding to New York, NY and Mexico. These centers provide play, fitness and social groups.

http://www.noahsdad.com Support and inspiration for parents who have a baby or child with Down syndrome. There is some great information and useful tips and links and positively focused. Noah’s Dad has also launched Hope Story to raise awareness and provide additional support.

https://hopestory.org Hope Story – Down Syndrome Diagnosis Support and Resources exists to give support, encouragement and hope to parents whose child have received a Down syndrome diagnosis; to provide free resources to the medical community to help them deliver a Down syndrome diagnosis, and to find ways for parents of children born with Down syndrome to use their unique story to bring hope to others.

http://www.futureofdowns.com Run by parents of children with Down’s syndrome. Covers a wide range of topics regarding babies and children with Down’s syndrome, pregnant and in need of advice on screening and tests or have just received a positive diagnosis following an amnio or CVS.

Autism support links:

autism ribbon

http://www.facebook.com/autismdiscussionpage This page was developed by Bill Nason, MS, LLP to discuss tools that help children on the spectrum. This site provides solid information and strategies related to autism.

http://www.autismspeaks.org Autism Speaks provides information and advocacy and good general information and links.

http://www.autism-society.org The Autism Society improves the lives of all affected by autism through education, advocacy, services, research and support.

http://www.tacanow.org Talk About Curing Autism and has a ton of links and articles along with coffee groups.

http://www.myautismteam.com Online support group for parents to share daily trials, triumphs, questions and recommendations.

http://www.mayer-johnson.com Boardmaker software for assistive technology/AAC devices.

http://www.teeach.com Information on TEEACH materials

More links for special needs parents:

https://thearc.org The Arc: For People With Intellectual and Developmental- Information and referral services, individual advocacy to address education, employment, health care and other concerns, self-advocacy initiatives, residential support, family support, employment programs, leisure and recreational programs.

https://www.parentingspecialneeds.org Parenting Special Needs Magazine share information and inspiration for parents of children with special needs.

https://www.woodbinehouse.com/ Publisher of the Special-Needs Collection…books for parents, children, teachers, and other professionals.

http://www.pottytrainingsolutions.com Gathers the most common problems and their solutions to help take the stress out of this major milestone.

http://www.easterseals.com Easter Seals offers programs, training and equipment for families.

wwww.bridges4kids.org Great, practical resources for special needs families.

http://www.specialedadvocacy.org Advocacy site for parents and teachers

Down syndrome and autism links:

DS-ASD Ribbon

https://http://www.nickspecialneeds.com My site provides solid information on topics specific to a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD), including supports, communication and speech/feeding issues, occupational therapy, behavior/ ABA and much more.

http://www.ds-asd-connection.org Offers good information related to a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism.

http://www.theupsideofdowns.org Provides support, advocacy and information specific to a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism.

Facebook groups for DS-ASD There are several Facebook groups directly related to Down syndrome and autism. These groups are a safe place to share information, ask questions, and help each other. Visit my Facebook page- Down Syndrome With a Slice of Autism. You can also type in Down syndrome and autism into the search box to access additional groups.

Online support groups and links provide information, assistance, resources and encouragement, for parents who have a child with Down syndrome, autism, a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD) and other intellectual and developmental disabilities. As a parent, remember you don’t have to navigate the special needs path alone, help is out there!

That’s what is in my noggin this week! 🙂
~Teresa

Follow us on Social Media:

Facebook and Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism

Instagram @nickdsautism

Twitter @tjunnerstall

 

Posted in Down syndrome, Down Syndrome Awareness, Education and Special Needs, Resources for Special Needs

Blog #221~Inclusion in a General Education Classroom for Students with Down Syndrome

Blog #221~Inclusion in a General Education Classroom for Students with Down Syndrome

Down syndrome awareness ribbon

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month.  An individual with Down syndrome can be included in a general education classroom with the right support, accommodations and curriculum modifications.  This requires collaboration with the school team and understanding the needs of the student.  Inclusion education happens when children with and without disabilities participate and learn together in the same classes.  How can you advocate for an inclusive education environment for a student having Down syndrome?

