Taking Children with Special Needs to the Dentist

 
   This blog post is sponsored by Dr. Tikalsky from the Dentists on Bluemound

This blog post is sponsored by Dr. Tikalsky from the Dentists on Bluemound

 

Whether it is your first time or tenth visit, going to the dentist can be scary for people of all ages and abilities. It is common, specifically, for individuals with disabilities to be apprehensive about going to the dentist. Recently, Dr. Tim Tikalsky, dentist at the Dentists on Bluemound, shared advice to help make the trip to the dentist a more favorable one. Not only is Dr. Tikalsky a fantastic dentist, but he is dad to four kids, one of whom has Down syndrome. You may know them as team “I Love Lucy” from the Zoo Walk!

Here are some of his tips for surviving and thriving in the dentist office:

Finding the Right Dental Office

  • Dr. Tikalsky recommends visiting and taking a tour of the dentist office before an appointment. Meet the dentist and the staff to see if this is the right dentist for your child! The individual with Down syndrome should also come along for the journey so they can familiarize themselves with the sights, sounds, and smells of the place. 

  • It should be noted that a trip to the dentist office should not just be about making your child’s teeth clean and perfect, but also about the overall experience.      

Dental Education

  • Don’t be afraid to let the dental office know about your child’s specific sensory preferences. Some dental offices have sensory questionnaires, which asks a series of questions about your child’s taste, positioning, visual, noise, reward preferences, and more. This will allow for the dental providers to be prepared to provide a comfortable experience for your child.

  • Take advantage of children’s books and videos revolving around the first trip to the dentist. These tools help teach children about the dentist, including the procedures and equipment involved.
     

Practice, Practice, Practice!

  • Many children are intimidated with lying back at the dental office for a cleaning or examination. Because of this, it may be an effective strategy for your child to practice lying down at home to become more comfortable with this type of position. Additionally, practicing dental care while they are in this position, such as brushing their teeth or flossing, can help make the first visit less scary.

  • Role-playing is also a great way to prepare your child for their trip, and will help make the experience fun. Pretend to be the dentist, and walk through what will happen with your child. 


A special thank you Dr. Kevin Race of Race Orthodontics and Dr. Angela Trochell of Fun Kids Dentist for their insight and expertise on this topic!

Looking Back on September 2018

Milwaukee

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22nd Annual Statewide Down Syndrome Awareness Walk
We held our Statewide Awareness Walk on Sunday, September 23 at the Milwaukee County Zoo! We had perfect weather for our Mardi Gras themed party, and we had MORE participants, MORE teams, and raised MORE money than EVER before! Almost 3,000 of our closest friends joined us for a day of inflatables, carnival games, raffles, music, crafts, sno cones, rock climbing, food, and a walk around the Zoo. THANK YOU to everyone who made this year’s Walk so incredible - especially our sponsors, donors, volunteers, families, friends with Down syndrome, and YOU!

Puberty Workshops
In partnership with the Down Syndrome Clinic and Terri Couwenhoven, we sponsored puberty workshops for teenagers with disabilities! In separate sessions, boys and girls learned about sexuality and changes that happen during puberty.

Relationships Class
We’re offering a relationships class during our fall semester for individuals with disabilities. We meet on Saturdays and discuss relationships, personal boundaries, dating, and self-defense.

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Nutrition & Wellness Class
DSAW and DSAW-Family Services also offer two sessions of a Nutrition and Wellness Class. The class meets twice a week and learns about personal health and well-being, exercise, and healthy cooking.

Young Leaders Bootcamp
This month at Bootcamp we all came with our favorite recipes. We got to cook and taste them and plan for the cookbook that we’re creating with everyone’s favorites!

Bootcamp meets on Tuesday nights at 6pm. Join us in October!

Family Movie Night
Every month on the fourth Friday, we bring our blankets, sleeping bags, pillows and teddy bears and get comfy for a Movie Night at our West Allis office! This month was no different! Join us next month!!

Cooking with the Kiddos
Cooking with the Kiddos happens every first and third Wednesday at our State office! Don’t miss this chance to skip the cooking at your house! We’ll provide food for your family and practice cooking skills.

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Motor Skills Playgroup                                     
Our Motor Skills Playgroup meets every second and fourth Tuesday morning from 9:30 to 11:30! This group is a fun chance for children to learn occupational therapy skills in a free environment, while parents enjoy coffee and each other's company. We’ll be starting up music therapy again in October! Sign up to join us!

Young Leaders Academy
Our Young Leaders Academy at our West Allis office meets every second and fourth Thursday of the month. We are also have a Young Leaders Class at our Northside location in Fox Point! This location meets the first and second Fridays of the month from 7 - 9 PM! Classes start off with an energetic game and end with an hour of employment-readiness curriculum. Self-Advocates are invited to join our class anytime. Come out to Young Leaders Academy in September in West Allis or in Fox Point!

Tween Club
The second Friday night of the month, DSAW transforms into a hoppin' place for tweens to hang out! This month at tween club we had fun with a back to school theme! We had a school-themed photobooth and made crafts. Next month's Tween Club will be on Friday, October 12. Drop your 10+ year old off for a night of games, snacks, activities, and more. Sign up to join us!

Parent's Night Out
Each month, DSAW parents, grandparents, and caregivers get together for a night of casual conversation and free appetizers. This month we were back at Cleveland Pub, where we’ll be for the rest of 2018! We meet every second Friday of the month in conjunction with Tween Club! Join us on October 12!


La Crosse

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16th Annual Down Syndrome Awareness Walk
DSAW-COTH-GLA hosted its Annual Awareness Walk as well this month! We had a giant luau-themed party and a gorgeous, warm September day. Everyone came out in their leis and grass skirts to celebrate our friends with Down syndrome! We had inflatables, raffles, a photobooth, yard games, lunch, and more! Thank you to all of our volunteers, donors, families, and friends! A special thank you to our Awareness Walk planning committee for all the work they did to prepare for this day!

Nature for All Families
We continued our partnership with WisCorps again this month on September 30! DSAW families got together to learn about nature, enjoy a snack, and get together with other people with disabilities!


MADSS

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Down Syndrome Awareness Walk
DSAW partnered with the Madison Area Down Syndrome Society this year to help them throw their annual Awareness Walk! We had all new activities like a petting zoo, rock climbing wall, carnival games, inflatables, and much more! We had a hot sunny day on September 16 as we welcomed 700 people to Olin Park in Madison!


Central Wisconsin

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FIRST Annual Down Syndrome Awareness Walk!
This month, we hosted the first EVER Down Syndrome Awareness Walk in Wausau! We had a fantastic turnout for the event (400 people!), and had fun at Doepke Park with disability resource vendors, inflatables, music, raffles, top fundraising prizes, and lunch. Thank you to everyone who helped us pull off our first walk! We’re already looking forward to next year!


Chippewa Valley   

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Down Syndrome Awareness Walk                         
DSAW-Chippewa Valley also hosted their Annual Down Syndrome Awareness Walk at Irvine Park in Chippewa Falls! We had a great turnout for a fun day of crafts, inflatables, family photos, a delicious lunch of pulled pork and burgers, and more. Thank you!!


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Green Bay

Family Orchard Event
Families from DSAW-Green Bay traveled to Sturgeon Bay to visit Seaquist Orchards! They got to learn all about pie-making in a kitchen tour and make their own caramel apples! Everyone even got a slice of pie to bring home!

Playgroup
We also hosted our monthly playgroup on the first Saturday of the month! This month we went to Voyageur Park in De Pere.

Mom’s Night Out
Every month DSAW women get together for a well-deserved night out! This month we met at Heartland Pizza Company and had drinks and free appetizers!


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Children’s Museum Night
Families came together for our monthly playgroup at the Above & Beyond Children’s Museum! On the second Monday of the month, lights are turned down, noise is turned off, and exhibits are adapted for our friends with disabilities!

Family Farm Outing
DSAW-Sheboygan families also took a trip to Juneau to visit Waldvogel’s Farm, the largest pumpkin farm in Wisconsin! We had fun on the pumpkin trampoline, taking hay rides, doing a corn maze, and more! Happy Fall!!


