autism, caregivers, communication, family, Health, holidays, peace, Uncategorized

Digesting Dinosaurs

“When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time.” – Creighton Abrams

In the 1980s, I worked as an assistant to a top notch bookkeeper named Juanita.  I was so impressed at how she approached the mountain of tasks she faced.  Each day she was greeted by endless stacks of paper on her desk that she methodically sifted through, only to have them be replaced by more of the same.  In that sea of paper, she also had the ability to put her hands on whatever was requested, without breaking out in a sweat. Just witnessing a portion of her workload was overwhelming to me.  Something in me needed a finish line.  I needed to see an empty desk to feel like I was accomplishing something.  I was letting that desk full of papers eat at me.  Thankfully she was patient with my impatience.  Whenever I would hyperventilate, she’d just look at me, smile softly and say “How do you eat an elephant?”

alebrije elephant 4

Fast Forward to 2020.  Take one young adult on the autism spectrum,  who has a great affection for routines and annual calendar events.  Add one pandemic that completely shuts down life as we know it, that reschedules, then cancels, all of those events.  AND lets make a whole new set of social safety rules that really matter a lot to some people, and not so much to others.  Oh, and in the middle of all this, just for fun, let’s paint the dining room.  Surely now would be a good time to accomplish this one thing.  This needs to be filed under “What Was I Thinking?!”  Husband called with a kidney stone, that had it’s own agenda. The memory of Juanita’s desk full of papers suddenly came back to me, and I laughed at my younger self.  I realized just how small that elephant was in comparison.  I guess that’s what Juanita knew back then.  It’s all a matter of attitude.  We can Eat or Be Eaten. 😉

I’ve Got An Attitude from the Love Can Grow project – Available on Apple Music

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As I write this, I am looking at a messy desk and a half finished dining room with paint paraphernalia scattered about.  Rudy and Morgan are in the living room watching Spiderman and his adventures.  At this moment, we are all safe and well.  I Am Thankful.  It turns out dinosaurs are also digestible, one bite at a time.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

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autism, caregivers, communication, faith, family, holidays, Love, peace, Uncategorized

The Shape of Things

“We’re in pretty good shape for the shape we’re in.” –  Harlan Howard

Each month Morgan and I paint a scene on the windows to represent the season.  For December we did Christmas trees.  January will be snowmen,… Keeping things simple, breaking the scene down into shapes, helps her follow along.  For example, a few triangles make a nice little Christmas tree.  We add a small rectangle for the trunk, circles for ornaments, and a star to top it off nicely.

Mom, Dad, and Morgan, recently found out how important shapes are when we upgraded her bedroom.  She helped put together the bedframe.  It looked like a nice rectangle to the eye, but when we placed the mattress on, things were so out of skew that one rail looked about six inches longer than the other.  🙂 We scratched our heads, and even measured both rails.  It was at that point we realized we needed a square tool to get it into shape.  LOL!  We’re always learning.

In this life, as much as we try to simplify things, to better understand them, there will always be unknowns.  What I know now is I don’t need to know everything.  I just need to know the One who does.  I used to pray for understanding.  Now I pray for the peace that passes understanding.

When our world seems so upside-down and out of round, when I’m worried about the shape we’re in, I remind myself of God’s heart for us.  I know His Love is Pure and Perfect, so that means we’re in pretty good shape.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

 

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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, faith, family, Morgan, Uncategorized

Magical and Practical Places

“Coming together is a beginning.  Keeping together is progress.  Working together is success.” – Henry Ford

We are born into a family.  We play and learn and grow.  And as we do, so does our world, and our circle of friends.  We gather at schools and churches and ballparks and businesses.  When we become adults, we take on grownup roles.  We work, play, worship, grieve, and celebrate TOGETHER.  We are a community.

Children with intellectual and physical disabilities become adults, just like everyone else.  Once they grow up and leave school, they have the same need to continue to belong, and play active roles in communities.  Being intentional, working together, we can ALL break down the barriers that separate us.

Mary's Music

I’m so thankful we live in a community that gets it.  From employers who open their doors, hiring our young adults for their strengths, to organizations that offer special needs sports, recreation, creative arts, and adult ministries, You Get It!  We are truly blessed.  As Morgan would say, “I LOVE This Place!”

Recently our community has added a couple of places that are Extra Inviting and Super Exciting!  The first,  Mary’s Magical Place, is a park that is accessible to ALL abilities and ages.  Their mantra is “Make It Happen!” And Boy did they! 🙂

 

And PEER Place , a community based program, where our young adults can continue learning job, life, and social skills, empowering them to achieve their highest potential.  We think these places ROCK! 🙂

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” – Coretta Scott King

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

 

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autism, faith, family, Morgan, Uncategorized

If It Ain’t Broke…

“If human beings are perceived as potentials rather than problems, as possessing strengths instead of weaknesses, as unlimited rather that dull and unresponsive, then they thrive and grow to their capabilities.” Barbara Bush

In the earlier years, I remember praying for God to “fix” Morgan for me.
As I grew a little, I prayed for God to “fix” Morgan for her.
Now, after all these years, I see the lives she’s touched, the hearts she’s softened,… especially mine, and I realize she was NOT the one who needed fixing.

