Guest Blog: A Disabled Parent’s Guide to Business Startups by Miriam Neal

Thank you Miriam for offering this useful information to families considering entrepreneurship. Miriam and Douglas Neal created AbleHope (ablehope.com) to show that although it’s challenging to care for an adult child with a disability, just a little dash of hope is enough to power you through from one day to the next.

It’s tricky to juggle the responsibilities of parenting and business ownership, and doing so while living with disabilities can be even more of a challenge. Knowing what steps to take, when to take them, and what help is available to you will make this trio of stressors far more manageable. So here are some tips and resources to help you get started.

Write a Business Plan

A lack of planning is the best way to fail before your venture even begins. When you’re starting a new company, a viable business plan details what your company does in terms of products and services, how those commodities are sold to your customers, what profits you can expect, how much funding you’ll need, and any other factors you feel are important to articulate in writing. Your plan should also reflect what scale your company will be starting at, whether it’s to be housed in a home office or a physical storefront.

Plan your organization with accessibility in mind. Though your specific disability may not prevent you from climbing stairs, for instance, keeping your store accessible to every kind of person will attract a wider clientele. Your local laws and regulations may also require certain disability accommodations for your business to legally operate.

Your business plan will not only provide you with a roadmap, eliminating the stress of guesswork while you attend to your other limitations and obligations, but it will also attract potential investors. Banks and private funders will want to know that you’re capable of delivering on your business’s promise. A properly developed plan will assure them of just that. But be aware that potential lenders may also run your credit report to see if you have a history of repaying your debts. If your credit score is too low, you may be denied. It’s best to check your own rating before making any formal financial requests.

Know Your Local Requirements

With a plan and funding secured, you should make sure your business can operate legally as well as effectively. Your local laws may require your organization to have an Employee Identification Number. An EIN functions the same as a social security number but is used for government processes regarding businesses rather than people. Setting this up early on will spare you from a tax time scramble later.

There are a variety of licenses and permits your company will also require depending on your region and field of work. For example, restaurants will require staff to have food service certifications while a manufacturer will need to provide certifications for the operation of heavy machinery. There’s no shame in seeking professional help to make sure your company is obtaining all the proper permissions before you begin operating.

You will also need to find out which employee benefits are required and which you would like to add to your benefits package. You are mandated to offer things like FMLA, disability, social security, and worker’s compensation. But most employees also expect non-required benefits, like paid time off, health insurance, and retirement plans.

Advertise Effectively

A company isn’t much of anything without customers, so it’s a good idea to get the word out about what you’re offering as early as possible. Advertising comes in many forms, the most obvious of which are flyers and print ads in local publications. This is fine if you’re only marketing to people in your town, but an online presence is vital for online businesses or ones that are branching out.

Consider developing your online presence. A large majority of consumers utilize social media to determine which businesses to support. Themeisle explains that a functional and accessible website is also a must in putting your best foot forward online so you can show your customers the professionalism and care you’re bringing to the business. You may even consider highlighting the accessibility measures mentioned previously.

While you can easily spread the word via social media, don’t neglect some old-fashioned approaches, too. For example, you can use a free business card design tool to generate cards that you can pass out to potential clients, or leave at key locations where potential customers are likely to gather.

Once your business is ready to operate and your customers know where you are and what you sell, all that’s left to do is open. With these complicated aspects in place, starting a business is far more manageable, even for a parent living with disabilities. Just remember to write a business plan, learn about requirements, and market effectively.

Know the Hope is dedicated to helping both communities and parents embrace the wonder that is their child with disabilities. Visit them online for resources and more information about how you can support or be supported by our mission.

By Miriam Neal Ablehope.com

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy Vice

Allison, autism, communication, dance, family, Morgan

A Sibling Perspective by Allison Milam

A Note From Mom – I remember all the attempts Allison made to connect with Morgan in their younger years, with very little reciprocation. My hope has always been for my daughters to somehow be able to build a solid sister bond with each other. With six years, fourteen hundred miles, and a wall of autism between them, that hope still sits on the top of my list. ❤️🙏 These days, Morgan talks about Allison a lot, when she’s away. She tells me things to tell her. She talks about wanting to visit her and Jabe at their “new old house”. Although Morgan still stumbles and struggles to interact with Allison directly, I see her desire to. I see the knowledge and understanding Allison has gained over the years, and I am grateful. It takes two to dance, and I do believe they are both closer to learning the steps of a sweet sister dance that is uniquely there own.