Looking Back on August 2018

Milwaukee

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22nd Annual Tom Pipines Golf Outing             On Wednesday, August 15th, DSAW friends and families gathered at Western Lakes golf course for a day of golf, great food, and fundraising! We also presented our special guest Tom Pipines with a Lifetime Achievement Award for all he has accomplished in his career and in the disability community! We want to extend a HUGE thank you to all of our donors, sponsors, and volunteers who made this event possible!!

Milwaukee Pool Party
Families joined us at the Hales Corners pool for a day of fun in the sun! We had a great time splashing around, eating food and enjoying each other's company!

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Racine Zoo Day
We also hosted a family event at the beautiful Racine Zoo! DSAW families had a taco lunch, won raffle prizes, did sack races and summer crafts, and got to explore the zoo! 

Circles Class
Our second Circles session began July 25th and went through the month of August! We have been learning about personal boundaries, relationships, safety, and appropriate social behaviors!

Down Syndrome & Alzheimer's Memory Cafe
We were so excited to host our FIRST ever memory cafe in Milwaukee. Thanks to a grant from Bader Philanthropies, we have been studying up on Down syndrome and Alzheimer's for several months. At the beginning of August, we got to teach other families what we know and see them come together in a casual environment. Stay tuned for more Ds and Alzheimer's programming!

Young Leaders Bootcamp
We spent this month at Bootcamp learning about different life skills! We did a clothing night when we made t-shirts and learned to sew buttons onto clothes. We also practiced with money and healthy eating!

Bootcamp meets on Tuesday nights at 6pm. Join us in September!

DSAW Fun Days
On the 9th, we had another Fun Day! Fun Days are mini, one day respite opportunities for kiddos ages 10-16. This was our very last Fun Day for the summer! We went to the State Fair, danced and sang along to an Elvis impersonator, and ate some GREAT fair food!

Family Movie Night
Every month, we bring our blankets, sleeping bags, pillows and teddy bears and get comfy for a Movie Night at our West Allis office! This month we watched Cars 3! Join us next month!!

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Club DSAW
At Club DSAW, self-advocates ages 15+ get a chance to do fun things in the community with each other! This month we went to Comedy Sportz for the Saturday matinee!! We had so much fun watching the match and meeting the players.

Motor Skills Playgroup                                     
Our Motor Skills Playgroup meets every second and fourth Tuesday morning from 9:30 to 11:30! This group is a fun chance for children to learn occupational therapy skills in a free environment, while parents enjoy coffee and each other's company. This month we finished our music therapy program and had great time dancing and singing out hearts out! Music therapy ended this month, but awesome things are still happening at Playgroup! Sign up to join us!

Young Leaders Academy
Our Young Leaders Academy at our West Allis office meets every second and fourth Thursday of the month. We are also have a Young Leaders Class at our Northside location in Fox Point! This location meets the first and second Fridays of the month from 7 - 9 PM! Classes start off with an energetic game and end with an hour of employment-readiness curriculum. Self-Advocates are invited to join our class anytime. Come out to Young Leaders Academy in September in West Allis or in Fox Point!

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Tween Club
The second Friday night of the month, DSAW transforms into a hoppin' place for tweens to hang out! This month at tween club we did crafts, played games and got into some very serious games of kickball. Next month's Tween Club will be on Friday, September 14th. Drop your 10+ year old off for a night of games, snacks, activities, and more. Sign up to join us!

Parent's Night Out
Each month, DSAW parents, grandparents, and caregivers get together for a night of casual conversation and free appetizers. This month we hung outside on the patio at Fourth-N-Long. We meet every second Friday of the month and will be back at Cleveland Pub in the future! Join us next time: September 14th!

Summer Wellness Class
Our summer session of Health and Wellness Class is still going strong! The class is designed for adults with Down syndrome ages 18-30 and focuses on exercise, healthy nutrition, cooking, and overall wellness. It's held at our office on Mondays and Thursdays. The fall session of this class begins September 10th and has two different locations! You can either attend class at the JCC in Whitefish Bay, or at our DSAW office in West Allis! Both classes are on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM.


Green Bay

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10th Anniversary DSAW-Green Bay Down Syndrome Awareness Walk!
Our chapter kicked off DSAW's Awareness Walk season with a bang!! We had a beautiful day raising awareness and acceptance of our loved ones with Down syndrome. There were games, food, raffles, t-shirts, prizes, superheroes, and MORE to celebrate our 10th birthday. We EXCEEDED our fundraising goal, and we couldn't have done it without our many donors, sponsors, volunteers, walkers, and families. We love you!! We're looking forward to providing even more programs and services for our friends with Down syndrome.

Playgroup
This month's playgroup was held at Optimist Park! We meet the first Saturday of every month, and no RSVP is required! Join us :)

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Family Splash Time
We had another morning of Family Splash Time at the Manitowoc Family Aquatic Center in August! We LOVE that they adapt the waterpark for kids with special needs.

Haircut Fundraiser
DSAW-Green Bay also hosted our annual haircut fundraiser with HYPE Hair in August! Both kids and adults could get haircuts, and ALL of the proceeds went toward our Awareness Walk! We raised $668 at this incredibly successful event! 


La Crosse

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Breakfast Club Fundraiser
In August we hosted a fundraiser for our Awareness Walk at The Breakfast Club! 10% of all of the day's proceeds went toward our Walk! We also played egg roulette! In total, we raised $650!! Thank you so much to The Breakfast Club and for everyone who donated/participated!

Family Bowling Night                           
DSAW-COTH-GLA families had a fun night out bowling on August 11! DSAW provided dinner and bowling for families who had fun competing for strikes!

NASA Family Boat Ride
The weather held out this month for a NASA Family Boat ride! The fish were safe as we enjoyed a beautiful night on Lake Onalaska. Thanks DSAW and NASA for providing this incredible opportunity. Elizabeth, William and Eliza even got to drive the boat!

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Holmen Kornfest Parade
DSAW families and friends represented our organization in the Holmen Kornfest Parade on August 18! We walked together in the parade and told others about DSAW!

Parent's Night Out
On the last Saturday of August, the parents got to have some fun! We went to Slice of Chicago in Sparta for a night with other DSAW parents, grandparents, caregivers, and adult siblings. DSAW provided free apps, and we purhcased drinks! 


Sheboygan

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Above & Beyond Children's Museum Field Trip
In August, we took our monthly field trip to the Children's Museum for Special Needs Night! The exhibits were adapted, sound was turned low, and the museum was closed to the general public. Meet us in September for our next trip!

All Abilities Dance Class
This month, we had our final dance class at In Motion dance studio. We have had such a great time learning about our bodies and minds and discovering how to take care of them through dance!

Family Pool Party                                                                                                                                   
DSAW- Sheboygan families got together at Two Rivers Family Aquatic Center to enjoy a day of fun in the sun. We had a great time splashing around and staying cool!


Central WI    

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Pool Party                                                                  We had a beautiful day for a Pool Party on August 4! We went to Schulenburg Pool for a morning of swimming and snacks. 

Movie Under the Stars                                               DSAW-Central WI families also got to enjoy the outdoors at our movie under the stars! We watched The Lion King drive-in style and got to make popcorn, have a bonfire, and do crafts!


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Fox Cities

Pool Party
DSAW-Fox Cities gathered together for their Annual Pool Party this month! We look forward to seeing families and friends with Down syndrome of ALL ages at this event every year. Thank you to everyone who joined us!


Chippewa Valley

Pool Party
August was the month of Pool Parties, that's for sure! DSAW-Chippewa Valley also held their annual Pool Party at Wakanda Waterpark in Menomonie! 


MADSS

Rock County Family Picnic
Rock County families had a Family Picnic at the beginning of August! We went to Riverside Park in Janesville to enjoy their splash pad, eat food, and make crafts! We made a marble painting craft, played yard games, and hung out on the playground!

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Beloit Snappers Baseball Outing
On August 12, DSAW and MADSS families headed to a Beloit Snappers baseball game! We had fun meeting new families in Rock County.

