autism, caregivers, communication, faith, family, friends, Morgan, Uncategorized

I Call It Momtism

“If I find myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” – C.S. Lewis

While shopping in the grocery store, I saw a very familiar face. I could not recall their name or the place where I knew them from, knowing I should know, I ducked down an isle, hoping it would come back to me. It didn’t. The following week, I was at the bank, and Boom! There she was behind the counter, right where she belonged, and everything clicked again. I laughed at myself, then I recalled how seeing someone “out of place” can often rattle Morgan.

I am socially awkward at best sometimes, not great at small talk. There is usually a lot going on in my head, and not everything needs to be shared out loud. 😂 I have to remember, what’s normal in our world, as a parent and a young adult on the autism spectrum, can be miles away from what others consider normal. To say the least, my sense of humor can be a bit skewed. I’ve learned to face the fact that Morgan and I are never going to smoothly or discreetly blend in with the crowd. And that’s ok.

Morgan & Mom Back Porch Pickin’ for Hendersonville Tennessee’s
Front Porch Fest 2020

We are all unique, all fearfully and wonderfully made. We each have our own little quirks and traits that make us us. Genetics, environment, and experience all play their part in how we perceive and navigate things. The more I try to help Morgan understand this world, the more I realize what little sense it makes to me. But I still remain hopeful and thankful. I know it won’t always be this way.

Whenever I have those glitches, those awkward Momtism moments, when I’m totally out of sync with the world around me, I feel a synchronicity with Morgan. I get a better understanding of what it’s like to feel a little lost. Of course it’s brief and I have the tools to compensate, but it serves me a needed dose of empathy for what my girl and others on the autism spectrum go through every single day.

But one day, One. Day. We will no longer feel we are so out of the loop. We will finally be able to communicate and understand each other, and Everyone and Everything, more clearly. “…Now we know in part, but then we will know fully, as we are fully known.” – 1 Corinthians 13:12

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Morgan & Mom

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autism, communication, faith, family, Love, Mental Health, Morgan, peace, Uncategorized

The Grip of Fear

“There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, …”
1 John‬ ‭4:18‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

I was on my way to the laundry room with a full basket of clothes. I balanced the basket on one hip, while blindly grabbing the doorknob. What I didn’t see was the lizard, who was minding his own business, comfortably resting on that knob. He didn’t want to be grabbed any more than I wanted to grab him. The laundry, that poor lizard, and me, All flew up in the air. Neither of us intended to hurt the other, but out of our fearful reflex to escape the situation, we both caused and suffered unnecessary damage. Every time I think about it, I still wince from the spasms, his and mine.

Fear can make us say and do some pretty crazy things. It can cause us to hurt others and ourselves. Anger is often born out of fear. When we don’t take the time to measure how our actions affect others, relationships can suffer irreparable damage.

Morgan, having a more friendly encounter with Precious, our Sunday School buddy.

Love has No need, nor intention, to harm or deceive. It has the self control to take a breath before it speaks, before it acts. Love keeps its peace. It has a healthy sense of humor. It is gentle and kind, patient and considerate. “It bears All things, believes All things, hopes All things, endures All things.” 1 Corinthians 13:7

Love, Perfect love, is a powerful thing. This world continues to be in a spin cycle. So much is up in the air. When I feel the grip of uncertainty in my life, I can be tempted to lash out in response. Instead, I have to remind myself to take a pause and get my footing. I have No need to fear. I just need to remember Who I belong to and what His Love is capable of when I choose it.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

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Allison, faith, family, Morgan, Uncategorized

I Saw You

One shoe off and one shoe on. Oh little dumplin’ where’s your mom?

While a few people say they choose to be homeless, the vast majority are homeless for a thousand other reasons. But for the grace of God, it could be any one of us. I’m so thankful for Room In The Inn , The Contributor, and other organizations in our area that provide support to our neighbors in need. As individuals, we can only do so much. Supporting organizations that know how to make an effective difference is one answer.

The first thing I noticed were your light pink tennis shoes, one shoe off and one shoe on. Then, as we passed by, I saw your dark brown hair. I guessed your age to be somewhere between the age of my own two daughters, 27 and 33.

Our family was visiting the Chattanooga Aquarium. It was a beautiful day, so our older daughter, Allison, suggested we walk to the restaurant. It was a twenty minute walk down one of the main city streets. Morgan first noticed a “clock tower” on the side of one of the buildings. She was taking it all in, “Walking in the city”. As we strolled further, we saw a number of people who were homeless. We nodded and continued walking.