Allison’s Perspective – As Morgan’s sister, I have had my world view expanded. She taught me to see diversity in others and to practice patience and understanding because you never know what someone is going through. When she was diagnosed with autism when I was around 9, it didn’t change how I saw her. She was just my quirky sister that I connected with not in the typical ways of late-night girl talks but in singing silly songs together. However, if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have been exposed to the wonderful and complex world of autism. When I began to meet others that supposedly had the same diagnosis as her, I was at first shocked and confused to see how none of them were really like her but how they all still felt similar. I fell in love with trying to figure out how to communicate and teach each one because they were all so different. This set me on a career path that started when I was a teenager and has continued into my mid 30’s of working in the special education field. This career choice has come with A LOT of ups and downs but has also made me into the person I am today…. someone who wants to help people by finding ways to customize supports to meet their needs while showing kindness and understanding. If it wasn’t for Morgan and her gift of autism, I don’t know what I would be doing with my life right now.

Sister Dinner Date

Morgan has also taught me what it means to be unselfish, as it is common knowledge for most individuals on the spectrum that they unashamedly assume the world revolves around them. You can’t be mad at them for that though because it comes with having social skills deficits. With that being said, I had to learn to put myself aside to meet her unique needs and strange demands as this would bring her joy. I also feel a responsibility though to use my special education knowledge to help push her and help her grow into experiencing the fullest potential for her life. My sisterly relationship with Morgan is at times more like a motherly one. I try to be careful of this though and remain as more of her sister since she already has a wonderful mother and needs a different connection with me.

So, thank you Morgan for helping me learn more of what it means to love others for who they truly are and for expanding the way that I see the world and helping me find a sense of passion and purpose for my life.

Love you sister!


Love you dearly Allison. ❤️ Thank you for sharing.


autism, faith, holidays, Love, Morgan, peace

What The King Didn’t Know

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13‬:‭12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

As the parent of an adult child with disabilities, I’ve experienced a Whole Lot of Love, but I’ve also seen a Ton of Injustice over the years. The song idea for “What The King Didn’t Know” came to me after seeing those who are powerful repeatedly neglecting, bullying, and abusing sweet, powerless souls.

James 1:27 calls us to look after those who cannot take care of themselves. In my frustration, I cried and questioned and prayed. God reminded me of the story of King Herod and the Christ child. That king had no idea who he was messing with. ❤️

One little baby, laid in a manger

I find my peace and my HOPE in knowing I serve a God who is All Powerful, but is not without compassion.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews‬ ‭4‬:‭15‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

God sent His own Son as a baby, fully divine, yet fully human, to experience every injustice we have and more. He knows the heart of every man. I rest in the fact that one day nothing will be hidden, and He will ultimately right every wrong. Below are the lyrics to the song.

What The King Didn’t Know

One little baby, laid in a manger

Two knelt beside Him while angels sang

Three came the wise men. Then Herod, the stranger

vowed he had plans for the small Nazarene

But the king didn’t know the Power of God

How the meek get their strength from the Staff and the Rod

Where that little child lead, wise men still follow

‘Cause we can believe in, what the king didn’t know

Herod passed on, but Christ lives Forever

In every heart of those born again

Deaths Keys were snatched from the Master Deceiver

Salvation was given to mere mortal man

But the king didn’t know the Power of God

How the meek get their strength from the Staff and the Rod

Where that little child lead, wise men still follow

‘Cause we can believe in, what the king didn’t know

We must remember when we’re feeling small

The One who is with us, will Rise Above All

But the king didn’t know the Power of God

How the meek get their strength from the Staff and the Rod

Where that little child lead, wise men still follow

‘Cause we can believe in, what the king didn’t know

Yes, we can believe in, what the king didn’t know

Tammy Vice (c) 2000 J Rees music BMI


Two knelt beside Him, while angels sang

Remember, whenever you’re feeling small, whenever you feel like you’re not enough, I Corinthians 1:26 – 31 tells us that God chooses those who are overlooked and underestimated by the world, so that no one can boast in themselves.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!


Allison, communication, dance, faith, family, friends, joy, Love, Uncategorized

Time Management

“You don’t even know what tomorrow will bring — what your life will be! For you are like smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes.” ‭‭James‬ ‭4‬:‭14‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

I recently celebrated one of those milestone birthdays that makes you reflect on things. I can still remember a conversation I had with my dad, shortly after my first child was born. I guess he was having the same realization then, that I’m having now. Looking at Allison, He said, “You know we’re just a puff of wind, just a whisper. We’re here and then we’re gone.” At that time, I couldn’t relate, because I had “all the time in the world”. I’m seeing his perspective a little more clearly now.

After watching his girls grow up, he wrote the following poem. Now that I’m walking in his shoes, as a parent, it’s taken on an even deeper meaning for me. Hope you enjoy.