Weekend Playgroup
On Saturday the 18th MADSS partnered with GiGi's to host a weekend playgroup! We love getting together with the little kiddos for a morning of play and a snack!

Down Syndrome & Alzheimer's Memory Cafe
DSAW and MADSS partnered to host a memory cafe in Madison for people with Alzheimer's and Down syndrome and their caregivers! We gave a brief presentation about the relationship between Ds and Alzheimer's, and we did a scrapbooking activity! Stay tuned for more Ds and Alzheimer's programming!

Meet a DSAW Leader: Alex

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Hello, my name is Alex Craig and I am the newly appointed Office and Event Assistant at the DSAW State Headquarters! My background is in Cell & Tissue Biomedical Engineering and I have worked on research projects such as organ preservation and cancer migration. Although extremely interesting and challenging, I felt a necessary interpersonal aspect of that career field was lacking for me. Thus, I took a plunge and moved to Nong Khai, Thailand alone last year! There I took on a position as a middle school science teacher, as well as a personal goal of eating every Thai dish I could get my hands on. 

Having the opportunity to travel to over 20 countries has allowed me to see the world from many different angles. Countless times I have been blown away at the beauty, as well as silenced by the hardships. It was through these experiences that I made the decision to pursue a career in the nonprofit sector, focused on advocating for historically disadvantaged and underrepresented populations. As a born & raised Milwaukee native, I didn’t have to look far to become enamored with DSAW, it’s mission, and the families we reach. 

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When I’m not working, you can most likely find me playing with my younger siblings Violet (1) and Liam (3), or sitting in the sun with my face in a book. Additionally, I volunteer as a Crisis Counselor for Crisis Text Line and I’m a part time Trivia Host at a local Milwaukee pub. As you can tell, I stay busy with a wide variety of different tasks! However, working with people with Down syndrome brings me the most joy and fulfillment. I feel blessed to have this opportunity and look forward to continuing to bring my diverse background to this rewarding position.

If you are interested in volunteering for DSAW in the Milwaukee area, feel free to contact me! 

Looking Back on July 2018

Milwaukee

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Down Home BBQ
On Saturday, July 14th, GiGi's Playhouse and DSAW hosted our annual Down Home BBQ at the DSAW State office in West Allis! We had a bounce house, toddler play area, slip n' slide, inflatable splash zone, yard games, TONS of awesome food and even a live band. Families also had the opportunity to take some amazing family portraits, courtesy of Frenn Photography! A HUGE thank you to all our volunteers and grillers that came to help out, all of the families that came out to enjoy the day and Max & The Invaders for a great set of live music!

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Racine Fourth of July Parade                             On July 4th, DSAW families participated in the Racine Parade! We marched together with a DSAW wagon and showed off all of our beautiful, smiling faces!

Club DSAW
Self-advocates joined us at Moorland Golf Course for an afternoon of friendly competition and ice cream. We mini golfed, hung out and had an all around awesome time! 

Circles Class
In July, we wrapped up the first session of our summer Circles class. The Circles program teaches students how relationships can be formed and maintained according to the social norms & social boundaries of our day and age. DSAW staff member Erin Miller teaches the class with her job coach. On our last day, we had a pizza party celebration to reflect on all we learned! The second Circles session began the next week (July 25th). If your child could benefit from learning about personal boundaries and relationships, register here!

Young Leaders Bootcamp
We spent this month at Bootcamp learning about ourselves and others! We got to know our friends in real ways, made vision boards and created achievable, beneficial, personal resolutions!

Bootcamp meets on Tuesday nights at 6pm. Join us in August!

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DSAW Fun Days
On the 19th and 26th, we had our July Summer Fun Days! Fun Days are mini, one day respite opportunities for kiddos ages 10-16. We went on  awesome field trips to the water park and bowling!! Join us on August 9th for our next day of fun!

Kids Day Camp
Last month we also hosted a Kids Day Camp for children with Down syndrome ages 4-9. We went on field trips, did crafts and had a ton of fun!! 

Family Movie Night
Every month, we bring our blankets, sleeping bags, pillows and teddy bears and get comfy for a Movie Night at our West Allis office! This month we watched (and sang and danced to) the 2014 version of Annie. Join us next month!!

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Cooking with the Kiddos
Because of the Fourth of July Holiday, we didn't meet for cooking class on the first Wednesday of July. On the 18th, we made veggie pizza and yogurt parfaits! We even got to use fresh vegetables from our DSAW garden that our self-advocates planted at Bootcamp!! How cool! Cooking meets on the first and third Wednesday of the month at our state office in West Allis. Come cook with us on August 1st, from 5-7 PM!

Motor Skills Playgroup
Our Motor Skills Playgroup meets every second and fourth Tuesday morning! This group is a fun chance for children to learn occupational therapy skills in a free environment, while parents enjoy coffee and each other's company. This month we continued our music therapy program and also had a certified therapy pup come in for some good ole belly rubs! Playgroup runs from 9:30-11:30am, and we'll have music therapy from 10-10:45am. Music therapy will be available through August at no cost to your family! Sign up to join us!

Young Leaders Academy
Our Young Leaders Academy at our West Allis office meets every second and fourth Thursday of the month. In May we launched Young Leaders on the Northside! They meet on the first and second Friday nights. Classes start off with an energetic game and end with an hour of employment-readiness curriculum. Self-Advocates are invited to join our class anytime. Come out to Young Leaders Academy in July in West Allis or in Fox Point!

Tween Club
The second Friday night of the month is always our favorite since we have Tween Club! This month we celebrated the FIFA World Cup with soccer games and activities.  Next month's Tween Club will be on Friday, August 10. Drop your 10+ year old off for a night of games, snacks, activities, and more. Sign up to join us!

Parent's Night Out
Each month, DSAW parents, grandparents, and caregivers get together for a night of casual conversation and free appetizers. We meet every second Friday of the month! Come out and party with us on August 10th!

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Summer Wellness Class
Our summer session of our Wellness Class also started is still going strong! The class is designed for adults with Down syndrome ages 18-30 and focuses on exercise, healthy nutrition, cooking, and overall wellness. It's held at our office on Mondays and Thursdays.

Thank you, Chris!                                          We are SO sad to announce that July is the last month for our wonderful DSAW staff member, Chris Due. He is off to do great things and attend graduate school at Marquette University! We will miss you!


Sheboygan

Summer Picnic
This month we had our Summer Picnic at Lakeside Park in Fond du Lac! Though the weather was not looking too promising in the morning, the skies cleared up just in time to put a smile on everyone's faces! We had great food, desserts, yard games and sack races with awesome prizes! 

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Above & Beyond Children's Museum Field Trip
In July, we took our monthly field trip to the Children's Museum for Special Needs Night! The exhibits were adapted, sound was turned low, and the museum was closed to the general public. Meet us in August for the next field trip!

All Abilities Dance Class
We have LOVED getting to showcase our dancin' feet at the All Abilities Dance Classes at In Motion dance studio!! We sadly only have one class left, but stay tuned for details on a potential second session! Thank you to Kim Casper and all the helpers at In Motion that have made this class possible!


La Crosse

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NASA Boat Ride
Due to severe weather, we had to cancel our NASA boat ride on the 25th! But, fear not! We have another one just around the corner! Join us in August for our next ride.

Sandra Bartel Book Signing                               Sandra, author and loving sister of Joe, who has Down syndrome came out to Cabin Coffee on the 26th for a special, private book signing event! Joe and Sandra were both there to sign books and mingle!

Parent's Afternoon Out
This month, parents gathered at Vernon Vineyards for an afternoon of conversation. Meet us at Slice of Chicago in Sparta on August 25th for our next Parent's Night Out!


Green Bay

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Splash Time Event
In July, we got together with families from both Green Bay and Sheboygan for a day at the pool! This was a private event hosted by the pool for individuals with special needs. Come out to the Manitowoc Family Aquatic center on August 11th for another special Splash Time!! 

Playgroup
This months playgroup was held at CP Playground! Join us next month at Optimist Park. No RSVP required!

