autism, caregivers, Morgan, Uncategorized

Social Graces and Hidden Disabilities

“Parents don’t make mistakes because they don’t care, but because they care so deeply.” – Berry Brazelton

As a parent of a young woman on the autism spectrum, I’m realizing there’s a fine line between accommodating and crippling Morgan. I am forever tripping over that line. The Judgers only trip me more. The Getters keep me trying.

You see, there are two Morgans.  The one I see at home is confident and assured, able to express her wants and needs most of the time, able to create, and even crack a dry joke.

Then there is the Morgan out in public.  The one that tears at my heart, because she’s so anxious about “Too Many Friends”, uncomfortable places, not enough schedule, too much schedule,… She has two reactions to the stress of public gatherings.  One is to loudly announce her discontent to everyone, and the other is to completely shut down.

A while back, Morgan participated in an exhibition basketball game.  Things were just a little noisy and chaotic.  She squeezed her eyes shut, and lowered her head to disappear.  I watched from a distance as peers passed her by, moving on to others who met them with smiles.  Morgan’s self isolation continues to cost her so many opportunities.  Whenever this happens, everything in me wants to jump in and rescue her (and I have on several occasions), but I realize there’s going to be a time when I’m no longer able to be that link of understanding between her and the world.  In order to make it out there, she will have to somehow find it within herself to reach back to those who reach out to her.  Daily prayers go up for her social graces, and others’ understanding.

Thankfully, we had a successful event recently, which gave me a little renewed hope.  Morgan was asked to pass out programs for a community gathering with Borderless Arts Tennessee.  She was given an active roll, and rose to the occasion.  She also sat along side friends to do a little creative activity.  Later, when she announced she was “Tired and All Done”, friends gave a knowing smile.  Morgan was asked to help present a couple of awards, and continued to hang with a little encouragement.  She even managed a smile for the camera, in the middle of her protests. 😉

I. Just. LOVE. the Getters, those who truly understand, and I’m most thankful for the Knowers, like Dr. Temple Grandin, Emelyne Bingham, and other amazing women on the spectrum for reminding me to continue to challenge Morgan.

In my parenting experience, I’ve had many proud moments, and some very humbling ones. When our children are flying high, we can be tempted to pat ourselves on the back, thinking we’ve got it all together.  In those times of pride, shame on me if I’m ever a Judger of another parent, who’s loving their child the best way they know how.  “But for the grace…”

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

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autism, caregivers, faith, family, Morgan, Uncategorized

Pinning Down the Practice of Living Unrehearsed

“Hope for the best.  Expect the worst.  Life is a play.  We’re unrehearsed.” – Mel Brooks

While looking through old jewelry to find Morgan some hat pins, I came across this.  It’s my old Girl Scouts pin.

Girl Scout Pin

“Always Be Prepared”.  I took that motto seriously.  To this day, I am forever over planning, over thinking, and running over everything that threatens to get in the way of my plans.  But no matter how I attempt to cover all the bases, life with autism continues to throw me curves.  As much as I’d love to see Morgan’s ducks line up my way, she has a production of her own in mind.  In God’s sovereignty and sense of humor, I believe He has enlisted Morgan’s assistance to keep me on my heels, and my knees. 😉 I am slowly beginning to realize He does His best work when I’m off balance, and unable to be “too much” help.

So how do I do this?  How do I find His balance for me, that red line, of where my responsibility ends, and trusting begins?  Life is a LIVE performance.  We don’t get an encore, so I desperately want to get it right.  As the parent of a forever child, the struggle is REAL.  My older daughter, Allison, texted me this photo yesterday of some wall art she purchased for her living room.  God’s timing, a good reminder of where to begin again.
Be Still and Know

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contrary to my nature, I am making a conscious effort to once again be still.  I will halt my mind’s endless rehearsal of all of life’s possible outcomes.   Instead, I will sit quietly, earnestly turning my focus back to The Director, on Whom my hope relies.

PS – I had to smile when I saw this other tiny treasure.  It’s a skating pin I received for winning a race at Hall’s Skating Rink, more than half a century ago.  Even then, slowing down was not my specialty.  😉 Always learning.

Skating Pin

Until Next Time,

Be Still and Know The Hope!