*Inclusion in a general education classroom starts with a school team who is aware and understands what the experience can look like.  If the school does not support inclusion, the parent (and bringing an advocate on board) can help to educate the staff.  There is no one size fits all on inclusion, as each student is individual and unique in their needs. Inclusion is not a place, but rather an experience. Finding the right teachers, who are willing to set an open environment in the general education classroom is also a key ingredient to the success of inclusion.

Here are some examples of how inclusion can work:

http://www.friendshipcircle.org/blog/2014/02/05/10-examples-of-inclusion-for-those-who-need-to-se

Educate your school and community by hosting a screening for Inclusive Schools Week.  “Inclusive Schools Week is a proud partner with INTELLIGENT LIVES, the groundbreaking new documentary by Dan Habib. Narrated by Academy-award winning actor Chris Cooper, the film stars three pioneering young adults with intellectual disabilities – Micah, Naieer, and Naomie – who challenge perceptions of intelligence as they navigate high school, college, and the workforce. The film can now be screened in every community across the USA – host your own screening for Inclusive Schools Week! Intelligent Lives can help you advocate for change, raise funds for your organization, and open doors to inclusive education and employment for people of ALL abilities.” Go to http://www.intelligentlives.org to watch the film trailer and to learn how to host a screening in your communitye-it-to-believe-it/

Watch the trailer:  https://intelligentlives.org/trailer

*Create a one page profile sheet of your child to share with the school team and class.  There are many great ideas on Pinterest to create this.  

Here are some suggestions with examples on what to include:

-Picture of student

-Strengths (counting, matching, visual learner, receptive language, funny, wants to work)

-What works for student (visual schedule, patience, positive reinforcement, reminders before transitions)

-What doesn’t work for the student (sudden changes in schedule, taking something away, saying no or talking to firmly)

-What the student enjoys (music, making friends, Starfall computer game, dancing)

What the student needs (checklists, visual schedules, motor breaks, sensory break area, etc.)

*Inclusion works best with a solid Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and when the student is supported with a classroom aide/paraprofessional.  

Nick work aid

*Inclusion works best when the IEP includes all needed accommodations and modifications in the curriculum.  Accommodations are the tools needed for the student to succeed in the classroom.  Some examples might include a special pencil grip, nubby seat cushion, visual timer, calculator, built in motor breaks, communication device or picture exchange system (PECS) book.  Modifications to the curriculum allow the student to learn the grade level material , but simplified.  This helps the student learn at their own level what is most meaningful for them.  Goals in the IEP should be driven to promote further education, independence and future employment skills.

Here are two books that I recommend for learning more about how inclusion works for individuals with Down syndrome:

Inclusion in ActionWho's The Slow Learner

As I mentioned in last week’s blog post, Woodbine House also has many books about teaching reading and math skills for individuals with Down syndrome.  This month Woodbine House is offering a 30% discount on these books:

Click here to view the selections https://www.woodbinehouse.com/

Inclusion in a general education classroom can work for individuals with Down syndrome.  It benefits all students, and promotes a since of community and acceptance, that individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities desire.  With the right attitude, support, accommodations and modifications, inclusion in a regular classroom setting can be a rewarding and successful experience for individuals with Down syndrome, their peers and the school staff.