Day at The Beach
On the 22nd, DSAW families came together at the East Side Beach in Oconto Falls for a day of beach activities!

Mom's Night Out
We also had a Mom's Night Out at the Chatterhouse.  We will not have our usual Mom's Night Out in August, but join us the same day at the Awareness Walk! 


Central WI    

Guy's Night Out           

Dad's, brothers, uncles, grandpa's and other male caregivers gathered for a night out at Sconni's Alehouse. It was a great time full of food, drinks and conversation.


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 MADSS

Family Picnic
On the 15th, we got together at Badger Prairie Count Park for an afternoon of food and fun. Join us August 12th in Beloit for our upcoming Snappers Game Outing (tickets are only 2 DOLLARS!!!)


Looking Back on June 2018

Milwaukee

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Brewers Outing
On Sunday, June 24, DSAW families got together at Miller Park for a tailgate party and Brewers game! We had lots of food and tailgate games and enjoyed a gorgeous sunny day outside! Unfortunately, the Brewers lost to the St. Louis Cardinals, but that didn't stop us from having fun!! Come out to our next family event on Saturday, July 14! We're hosting a Down Home BBQ with GiGi's Milwaukee at our state office in West Allis. The BBQ will be complete with live music, professional family portraits, a splash zone, food, inflatables, yard games, crafts, and more! Sign up here. 

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Impact100 Grant!!!
On June 6, DSAW was awarded a $100,000 grant from Impact100 Greater Milwaukee! DSAW staff and families attended the awards celebration with 4 other incredible nonprofit organizations. We had a resource booth, and ED Dawn Nuoffer and self-advocate Andrew Gerbitz gave a compelling presentation! Members of Impact100 then voted, and the top 3 organizations were awarded $100,000 grants! We are so honored and thankful to them for their generosity. The funds will be used to purchase two 12-passenger vans to assist with transportation, in addition to a digital literacy curriculum to help teach technology skills to people with Down syndrome. Woohoo!

Toilet Training Seminar
Last month we also hosted a Toilet Training Seminar in partnership with the Down Syndrome Clinic at the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. Alice Belgrade, MS Ed., LCPC, BCBA, joined us to discuss specific strategies that are effective in toilet training kids with Down syndrome, health issues that complicate the process, and typical patterns. 

DSAW Fun Day
On Thursday, June 21 we hosted our first DSAW Fun Day! Fun Days are a mini, one day respite day camp for people with Down syndrome ages 10-16. This month we took a trip to Helium Trampoline Park!! We got to jump on the trampolines, battle with inflatables, and party in the blacklight. Join us for one or all of our upcoming Fun Days on July 19, July 26, and August 9!

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Tween Day Camp
During the week of June 11, we hosted our first EVER Tween Respite Day Camp! Individuals with Down syndrome ages 10-16 joined us for a jam-packed week of crafts, outdoor activities, field trips, and more. We cooked together, did yoga, celebrated National Kindness Day, made Father's Day gifts, and went to the zoo, Cool Waters, mini golfing, and bowling. What an incredible, exhausting week!! Kids with Down syndrome ages 4-9 can join us in July for our Kids Day Camp!

iCan Shine Bike Camp
We partnered with the Autism Society of Southeastern Wisconsin to host an iCan Shine Bike Camp during the last week of June! The camp helps individuals with special needs learn to ride a two-wheeled bicycle independently. Such a fun week!

Circles Class
In June we continued to host our Circles class. The Circles program teaches students how relationships can be formed and maintained according to the social norms & social boundaries of our day and age. DSAW staff member Erin Miller teaches the class with her job coach. We're beginning a second session in July! If your child could benefit from learning about personal boundaries and relationships, register here!

Young Leaders Bootcamp
We spent this month at Bootcamp learning outdoor skills! We went hiking, learned how to set up a tent, did a nature scavenger hunt, and finished the month by building a campfire and making s'mores!

Bootcamp meets on Tuesday nights at 6pm. Join us in July to get to know yourself and others better, make vision boards, and craft personal resolutions!

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Cooking with the Kiddos
At our first session of Cooking in June we made chicken Caesar wraps, and at our second session we made summer pasta salad and mini cheesecakes! Cooking meets on the first and third Wednesday of the month at our state office in West Allis. Sign up to cook with us on July 18! There will be no session on July 4th.

Motor Skills Playgroup
Our Motor Skills Playgroup meets every second and fourth Tuesday morning! This group is a fun chance for children to learn occupational therapy skills in a free environment, while parents enjoy coffee and each other's company. In June, we began music therapy during our regular playgroup session. Playgroup runs from 9:30-11:30am, and we'll have music therapy from 10-10:45. Music therapy will be available through August at no cost to your family! Sign up to join us!

Young Leaders Academy
Our Young Leaders Academy at our West Allis office meets every second and fourth Thursday of the month. In May we launched Young Leaders on the Northside! They meet on the first and second Friday nights. Classes start off with an energetic game and end with an hour of employment-readiness curriculum. Self-Advocates are invited to join our class anytime. Come out to Young Leaders Academy in July in West Allis or in Fox Point!

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Tween Club
The second Friday night of the month is always our favorite since we have Tween Club! This month we celebrated the FIFA World Cup with soccer games and activities.  Next month's Tween Club will be on Friday, July 13. Drop your 10+ year old off for a night of games, snacks, activities, and more. Sign up to join us!

Parent's Night Out
Each month, DSAW parents, grandparents, and caregivers get together for a night of casual conversation and free appetizers. We meet every second Friday of the month! Come party with us on Friday, July 13!

Family Movie Night
Every fourth Friday of the month, we invite families to a movie night at our office in West Allis!  Parents are invited to stay with their kids, or drop them off for a night of respite. In May we watched Paddington, and we loved it so much that in June we watched Paddington 2! Watch Annie with us on July 27 :)

Dementia 101 Webinar
In June we also launched our new webinar series focusing on Alzheimer's and Down syndrome. The first installment, Dementia 101, discussed the basics of dementia and the link between Alzheimer's and Down syndrome. You can watch the recording here! Thanks to Bader Philanthropies for funding this series.

Summer Wellness Class
Our summer session of our Wellness Class also started in June. The class is designed for adults with Down syndrome ages 18-30 and focuses on exercise, healthy nutrition, cooking, and overall wellness. It's held at our office on Mondays and Thursdays.


Sheboygan

Mini Golf Outing
DSAW-Sheboygan families got together at Harbor Pointe mini golf in Sheboygan on June 23. We had the first hour at the golf course to ourselves, and then we enjoyed donuts! We had so much fun at this event. Come out to Lakeside Park in Fond du Lac next month for our Summer Picnic!

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Above & Beyond Children's Museum Field Trip
Again in June we went to the Children's Museum for Special Needs Night! The exhibits were adapted, sound was turned low, and the museum was closed to the general public. Meet us in July for this monthly playgroup!

All Abilities Dance Class
We are having so much FUN getting moving at our All Abilities Dance Class at In Motion Dance Studio! Dancers of all ages and experience came out to learn about proper stretching techniques and foundational dance moves. We still have 2 sessions left! Sign up today!


La Crosse

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Family Speedway Event
On June 2nd DSAW-COTH-GLA families visited the La Crosse Speedway. It started out as a great evening!! The families who came were smiling and excited to enjoy a night of racing! Cooper and Katy were courageous enough to ride around the track in one of the race cars! Then, even before the races started, the rain came! And it sadly ended the night short. It certainly did not dampen the spirit I felt in the air and we will set a new date to recapture the feeling! Thank you to all who joined us!! 