That’s when I saw you. You were asleep on the concrete by the sidewalk. Even though we continued walking, acting as if all was well, my younger daughter paused, looking at you and then turning her gaze to me. Remember, I told you Morgan is 27. She is on the autism spectrum. Developmentally, she still sees a lot of things the way a child sees them. She may not have had the words to express it, but she knew you didn’t belong there. I told her you were just resting and nudged her along. But she was right. You don’t belong there and I just wanted you to know we saw you. You are someone’s daughter. As a mother, I will keep you in my prayers.

A photo memory of my daughters

I am a picture taker. I am always snapping photos of the ones I love. I have countless picture memories of my daughters. Although I don’t have a physical picture of you, I do have one in my heart. I see you. More importantly, God sees you and your two pink shoes. He even knows the number of dark brown hairs on your head. He Loves You and so do I. Mom Hugs.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope,

Tammy Vice

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Allison, family, joy, Love, Morgan, Uncategorized

How Many More Miles?

“There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.” – Roger Staubach

It’s a question my dad, my daughters’ dad, and countless other dads have heard many times. Children can be so ready to get to the destination that they wish away the road time. I remember nodding off to sleep in the back seat, hoping to wake up just in time to be THERE. Now that I’m older, I’ve learned that the miles along the way can be just as meaningful. I don’t want to sleep through the Here and Now.

Building the Trike with Dad. “We got this!”
Morgan, taking her babies for a ride.
Dad and Allison Making Fudge
Mission Accomplished
Morgan, showing her “Three Wheels” to Mamaw and Papaw

Happy Father’s Day to my dad, my girl’s dad, and all those dads that go the extra mile for their families. Hugs and Hearts! 🤗❤️

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy Vice

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autism, communication, faith, Health, Love, Morgan

What Did You Say?

“I know you think you understand what you thought I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” Robert McCloskey

Have you ever watched a video of a crying baby receiving a hearing aid? When they hear their mother’s voice for the first time, their crying stops. Their eyes open wide. They become calm at first, then smile or even squeal with delight? Then, of course, the mother begins to cry. It’s that moment of mutual connection that those of us who hear often take for granted.

If you have ever seen one of our home videos on YouTube or Facebook Live, you will see All Things Autism. What you may not recognize is that Morgan has a hearing, or rather a listening, impairment. Even though her physical hearing is intact, her ability to process and interpret sound is interrupted by something called CAPD (Central Auditory Processing Disorder). My unscientific explanation is that there is a glitch in her central auditory nervous system wiring. This is a separate diagnosis from her autism. For signs and symptoms of CAPD, visit asha.org . American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

It is hard for Morgan to separate and make sense of sounds, especially speech. There is actually a slight delay in what she hears. When we are at home, in a one on one, quiet environment, it’s much easier for her to navigate. We’ve learned to slow down and give her time to respond. You will see she is very talkative and engaged. She is Very Able to express herself in our home environment.

Morgan and Papaw showing off an April window painting they did together.

When Morgan is in a group setting, there are lots of competing sounds and distractions. Large gatherings can be confusing and stressful. This usually stops her from initiating engagement. When she is overwhelmed, her reaction is to grunt and vocalize her displeasure, in order to get away. Or she will completely shut down, squinting her eyes, bending over and putting her head in her hands. Unfortunately for her, this makes others see her as Less Able than she actually is. When we are able to know what to expect, and provide Morgan with a schedule ahead of time, this takes down the stress and helps her be more successful.

As things speed back up again, we find ourselves stumbling a little more, trying to regain our footing in this world. I guess that’s life, with or without disabilities. I still believe the joy of a meaningful life ride is worth the learning bumps we experience along the way.

There is a giant chasm between hearing and listening. This year of slowing down has really opened my eyes and my heart to the difference. Many of us have forgotten how to listen. It takes time to really get to know anyone. It takes time, patience, and a sincere caring effort to get those moments of mutual connection, where we can all truly communicate.

We openly share our family’s journey with autism in the hope of creating understanding and acceptance for all individuals with disabilities.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope,

Tammy

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autism, faith, Health, Morgan, Uncategorized

A Fresh Start

“Let your eyes look forward; fix your gaze straight ahead.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭4:25‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

I am a big fan of do-overs when they’re needed. They allow us to fix what we can, and move forward. 2020 has been filled with cancellations, disappointments, frustrations, insane political incorrectness, and overwhelming loss. As Morgan would say, “We’re not doing that again.” Although I don’t know anyone who wants a do-over on this year, we have to admit, it has taught us some things about ourselves.

