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  • Monday, August 09, 2021 10:39 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The interests of individuals on the autism spectrum are very individual. Morgan takes delight in counting down the days on her calendar and celebrating each month by painting a scene on the windows. Here are some of this year’s masterpieces so far.

    January 2021
    White is color of January (painted with Mom)February 2021
    Red and Pink is February (painted with Mamaw)March 2021
    Green is March (kite flying time, painted with Mom)

    April 2021

    Blue is April (painted with Papaw)

    May 2021

    May is ALL the Colors (painted with Sara)

    June 2021

    Purple is June (VBS theme Concrete and Cranes)

    July 2021
    Red, White and Blue is July, of course. 

    She always gets a fire hat from her fireman friends at Freedom Fest.

    Well that brings us to the half way mark. Here’s hoping you enjoy the coming months, and the spectrum of blessings that every season brings.

    Until Next Time,

    Know the Hope!

    Morgan & Mom

    Disclaimer: **The views and opinions expressed in this blog are the those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official views or opinions of Autism Tennessee. The author and the blog are not be held responsible for any misuse, reuse, recycled and cited and/or uncited copies of content within this blog by others.

  • Friday, June 11, 2021 12:21 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    One shoe off and one shoe on. Oh little dumplin’ where’s your mom?

    While a few people say they choose to be homeless, the vast majority are homeless for a thousand other reasons. But for the grace of God, it could be any one of us. I’m so thankful for Room In The Inn , The Contributor, and other organizations in our area that provide support to our neighbors in need. As individuals, we can only do so much. Supporting organizations that know how to make an effective difference is one answer.

    The first thing I noticed were your light pink tennis shoes, one shoe off and one shoe on. Then, as we passed by, I saw your dark brown hair. I guessed your age to be somewhere between the age of my own two daughters, 27 and 33.

    Our family was visiting the Chattanooga Aquarium. It was a beautiful day, so our older daughter, Allison, suggested we walk to the restaurant. It was a twenty minute walk down one of the main city streets. Morgan first noticed a “clock tower” on the side of one of the buildings. She was taking it all in, “Walking in the city”. As we strolled further, we saw a number of people who were homeless. We nodded and continued walking.

    That’s when I saw you. You were asleep on the concrete by the sidewalk. Even though we continued walking, acting as if all was well, my younger daughter paused, looking at you and then turning her gaze to me. Remember, I told you Morgan is 27. She is on the autism spectrum. Developmentally, she still sees a lot of things the way a child sees them. She may not have had the words to express it, but she knew you didn’t belong there. I told her you were just resting and nudged her along. But she was right. You don’t belong there and I just wanted you to know we saw you. You are someone’s daughter. As a mother, I will keep you in my prayers.

    A photo memory of my daughters

    I am a picture taker. I am always snapping photos of the ones I love. I have countless picture memories of my daughters. Although I don’t have a physical picture of you, I do have one in my heart. I see you. More importantly, God sees you and your two pink shoes. He even knows the number of dark brown hairs on your head. He Loves You and so do I. Mom Hugs.

    Until Next Time,

    Know The Hope,

    Tammy Vice

    Disclaimer: **The views and opinions expressed in this blog are the those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official views or opinions of Autism Tennessee. The author and the blog are not be held responsible for any misuse, reuse, recycled and cited and/or uncited copies of content within this blog by others.

  • Friday, May 28, 2021 10:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Interruptions, Part One

    Do you like being interrupted? I can’t stand it.  And yet, I have interrupted people far more often than I’d care to admit.

    I love the speech about being interrupted in the movie, “As Good As It Gets,” with Jack Nicholson, who plays a brilliant writer but a very ill-tempered curmudgeon who enjoys the company of no one. His neighbor (played by Greg Kinnear) comes knocking on his door while he is writing. He is infuriated when his neighbor, who comes to ask if Nicolson’s character threw his dog down the trash chute of the apartment complex.

    With no regard for animal cruelty, Nicholson asks his neighbor if he likes being interrupted, and the neighbor politely says no, and tries to offer empathy by citing examples of how he avoids interruptions in his own life.  Nicholson’s character cuts him off, however, not really caring about his response (sharing his disdain for not being interrupted by interrupting some one!). I won’t share the whole speech, but here is the gist of it:

    "Well, I work all the time. So never interrupt me. Not if there's a fire. Not even if you hear the sound of a thud coming from my home and a week later, there's a smell that can only be a decaying human body and you have to put a hanky up to your nose because the smell is so bad, you think you're gonna faint. Even then don't come knocking. Even then, don't knock, not on this door. Not for any reason. Do you get me, sweetheart?"

    A pretty rude response, but not far from how I feel when I am interrupted.  And I am afraid I at times do not do much better than Nicholson’s character does in the scene in terms of social skills.  (So why should others give in to my demands—or Nicholson’s—to not interrupt me, right?)