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DSAW & WisCorps Nature for All Families          The DSAW group and Autism Foundation are proud to partner with Nature For All Families. Nature For All Families is sponsored by WisCorps and takes place at Myrick Park in the WisCorps building. So far there have been two sessions. Each session focuses on a certain animal type (for example, bugs). You learn about that animal type through fun snacks, crafts, and outdoor activities. Families of all abilities are welcome! Amazing teachers\helpers plan fun activities and teach everybody interesting facts about the animal and plant life around Myrick Park. Even parents learn new things! One mom even said she felt like she learned more than her kids! The entirety of Nature For All Families is filled with hands on activities. About half of the time is spent outdoors spending time observing the world around us. Some of the time is also spent reading about nature in fun books. Snack time is also fun! Even if your child doesn't like to eat, they can still make an animal feature out of their food. When the two hours of fun time ends, you leave with a nature activity packet to continue learning at home! Nature For All Families is an awesome, hands on learning time that all families will enjoy!
Thanks to Elizabeth Matz for writing this article!

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Loggers Game Family Night Out & Fundraiser
We went to a La Crosse Loggers game on June 24! Half of all of our tickets sales came back to our chapter, so not only was it an awesome Family Night Out, we also raised money for DSAW! Haley Hellerud event got to represent DSAW and throw out the first pitch at the game!


Green Bay

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Playgroup
In June we had our monthly playgroup at Optimist Park in Allouez, and it was opening day for the Miracle League! We have playgroup every first Saturday of the month at 9am. Join us on July 7 at CP! No RSVP required.

Brat Fry Fundraiser
Thanks to Festival Foods and our incredible volunteers, DSAW-Green Bay was able to raise over $400 at a Brat Fry Fundraiser on June 10!! DSAW families helped cook and serve food. It was a busy day, but totally worth it!

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Strider Bike Camp
During the week of June 11, we hosted a Strider Bike Camp to help pave the way for children to ride a bike independently in the future. We had some AMAZING volunteers who made this week possible. Thank you to the staff at LaForce and to our other volunteers! Check out the photos in the Green Bay Press Gazette!

Mom's Night Out
We also had our biggest Mom's Night Out ever at Luigi's Pizza Palace this month!! Moms, grandmas, and female caregivers enjoyed a casual night of yummy food, drinks, and time together! Join us for our next MNO on July 22!


Central WI    

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Zoo and Cupcakes Event  
In June, families in Central Wisconsin went to Marshfield to visit the Wildwood Zoo! We had a great day with the animals, and after the zoo, we headed over to Cupcakes on 8th for a snack! The bakery is owned by a mom and her son with Down syndrome. Such a fun event!                                                                                           

Parent's Coffee Date
We had a coffee date for all parents on June 20! Moms, dads, grandparents, and caregivers came together for coffee and casual conversation at Vino Latte in Weston.              


North Central WI

Family Picnic
Families in North Central Wisconsin came together in Antigo for a summer picnic on June 24! They enjoyed a fun afternoon with a wading pool/splash bad, playground, and food! Everyone brought something to share, and we had a beautiful day together.                                      


Chippewa Valley

Trapshoot Event
On Father's Day, DSAW-Chippewa Valley families and their dads, brothers, and grandpas went to Westgate for a fun afternoon of archery! They also had lemonade and cookies! 


MADSS

Dad's Night Out
Dads, grandpas, and male caregivers in the Madison area got together at Buffalo Wild Wings for food and to watch the Brewers game! Join us for an upcoming event in the MADSS coverage area! We have a picnic on Sunday, July 15 at Badger Prairie County Park!


An Interview with Gnat and Corky, Author/Illustrator Team of Addison the Light Catcher

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DSAW had a chance to sit down author Courtney Kotlowski and artist Natalie Sorrentino (aka Gnat & Corky), who interview real kids and create stories that capture their spirits. They talked with Addison and her brother Asher, who has Down syndrome, and realized that their story needed to be told! Addison the Light Catcher is a story about love, admiration, and the special bond between siblings. It sheds light on the power of advocacy and the magic inside everyone. Read on to check out our interview with Gnat and Corky!


How did your book series come about?

It started as a blog where children could answer Gnat & Corky’s questions. We would create a story and watercolor illustration based on the spirit of the kids. The response was overwhelming and the stories are so universal that we thought a book series would be something special to share. This has been a nearly 3-year process and we are so happy to be published by Orange Hat Publishing in Waukesha. 

What is Addison the Light Catcher about? 

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It’s a story about love, advocacy and the special bond between siblings. Addison is her brother Asher’s biggest fan and advocate. She is a “light catcher” for all children with Down syndrome and special needs. The story is a fictional one about Addison’s “super-duper light catcher” that she made when her brother was born to share his light with the world. She tries to capture his light, but the light is scared, nervous and shy. The light eventually surrenders and she throws it up into the sky where it becomes a star/light for all the world to see and love. 

What do you want people to take away from reading Addison the Light Catcher?

That there is light inside of everyone. That it should be found, shared and honored. We are all light catchers for each other in this world. 

Define Light Catcher: 

A person who sees the beauty, joy, potential and light in others and shares it with the world.

What age(s) are your books targeted for?

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All people of all ages. Really they are universal stories that are meant to be read to the little ones, treasured by the older ones and shared and spread by the oldest. Our books transcend age. 

How do you come up with the stories?

They come from interviewing the kids and letting their spirit shine. I never want to place the story on the child, I want it to come to me in the middle of the night when something they said ignites a universal message that needs to be shared. Each story is built from the soul of the child. 

What is your process?

Children submit their answers at www.gnatandcorky.comwe read all submissions and then Courtney interviews the child. Once the story is drafted, Courtney hands it over to Natalie who paints a watercolor illustration. Our books are a much longer process because each story is now multiple pages with multiple illustrations. It’s literally soul work and sometimes the magic is there and sometimes you have to wait for it to spark up again. 

How do you work so collaboratively together?

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We have a very respectful and playful relationship. We are connected on another level. There is complete trust and awe on both sides. We don’t question each other’s talent- we embrace and honor it and from that we have created literally hundreds of pieces! We are constantly creating things. We are both living/doing our passion and it’s just a joy to see it come together and have people respond as they have. We also laugh a lot and talk nearly every day. 

What are some of the other things Gnat and Corky have in store?

We have a Gnat & Corky Snippet book that is full of feel good sayings, poems, quips, and advice and The Answer Book that is a collection of all the answers from the submissions we’ve gotten over the years. 

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What is the message you are trying to spread/send with The Gnat & Corky Series?
Empathy, joy and acceptance. Everyone has a story. We all have a spirit and a purpose for being here. Our hope is that this collection, when put together, starts to paint a story of how similar our differences can make us when we’re all tied together.  We hope people treasure these books forever. 

What are some of the other titles/books and what subjects do they cover?
The first four are Addison the Light Catcher, Ken the Keeper, Will It, and From Malena with Love

Ken the Keeper comes from the spirit of a boy who started a no-kill animal shelter in the Philippines. This story is about tending and caring for the helpless and  brining compassion forward to help all living things thrive. 

Will It is a story about living life to the fullest, without fear or regret- William, is a teenage who is nearly blind, but that doesn’t stop him from doing anything.  The message is be brave and try, which is the spirit that Will exudes. 

From Malena with Love is a story about brining color back into the world after it goes gray- it asks the  reader how they would bring love back if it went away- Malena decides to write love notes to everything in the world and by doing so, the color starts to come back. Malena is Natalie’s daughter and her interview was all about love and color and brining joy to people’s lives. Her spirit is loving and joyful. 

How can kids submit their answers to Gnat & Corky’s questions?

Visit www.gnatandcorky.comand answers our questions. 

Where can fans/readers find you?

You can follow us on Facebook and Instagram @gnatandcorky or contact Orange Hat Publishing to schedule a visit or reading at www.orangehatpublishing.com

Meet a DSAW Leader: Marie

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My name is Marie Sherman and I’ve recently been inducted as a member of the DSAW Sheboygan chapter board! I am also the Project Manager of the 2018 DSAW Sheboygan Awareness Walk! I’ve been married to my wonderful husband, John, just about 5 years and am a mother of two incredibly amazing children. My family and I moved to the Sheboygan county from the Minneapolis, MN area just over 3 years ago, and I currently work full-time.

