autism, caregivers, faith, peace, Uncategorized

Melting the Iceberg of Isolation

“… I will never leave you or forsake you.”  Deuteronomy 31:8, Joshua 1:5, Hebrews 13:5, Deuteronomy 31:6

When children with disabilities become young adults with disabilities, there is a service cliff.  Families have to piece and patch together everything to keep young adults active in the community.  One of my biggest fears when Morgan left high school, was her falling off of everyone’s map, being forgotten.  Thankfully we live in an area where the disability community itself is very active.  There are always opportunities to socialize in organized activities.   You might say there’s plenty of water to bring the horse to, but my horse doesn’t always want to drink. 😉

Morgan’s autism brings with it a lot of social anxiety.  While she is very comfortable at home, where she is able to communicate her needs, hang out in her jammies and play on her iPad Way Too Much, that only adds to the iceberg of isolation.  It’s up to me to get her out the door and into social activities.  She does “want to see friends”.  She just doesn’t always know how to “be with friends”.  As much as I try to nudge her into the group, if she’s not able to relax and engage, it’s not going to happen.  This not only isolates her.  It isolates me.

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All caregivers deal with isolation to some extent.  It just goes with the territory.  Add to that caring for someone who, due to their disability, is unable to give you that pat on the back for giving it your all.  It can be extremely draining at times.  It can make you question if you’re doing it good enough, if it’s possible to do anything good enough.

Recently, I was speaking to another caregiver who was feeling very unappreciated, very alone in their circumstances.  The advice I heard come out of my mouth was, “Do everything you do, as unto the Lord.” Col 3:23.  Until that moment, in my own exhaustion, I realized I had forgotten my own advice.

I have to remind myself, as I keep reaching out for Morgan’s sake and mine, I also have to Keep Reaching Up, to keep from giving up.  I don’t even know how to explain it, but there is a very solid peace I find, knowing that God has promised to never leave me or forsake me. I don’t have to fear for Morgan, or myself, being forgotten. God still sees us, even when no one else is looking.

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, Uncategorized

I’m Gonna Tell It All

“Blessings sometimes show up in unrecognizable disguises.” – Janette Oak

This month’s blog comes from a dear friend, Darlene Blade.  I’ve had the privilege of sharing the stage with her son, Logan, and seeing first hand some of the lives he’s touched.  I’ve asked her to share their family’s story:

I had heard of miracles, and even witnessed some, growing up in a Pentecostal Church.  Did not know then that I would be right in the middle of one in my married life.  Well God sent me a great man to share this life with, and at the age of 16 we started our life together.  God had a plan all the time for us.  We just celebrated 43 years of marriage.  When we were on our 16th year, we talked about having a child.  See, we were so young and had a lot of growing up to do ourselves.

Darlene and Terry 2018

After two devastating miscarriages, God gave us a beautiful 8 lbs. 2 oz. baby boy.  His name would be Logan.  We were elated to say the least.  Just what we had always wanted.  I asked God for only one healthy child and I would never ask him for another.  Oh what a joy he was!  Like any child, Logan began to babble and say Mama, Dada, yes, no,…  learned to play Itsy Bitsy Spider, and do all the things babies do before he was two years old.
When he turned two, it was like someone had flipped a switch.  He lost all of his words, and stopped making eye contact.  It was like he was a stranger, and not with us anymore. After many doctor visits and therapy sessions, Logan was diagnosed with autism.  What we thought was a curse back then has turned out to be one of God’s greatest blessings.
You see, Logan hums for self stimulation.  A very special teacher named Kim Sutton found the gift that God had blessed him with.  Logan is a music savant.  He was humming in perfect pitch.  He could pick out songs on the piano, read music, and even do music notation.  And the biggest miracle to us,… He Could Sing.  Yes, he had no verbal language, but God had put a song in his heart, and it had to come out.

Logan in the Studio
Logan has been blessed to sing with Josh Turner on the Grand ole Opry, and sing with The Nashville Symphony .
Logan has just finished his 4th CD, “I’m Gonna Tell it All”, title song written by Tammy Vice and Jerry Salley.
We travel, and share God’s blessings, all over the southern states.  So in closing, I would like to say, all things in your life that you may think are a curse, might just turn out to be a special blessing of your own.

Darlene Blade
Logan’s Mom
Autism is a way of life for us.

Visit Logan Blade’s Facebook page, and watch for his upcoming CD!

