autism, family, friends, Morgan, Uncategorized

Messy and Beautiful

“Sometimes you’ve got to embrace the unexpected.  The things we never saw coming often take us to the places we never imagined we could go.”  Kemmy Nola

Recently, we traveled to the coast for the Frank Brown Songwriters Festival. Our family and Logan Blade‘s participate in an annual autism awareness benefit there. We also enjoy getting some rare time for our families to visit with each other. While Logan is pretty laid back, always going with the flow, Morgan requires a schedule. There is a constant juggle of what’s “too much schedule” for her, and what’s not enough.  When I think of the differences between Logan and Morgan, I’m reminded of the saying, “when you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”  Truth!

Anxiety and OCD are kissing cousins to Morgan’s autism.  They are the enemies of spontaneity and joy.  They refuse to let go and trust that the day will land in a safe place without their orchestrating every moment, every breath.  I’ve watched them take my daughter down on countless occasions, robbing her of the ability to wait, to relax, to just enjoy being with friends.  Morgan knows friends are messy, and loud.  They often do the unexpected.  They are great at derailing her perfect plans.  I’m trying to help her understand friends are also Beautiful!  Even with all the chaos they create, they are really worth having around us.

We are always trying to find ways to help Morgan learn how to cope with the messy and the unexpected, so she can enjoy being with friends.  Our family is blessed to live in an area where there are several organizations providing social and recreational opportunities for young adults with disabilities.  They have regular gatherings, dinners and dances,…  Nothing makes me happier than to see Morgan bobbing up and down on the dance floor, weaving around her buddies.  She’s still in her bubble, but it’s the closest I’ve seen her get to popping it.  😉

Using the Arts and creativity has been another great way to stretch Morgan’s coping abilities.  Her “Messy Flag” is a pour painting, which required making a mess to create something beautiful.

We’ve made note cards from her painting to spread awareness of OCD, anxiety, and autism.  As we learn and grow, it’s always our hope to bring understanding and encouragement to others.  Follow us on Facebook Know the Hope to learn more about us, and how to get some of Morgan’s note cards.  We’d love to hear from you.

 

Until Next Time,

Know the Hope!

Tammy

 

 

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autism, Morgan, risks and rewards, Uncategorized

Life Is a Stage

“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” –  Marianne Williamson

Recently, Morgan had the opportunity to perform at Nashville Children’s Theatre.  The evening was a series of one act plays and monologues, entitled “Conversations Over Tea”, put on by Borderless Arts Tennessee and Nashville Children’s Theatre actors.  It included friends with and without disabilities.  There were some excellent performances, and we were excited for her to be a part of it.

Morgan’s autism and anxiety can make her want to avoid “too many friends” and new situations.  It can often steal her joy, making it a struggle for her to hang for group activities, where she’s not sure what “the script” is.  I’ve heard “practice makes progress” so we are always seeking new challenges, and saying yes to new things, to help her stretch her ability to cope.  In order to help her be successful this time, we took an early trip to NCT to give her a preview of what was in store.

While I always hope Morgan will be able to give her best onstage performance, I’m much more invested in her performance off stage, Because That’s Where Life Happens.

The night of the performance, she was able to wait, listen to others, and clap for them.  She sat for over an hour before it was her turn.  I know it was hard.  I even heard her say to herself a couple of times, “I can do it.  I can do it.”,  meaning she could hang in there. And she did!  So proud of my girl. 🙂

Here’s a link to her performance at NCT – Brown Truck

Here’s a link to another performance at the Bluebird Cafe’, an autism awareness event she’s been a part of for several years – Circus Song and Brown Truck

You can see the difference in her level of ease, when she’s in a familiar setting.  I’ve seen her light up when she lets go of the anxiety, and enjoys the moment.  That’s what we’re aiming for.  On and off stage, we want Joy to be center stage.

Until Next time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

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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, faith, family, Morgan, Uncategorized

Ego Swatting

“Goodbye Skeeter!  No time for that!” – Morgan Vice

One of my favorite spots in the world is my own backyard.  Nothing fancy there.  It’s just a peaceful little space to breathe and unplug.  Recently, while enjoying some summer solitude, Morgan swatted a mosquito, and let it know just how she felt about it disturbing her peace.

Sandbox 2

EGO can be a real peace stealer.  Being Morgan’s mom, fulltime buddy and caregiver, is a labor of the heart that requires me to be vigilant to guard my thoughts.  If not, I can get the “Poor, Pitiful, Me’s”.  I can get all caught up in worrying about myself, and the things I think I might be missing out on, becoming jealous and envious of how easy someone else’s life appears to be.  I can become narrow minded and judgmental of others.  If I’m not careful, I can get so self centered, and hard hearted, that I can’t hear God’s voice above all my noise.

Morgan is counting on me.  Don’t tell her, but I’m only human.  I’m so thankful God is God, and I’m not.  I can tell when my ego needs swatting.  I know it’s time to take that noise to the backyard, and put it in its place.  Goodbye Ego!  No time for that! 😉

There’s nothing more peaceful than placing my heart back into God’s very capable hands.  According to Jeremiah 29:11, He has plans specifically designed for me, for Morgan, for each one of us; “Plans to prosper me, and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future.”

My Child Love God

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy Vice

 

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Uncategorized

“Watering Hope”

“It’s important to think about what you’re thinking about.” – Me, talking to myself

Morgan is a great event planner.  She is always thinking about what activity she can put on her calendar, and mine.  😉  We had “March Number 27” listed as planting “Big Color Flowers”.  When that seemed too far off, we changed it to “Saturday Number 14”.  On that rainy morning, after our “Saturday Breakfast” (also on the calendar), we headed to Lowe’s to pick out some flowers and “Garden Dirt”.  That afternoon, between the dropped, we planted our “Color Flowers”.

Garden 1   Garden 4

I explained that “Big” would come with water and time.  So Morgan got out her watering can later to catch what the rain may have missed.  Always thinking, always planning,… 😉

watering 2

While having lunch recently with a good friend, they made a thoughtful observation.  They said, with everything going on in my life, it must take a lot for me to keep my emotions under control.  It DOES.  As I thought about this conversation later, I was reminded of Morgan’s garden.  I’ve learned over the years, it takes a daily watering of hope to keep things in perspective for me.  When I feel the weeds of worry popping up, I have to think about what I’m thinking about, and redirect my thoughts to The Hope I know and believe.  I have a little talk with the Master Gardener every morning.  He reminds me of past seasons and events in my life that are proof of what I believe.

A little rain, a little sunshine, and Springtime will come around again.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy and Morgan Vice

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Uncategorized

Waiting With Joy

“Let’s think of something to do while we’re waiting.” – Fred Rogers

Morgan is all about putting events on her calendar.  Her enthusiasm is contagious as she talks about every detail she’s looking forward to.  However, there can be a fine line between expectation and obsession.  Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is my daughter’s ever present companion.  I have seen it steal her joy on many occasions.  Sometimes it will have her so focused on a future event that she’s unable to see the fun that’s right in front of her.

Any of us can get so caught up in tomorrow’s possibilities that we miss the sweet simple pleasures of the here and now.  In my ongoing quest to help Morgan learn how to wait with joy, I’ve been given an unexpected gift.  Whether it’s learning to draw our favorite characters, watering a flower to help it grow, testing out a new recipe, or watching a fire burn under the stars, I’ve found there are countless wonderful things to enjoy “while we’re waiting”.  Once again, I am thankful for Mr. Rogers and his words of wisdom. 😉

Drawing Fun with Morgan Drawing Fun With Morgan

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