My son, John Wayne, is 3 years old and a wild, loving young man who is an attentive brother to his little sister Evelyn. Evelyn just turned 11 months old this past weekend, and how the time has flown! We found out that our sweet girl was blessed with an extra chromosome about 10 days after her birth when the karyotype lab returned. We were quickly connected with the DS clinic at Children’s Hospital, where the experienced team helped connect us with Parent’s First Call program and DSAW to name a few. We’ve learned how much this diagnosis has blessed, and enriched our lives. Evelyn shows us daily tenacity that is inspiring. Her graceful determination tackles whatever life throws her way without losing the infectious and loving personality she is known for. She always leaves those who meet her with a smile! 

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Being introduced to such a vast and compassionate community has compelled me to get involved with DSAW. This new family we’ve been introduced to has brought new experiences, resources, knowledge, friendships and adventures. I am eager to help give back to a program and community that has already enriched my life so much, and will continue to touch more.  Looking forward to what the future has in store!

Flopping and Bolting in Individuals with Down Syndrome

by Kurt Reising

Flopping and Bolting are common behaviors for individuals with Down syndrome (Ds). Flopping is somewhat like a form of non-violent protest.  My daughter uses this tactic from time to time. She drops like a stone with a lot of force even on hard floors, yanking her arm out of my hand, without regard to possible injury.  Bolting can be even more dangerous, as a child may suddenly take off without considering what the consequences may be. Both behaviors can be frustrating, embarrassing, and potentially dangerous, but there are some strategies that may help deal with these common behaviors.

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Coming up with ways to ease flopping depends a great deal on why the child is displaying the behavior. Children with Ds sometimes have trouble moving to new activities.  If you are going to do something that the child does not enjoy, (or even activities they DO enjoy), and do not prepare them for the transition, it increases the likelihood that the child will act out.  While prepping can help, all the preparation in the world will not help if the child simply does not like or want to do something.  You may be able to anticipate the activities that trigger flopping and come up with a way to make the activity something the child can tolerate.

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Bolting, like flopping, is easier to deal with if you can understand why a child does it.  Children with Ds have trouble controlling their impulses.  If they see something interesting they may just go for it. This can be a potential disaster because they are not going to consider the possible danger in doing so. My daughter is a bolter, and she does it for the entertainment of reaction.   She likes to be chased, and probably enjoys the attention and concern she sees in the faces of the people chasing her.  Seeking the thrill of all that attention can also be a motivation for a child to bolt. Dr. Naomi Swiezy states that children enjoy attention.  If they do not receive positive attention they will resort to behavior that gets negative attention, as they would rather have negative attention than none at all.  Children learn over time what actions get the best responses, positive or negative.  This is called differential responding. 

Many common strategies for dealing with these behaviors are ineffective.  It is logical to believe that you could convince your child to get up from their flop by yelling at them.  You may even try threatening them by taking away a toy or a privilege such as electronics, or try promising them a reward if the agree to comply. You may feel that looking them in the eye and giving them a stern lecture will let them know just how scared they made you feel, and ensure that they will never do it again.  Unfortunately, these strategies have very little positive impact, and may actually feed future similar behavior.

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What can a parent do when the traditional discipline tool belt offers no help?  In the case of flopping, it is best taken care of proactively. Let your child know what activity they can expect.  My own daughter has trouble going to bed, but when I gently remind her in a positive tone a couple of times before bedtime she does better. Preparing a child for activities can get more sophisticated if need be. Many behavior experts, including Dr. David Stein, recommend visual schedules. These are explained in his book Supporting Positive Behavior in Children and Teens With Down Syndrome. Visual schedules consist of pictures of activities and places that explain the routine for the day. These reminders let the child mentally prepare for what they are about to go through, so they won’t feel surprised by something they may not want to do.   Anticipating activities that may cause behavior issues and being prepared yourself can also help.  Having a plan to make an activity more pleasant for the child is a good strategy. Dr. Stein uses an example in his book of making grocery shopping fun by creating a visual shopping list with pictures and a reward at the end.  This way the child is engaged, receives positive feedback for finding the listed items, and ultimately gets to do or receive something they will enjoy at the end. Nobody knows your child like you do, so any creative idea with similar elements may be effective for a particular individual.  

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When dealing with bolting, your reaction is the key to easing the behavior.  The child may be in danger when bolting occurs, so immediate reaction is required if there is any chance of the child being hurt.  Once the child is safe, the work begins.  It is important not to validate their behavior as a source of exciting attention.   Although it is extremely difficult, do not become visibly upset.  Dr. Stein recommends calmly getting the child somewhere safe, and gently stating “no running.”   Simple, direct language delivered with a poker face has a better chance of reducing the behavior.  In the case of children sneaking away, prevention is important.  Putting hard to reach locks on exits, creating visual cues like stop signs at exits, or even installing alarms can help keep a child from sneaking away.  In the age of technology, it is possible to give your child a discrete GPS device so they can be quickly located if they do leave.  It may also be a good idea to contact the local police and your neighbors to let them know the situation.

Flopping and bolting are common.  They can be embarrassing and even dangerous for you and your child.  Understanding why these behaviors occur is important in developing strategies for their reduction.  Some traditional methods for prevention of these behaviors may exacerbate the problem. While finding prevention methods that work for you and your child may require unconventional means, there are ways of dealing with these behaviors.

Looking Back on May 2018

Milwaukee

Monkey Joe's Party
On May 12, DSAW families from Southeastern Wisconsin got together at Monkey Joe's in Waukesha for a morning of jumping, sliding fun! We enjoyed an hour at Monkey Joe's before it opened so we could have the place to ourselves! Come out next month for our Family Activity Day -- we're going to Miller Park for a Brewer game on June 24!

 Thank you to Pat Laws and the Wisconsin Association of Mutual Insurance Companies for their donation of more than $1,200!

Thank you to Pat Laws and the Wisconsin Association of Mutual Insurance Companies for their donation of more than $1,200!

Sibling Events
Last month we also hosted two events for kids who have a sibling with Down syndrome! One session was designed for kids ages 9-14; they made personal pizzas, played games, and learned more about Down syndrome. The second session was for kids ages 4-8. The younger siblings read books, did a craft, and talked about their siblings together! Stay tuned for more programming that focuses specifically on siblings!!

Circles Class
In May we also launched a Circles Class for individuals ages 12 and up. The Circles program teaches students how relationships can be formed and maintained according to the social norms & social boundaries of our day and age. Our newest DSAW staff member Erin Miller teaches the class with her job coach, Mary West. We're beginning a second session in July! If your child could benefit from learning about personal boundaries and relationships, register here!

Young Leaders Bootcamp
We spent this month at Bootcamp gardening! We planted seeds, worked in the DSAW community garden, and started growing blackberries, basil, raspberries, and more! 

Bootcamp meets on Tuesday nights at 6pm. Join us in June to learn about outdoor and camping skills! 

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Cooking with the Kiddos
This month at Cooking we made super yummy personal pizzas! Cooking meets on the first and third Wednesday of the month at our state office in West Allis. Sign up to cook with us in June!

Motor Skills Playgroup
Our Motor Skills Playgroup meets every second and fourth Tuesday morning! This group is a fun chance for children to learn occupational therapy skills in a free environment, while parents enjoy coffee and each other's company. In June, we will start offering FREE music therapy during our regular playgroup session. Playgroup runs from 9:30-11:30am, and we'll have music therapy from 10-10:45. Sign up to join us!

Young Leaders Academy
Our Young Leaders Academy at our West Allis office meets every second and fourth Thursday of the month. In May we launched Young Leaders on the Northside! They meet on the first and second Friday nights. Classes start off with an energetic game and end with an hour of employment-readiness curriculum. Self-Advocates are invited to join our class anytime. Come out to Young Leaders Academy in June in West Allis or in Fox Point!

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Tween Club
The second Friday night of the month is always our favorite since we have Tween Club! This month was right before Mother's Day, so we decorated flower pots to give to our moms on Sunday! Next month's Tween Club will be on Friday, June 8. Drop your 10+ year old off for a night of games, snacks, activities, and more. Sign up to join us!

