autism, faith, family, Morgan

Keeping Life Meaningful

Atrophy – A wasting away, a gradual decline in effectiveness or vigor due to underuse or neglect.

Every now and then, I need to revisit WHY we do all we do.  It’s not about being busy.  It’s about staying engaged in community, giving and receiving joy.  It’s about living our lives with purpose.  Just as a muscle will atrophy from lack of exercise, a person’s spark for life will decline and waste away if meaning cannot be found.  There is a human need to be recognized and relevant.  The more I include Morgan, the more Light I see in her.


Since Morgan exited school last May, my biggest concern has been how to keep life meaningful for her.  Knowing that college, marriage, and the other norms of life are not in her future (short of a miracle), I continually pray to be able to provide things that bring quality and enrichment.  Having a schedule is imperative to keep down her anxiety, but having “Too Much Schedule” can be equally stressful.  We’ve been on and off the treadmill of activities, and we’re learning, it’s all about striking a healthy balance.

Once upon a time, in the Hundred Acre Wood, when asked whether it was time to WORK or PLAY, Winnie the Pooh replied, “YES!”.  Following the wisdom of Winnie, we do a little of both, and Morgan has no problem letting me know when she’s “Busy Relaxing”. 😉

job-small    raptors-bowlingbusy-relaxing








Now Morgan works a couple of hours each week at a local sandwich shop, and has her list of chores at home.  She volunteers once a week, helping her Papaw with Meals on Wheels, and her Sunday school teacher put lesson plans together.  She enjoys piano lessons, special needs sports, social activities, and Sunday school.  Together, we enjoy music, art, and baking on occasion.  Recently, we’ve both become part of an Adult Friends Choir at church that performs for assisted living centers in our community. And we have one day a week that NOTHING is planned, except “Staying Right Here” at home.  Image result for winnie the pooh quotes

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy Vice




autism, family, Morgan

Visiting IF-ville

“If you worry too much about what might be, and wonder too long about what might have been, you will ignore and completely miss what is.”  From the “Happiness” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.

In my early years of parenting Morgan, I remember visiting If-ville on several occasions.  Every time I saw another child on the autism spectrum making bigger strides, I would question our course.  I would question what might have been, if we’d had access to an earlier diagnosis, if we could have afforded more therapy, if we’d had more knowledge of the best practices,…  I found myself repeatedly mulling over missed opportunities and bygone possibilities.  It was a lot like riding on the roundabout with the Grissw0lds, 

It’s been quite a while since I visited IF-ville.  I found it to be an enormous waste of time.  It also created lots of unnecessary baggage that I don’t have the energy to lug around anymore.

Finally realizing our journey is, and should be, uniquely our own, has allowed me to genuinely celebrate the success of others, without feeling like I missed the mark.  It has freed me to celebrate and enjoy Morgan for the remarkable young woman she is.  I wouldn’t miss that for anything. Below Morgan is pictured with her nutcracker collection.  That’s my girl! 🙂

I do occasionally look to the future “what if’s”, and new possibilities we might want to visit, when the time is right for her.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!


autism, faith, family, Morgan, Uncategorized

Mist – Judged

Morgan has two dolls now that she enjoys taking on outings at times.  She has named them “Baby Doll” and “Baby Boy”.


She took Baby Boy to church for the Christmas Eve Candlelight service, because it was about Baby Jesus.


Earlier that day, we were walking Baby Doll in the misty drizzle. I was holding an umbrella to cover Morgan and me. A well-meaning motorist pulled up beside us, offering another umbrella. I told her we were fine, but she insisted we take it. It was then I realized she thought the baby was real, that Morgan and I were choosing to cover ourselves, and not the baby.
Sometimes you just don’t have the energy, or the inclination, to explain things. I smiled, took the umbrella, covered the stroller and waved goodbye, leaving her to think she had rescued the situation. What she must have thought of us, and later, shared with her friends. Life with Morgan is never boring.


Until next time, stay warm and dry out there. 🙂

Know The Hope,


autism, family, Morgan, Uncategorized

When Words Hurt

Recently, while Morgan and I were walking down an aisle at Walmart, we noticed a toddler fussing with his mom.  Just as we passed them, the little guy yelled, “NO!”  Morgan whipped around and said, “Oh Baby!  Do Not Do That!  You Scared Me!”  Needless to say, he stopped mid yell, eyes wide open, mouth shut.  Mom was pleased.  I blushed.  We both shared a knowing smile.  Whew.  With Morgan, what comes up, comes out.  Thankfully, this was a positive for everyone, even the startled toddler. 😉

One of the most difficult challenges for Morgan is something we call “trigger words”.  While her response to the child in Walmart was kind of appropriate, her response to these triggers can be anything but.   I’m beginning to understand that each of these words and phrases bring back an unpleasant memory for her.  Hearing them puts Morgan back in that moment, as if was happening right then, causing a knee-jerk reaction.   Unfortunately, these words and phrases are a part of our everyday conversation and they come up often.  They can quickly bring a pleasant interaction with her to an end.  When helping her develop new relationships, and greater independence, they continue to be a major roadblock. 