Tammy

 

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autism, faith, family, Uncategorized

I’m Gonna Tell It All

“Blessings sometimes show up in unrecognizable disguises.” – Janette Oak

This month’s blog comes from a dear friend, Darlene Blade.  I’ve had the privilege of sharing the stage with her son, Logan, and seeing first hand some of the lives he’s touched.  I’ve asked her to share their family’s story:

I had heard of miracles, and even witnessed some, growing up in a Pentecostal Church.  Did not know then that I would be right in the middle of one in my married life.  Well God sent me a great man to share this life with, and at the age of 16 we started our life together.  God had a plan all the time for us.  We just celebrated 43 years of marriage.  When we were on our 16th year, we talked about having a child.  See, we were so young and had a lot of growing up to do ourselves.

Darlene and Terry 2018

After two devastating miscarriages, God gave us a beautiful 8 lbs. 2 oz. baby boy.  His name would be Logan.  We were elated to say the least.  Just what we had always wanted.  I asked God for only one healthy child and I would never ask him for another.  Oh what a joy he was!  Like any child, Logan began to babble and say Mama, Dada, yes, no,…  learned to play Itsy Bitsy Spider, and do all the things babies do before he was two years old.
When he turned two, it was like someone had flipped a switch.  He lost all of his words, and stopped making eye contact.  It was like he was a stranger, and not with us anymore. After many doctor visits and therapy sessions, Logan was diagnosed with autism.  What we thought was a curse back then has turned out to be one of God’s greatest blessings.
You see, Logan hums for self stimulation.  A very special teacher named Kim Sutton found the gift that God had blessed him with.  Logan is a music savant.  He was humming in perfect pitch.  He could pick out songs on the piano, read music, and even do music notation.  And the biggest miracle to us,… He Could Sing.  Yes, he had no verbal language, but God had put a song in his heart, and it had to come out.

Logan in the Studio
Logan has been blessed to sing with Josh Turner on the Grand ole Opry, and sing with The Nashville Symphony .
Logan has just finished his 4th CD, “I’m Gonna Tell it All”, title song written by Tammy Vice and Jerry Salley.
We travel, and share God’s blessings, all over the southern states.  So in closing, I would like to say, all things in your life that you may think are a curse, might just turn out to be a special blessing of your own.

Darlene Blade
Logan’s Mom
Autism is a way of life for us.

Visit Logan Blade’s Facebook page, and watch for his upcoming CD!

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy Vice

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autism, faith, family, Morgan, Uncategorized

Magical and Practical Places

“Coming together is a beginning.  Keeping together is progress.  Working together is success.” – Henry Ford

We are born into a family.  We play and learn and grow.  And as we do, so does our world, and our circle of friends.  We gather at schools and churches and ballparks and businesses.  When we become adults, we take on grownup roles.  We work, play, worship, grieve, and celebrate TOGETHER.  We are a community.

Children with intellectual and physical disabilities become adults, just like everyone else.  Once they grow up and leave school, they have the same need to continue to belong, and play active roles in communities.  Being intentional, working together, we can ALL break down the barriers that separate us.

Mary's Music

I’m so thankful we live in a community that gets it.  From employers who open their doors, hiring our young adults for their strengths, to organizations that offer special needs sports, recreation, creative arts, and adult ministries, You Get It!  We are truly blessed.  As Morgan would say, “I LOVE This Place!”

Recently our community has added a couple of places that are Extra Inviting and Super Exciting!  The first,  Mary’s Magical Place, is a park that is accessible to ALL abilities and ages.  Their mantra is “Make It Happen!” And Boy did they! 🙂

 

And PEER Place , a community based program, where our young adults can continue learning job, life, and social skills, empowering them to achieve their highest potential.  We think these places ROCK! 🙂

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” – Coretta Scott King

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

 

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faith, family, Uncategorized

A Break in the Weather

“There is something to be said for sitting still and letting things come clear, the way morning fog burns off the lake.” – George Witte

OJ and sunshine

Sitting here, with a glass of orange juice, nursing a summer cold. There’s a beautiful blue sky today. Hoping a little sunshine, and sunny thoughts, will clear this head fog. 😉

Bristol viewIn early August, Allison treated her dad to a getaway to celebrate his 60th birthday. They took a trip to Bristol, or as Morgan puts it, “Around the circle, ready to race!” They had been planning this for a few months. Allison found a little place, with a peaceful view, not far from the race track.

