autism, caregivers, communication, faith, family, friends, Morgan, Uncategorized

I Call It Momtism

“If I find myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” – C.S. Lewis

While shopping in the grocery store, I saw a very familiar face. I could not recall their name or the place where I knew them from, knowing I should know, I ducked down an isle, hoping it would come back to me. It didn’t. The following week, I was at the bank, and Boom! There she was behind the counter, right where she belonged, and everything clicked again. I laughed at myself, then I recalled how seeing someone “out of place” can often rattle Morgan.

I am socially awkward at best sometimes, not great at small talk. There is usually a lot going on in my head, and not everything needs to be shared out loud. 😂 I have to remember, what’s normal in our world, as a parent and a young adult on the autism spectrum, can be miles away from what others consider normal. To say the least, my sense of humor can be a bit skewed. I’ve learned to face the fact that Morgan and I are never going to smoothly or discreetly blend in with the crowd. And that’s ok.

Morgan & Mom Back Porch Pickin’ for Hendersonville Tennessee’s
Front Porch Fest 2020

We are all unique, all fearfully and wonderfully made. We each have our own little quirks and traits that make us us. Genetics, environment, and experience all play their part in how we perceive and navigate things. The more I try to help Morgan understand this world, the more I realize what little sense it makes to me. But I still remain hopeful and thankful. I know it won’t always be this way.

Whenever I have those glitches, those awkward Momtism moments, when I’m totally out of sync with the world around me, I feel a synchronicity with Morgan. I get a better understanding of what it’s like to feel a little lost. Of course it’s brief and I have the tools to compensate, but it serves me a needed dose of empathy for what my girl and others on the autism spectrum go through every single day.

But one day, One. Day. We will no longer feel we are so out of the loop. We will finally be able to communicate and understand each other, and Everyone and Everything, more clearly. “…Now we know in part, but then we will know fully, as we are fully known.” – 1 Corinthians 13:12

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Morgan & Mom

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autism, communication, faith, Health, Love, Morgan

What Did You Say?

“I know you think you understand what you thought I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” Robert McCloskey

Have you ever watched a video of a crying baby receiving a hearing aid? When they hear their mother’s voice for the first time, their crying stops. Their eyes open wide. They become calm at first, then smile or even squeal with delight? Then, of course, the mother begins to cry. It’s that moment of mutual connection that those of us who hear often take for granted.

If you have ever seen one of our home videos on YouTube or Facebook Live, you will see All Things Autism. What you may not recognize is that Morgan has a hearing, or rather a listening, impairment. Even though her physical hearing is intact, her ability to process and interpret sound is interrupted by something called CAPD (Central Auditory Processing Disorder). My unscientific explanation is that there is a glitch in her central auditory nervous system wiring. This is a separate diagnosis from her autism. For signs and symptoms of CAPD, visit asha.org . American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

It is hard for Morgan to separate and make sense of sounds, especially speech. There is actually a slight delay in what she hears. When we are at home, in a one on one, quiet environment, it’s much easier for her to navigate. We’ve learned to slow down and give her time to respond. You will see she is very talkative and engaged. She is Very Able to express herself in our home environment.

Morgan and Papaw showing off an April window painting they did together.

When Morgan is in a group setting, there are lots of competing sounds and distractions. Large gatherings can be confusing and stressful. This usually stops her from initiating engagement. When she is overwhelmed, her reaction is to grunt and vocalize her displeasure, in order to get away. Or she will completely shut down, squinting her eyes, bending over and putting her head in her hands. Unfortunately for her, this makes others see her as Less Able than she actually is. When we are able to know what to expect, and provide Morgan with a schedule ahead of time, this takes down the stress and helps her be more successful.

As things speed back up again, we find ourselves stumbling a little more, trying to regain our footing in this world. I guess that’s life, with or without disabilities. I still believe the joy of a meaningful life ride is worth the learning bumps we experience along the way.

There is a giant chasm between hearing and listening. This year of slowing down has really opened my eyes and my heart to the difference. Many of us have forgotten how to listen. It takes time to really get to know anyone. It takes time, patience, and a sincere caring effort to get those moments of mutual connection, where we can all truly communicate.

We openly share our family’s journey with autism in the hope of creating understanding and acceptance for all individuals with disabilities.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope,

Tammy

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faith, family, friends, Love, Uncategorized

Worth Helping, Hanging, and Hoping

“Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s consent. But even the hairs of your head have all been counted. So don’t be afraid therefore; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭10:29-31‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

It was one of those mornings. We really needed to get out the door on time. The list of things to do was long and time was short. As we fixed our breakfast and Morgan’s lunch, I was running down that list in my head. I was hoping we’d get out the door with everything we needed the first time. There was a text with a task to handle, an unexpected knock on the door. “Hello Mamaw. What are you doing here?” Come on in and join our morning circus. A quick hello, and I continued my dance to keep things on track.