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy Vice

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autism, caregivers, faith, family, Morgan, Uncategorized

Real-ity Estate

“You are the light of the world.  A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14

This June will mark two years of Morgan and mom being full time buddies.  That’s when Morgan’s schedule became our schedule.  For the most part, we’ve adapted well.  There has been lots of unexpected joy.  I never know what that girl’s going to get me into.  😉 But truthfully, I’ve had my struggles.  There was that moment of realization in this new normal, when I finally conceded, that my personal wants and needs would have to be placed on the back of life’s shelf indefinitely.  It was, and still is, quite humbling.  I remind myself often that God doesn’t waste anything, or anyone.   He can use us in whatever situation we are in, if we make ourselves available.

I’m not just Morgan’s mom.  I’m Allison’s mom.  I’m a wife, a daughter, a sister, a neighbor, a friend, a community member,…  More importantly, I’m God’s child.  I do have a little plot of influence.  I believe I am still able to do whatever He calls me to.  It’s not a lot of acreage, but it’s my little piece of the planet.  I want to stake out the property lines wisely.  I want to take the best care of what He’s deeded to me.

Rocky Rose

I have been so blessed, that frankly, when He’s done with me here, I’m more than ready to go home.  In the meantime, I’m thankful for every opportunity, every “hill”, He gives me and Morgan.  I want us to be an encouragement to others who might feel forgotten on the back of life’s shelf.  If that’s you, I want you to know God sees you there.  Every morning Morgan and I say a prayer together, to be a light that leads others to Him, and his perfect love.  Some days we shine a little brighter than others.  He’s still working on our wicks. 😉

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

PS Please check out The Identity Theft of Caregivers, a teaching moment from Peter Rosenberger.  Also visit Peter’s Radio Show, Hope For The Caregiver

 

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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, Uncategorized

Location, Location, Location

“Home is where the heart is.” – Edward Coke

When Rudy and I first married, we lived in a 874 square foot shotgun house in south Alabama.  We spent most weekends sprucing up, and patching up, things.  We were so proud of that little place.  Only a few months after we were married, we learned we were expecting our first baby.  Thirteen weeks later, on the day the Challenger Space Shuttle exploded, I miscarried.  As I laid on the couch, watching the news, I remember thinking how quickly life can change for any one of us.  We hurt.  We cried.  And slowly we went back to rebuilding our lives.

The following year would bring news that we were expecting again.  We spent a great amount of time and love, getting the nursery just right.  I stapled a flannel sheet, with brightly colored ABC’s, over one of the paneled walls.   I thought it was genius.  Rudy wasn’t so sure, but it grew on him.  Speaking of growing… When I was eight months along,  I was getting tired of hauling our clothes, and me, to the laundromat.  I talked Rudy into investing in our first washer and dryer.  That same day, I had a craving for Popeye’s fried chicken.  He told me we really needed to think about our budget.  I cried.  We had Popeye’s chicken for dinner that night.  Poor Rudy.  Looking back now, I realize he was just feeling the weight of his responsibility for our growing family.  He was, and will always be, a keeper. ❤  Allison was born in September, one week after our second anniversary.  She filled up that little old house, and our hearts.

Pictured below; Allison with Mamaw on our front porch, and Allison trying to get back to the front porch.

Soon, we were busting at the seams.  My mom and dad deeded us a couple of acres in the country.  We started out there in a new double wide mobile home.  We were really moving up in the world. 😉  Rudy and I were both working hard.  Allison was enjoying her school, and doing well.  Just as I thought we had this parenting thing down, along came Morgan, and life got interesting.  Dad was now truly outnumbered.

Pictured below; Life inside the double wide

In 1995, we were excited to finally be building our dream house on the property.  We moved in with Mamaw and Papaw; Rudy, myself, one opinionated princess, one busy toddler, and a sweet dog named Barney, who had issues.  Thank you mom and dad!  It was a beautiful house, worth all the wait and preparation;  Four bedrooms, two baths, walk-in closets, a fire place, bricked in flower beds, and SPACE, Glorious SPACE.  Did I mention walk-in closets?  All of our boxes were checked.

The thing is, a house is just sticks, bricks, and mortar.  A home is where a family lives and loves.  Every member matters.  After a short time in the new house, Morgan was diagnosed with autism.  We learned there was a strong parent support network in another state, Autism Tennessee.  Also, Vanderbilt University was doing research there, which was promising.  We said a prayer, and put our house up for sale.  In 1999, we found ourselves back in a little old house in Tennessee.  Although I still dream about walk in closets sometimes, I know we’re right where we belong.

Pictured below; Home Sweet Home

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy Vice

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