A friend gifted Rudy with some great tickets on the start-finish line. The week before, weather forecasts were not looking so good.  I could tell dad was getting in the dumps, thinking the race might not happen. Morgan and mom were sending up lots of weather prayers.  Thankfully the clouds broke just in time for the race.  The timing couldn’t have been better.  That’s how God works.

Rudy and Allison have always had a special bond.  They’re both hard workers, loyal to a fault.  They give their best on the job, and that gives them precious little time for times like these.  It was a gift for me to see them enjoying this time together; a long drive with time to catch up, a low-tech getaway above the clouds, good food for their bellies and their souls, and of course Bristol Baby!

When any of us get too caught up, for too long, in the day to day duties, we can find ourselves in a fog.  So thankful for this break in the weather for Rudy and Allison.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

 

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faith, family, Uncategorized

Fact and Friction

“I love being married. It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.” – Rita Rudner

We all have our strengths and weaknesses.  They say that opposites attract.  I guess that’s why we are drawn to those who have the strengths we lack.  I tell everyone, in our relationship, I am the gas pedal and Rudy is the brakes.  Without him, I’d have surely gone over a cliff by now.  Without me, he’d still be in the garage; checking the air pressure, the fluid levels,… and going back inside one more time to make sure the coffee pot was turned off. 😉

Some of the things that initially made us crazy about each other almost drove us nuts in those early years of marriage.  I’m still passionately driven, and he’s still painfully cautious, in my estimation.  But time and experience have shown us, that together, our differences have actually helped keep us between the ditches.  I’m thankful we’ve stayed on this relationship road trip long enough to learn from life’s detours, laugh at our Griswold moments, and take in all the breathtaking scenery.

I love this guy with all my heart, even when he’s a Big Old Eeyore.  We’ll celebrate our 33rd anniversary this September.  He is the most loving, hard working, caring, hang in there husband and father, you’ll ever know.  Just ask his girls.
IMG_1262

Our first date happened because he needed a little truck to help him move, and I happened to drive one.  I offered.  He asked me to dinner, as a thank you.  If he’d known ahead about some of the sights he was in for on this trip, he probably would have taken off on foot in the other direction.  Maybe that’s why God only lets us see each mile as it comes.  😉

That little truck served us well for a few years.  Rudy’s always wanted another one, but life and family happens.  Several clunkers and mini-vans later, he’s finally found his truck.  It’s not fancy, but it’s solid and dependable for the long haul.  Perfect for him, just like he’s perfect for me.  Happy Anniversary Dad!

Truck for Rudy

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

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autism, faith, family, self esteem, Uncategorized

When Cinderella’s Slipper Doesn’t Fit

“You cannot put the same shoe on every foot.” – Publilius Syrus

I am a serious “Lefty”.  You wouldn’t think that little difference would affect my learning experience. But years ago, it did. I remember early on being made to feel that it was odd, and a bit of a nuisance.  As an adult, I know that’s silly.  But children only know how you make them feel.  I remember sitting in right handed desks at school, with my elbow awkwardly hanging off, as I wrote.  The teacher noted my work was “correct, but messy” most of the time.  There was just no way to write from left to right without smearing the lead across the page.  But I loved to write, so the side of my hand stayed silver gray, with creases from the spiral of the notebook.

Learning to play left handed sports back then was more challenging for me.  When playing baseball, I remember the coach telling me, “Just watch everyone else and do the opposite”.  That advice was about as helpful as it sounds. 😉

Below; Morgan and her “Lefty” swing.  Photo by Dad

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Those memories from my elementary years, as insignificant as they may seem, still whispered “You don’t fit”.  As a teenager, I decided on my own not to tell my guitar teacher I was left handed.  I learned to play right handed, because I didn’t want to be “a problem”.  The lack of understanding on everyone’s part back then, gave me some first hand experience in the importance of accommodating learning differences.  It’s also given me a tender spot for anyone who feels a little out of step with the crowd.

My daughters, Allison and Morgan, also happen to be “Lefties”.  As their mom, I’ve tried to help them realize early on what a waste of energy it is to chase everyone else’s normal.  Instead, I hope they are each able to find what best fits them personally, in learning and in life, so they can be their personal best.

Cinderella’s slipper was perfect for Cinderella.  Find the life-shoe that’s just right, and Left, for you. 😉

Above; Allison creating a little left handed masterpiece, and Morgan showing off her “comfy tennis slipper shoes”.

Until Next Time, Know The Hope!

Tammy

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