The following is a short list of her trigger words and phrases; Choice, Hour, Looks Like, Sounds Like, Tickle, Difficult, Typical (words that have the “icle” sound), Fine, Something Else, and the most recent is the word “OK”.  OK, as you can imagine, this is hard to keep up with for those of us who know Morgan.  A new friend is certain to step on one or more of these when trying to get to know her.  Morgan’s reaction is to sternly say, “Oh, Do Not Say That!” or “You Hurt Me!” leaving her new acquaintance very bewildered. ;-/

I remember one family vacation where the word “hour” kept coming up on a very long car trip.  Morgan would yelp.  Just when we’d get her calmed down, someone would say it again.  We were so exhausted from the fallout, we all got the giggles.  I threatened to head-bonk anyone who said it again, including myself. 


We welcome any educated or creative ideas, if they exist, to help Morgan cope with the words that hurt.  In the meantime, we keep a thesaurus handy.  To loosely quote a mom friend of mine, ” There is no FBI agent, or Homeland Security team,  more able or driven to flush out the culprit, and secure the area of concern, than a mom on a mission.” 😉

Helping the world see the Morgan I know and love, helping them see beyond these barriers is my daily prayer.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!


autism, faith, family, Morgan, Uncategorized

Nothing Too Big, or Too Small

I was recently reminded that nothing is too big, or too small, for God to handle. Morgan received a sweet gift, a bracelet with a charm that you add each day of December. She keeps it on her table beside her chair. We were about to add our charm, which was part our morning routine, and it was missing. She started crying, “Oh dear! It’s lost!” In our autism world, not knowing where something is can be a very big deal.
I told Morgan, first we’d fix breakfast, then we’d find it. She was getting more upset, so as we stood there in the kitchen together, I said “Take a breath. Why don’t we ask Jesus to help. He knows where it is.”  Those of you parents, who know what this is like, know that I was praying just as hard as she was. “Dear Lord, Please help us find Morgan’s bracelet.” She relaxed enough for us to cook breakfast. When we walked back into the living room, there it was!, front and center, on her table. Morgan said “There it is. Thank you Jesus.”
In my heart, I saw God wink ; a little Merry Christmas miracle.
Until Next Time,
Know The Hope!
Morgan & Mom


autism, family, Uncategorized

Picking Your Copilot

“Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.” – Dr. Stephen Covey

Mamaw and Papaw will be married 60 years this month.  We gathered at a local airport to celebrate with friends from their Sunday School class.  This location was chosen because they met and worked together at a small county airport back in the 1950’s.  Papaw offered airplane rides for folks, while Mamaw collected the money in a shoe box.

I think my mom and dad are as different as night and day, and maybe that’s what makes things work.  When choosing a copilot, I believe I’d want to have someone on board that has all the strengths that I lack.  It’s even more important when you’re carrying precious cargo.


morgan-allison-rudy-november-2016 Dad and our precious cargo

I’m glad I’ve learned a little something from watching my parents marriage, and landed a pretty great copilot myself. 😉 Rudy and I are definitely as different as night and day.  I’ve often said “I’m the gas pedal and he’s the brakes”. We’ve piloted through a few storms over the years, and we’ve been blessed to enjoy some beautiful horizons.  I can’t imagine navigating this life without him.

Love and congratulations to Mamaw and Papaw on their 60th!  As we continue to chart our course, we’re thankful for their example.

anniv-cake Anniversary Cake Painting

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy Vice

autism, Morgan

Small Talk

“She had lost the art of conversation but not, unfortunately, the power of speech.” – George Bernard Shaw

At the age of three, Morgan’s functional speech was stolen by autism.  She was left with empty repetitive words and phrases, and no ability to carry on a conversation.  Here we are, two decades later, with something very BIG to celebrate! As she approaches birthday “Number 23!”, our girl is reclaiming that ability.  Don’t get me wrong.  She’s been speaking her mind for a few years now.  What comes up, definitely comes out. 😉  But recently, I’ve seen her taking the next step.  She’s beginning to realize that true conversation, like a good dance, takes Two to Tango.


Pictured above: Morgan & Mom Chicken Dance at last year’s Project 22 event

Last Friday, after work, Morgan and I dropped by my parents house to say hello.  From another room, I heard her telling Mamaw about her morning.  “Worked hard at Lenny’s today Mamaw.  Whew-ee, it’s a busy long day!”  😉 My mom said, “Oh, you must be tired.”  Morgan replied with an additional sigh; “Oh dear, I’m tired Mamaw.”

Later that afternoon, we were helping friends at Project 22.  They are a local organization that provides numerous activities to engage young adults with disabilities.  A few of us volunteered to help decorate the gym for Saturday’s Halloween dance.  I had told Morgan, ahead of time, that we would need her help too.  We’d be setting up tables, and we’d need her to help set out chairs, table clothes, and decorations.  She was all about it!

As we passed Morgan the chairs, she counted out loud “One, two, three, …” lining them up, and double checking their positions.  She pointed to one of the parent volunteers, and said; “What’s your name?”  Cheryl replied, then Morgan continued; “Cheryl, working hard, lots of chairs everywhere!”  She hung in there until the job was done, tablecloths and all, then sat patiently while other preparations were being discussed.  We left with a hardy “Goodbye friends! See ya next time!”

At the dance Saturday evening, Morgan grabbed a couple of friendly ghosts to discuss Octobery stuff.

boo-p22-small This year’s Project 22 Halloween Dance

Small talk is NO small thing.  I believe this calls for a Happy Dance!

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy Vice