Allison’s Booties

Little Crochet Booties

Little crochet booties, both feet in just one hand

I held you up and out to God for I was one proud man

Then came little walking shoes and alone you learned to stand

But I stood there ready to offer you a hand

O dear child tread gently as your walk through life you start

O dear child tread gently for your walking through my heart

Mistakes I`ve made a plenty as I watched you grow

But have no doubt my love is strong, I wanted you to know

I stood there ready when you took your first step

I stood there as I do now to offer you my help

Shoes of paten leather were awkward at the best

But they sure were pretty with your first Easter dress

Then there were the bare foot days with bruises and bandaids

When it came to childhood pranks you sure made the grade

O dear child tread gently as you walk through life you stroll

O dear child tread gently for your walking with my soul

Then there were the sneakers and even base ball cleats

And tennis shoes with bobby socks sure made you look neat

The ballet shoes that you did dance and wore the toe clear through

I stood and watched your graceful steps, o so proud of you

O dear child tread gently as through life you stride

O dear child tread gently for I’m watching you with pride

How about those high heels you wore to your school prom

They sure made you look so nice. You borrowed them from mom

One day there came the wedding, your shoes I couldn`t see

The lovely dress and long white train had hidden them from me

O dear child tread gently as you make life for your own

O dear child tread gently and you’ll never be alone

Now what is this with slippers, a child does grow within

Yes, it is my grandchild whose love I’ll surely win

Little crochet booties, both feet in just one hand

I hold it up and out to God for I am one proud man

By Winston (Papaw) Burkett

Our walk through this life is truly just a whisper. I know none of the dusty stuff I’ve collected over the years holds any lasting value. While I’m here, the only thing that does matter is that I continue to pass on to my children and others the love that God has shown me, so that we can walk together again in eternity.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!
















family, Health, Mental Health, Morgan, peace, Uncategorized

Let’s Just Do Today

“Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:34‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

Autism’s cousins are anxiety and OCD. Add the end of summer, pedal to the metal scheduling, returning to fall activities, and before long we are all hyperventilating. Every year that this season comes around, I have to remind myself that we don’t have to be present at every gathering.

Morgan checking her September calender

We are a family of planners. As I sat down with my mom for a visit recently, she pulled out her calendar. It had brightly colored highlighted circles on most of the days. I find myself checking my phone calendar regularly, still being surprised by upcoming events. And both of my girls are attached to their calendars.

Morgan has an ongoing list of dates she is looking forward to, and items she needs when she gets there. She becomes agitated when dwelling on things that are too far off. So. Do. I. When I feel like the ball is rolling out from under us, I call a break. We have both been working on this skill for a long time. We take a few deep breaths and say “Let’s Just Do Today”.

Fall Practice – S’mores in the backyard

Our backyard is the perfect “Just Do Today” spot. No calendars. No planners. Just calm, quiet, shady time.

To all our friends, Hope you’re able to get s’more backyard time this Fall.

Autumn Hugs! 🍁 🤗

Know The Hope,


Allison, family, Love, Morgan

Mailing Memories to Maine

“Start living now. Stop saving the good china for that special occasion. Stop withholding your love until that special person materializes. Every day you are alive is a special occasion. Every minute, every breath, is a gift from God.” Mary Manin Morrissey

This summer, we had the chance to visit Allison and her husband, Jabe. Morgan was excited to see them and their “new old house”, a beautiful home in Bucksport, Maine.

“New Old House” Backyard View

They kept us busy touring the towns of Bucksport, Belfast, and Bangor. But mostly, it was just good to see their faces and get some hugs. ❤️ We can see why they love the area. We collected some sweet memories from our visit there.

Allison and Jabe in Belfast

Right now they are busy with a serious kitchen renovation. Since Allison’s birthday is coming up, we thought she’d enjoy receiving her Mamaw Vice’s china for the new kitchen. Morgan supervised, while I gathered all the pieces to take to the “Brown Truck Store”. Soon, Allison will be “Waiting on a Brown Truck”

Kazooing Allison a Happy Birthday!

When Dad came in and saw the dishes being packed, he said it reminded him of Mamaw Vice’s gumbo. He would always try to grab a large serving bowl for his portion. Mamaw would get on to him, and hand him a regular bowl. 😂 We hope Allison and Jabe enjoy making new memories with it soon.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!


autism, caregivers, communication, faith, family, Health, Love, Morgan

It Ain’t All Autism

“I praise You. For I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are your works and that my soul knows very well.” Psalm 139:14 NKJV

Recently, Morgan began to get grumpier, specifically with me. Every interaction brought a harsh response. I noticed she was also having more trouble following through with simple directions. From past experience, this is usually a sign she’s in pain, sick, or about to be. Sure enough, after a couple of days, she began to complain, saying there was an “airplane in her ear”. A checkup revealed an ear infection. The day after beginning treatment, she was back to her normal, lovable grumpy, self. 😉

I used to blame everything on autism. Time, experience, and a very wise developmental pediatrician have taught me not to give autism so much credit. All behavior is NOT autistic behavior. It is just a piece of Morgan’s makeup. She is So Much More than that. Viewing everything through the lens of autism not only limits my ability to help her. It limits her possibilities.