That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa 🙂

Follow my son Nick who is 24 years old and has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism:

Facebook and Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism

Instagram @nickdsautism

Twitter @tjunnerstall

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Down syndrome, Down Syndrome Awareness, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Resources for Special Needs

Blog #220~Down Syndrome Good Reads

Blog #220~Down Syndrome Good Reads

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month.  This week, I want to highlight books associated with Down syndrome.  You can click on my resource book shelf page, to view a comprehensive list of books:  https://nickspecialneeds.com/resource-book-shelf/

Woodbine House is the gold standard for resource books related to Down syndrome and other intellectual and developmental disabilities for parents, family members, children, teachers, and other professionals.  This publishing company has over 40 books on Down syndrome with a  30% discount this month! http://www.woodbinehouse.com/product-category/down-syndrome/

Woodbine House Sale

There are a lot more books on Amazon, related to Down syndrome.  One that caught my eye, with a 5 star rating and solid reviews is The Parent’s Guide To Down Syndrome by Jen Jacob and Madra Sikora.  The reviews for this book state that it is upbeat, current, informative, insightful, and a fun and easy read:

parents guide to DS book

https://www.amazon.com/Parents-Guide-Down-Syndrome-Information/dp/144059290X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1539620279&sr=8-1&keywords=The+parents+guide+to+Down+syndrome

In addition to books for parents, teachers and professionals, there are many children’s books about Down syndrome both on Amazon and in my resource book shelf link, that I listed above.

 

Promoting acceptance and inclusion are two goals of Down syndrome Awareness Month.  Many parents and advocates do presentations at schools and in their community, incorporating book reads and power point presentations to educate others.

Donating books to local public and school libraries is a great way to spread the word about Down syndrome.  Many Down syndrome support groups provide materials, like bookmarks and calendars, that can be distributed as well.  In addition, these support groups often provide training to become a speaker and advocate.  Check with your local support group to see if they have a resource libray with books, tech and other resources to help families who have a child with Down syndrome.

Gifts book cover

The books and links I provided here, will help parents, family members, teachers and professionals better support a child having Down syndrome.  In particular, the Woodbine House books provided me with encouragement, understanding and practical tips for growth/medical management, academic skills in reading/math, gross and fine motor development.  This gave me more confidence to better advocate and help my son, Nick who is now 24 years old.

I hope these good reads provide a lens on the subject of Down syndrome to further educate, and promote acceptance and inclusion.  That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa 🙂

Follow Nick:

Facebook and Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism

Instagram @nickdsautism

Twitter @tjunnerstall

 

 

 

 

Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Recreation/Leisure and Special Needs, Resources for Special Needs

Blog #85~ 10 Great Special Needs Resources

Blog #85~ 10 Great Special Needs Resources

Last week I targeted some links specific topics related to Down syndrome and autism.  I have a few more that relate to a variety of areas related to the special needs population.  You can click right on these links and check them out:

www.wrightslaw.com  Comprehensive information Parents, educators, advocates, and attorneys come to Wrightslaw for accurate, reliable information about special education law, education law, and advocacy for children with disabilities.

www.woodbinehouse.com  Publishes book for parents, children, teachers and professionals related to special needs.

www.specialreads.com Special Reads for Special Needs Publishing was founded by Natalie Hale in 2000 to answer a need for effective, entertaining reading materials for learners with Down syndrome, Autism, and other developmental delays.

www.hopefulparents.org  Grassroot support for parents of kids with all types of special needs.

www.supportforspecialneeds.com  A community that offers a chance to exchange wisdom and ideas among one of the most powerful group of people we know.

www.leslie4kids.wordpress.com   Comprehensive information on Childhood Apraxia and Speech, parenting and child development.

www.specialsparkle.com   Beautiful jewelry designed and made by a 21 year old young lady who has Down syndrome.

www.downsdesings.com Downs Designs provides a stylish clothing line with proper fitting for unique body types associated with having Down syndrome which is easy to get on and off.

www.hammertravel.org  Offers a variety of travel opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities

www.nickspecialneeds.wordpress.com   This site which provides information on a variety of special needs topics.  Much of the information specific to a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism including supports, communication and speech/feeding issues, occupational therapy, behavior/ ABA and much more.

Hope you find these additional resources for special needs helpful. That’s what is in my noggin this week. More about Nick’s world next Monday, stay tuned…….