As we were about to get in the car, we heard a loud scratching and rustling sound coming from the down spout of the gutter. A bird had slipped down the hole. Bless his heart. He chose a really inconvenient time to get himself in that situation. We tapped on the spout for a few seconds, shook the bottom, hoping we could get his attention to turn around and see a better way out. We reasoned surely he’d eventually get tired and fall to the bottom, seeing the light there and be able to make it out on his own. I did say a little prayer for him as I cranked up the car and drove away. After all, we had a busy day ahead us.

Sometimes we assume there’s an easy way out for others, when there’s not.

That’s how I am sometimes. I mean well, but I’m just so busy. When I got back home, all was quiet and I assumed he made it out. I went about my day and didn’t give it another thought.

“and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself.”
‭‭James‬ ‭2:16-17‬ ‭

Later that evening, I was telling Rudy all about our busy day. Then, as an afterthought, I told him about the little bird. He said, “I thought I heard something out there as I was coming in the door.“ This was 9:30 in the evening. I said, “You’re kidding. Surely he’s not still in there.” He WAS still in there, struggling. I held a flashlight while Rudy unscrewed the extension. It turned out, the drain was stopped up with leaves and mulch. Once that was removed, the little guy wasted no time getting out of there. He was a blur in the dark.

There’s more than a couple of lessons in this for me. With all my wisdom and reasoning, I’m not able to fully see another person’s situation. God is. He works best through me when I slow down and allow life’s interruptions. Whenever I get stuck in a situation, I feel like there’s no way out and no one sees me, God does. No matter how others view us, how they may overlook us, we are all valuable to God. We need to keep Helping others, Hanging in there and making a little Hopeful Noise. God is always working on our circumstances in ways we cannot see.

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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autism, faith, family, Morgan

Puzzle Peace

“Think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.
Don’t consider yourself to be wise; …” Proverbs 3:6,7

Although the puzzle piece is often used as a symbol for autism awareness, I wear it as a reminder to me that we are all different for a reason.  Just like the pieces of a puzzle, each one of us is uniquely created on purpose, for a purpose.  Regardless of a person’s disability, we all have strengths and weaknesses.  We all have needs.  We all have something to offer.  A community is best served when everyone is a part of the picture.

For me, the battle happens when I start looking too hard at what others are doing, and begin longing to fit into the same places they do.  Contentment only comes when we stop competing and comparing ourselves with others,  when we are operating in the gifts we were given, filling the space that only we were meant to fill.

For now, I believe my main purpose is helping Morgan find hers.  I am currently her part time job coach and full time personal assistant.  I admit I feel very unqualified at times.  The truth is, I don’t even feel qualified to figure out my own life without looking up constantly to the One who is. 😉

Morgan First Paycheck

Above is a picture of Morgan with Mr. Steve and Mrs Leslie, picking up her first paycheck!  We are very thankful to have this piece in place for her.

Each day, before my feet hit the floor, I ask  God for guidance to help me make decisions that will lead Morgan & Mom to the places He has appointed specifically for each of us.  There lies my trust and my peace.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

 

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autism, faith, family, Morgan, Uncategorized

Gardeners of Hope

This May will be seventeen years since our family packed up our two girls, one dog, and a seed of hope.  We left our home in Alabama, family and friends we loved dearly, to seek answers.  This wasn’t just about Morgan’s future.  It was about our family’s future, because  autism is family affair. 😉 We had heard about the research Vanderbilt Kennedy Center was doing, and learned of the strong support network  Autism Tennessee was providing.  Although we miss our Alabama home, we have planted deep roots in Tennessee.  We are very thankful for the community of love and support we have here.

When we plant a seed, we control the things we can.  We pick the location, nourish the soil, add water, and weed as needed.  At the same time, seasons come and go without our permission.  Some are harsh.  Some are generous and flourishing.  Hopefully, we learn from both, becoming better gardeners, ready to help those coming along after us to break new ground.

Today I took a walk to weed my mind of unnecessary things, and focus on new growth.  This old azalea bush was smiling back at me when I returned home.  It was transplanted here from our home in Alabama by my parents, when they moved to join us in Tennessee fifteen years ago.  We’re so thankful to have them near. Grandparents are Master Gardeners.  😉

Mobile Azalea

The following song was co-written with John Edd Thompson, in my early years of parenting.  I still believe in the miracle of a seed. 😉 Hope you enjoy

Love Can Grow

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy Vice and Family

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Uncategorized

“An Angel Unaware”

I still can’t get him out of my head. He wasn’t impolite, just absent. The gentleman checking out my groceries was probably in his late sixties. He had a distant stare and seemed so empty. As he handed me my receipt, I smiled and thanked him, and said a little prayer that his day would improve. I wonder if he knows he’s appreciated. I hope so.

If you’re taking the time to read this, I appreciate YOU.  I know how busy a day can be, and I’m thankful you spent a few minutes here. As we come into the holiday season, turning the last page on the calendar, I wish you joy and good health.

Angel 3

If you see someone who could use a smile, give them yours. Sometimes the smallest gesture can make a big difference.  You just might be an Angel Unaware.

Until Next Time,
Know The Hope!

Tammy Vice

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