In this blog, I usually share a lot about the joy and blessings of autism. In the interest of fair reporting, I’m realizing it’s equally important to share our struggles. We are learning we can live without some things we thought we couldn’t. We’ve had some personal bests, and unfortunately some personal worsts this year. We have definitely felt our humanity.

2020 has tested us all. The disappointments just kept stacking up. Morgan had a major meltdown recently, because she was having to wait on something once again. We had to bring out a forgotten tool, one we haven’t used in quite a while, reminding me it’s one of the best tools in our behavior box.

Social Stories, written in first person, have always been helpful for Morgan. I had to remind myself, when she’s really upset, she can’t hear anything we’re saying. She needs to SEE the story. One of the things Morgan says, when she’s been upset, is “I was just trying to fix it”. After reading this, she was able to calm down and take a breath, so we could “fix it” together.

Although I wrote this for Morgan, it’s as if God was writing it to me. I’ve been exhausted from waiting on some sanity to kick in from those who are supposed to be leading us. I’ve been sad and angry over those who seem to have no concern for the vulnerable. I may not have said unkind things out loud, but I’ve certainly screamed them inside my heart. As I look up toward heaven and take a breath, I remember God is in control. I remember to be more patient and kind with myself and everyone else. I can forgive others, as He has forgiven me. I can let go of the things I can’t fix, knowing that God can. I can move forward, knowing we should know better now, knowing we should be able to do better together now. Here’s to hearts healing in 2021.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope,

Tammy Vice

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autism, caregivers, communication, faith, family, friends, leap of faith, Love, Morgan, Uncategorized

Everyone is Essential

“But quite the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are [absolutely] necessary; and those parts of the body which we consider less honorable, these we treat with great honor;… And if one member suffers, all the parts share the suffering; if one member is honored, all rejoice with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:22, 23 and 26  Amp. Bible 

When Morgan lost her ability to communicate at age 2, and was diagnosed with autism, I knew she was vulnerable.  What I didn’t know was the strength and purpose she would help me find in my life, or all the lives she would impact for the better.

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We’ve heard a lot about essential workers during the time of the pandemic.  I understand the need for those who provide vital services to continue working.  It has also been equally important for those of us who aren’t performing vital services to do the essential work of staying at home in order to avoid causing unnecessary exposure.  We all have a responsibility to do our part.

As we move to re-open things, I’ve heard reports of some who believe we should push forward and let the survival of the fittest kick in, which saddens and sickens me.  How does one go about valuing or devaluing a life?  Thankfully, in God’s economy, we are all essential.  He created each one of us on purpose, for a purpose.

My dad is 81.  He provides Meals on Wheels to folks in our area.  Our daughter, Morgan, helps him out at times.  Here’s a recent news story on the essential job he’s doing.  Homebound Meals Video

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We haven’t been given a spirit of fear, but one of power, and of love and sound judgement and personal discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)

I believe we should have the ability, the responsibility, to move forward lovingly, bringing along the lessons we’ve been given in humanity during this time.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

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Allison, autism, caregivers, dance, faith, family, joy, Love, Morgan, risks and rewards, Uncategorized

Tender Times

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,…” – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

When you live in a chronic crisis, a serious sense of humor is a necessary tool.  Laugh or cry, do or die, we set our pace and continue to move forward, even when we’re not sure of our actual destination on any given day.

The isolation, the distance from the norm, has been our family’s normal for many years now.  I guess the one thing we have in common with other families is that our life is also a mix of sadness and joy, struggles and celebrations.  This walk with autism has given us a realization of what’s big and what’s “just silly”, as Morgan would say.

As our current world situation is beginning to come apart at the seams, we each have our own way of dealing with crises.  Some panic.  Some seem oblivious.  I find myself doing my usual tap dance.   It’s that dance I do to distract Morgan, hopefully make her laugh and get her back on track.  It’s that side step I do to get us out of uncomfortable situations in public, when we’ve said or done something that raises eyebrows or drops jaws.  Please forgive my missteps as I’m learning new steps during this time.  We all are.  I hope we’re all learning to be more forgiving, less critical, more supportive, less selfish, and seriously learning to lighten up on each other.   We’re all in this together, apart.  I look forward to gathering again soon.  Virtual hugs to you all!