Parent's Night Out
Each month, DSAW parents, grandparents, and caregivers get together for a night of casual conversation and free appetizers. We meet every second Friday of the month! In May, we switched up our location and went to Cleveland Pub. We loved it so much that we're going there again in June! Come hang out with us on Friday, June 8th.

Family Movie Night
Every fourth Friday of the month, we invite families to a movie night at our office in West Allis!  Parents are invited to stay with their kids, or drop them off for a night of respite. In May we watched Paddington. What a great movie! Watch Paddington 2 with us next month :)


Green Bay

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Monthly Playgroup!
DSAW-Green Bay hosted a joint playgroup with DSAW-Sheboygan. Families met up at Henry Schuette Park in Manitowoc for a morning of fun!! Join us next month at Optimist Park!

 

Mom's Night out
Our awesome Green Bay Moms came out to Hagemeister Park for an evening of appetizers and conversation. We had a great time! Join us next month at Luigi's Pizza Palace!

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Family Zoo Day                                           
Last but most definitely not least, DSAW-Green Bay families met up at the DeYoung Family Zoo in Michigan on Memorial Day! We had a birthday party for all the animals in the zoo and even got to feed and pet some critters in the petting zoo! 


Fox Cities

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Circles Class
DSAW-Fox Cities Circles class on Friday nights was a huge success! During April and May, teens and young adults got to come together to learn about safety and social boundaries! We plan to offer this class annually. 

New Parent Support Group                                 We also held another New Parent Support Group at the DSAW-Fox Cities office! This group is a kid-free zone where parents or caregivers can discuss their feelings in a non-judgmental environment. Stay tuned for future dates.


Sheboygan

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Above & Beyond Children's Museum Field Trip
May was our third trip to the Children's Museum for Special Needs Night! The exhibits were adapted, sound was turned low, and the museum was closed to the general public. What an awesome field trip!! Join us in June for this monthly outing!!

All Abilities Dance Class
We are having a kickin' time getting moving at our All Abilities Dance Class at In Motion Dance Studio! Dancers of all ages and experience came out to learn about proper stretching techniques and foundational dance moves. Students are invited to join the class at any time. We still have 3 sessions left! Sign up today!


North Central    

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Family Bowling Outing    
DSAW-North Central gathered at Hodag Lanes for a family friendly afternoon of fun! We had an AWESOME turn out for this event!!! Strikes all around! This was our first event in Rhinelander, and we can't wait to continue offering programs and events to families in this area of Wisconsin!                                                                                                         


La Crosse

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Self-Advocate Movie Outing
Our self-advocates had a great time at an outing to the Rivoli Theatre & Pizzeria! We got together for lunch and a showing of Sherlock Gnomes! Stay tuned for details on a self-advocate picnic in August!                                           

All Abilities Day                                                     On May 12, the Down Syndrome Association of Wisconsin- COTH-Greater La Crosse Area and the La Crosse Area Autism Foundation partnered to host an "All Abilities Day" (formerly "Light It Up Blue for Autism") at the La Crosse Wellness Center. Local therapy providers, disability resources, and businesses that have adaptive lessons were present to tell attendees how they serve individuals with Down syndrome/other special needs! A special thank you to the La Crosse Wellness Center for providing the facility, ALL of our vendors who came and the wonderful volunteers from DSAW and LAF that made this event a success. 

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Parent's Night Out
On May 20,  DSAW-COTH-Greater La Crosse Area enjoyed a beautiful night on the patio at Fiesta Mexicana.  It was great to see some new faces join the fun! Parent's Night Out events are a great way to share information with other parents, brag about the accomplishments of our loved ones with Ds, support one another with issues they might be facing and to have a nice out with friends.  Join us for our next PNO, July 21st at Vernon Vineyards! 


Chippewa Valley

Parents Night Out
Our Chippewa Valley families got together at 29 Pines at the end of this month for a night out! We had a great time and excellent food! Make sure to sign up for our other upcoming events! 


Central WI

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All Abilities Play Date
Last month we got together at the Greenheck field house for an all abilities playdate! We had music, snacks, games and even a bounce house!!! 

Mom's Coffee Date
We also hosted a Mom's coffee date at Vino Latte! Moms, grandmas, female caregivers and siblings all got together to enjoy some coffee and conversation with other women who have a loved one with Down syndrome.


Rock County

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We are so excited about our partnership with the Madison Area Down Syndrome Society!

In May, MADSS and Heartland Church, in partnership with Selfless Ambition, hosted A Night to Remember prom for teens and adults with special needs. What a night!

Join us for a Beloit Snappers Baseball Game on August 12th! Stay tuned for details about a family mini golf event, pool party, summer picnic and more!!


Meet a DSAW Leader: Erin

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Hi! My name is Erin Miller. I just started working at the DSAW state office in West Allis, and I’m on the autism spectrum. I graduated from UW-Whitewater with a degree in English Writing , and am on both the Autism Society and A.L.A.S board (Alianza Latina Aplicando Soluciones); promoting the independence of people. Everywhere I go, I find connections in our communities! When I worked at an inclusive summer camp, we started out autism-focused.  Then we found *so many people* needed acceptance and inclusion. So we decided to open it up to everyone! When I started lesson planning at DSAW, I learned that both the students and I do better with extra time to think.  People with disabilities are often said to have special needs, but really, everyone needs help sometimes.  With the needed support, we can live great, big beautiful lives! I look forward to connecting with you! 

 

5 Strategies for Dealing with Behavior Issues in Children with Down Syndrome

by Kurt Reising

Are you looking for strategies to help improve the behavior of your loved one? Look no further! These five strategies tend to work well for individuals with Down syndrome.

1. Routine

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Routine and structure are important for any child, but this is especially true for children with Down syndrome (DS). Individuals with DS often have trouble receiving and remembering verbal direction and remembering verbal directions if they are too complicated. Typically giving structure to small daily activities like getting dressed, bathroom activities, and meal times will help children learn these simple tasks. Sticking with the routine and talking through them in short statements of direction can be great for avoiding any negative behavior that may come from these situations. Many behavior experts, including Dr. David Stein, recommend visual schedules. These are explained in his book Supporting Positive Behavior in Children and Teens With Down Syndrome. Routine is also aided by prepping your child for the next thing they will need to do. Dr. Mary Pipan writes that transitioning between activities requires preparation, and can be eased by preparing your child verbally or visually for the coming transition. She also recommends visual schedules. Visual schedules are made of pictures of activities and places that explain the routine for the day. 

 

2. Reward

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Positively reinforcing good behavior is a powerful motivation for children, and especially for children with DS. Rewards can take many forms. One form is promising something in order to persuade a child to perform a certain behavior you would like them to perform. This reward can take the form of a treat or an activity that the child likes. These are spur of the moment bargains one might strike with a child, but many child behavior experts recommend a more structured reward system like a token economy. A token economy is a structured reward system normally consisting of a simple chart with pictures of positive behavior. The chart is check marked when good behaviors are exhibited, and then a reasonable reward is given to reinforce and encourage the behavior to continue. Dr Stein has a section in his book with recommendations for setting up a token economy. 

Another form that can have lasting effects over time is simply praising good behavior. It is important and powerful because praise immediately gives a child a positive feeling they can associate with the behavior they just displayed. When the child displays a positive behavior, such as picking up toys when play is over or even eating their vegetables, it is important to let them know they have done a good job. High fives can go a long way!

 

3. Choice

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Whenever possible, give your child a choice. This will help them feel empowered and it will also minimize negative behavior triggers. By allowing the child to choose between items you have already approved, you won’t have to force choices upon them. These can be simple choices, like what cereal to eat for breakfast or what shirt to wear to school.

Flexibility in discipline is also important. Children with DS (along with typically-developing children) will often misbehave simply for attention or a reaction, so it is important not to take the bait. Often any reaction, be it anger or laughter, is all they are looking to achieve. Ignoring minor inappropriate behavior is better than reacting. A reaction would positively reward the very inappropriate behavior you want to stop.  Dr. Stein adds that when all else fails, preserve the relationship with your child. Yelling at your child for every little thing does not foster good behavior, and may do more harm than doing nothing at all.