~Teresa 🙂

Posted in Autism, Behavior/ ABA, Down syndrome

Blog #70~When Down Syndrome and Autism Intersect

Blog #70~When Down Syndrome and Autism Intersect

 
I just finished reading the Woodbine House book, When Down Syndrome and Autism Intersect, A Guide to DS-ASD for Parents and Professionals. As always, Woodbine House delivers the goods. I only wish this book had been available fifteen years ago when I began to suspect that Nick had something more going on than just Down syndrome.

down syndrome and autism intersect

I started to notice little things at first. Around the age of five Nick started to bang objects and exhibit other odd behaviors. After doing some internet research I stumbled upon a sensory processing disorder checklist. Nick met many of the criteria which led me to believe this was the reason for those behaviors. When we attended the local Down syndrome support group functions I also felt that he didn’t speak as well as his peers.

Nick is more interested in his hand flapping than Santa 🙂
scan0032
So, I went to have an evaluation done to see if he might have autism. The results of this indicated that Nick did not have autism as he was highly social and his language deficits were a result of having verbal apraxia of speech. For more information on verbal apraxia of speech I would suggest reading this Woodbine House book, Speaking of Apraxia A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech:

SOA_mock (2)

Six years passed and as puberty was full on, Nick’s behavior and meltdowns became more violent and dangerous. The staff at his school struggled along as well. It was nagging at me. I brought up my concerns and the need for an evaluation for autism. The staff informed me that this was not necessary as there was already a primary evaluation of Down syndrome. We decided to have an independent evaluation done at Little Friends Center for Autism, http://www.littlefriendsinc.org. Getting the official diagnosis of autism confirmed my suspicions and gave me a sense of relief and validation. Most importantly, the formal diagnosis allowed for getting the services of the school district’s autism specialist. This specialist helped to identify what triggers set off meltdowns and was able to put a behavior plan in place along with a better picture communication system with proper training for the staff and myself.

Nick age 12, proudly stands on the podium winning the state gold medal in the softball throw at the Special Olympics…

scan0011

 
According to the Kennedy Krieger Institute, http:// www.kennedykrieger.org,  around 10-15 percent of children with Down syndrome also have autism.

For an autism diagnosis there are three areas of development that a person must show significant difficulties:

1. Social Functioning
2. Non-verbal or difficulties with communication
3. Restricted interests and activities

Some of the symptoms and behavior shown with children having Down syndrome and autism are:

 
*Significant lack of social response
*Difficulties with communication and reported loss of verbal and expressive language.
*Repetitive behaviors like hand flapping, spinning or rocking, fixation on inanimate objects (strings, fans, mirrors, water, etc..)
*Sensory issues including the intensified sensitivity or need for more sensory input
*Behavioral challenges including frequent tantrums and physical violence

 
The book, When Down Syndrome and Autism Intersect contains a great deal of information on health issues and gives practical information on tackling the complex world of raising a child with Down syndrome and autism. My best advice is this, if you suspect that a child with Down syndrome has something else going on then run; don’t walk to get a firm diagnosis. There are more services that become available to help with challenging behaviors, communication and learning for our kids. That’s what is in my noggin this week! 🙂
~Teresa

Posted in Down syndrome, Health Issues and Special Needs Child

Blog #36~ What is Red and Green and Runs All Over?

photo (115)

Blog #36~ What is Red and Green and Runs All Over?

Answer: That would be Nick and his ruddy cheeks and nose crusted with green, gloppy boogers from a cold.

The nasty funk that boy can emit from his nostrils is like a faucet that can’t be shut off.  Under the mucus are his parched, red cheeks that blare even more with the cold air beating over his dry skin. Welcome to the cold season and Nick’s world. 🙂

Certain traits attributed to having Down syndrome factor into the likely occurrence of more respiratory infections. “Medical & Surgical Care for Children with Down Syndrome,” available through Woodbine House is an excellent guide for parents who have a child with Down syndrome. Here is what this guide says about drainage and colds:

Physical growth may also be different in the details. The head and facial features (eyes, nose, jaw, ears, etc.) of children with Down syndrome are smaller and may grow more slowly than in other children. As a result, facial structures such as tear ducts, sinus passages, and Eustachian tubes (connecting the middle ear to the back of the throat) may be smaller in size and become blocked more easily. This contributes to an increased likelihood of tear duct, sinus, and ear infections in some children.”