 

Much Love,

Know The Hope,

Tammy

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autism, caregivers, communication, family, Morgan, peace, Uncategorized

My Take, God’s Take, Outtakes

“And I set my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is grasping for the wind.” Solomon  Eccl. 1:17 NKJV
You would think, by this point in my life, I would have learned everything God could possibly have to teach me. However, I am now assured He will forever be tweaking things.

I ended last year and started this one with a very strong sense that God is telling me to SLOW DOWN.  Maybe it’s because my multitasking tools are not what they used to be. 😉 Since applying this lesson, I’m enjoying meals more, realizing I ate.  I’m enjoying conversations more, taking in what others are saying.  I’m not as afraid of missing out on things.  I’m just praying God has me where He wants me. It’s giving me the peace I need to make this stretch of the race.
I do need to throw in a disclaimer to anyone who thinks I may have it more together than I do.  I DON’T.  God DOES.  And He has an excellent sense of humor.  Just when I think I am acing things there is sure to be a twinge or a goose in the ribs coming.
For example: A few weeks back, I was rhythmically going through my morning.  I was so proud (first mistake) of how well I was doing, getting things done, now that I had “mastered” this art of completing “one thing at a time”.  Not slowly, BUT SUDDENLY, I heard a loud hissing sound from the bathroom.  I opened the sink cabinet doors to reveal a fountain of water spraying in multiple directions.  I had THREE thoughts, All. At. Once. OH CRAP! SHUT OFF VALVE! CALL DAD!!! The rest is a wet blur, except to say I learned there will be times when we and our smart selves are just not enough to handle everything that needs to be handled.

Papaw under the sink

Kudos to Papaw and his skills!

A God wink, Morgan emerged from her bedroom as I was mopping up, announced that things were a mess, then landed comfortably in her recliner to wait for me to get my act together. 😉

Need is one of the best teachers of humility.  Forever learning.
Until Next Time,
Know The Hope!

Tammy

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Allison, caregivers, communication, family, holidays, Love, Morgan, Uncategorized

A Patient Perspective

Patient (noun) an individual awaiting or under medical care and treatment

Patient (adjective) bearing pains or trials calmly, or without complaint – Merriam-Webster 

Over the holidays, my older daughter had an emergency appendectomy. Since the appendix was ruptured, she earned an extended stay in the “hospital hotel”. With the help of my parents watching Morgan, I was able to be there to assist Allison until she was ready to go home.


Following surgery, Allison spent her recovery time on a floor that was dedicated to post op patients. Soon after surgery, they had her up and walking the halls. Her husband and I took turns making laps with her. From the patients’ view, the route was two long hallways that formed the shape of a double “L”, as in H. E. …. Well you get it. Seeing the small parade of gowned patients walking the halls with loved ones, some pushing IV poles, reminded me of the Jack Nicholson Movie, “Something’s Gotta Give”. 😊

Hospital gown 2
It may sound strange to say but caring for Allison at the hospital was a little break for me. I am always caring for my younger daughter, assisting with her needs 24/7, because she cannot be left at home alone. This was not only a change of venue. Strolling through the long halls, when Allison was resting, gave me a chance to decompress. I also met some very sweet folks, gained a new respect for post op patients, AND the nurses and staff who serve them.
As I passed by each room, I heard blips of conversations; Some thankful, some not so thankful, some fearful, and some incredibly obnoxious. I heard nurses respond calmly, understanding how pain and uncertainty can wear on some folks more than others. It gave me a fresh perspective of what a blessing it is to be in my position. I’ve spoken a lot about what it’s like to be a caregiver, but I think it requires a lot more patience to be the one who’s dependent on others for their care. The waiting, the vulnerability, and for those who are unable to communicate their basic needs, the frustration of being constantly misunderstood. It was a reminder to me of why it’s so important to be a patient and compassionate caregiver.

Patient3
On a final note, it was a treat to share some slowed down time with my older daughter, and her husband. I enjoyed the heart to heart talks that don’t usually happen in the haste of the holidays. Allison and I closed out the old year and rang in the new, fading in and out of conversation, between the nurse’s visits and naps. I woke up at 5 minutes till midnight, looked over and saw her sleeping peacefully. I counted down to the ball drop and counted up the blessings of the last few days, then fell back to sleep.

PAtient4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s to a very Happy and Healthy 2020 to you all!

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope,

Tammy

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