Ms. Morgan’s Sunday Best

Like each and every one of us, Morgan is remarkably made. She is an opinionated young woman, with a strong personality. She is creative and imaginative. While autism plays a partial role, bringing her unique strengths and weaknesses, it’s far from the whole picture. Each experience, each challenge and opportunity she’s given by those of us who see her as MORE, continues to help her grow.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!


autism, communication, faith, holidays, joy, Morgan, Uncategorized

Music, Rhyme, Memory and Time

My earliest memories are of sitting at my grandmother’s dining table, thumbing through the pages of her Family Bible, looking at the beautiful pastel pictures while she cooked in the kitchen, whistling old hymns. Some of my strongest memories have always been intertwined with music. Grandma Edmonds Daily Bread

“God is great. God is good. Let us thank Him for our food.” “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep,…” As a child, I learned these rhyming prayers. I passed them on to my girls, holding them in my lap and repeating the prayers, even before they spoke their first words. When Morgan was diagnosed with autism at age 3, she lost her meaningful language for many years, but these prayers remained in her memory. Morgan, saying a prayer for her birthday cake .

A few years ago I got together with some young adults with disabilities in our church to form a choir. We sang Christmas Carols in the church hall to bring joy to the members passing by. The music was well received. Soon after, we added patriotic songs and old hymns to our repertory. We began singing at nursing homes and community events. This group has been a blessing to me and all those who hear them.

Weekley Hall Singers Memorial Day Tribute

During Vacation Bible School, our pastor challenged all the kids to learn the books of the Bible. I felt sure some of our young adults would also be able to do it, given the support they needed. The song below was written to help our young adults meet the challenge. It was cowritten with my friend, John Swaim We wanted something a little more grown up to get their attention and get them excited about learning ALL 66 books. 🙂 They enjoyed learning it and were successful. We hope you’ll listen, challenge yourself, and share with others. Thank you for checking it out.

66 Book of the Bible

66 Books of the Bible

Music and rhyme are wonderful tools for teaching. They make memories that last a lifetime.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!


Allison, autism, caregivers, communication, faith, family, joy, Love, Morgan

Mom’s Caregiver

“The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭118:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I am so grateful God allowed me to be a mom, because it has given me a much deeper understanding of His love and care for me.

I have two daughters, ages 34 and 28. If either of them truly has a need, there’s nothing, within my power, I wouldn’t do to provide encouragement and support.

Me and My Girls

Allison is a fully independent adult now. I’m delighted whenever she calls to update me on her latest adventures and asks for my thoughts and prayers. Autism has kept Morgan my forever child. She requires a full time caregiver. Two of the biggest challenges for Morgan, and many others on the autism spectrum, are communication and social skills.

When you are providing care for someone who isn’t always able to communicate their needs, and doesn’t have the social skills to respond appropriately to disappointment, it can be very daunting at times. I am always walking that tightrope of challenging Morgan to be her best, and giving her grace for behaviors that I believe are beyond her ability to control. On most days, she rises above the challenges. ❤️ On her hardest days, regardless of my best human efforts to meet her needs, anxiety and OCD can bring on panic and a meltdown.

On my hardest days, when I catch myself dwelling on the negatives, the what ifs, and my heart starts to pound out of my chest with fear of tomorrow’s unknowns, I don’t have the words to speak in my prayers. But the beauty of God being my caregiver, is that He knows me inside out. He is able to interpret my cries. He knows my every need. He reminds me that He Has given me the ability to control my thoughts. He challenges me, corrects me, and gives me grace just when I need it most. He calms me and gives me hope.

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:26‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I am so amazed that we can simply speak to God anytime we wish, that He is there to listen and meet the deepest needs of our hearts. The song below was written by John Swaim and myself. Hope it brings you the joy and strength you need for this day.

Ordinary Day on Youtube

To sum it all up, as hard as some days can be, the best days outweigh them by far. I’ll say it again. I’m grateful to be a mom, and a caregiver. And I am eternally grateful for my Caregiver.

In closing, I’d like to leave you with a smile from Morgan & Mom on one of our daily drives.