 

4. Redirection

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Children with DS can easily slip into the habit of sensory seeking. Sensory input are messages we receive from our five senses, and can be used by children to sooth themselves in times of stress or to act out when they are feeling frustrated or unhappy. Some of the things they may choose to fulfill their sensory seeking may be annoying or displeasing. Some behaviors may occur out of boredom and a need for attention. Examples of sensory seeking behaviors include jumping, frequently touching others/objects, and making loud noises.  

Sometimes the best way to deal with sensory seeking is to help the child direct their free time activity by spending some time with them playing, reading a book, or coloring. These behaviors can often be anticipated. Once you know what may trigger the negative activity, you can be prepared with a replacement activity to redirect the child to a positive activity.

 

5. Consistency

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Consistency is important for behavior modification. Children naturally test boundaries and make unconscious notes of how their behavior is dealt with and how that made them feel. It sounds simple to be consistent, and it seems simple to follow a plan of encouraging good behaviors and discouraging bad, but Dr. Stein warns that human nature has a tendency to notice the bad over the good. He also stresses the importance of presenting a united, consistent front. This means that siblings, teachers, and other caregivers must be on the same page regarding your strategies.


Sources:

Stein, D. (2016) Supporting Positive Behavior in Children and Teens With Down Syndrome: The respond but Don’t React Method. Bethesda, MD Woodbine House. 

Pipan, M., MD. (2014, February 14). Managing Behavior in Children with Down Syndrome: Part 2. Down Syndrome News, Retrieved March 3, 2018, from ndsccenter.org

Pipan, M., MD. (2013, October 15). Managing Behavior in Children with Down Syndrome: Part 1. Down Syndrome News, Retrieved March 3, 2018, from ndsccenter.org 

 

Looking Back on April 2018

Milwaukee

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Family Bowling Event
On April 14, families took a trip with us down to Racine for a Family Bowling Event! We had almost 70 people come out for an afternoon of bowling, pizza, and fun! Come join us in May for a free Family Activity Day at Monkey Joe's in Waukesha!

Young Leaders Bootcamp
At Bootcamp this month we continued to explore our self-directive voices and got to present to the board about our lives! We also teamed up with Young Leaders Academy and took a trip to the Medical College to learn about advocating for ourselves at the doctor's office.

Bootcamp meets on Tuesday nights at 6pm. Join us in May for gardening month!

Cooking with the Kiddos
This month at Cooking we made some pretty delicious meals! At the start of April we made homemade orange chicken, and at our second session we made spaghetti sauce, garlic bread, and fruit pizza. Cooking meets on the first and third Wednesday of the month at our state office in West Allis. Sign up here to join us in May!

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Motor Skills Playgroup
Our Motor Skills Playgroup meets every second and fourth Tuesday morning! This group is a fun chance for children to learn occupational therapy skills in a free environment, while parents enjoy coffee and each other's company. Come play with us in May!

Young Leaders Academy
Our Young Leaders Academy meets every second and fourth Thursday of the month. This month we took a field trip to the Medical College of Wisconsin to learn about self-advocacy at the doctor's office and meet with the medical students. We even got to take some vitals! Classes start off with an energetic game and end with an hour of employment-readiness curriculum. Self-Advocates are invited to join our class anytime. Come spend time with us in May!

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Tween Club
We had an AMAZING month at Tween Club in April. We made our own little sail boats to race in a rain gutter regatta! We had a great turnout and a lot of incredible volunteers. Next month's Tween Club will be on Friday, May 11. Drop your 10+ year old off for a night of games, snacks, activities, and more. Sign up today!

Parent's Night Out
Each month, DSAW parents, grandparents, and caregivers get together for a night of casual conversation and free appetizers. We meet every second Friday of the month! In May, we're switching it up and going to Cleveland Pub on May 11! Join us!

Family Movie Night
Every fourth Friday of the month, we invite families to a movie night at our office in West Allis! In April we watched Ferdinand!! Parents are invited to stay with their kids, or drop them off for a night of respite. Come out for movie night next month.

Club DSAW
On the fourth Saturday of the month, we get together with self-advocates ages 15+ for a special Club DSAW event! This month we went bowling at Bluemound Bowl! In May we will be taking a trip to the Milwaukee County Zoo for an afternoon of fun! Stay tuned for more details!


Green Bay

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Get Air Playgroup
DSAW-Green Bay hosted its monthly playgroup at Get Air Trampoline Park in April, and wow did we have an awesome time!! Families came out to enjoy a morning of jumping fun! Come hang out with us in May at Henry Schuette Park in Manitowoc.

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Self Advocate Bowling Event
April was such an awesome month for DSAW-GB! We hosted our first ever event just for self-advocates. Five young adults came out to bowl with us and enjoy a pizza lunch. Stay tuned for more self-advocate outings in the next few months!

All Abilities Family Night Out
On April 21, we went to the YMCA for a Family Night Out! We got to swim, play in the gym, do flower-themed crafts and activities, and go on a bounce house!

Parent's Night Out
Our monthly Mom's Night Out in April was open to ALL parents, grandparents, caregivers, and adult siblings. We got together at Margarita's for a casual evening of conversation, drinks, and appetizers provided by DSAW! Moms, join us for our regular Mom's Night Out in May at Hagemeister Park!


Fox Cities

Circles Class
DSAW-Fox Cities started offering Circles class on Friday nights in April. Teens and young adults got to come together to learn about safety and social boundaries! We plan to offer this class annually.

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Teen FrienDS Club
For this month's Teen FrienDS Club, we got to go to a pottery painting class! We braved the snowstormy weather with our friends from Freedom HS National Honor Society and painted some awesome pottery! Thank you to The Fire Pottery Studio for hosting us!

New Parent Support Group
We also held another New Parent Support Group at the DSAW-Fox Cities office in April. This group is a kid-free zone where parents or caregivers can discuss their feelings in a non-judgmental environment. Stay tuned for future dates.

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Mom's Night Out
DSAW-Fox Cities had a HUGE Mom's Night Out at Benvenuto's in Oshkosh. We have such a wonderful group of moms, and we had an amazing night enjoying food and conversation with our friends!


Sheboygan

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Above & Beyond Children's Museum Field Trip
We went to the children's museum in Sheboygan for the second time! We are starting to meet there every second Monday of the month for the museum's Special Needs Night. The exhibits are adapted, sound is turned low, and the museum is closed to the general public. Come join us in May for a fun playgroup at an amazing museum!

All Abilities Dance Class
April was the first month of our All Abilities Dance Class with In Motion Dance Studio! Babies, kids, and young adults all came out to learn about proper stretching techniques and foundational dance moves. Students are invited to join the class at any time. We still have 4 sessions left! Sign up today.


La Crosse

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Nature for All Families
Thanks to our beautiful friends at WisCorps, we held a Nature for All Families class on April 22 - Earth Day! Four families came together to learn about nature, make crafts with Cheerios, and touch a real snake! We're looking forward to the next installment of this class in June!

Parent's Night Out
We had an amazing group of parents come together for our April Parent's Night Out at Java Vino! Chris Peterson, the Parenting Professor, was a special guest. He is a facilitator for Love and Logic that educated us about Love and Logic parenting and we educated him about kids with Down syndrome. The reoccurring theme for the evening was More Alike Then Different. Join us for our May Parent's Night Out on May 19 at Fiesta Mexicana in La Crosse, WI.  


Central WI

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Mom's Coffee Date
DSAW-Central WI hosted a Mom's Coffee Date at Vino Latte on April 19! We welcomed a special guest presenter, Carol Wesley from the Achieve Center, to tell us more about how people with disabilities can reach their full potential. Join us for our May Coffee Date on the 14th!

Parent's Night Out
We also hosted a Parent's Night Out at the end of April! Parents, grandparents, and caregivers joined us at Sconni's for a casual evening of conversation and appetizers.


Rock County

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In partnership with the Madison Area Down Syndrome Society, we hosted the first ever kids' playgroup in the Rock County Area! Families gathered at a library for snacks, story time, and to let their little ones play together!