Allison, autism, faith, family, Love, Morgan, Uncategorized

The Student is The Best Teacher

“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him.  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born of one’s youth.” Psalm 127: 3, 4

As I write this, my older daughter, Allison, is preparing to teach her first college course in behavior.  She’s had years under her belt as a BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst), and countless observation hours as a sibling.  I have no doubt she will have valuable lessons to share with her students.  I’m grateful for passionate teachers, and I’m especially proud of this one.  🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When it comes to Allison’s sister, Morgan, I wonder who’s teaching who.  I am forever learning.  I’m learning not to compare her to anyone else, because it’s a precious waste of time and mental energy.  I’m learning not to limit her to what I know she can do now.  I’m looking at the rest as “things she can’t do yet”.  Together, we are working on our personal bests.  As I continue to challenge her, I’m learning she is very skilled at challenging me. 😉

There is a line I struggle to define all the time;  What behaviors are due to her disability, and what behaviors are within her ability to correct.  And That Line is Drawn in Shifting Sands, because Every New Person, Place, or Thing can change the equation.

Lines get blurred and meltdowns happen.  When Morgan is coming back down from a meltdown, she will often say “I was just trying to fix it”.  😦 Me too, Morgan. Me too.  When I see her stressing and I don’t see the reason, I’ve learned to ask, “What are you trying to fix?”.  Using her language helps her find her words.

For Morgan’s sake, for her independence and quality of life, we have to keep pushing that line.  We have to continue to do the hard things until they become the no big deal things.  When we come to an impasse, I remind her (and myself) to take a deep breath.  I remind her that I love her, and we can always try again.  Each time we succeed, it’s worth all the lessons we’ve both learned.

Back to Allison.  It was clear from the beginning that she was going to keep me on my toes.  I can still see her at four years old, with her hands on her hips, explaining her point of view.  We definitely bumped heads and hearts along the way.  Despite my first time parent blunders, she’s become a pretty amazing young woman.

And all this time I thought I was their teacher.  Turns out, they are mine.

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, dance, faith, family, Morgan, Uncategorized

A Soul’s Tale of Soles

“Walk a mile in my shoes, walk a mile in my shoes.  Yeah, before you abuse, criticize and accuse, walk a mile in my shoes.”  Joe South

I share our family’s walk through the world of autism, in an effort to create awareness, and understanding.  You might say my writing shoes were inherited from my dad, so I thought I’d share one of his writings with you in this post, along with some soul to sole picture moments.

Pictured below; Mine and my sister’s baby shoes

Little Crochet Booties by Winston Burkett (Papaw)

Little crochet booties, two feet in just one hand
I held you up and out to God, for I was one proud man
Then came little walking shoes, and alone you learned to stand
But I stood there ready, to offer you a hand
O dear child tread gently, as your walk through life you start
O dear child tread gently, you’re walking through my heart

Mistakes I’ve made a plenty, as I watched you grow
But have no doubt my love is strong, I wanted you to know
I always stood there ready when you took your first steps,
I stood there, as I do now, to offer you my help

Shoes of patent leather were awkward at their best
But they sure were pretty with your first Easter dress
Then there were the barefoot days with bruises and bandaids
When it came to childhood pranks, you sure made the grade
O dear child tread gently, as you walk through life, you stroll
O dear child tread gently, for you’re walking with my soul

Pictured below; Princess Morgan in her prom sneakers for Night To Shine.  It’s how “Cinderella” was able to stay and dance at the ball all night. 😉

Morgan Prom Shoes

Then there were the sneakers, and even baseball cleats
And tennis shoes with bobby socks, sure made you look neat
The ballet shoes that you did dance and wore the toe clear through
I stood and watched your graceful steps, o so proud of you
O dear child tread gently, as through life you stride
O dear child tread gently, for I’m watching you with pride

Pictured below; Allison and her soulmate

Allison Wedding Shoe

How about those high heels, you wore to your school prom
They sure made you look so nice, you borrowed them from mom
One day there came a wedding, your shoes I couldn’t see
The lovely dress and long white train had hidden them from me
O dear child tread gently, as you make life your own
O dear child tread gently, and you’ll never be alone

Now what is this with slippers, a child does grow within
Yes, it is my grandchild, whose love I’ll surely win
Little crochet booties, both feet in just one hand
I hold you up and out to God, for I am one proud man

Pictured below; Morgan and Allison’s baby shoes

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy Vice

P.S. And just for a smile, here’s a picture of the shoes I wore recently, on a busy mom day. 😉

Mom Shoes

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autism, faith, family, leap of faith, Morgan, Uncategorized

Room To Grow

 

Morgan and I have enjoyed watching our raised bed plants grow.  Although she would like to plant “a lot a bunch” of pretty green things, we’ve learned that less is more.  With room to grow, in a mix of good and bad weather this year, our tomatoes and “summer squash” are showing us they know just what to do. 🙂  In Morgan’s words, they’re “A Beautiful Mess”.

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One of the hardest things for me, as a parent, is NOT overcrowding Morgan.  I admit, I’ve found myself blocking her sun on several occasions, when my sole intent was to shade her from harm.

This song was written about that parent struggle.  How much to hang on, when to let go, remembering that God’s hands are always there.  😉 A Real Hard Place To Fall

I have to consciously pull myself back to give Morgan the space she needs.  My prayer is for her to have room enough to be able to make her own beautiful, messy, place in God’s garden.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

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autism, family, Morgan, Uncategorized

52 Blue Mondays – Beyond The Cover

“Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” – George Eliot

Morgan is a young adult on the autism spectrum.  If she is overwhelmed by a new situation, or “too many friends”, the first thing you are likely to see is the challenges of autism.  When you greet her, instead of saying hello, she may say “I’m tired” or “I’m done” and walk away, leaving you to wonder what just happened. 😉  A first impression can be very deceptive.  For this reason, my daughter and I co-authored 52 Blue Mondays, to give you a look beyond the cover.

52 Blue Mondays Morgan

Page by page, 52 Blue Mondays gives you the opportunity to see the rest of the story.  It gives Morgan the time she needs to show you who she really is.  As you view her collection of quotable quotes, photo-moments and original art work, you will get to know her strengths, and the beauty of autism.  You will laugh with her, root for her, and maybe even see a little of your honest self in her.

A look inside:

Blue Monday 17

There are Morgans in every community;  young adults with disabilities who have their own stories to tell, and gifts to offer.  Our hope is that you will get to know them, enjoy them, engage and employ them.

52 Blue Mondays is available now on Amazon.  A portion of all proceeds goes to support Autism Tennessee  Educate – Advocate – Celebrate!

Latest Reviews:

“To me there is nothing blue about 52 Blue Mondays!  Each page brought a smile to my face as Morgan and Tammy gave us a first-hand glimpse in to the world of autism and the wonderful blessing that a child with autism can be to a loving family.  In 52 Blue Mondays, I not only hear the beautiful sound of the voice of autism, but I also see the dedication and love that a mom and dad devote to their child.” – Jerry Salley – Songwriter – Singer, Referred to by Billboard Magazine as “One of Music Row’s greatest veteran tunesmiths” ,  “2003 SESAC Country Music Songwriter of the Year” with over 400 songs recorded in his multi-award winning career.

52 Blue Mondays shows a glimpse of life with Morgan, a young adult with autism, and her unique view on life. Morgan says what many of us are thinking without fear of judgment! We can all learn from her honesty, humor, and passion about life! This book is charming, engaging, and real! – Dr. Misty Vetter Parsley, Director of Special Education Programs, Assistant Professor of Education, Lipscomb University

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy Vice

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