“He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Matthew 11:15 NKJV

Recent Car Navigation Conversation: Morgan and I use Siri to deliver meals on wheels. Part of her job is to call out the street number to Siri, then I call out the street. I decided to challenge her this week to start saying the street names. Turns out Siri was the one who was challenged.

Me, pointing to S. Valley Rd. – “Say South Valley Road”
Morgan – “Salley Valley Road”
Siri – “I could be a little off…”
Me, pointing again – “Say South Valley Road”
Morgan – “Salley Vath Road”
Siri – spinning, no reply
Me – laughing hard and writing the word “South”
Morgan, getting it perfect “South Valley Road”
Me- still laughing in the background.
Siri – “I’m sorry, could you repeat that?”
Morgan – “Mom’s fault” 🤣 ❤️

Know The Hope!


employment, Morgan, Uncategorized, Volunteering

GUEST BLOG: Home Business Opportunities for Disabled Entrepreneurs

Morgan’s first job was at a sandwich shop, acquired through vocational rehab, the summer she left high school. She was there for four years, maintaining her position, until the shop shut down during the pandemic. While waiting for things to open back up, she began delivering Meals on Wheels as a volunteer. She has found this more meaningful and fulfilling, seeing first hand what she is doing matters to the people she serves. We love seeing her contributing to community and enjoying it. She says, “I’m doing a good job!” Here’s a clip of her finishing up the job. Morgan Wrapping Up a Good Day’s Work

Morgan volunteering for Meals on Wheels

The path to success looks different for everyone. Appreciate Ed Carter from Able Futures offering this article on employment possibilities for disabled entrepreneurs.

Home Business Opportunities

“My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you from doing well and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit as well as physically.” Stephen Hawking.

According to The World Bank, approximately 15% of the world’s population is living with a form of disability, either visual, hearing, mobility, or any number of health conditions that prevent them from being able to work at 100% capacity. But the desire and need to work doesn’t go away when the disability is there. It’s just that the conditions of that work will require some out-of-the-box thinking~~the traditional box, that is.

Here, blogger Tammy Vice and her daughter Morgan, who lives with autism, suggest job opportunities that people with disabilities may find interesting and lucrative. Then they offer tips on how those new entrepreneurs can structure and manage their own home businesses.

Visually impaired persons, like The Blind Cook and Master Chef winner Christine Ha, have more opportunities for home-based work than ever before. Thanks to the great strides in innovations to assist the blind, the opportunities for owning their own home-based businesses have grown significantly. Working from home as a researcher is a job that’s not only in demand but where the income can average about $60,000 annually, while a research assistant will make about half of that. People who are visually impaired might also look into at-home jobs like podcast or radio broadcasters or creating their own YouTube channels that can be monetized

People who suffer a partial or total hearing loss like Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin might find they can mix their love of painting, photography, sculpting, or mixed media with a home business. Sales platforms like Etsy and Shopify are popular for selling homemade goods and crafts, while Artfinder and Redbubble are good for selling art. These sites are extremely popular for shoppers who are looking for something unique. Rideshare drivers are always in demand and the Uber and Lyft apps let riders know their driver is deaf and will make sure all instructions are printed.

For someone with mobility limitations like film and television actor Micah Fowler, opportunities to work a home-based business with jobs like a professional translator, customer service representative, tutor/teacher, or graphic designer can be quite lucrative. It’s also a great mood lifter because it allows a person who may spend a great deal of time at home an opportunity to interact with others regularly. Many novelists, video producers, political advisors, fundraisers, and social media managers have become successful despite having limited mobility.

People with autism spectrum disorder, like screenplay writer and television producer Dan Harmon, are finding a wealth of opportunities in working for themselves from home. Animal care businesses like pet sitting or dog walking are in high demand, as are careers in engineering and information technology, fields where remote work is becoming the norm.

Marketing and creating a business financial structure from home DIY style has never been easier with an abundance of software and apps to do things like creating business cards and logos to targeting audiences on social media sites like Instagram and TikTok. Free financial software is available to help track sales, taxes, income, and expenses.

Getting a business off the ground will take a bit of forethought and planning, but with some expert advice into the step-by-step process, it can be done entirely from a home computer. Starting with preparing a business plan, choosing how to structure a business, and tips on smart marketing, people are finding they can, with the help of smart online tools and tutorials, create their own businesses themselves right from home.

One last thing to keep in mind. Starting a business can be challenging and rewarding for anyone, and maybe a bit more so for those living with a disability, but finding what you love doing and letting that be your starting point means knowing that no matter how tough the obstacles may seem, it will make success all that much sweeter when it happens.

Ed Carter