“In addition, because of the relatively small size of the nasal cavities, sinusitis is common. So, too is drainage from the nose because sanal drainage s often due to infection or inflammation of the sinuses. Eight out of ten children with Down syndrome have persistent nasal drainage.”

Children with Down syndrome are prone to having dry skin and hair. Here are a few things that I’ve found essential to include during the winter months:

1. Aquaphor: a great healing ointment that is non-irritating and soothing.

2. Oils of Aloha- Hawaii’s Kukui Conditioning Shampoo: A less harsh dandruff shampoo that doesn’t sting the eyes. Here are my two favorite body washes:

At Bath and Body Works, really relaxing and clears the head…

stress relief body wash

Skin soothing body wash for sensitive skin…

Aveeno body wash

3. Exergen Temporal Scanner: Swipes across the forehead, easier for those with sensory issues.

4. Hand Sanitizer:  This along with constant hand washing and not touching your face in between.  Did you know cold germs can live on surfaces for 7 days.  So, If you have to touch your face use the inside of your shirt and not your hands.

5. Cover Up:  A sneeze can travel 32 feet in the air. I always do a duck and cover with my arm or turn quickly away when Nick fires one at me.

sneeze cover up

Each winter season, I find myself dressing Nick in the hues of grey and green or camo colored shirts when he has a cold.  These colors blend in better when he decides to blow his nose and wipe it on his shirt. It has never been easy giving Nick medicine. He is unable to take anything in pill form so it has to be liquid or dissolvable in form. Countless times I’ve tried to get him to down a tiny cup of Dimetapp.  The end result was him spewing that sticky, purple stuff all over the both of us. Now that he is older, it has become much better. I hand him the cup of Dimetapp and he slams it down as if it was a shot of Patrón. 

Patron

Cheers to that! 🙂

Having a child who has Down syndrome and autism can be extra challenging when they are not feeling well. Because his speech is so limited he is unable to tell me how he feels. I have to go by his energy level and the look in his eyes.

Poor guy…….

IMG_0183

The sure fire way of knowing he isn’t feeling well is his appetite. Hmmm, is it *Feed a cold; starve a fever or the other way around?

Answer:  At the end of this post.

The cold season can be rough, especially with a child with special needs.  I hope these tips might helpful for your family.  For more information about health and Down syndrome click on @https://nickspecialneeds.wordpress.com/2012/11/26/blog-32-cheers-to-good-health/

That’s what is in my noggin this week. Here’s to a mild cold season for all of us and to a healthy New Year in 2013!

~Teresa

*According to Ask Yahoo, The original maxim is “feed a cold, starve a fever.” In other words, eat plentifully to fight a cold, and resist food if you have a fever. To avoid confusion, we recommend steering clear of both versions of this myth. The Straight Dope dates the practice of fasting to combat fever to a 1574 dictionary. As do many other medical practices from the Middle Ages, starving yourself when you’re sick seems to us to be a pretty questionable tactic. However, opinions on the issue differ. A 2002 article from New Scientist cites a Dutch research team that ran an ad hoc experiment and came to the conclusion that “eating a meal boosts the type of immune response that destroys the viruses responsible for colds, while fasting stimulates the response that tackles the bacterial infections responsible for most fevers.” But the evidence is far from conclusive. Colds and flus are caused by viruses, and your body needs energy to fight them. Stay at home, eat light, healthy food when you’re hungry, and drink lots of fluids. You can find lots of other ways to fight the flu naturally at eHow.com.