autism, faith, friends, risks and rewards, self esteem, Uncategorized

Moving Molehills

“Disability ministry is not complete until individuals with disabilities are ministering back.” – Jim Pearson (No Disabled Souls)

I recently posted this apology on Facebook to our friends, because Morgan has such a hard time breaking her stride to say an unplanned hello. It went like this:

“When we see each other at Walmart and are trying to say hello, if Morgan doesn’t acknowledge you, it’s because you’re not on her schedule. She currently doesn’t take walk-ins.
As a long term member of her staff, I am advocating for policy changes. You’re important to us and we appreciate your patience. Please hold.”

Due to her version of autism, Morgan is prone to self isolate. This year of added isolation has definitely backed us up a few steps. Morgan is very comfortable when she’s “busy relaxing” at home. The longer we’re here, the less she wants to go out. Although we need things to get back to “normal”, I admit, I’ll have to muster up my “want to” to dust off my cheerleading pompoms again.

Morgan is 27 now. Her whole life, we’ve been “working on” something. It started with speech and occupational therapy. Then it was social and emotional skills, educational and vocational skills, life skills, and as strange as it sounds, we even have to work on Joy. Don’t get me wrong. She enjoys putting seasonal events on her calendar, painting the windows, and collecting things that are the colors of the month. But it seems to me, she only tolerates people sometimes, because we can be so unpredictable. I’ve told her that friends can be messy and loud, but they are SO WORTH IT. My constant prayer is for her to just be able to relax with people and enjoy being engaged with others, without the anxiety. It breaks my heart for her that she sees every encounter as a task. We keep pushing forward, because every little successful interaction matters.

Mamaw and Morgan’s February Window Painting

One thing I’ve been thankful to be reminded of again, during this time, is Morgan’s satisfaction when she’s accomplishing something “All Myself”. Thursday is our clean up day. As she helps change the bed sheets, wash the cloths and vacuum, I see her calm delight in doing something that she knows matters. I saw the same thing when she worked at the little sandwich shop before it shut down during the pandemic. We’ve been trying to get that feeling back again. I do believe in all of us there is a need to be needed, a need to know that who we are, what we have to offer, is valued.

Because of Morgan’s social anxiety, it’s hard to get people to understand she is very capable of doing a good job. We’ve had to beg for her to be given any opportunity. I wish I could say that’s unusual, but for many young adults with disabilities, real employment opportunities are rare. Just having that hour at the sandwich shop, a couple of times a week, was very meaningful for both of us. That hour may seem so small to some people, but seeing her feel good about her “Busy Long Day” made it worth all the mountains we had to move to get there.

The sandwich shop never opened back up. But recently, we were able to get back to Meals on Wheels. Morgan helped Papaw in the past, and now she has been given her own route. ❤️ One morning a week, I drive and Morgan “trick or treats” folks with a warm meal. As she puts on her mask, and gets out of the car, I hear her say “I can do it. It’s Izzy.” When she comes back, there’s a high five and fist bump. “I did it!” 🙂

Meals on Wheels – “Trick or Treat”

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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