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I was so thankful to have the opportunity to share our family’s journey with autism recently on Witfromwhitt Radio podcast.  Thank you for listening.

 

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

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autism, family, Morgan, risks and rewards, Uncategorized

Morgan’s Medals

“Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy.”
― Walt Disney Company

Sometimes it’s nice to visit the memories you treasure, and think about all of tomorrow’s possibilities.

At first, they were earned, for doing a good job.  Later, they became another way for Morgan to celebrate months and events.  She has assigned each month it’s own color/colors.  January – white for snow.  February – red and pink hearts,…    You get the idea.  Below is our 2017 monthly collection, including her Disney parks medals from our September vacation.

As we wrap up another year, it’s fun to look back on our rainbow of medal memories.  It’s also a reminder that seasons come back around again, each year, giving us fresh opportunities to make new memories.  Wishing you and your family all the colors of joy in 2018.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy Vice

 

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autism, faith, Morgan, Uncategorized

The Blue Side of the Rainbow

“April showers bring May flowers.” – Thomas Tusser

“April is Blue” – Morgan Vice

Morgan assigns each month a color.  During the month, she collects and creates things of that color.  January is white, because of snow.  February is red and pink.  March is green,…  We do an autism awareness event at the Bluebird Cafe’ each year in April, so Morgan has decided April is blue.  One day recently, she noticed there are “Lots of Blues!”  So she created this blue rainbow pictured below. 😉

Blue Rainbow Small

And look at this “Cool Bluebird Clock” we found to match her Bluebird hat. 🙂

Bluebird Clock Small

After several rainy blue April days, mom is ready for the “Rainbow Month” of May, with all it’s flowers blooming.  Whenever I’m on the blue side of the rainbow, I remind myself that everything is only for a season.  Time is always ticking, bringing a new day, and new light.

I CAN WAIT

WITH THE CLOUDS AND ALL THE THUNDER

SOMETIMES I CAN’T HELP BUT WONDER

IF THERE WILL EVER BE ANOTHER SUNNY DAY

AT THE END OF MY ROPE

HANGING ON TO WHAT’S LEFT OF HOPE

BUT THE WEATHER’S ALWAYS CHANGIN’

I CAN WAIT

 

WHEN I’M ON THE BLUE SIDE OF THE RAINBOW

IT CAN BE SO HARD TO SEE THE LIGHT

BUT SOMEWHERE I KNOW THE SUN IS SHININ’

AND ALL THE OTHER COLORS ARE IN SIGHT

 

 SOMETIMES CALENDERS AND CLOCKS

TEND TO BE MY STUMBLIN’ BLOCKS

ONCE AGAIN I COME UP SHORT AND ONE DAY LATE

THEN A SECOND HAND GOES WHIRLIN’ BY

BRINGS A HINT OF GOLDEN SKY

SO TIME IS NOT MY ENEMY

I CAN WAIT

WHEN I’M ON THE BLUE SIDE OF THE RAINBOW

IT CAN BE SO HARD TO SEE THE LIGHT

BUT SOMEWHERE I KNOW THE SUN IS SHININ’

AND ALL THE OTHER COLORS ARE IN SIGHT

I CAN WAIT

by: John Edd Thompson & Tammy Vice (c) 2002 BMI

Available on iTunes

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope,

Tammy Vice

 

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autism, faith, family, Morgan, Uncategorized

Chains and Rainbows

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12

Each year, our family holds an autism benefit for Autism Tennessee at the Bluebird Café.  This April will be our sixteenth year.  The event was named “Breaking The Chains”, after a song that was written for our daughter, during a time I had so many questions about her and her future.

You know that old saying, “Be careful what you pray for.”  I remember a time when Morgan seemed to have no interests in anything we presented, and we had tried everything.  She was diagnosed with autism when she was 3 1/2 years old.  Below are the lyrics to the song, a prayer, to be able to connect with her.  One of the lines is “open your eyes to the colors of rainbows”.

Help Me Break Those Chains

 How can I reach you so that I can teach you

Open up the world and put it in your hands

Cast out those shadows, replace them with meadows

How can I help you finally understand

There is a place out, I need to show you, please don’t hide

 

Help me break those chains that hold your precious mind

Like Rapunzel in her castle, please let down your golden hair

I need to climb and join you so that I can find

That something that’s missing between here and there

Help me break those chains

 

Open your eyes to the colors of rainbows

Open up your ears to hear the whippoorwills

Come out of that midnight, reach into the sunlight

Feel the warmth that greets you as your climb those hills

Taste the sweetness of each day, together we will find a way

 

Help me break those chains that hold your precious mind

Like Rapunzel in her castle, please let down your golden hair

I need to climb and join you so that I can find

That something that’s missing between here and there

Help me break those chains

Tammy Vice J Rees Music BMI (c)

Now Morgan is 23.  Education through the Arts has played a major role in opening the doors of communication.  I call her my event planner.  She is always about the Next Big Thing, and our house looks a lot like an art gallery.  She assigns each month a color and theme.  March was green, and “rainbow kites”.  We paint a scene on our sliding glass door to ring in the new month.

The rainbow is a promise.  There are still countless things I don’t know, so I’m thankful I do know  The Rainbow Maker.  🙂

Until Next Time,

Know the Hope!

Tammy

 

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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

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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.

chicken-dance

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

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