    When I am interrupted, the feelings that emerge for me are typically sadness, anger and fear.  I am afraid that what I have to say does not matter to the person listening to me.  I have the sense that my opinion won’t make any difference in the conversation.  When others exclude me from a decision or exclude me from a project after I have been interrupted, I often feel quite angry.

    A second reason I have a low tolerance for being interrupted, is that I see in others what frustrates me about myself. I am in twelve step recovery, and this is a concept we find in our journey of self-discovery. We say, “if you spot it, you got.” Too bad Nicholson’s character can never see that.  I know I should not interrupt people, and yet I do it all the time, because I am not aware of it in the moment.  I feel better about myself after I have apologized. I feel better when I stop myself from interrupting others in the first place.  I am grateful to report that my Higher Power has shown me how to do both of these pro-social behaviors in spite of my addiction and autism on a regular basis. 

    One of the frustrations about being on the spectrum is that I continue to interrupt people even though I actively try not to do it, and I know that it can push people away. Doing some of the other things I just mentioned make others willing to deal with me.

    I have a tendency to be too assertive in assuring that my voice is heard.  I often convey this message:  “I am about to speak, and I want everyone to be absolutely silent when I am speaking.  And if you interrupt me, I will reprimand and demand that you let me finish what I am saying.”  I am not sure how much respect this kind of attitude generates in others, but it certainly is an excellent way to piss people off.

    I fail to recognize that there are some excellent reasons to interrupt me. In my next blog, I will share some of those reasons. 

    Stay Tuned,

    Dave Griffin

    Teen & Adult Program Manager

    Autism Tennessee

    Disclaimer: **The views and opinions expressed in this blog are the those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official views or opinions of Autism Tennessee. The author and the blog are not be held responsible for any misuse, reuse, recycled and cited and/or uncited copies of content within this blog by others.

  • Thursday, May 20, 2021 9:50 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    “There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.” - Roger Staubach

    It’s a question my dad, my daughters’ dad, and countless other dads have heard many times. Children can be so ready to get to the destination that they wish away the road time. I remember nodding off to sleep in the back seat, hoping to wake up just in time to be THERE. Now that I’m older, I’ve learned that the miles along the way can be just as meaningful. I don’t want to sleep through the Here and Now.

    Building the Trike with Dad. “We got this!”

    Morgan, taking her babies for a ride.

    Dad and Allison Making Fudge

    Mission Accomplished

    Morgan, showing her “Three Wheels” to Mamaw and Papaw

    Happy Father’s Day to my dad, my girl’s dad, and all those dads that go the extra mile for their families. Hugs and Hearts!   ❤️

    Until Next Time,

    Know The Hope!

    Tammy Vice

    Disclaimer: **The views and opinions expressed in this blog are the those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official views or opinions of Autism Tennessee. The author and the blog are not be held responsible for any misuse, reuse, recycled and cited and/or uncited copies of content within this blog by others.

  • Wednesday, April 14, 2021 9:05 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    “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,


    Disclaimer: **The views and opinions expressed in this blog are the those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official views or opinions of Autism Tennessee. The author and the blog are not be held responsible for any misuse, reuse, recycled and cited and/or uncited copies of content within this blog by others.

  • Friday, March 12, 2021 8:52 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    “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!


    Disclaimer: **The views and opinions expressed in this blog are the those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official views or opinions of Autism Tennessee. The author and the blog are not be held responsible for any misuse, reuse, recycled and cited and/or uncited copies of content within this blog by others.

  • Wednesday, March 10, 2021 12:44 PM | Anonymous member

    I am seeking support from my community and state leaders to help me raise the voices of about 150 workers at Fort Campbell to keep their jobs. They employ people with disabilities, including veterans, and are often unheard.

    The U.S. Army military branch currently has the most Intergovernmental Support Agreements (IGSA) in the country. Two of those work sites include Fort Knox and Fort Campbell. Currently, more than 75% of the custodial work force at these installations are team members with significant disabilities including veterans. They work under the AbilityOne Program and contribute to the local economy, provide no strain on public assistance programs and have health care benefits.

    The Army has chosen these two custodial services contracts as a quick solution to reducing costs by putting out bids for new contractors outside the AbilityOne Program who can pay lower wages and aren’t required to provide health benefits.  However, there are many other AbilityOne contracts at risk. Unfortunately, they are moving forward with a short-term plan that will have negative long-term impacts.

    Given the rural locations of most Army posts (i.e. Fort Knox and Fort Campbell), it is highly unlikely that we will find competitive employment. The negative impacts of the Army’s decision are:

    ·       They will lose their livelihoods, homes, cars and health care.
    ·       They, Individuals with disabilities including veterans, will have no opportunities for competitive employment in these rural areas.
    ·       They will likely be forced to turn to government assistance for basic needs.
    ·       Their health care needs/costs will likely increase as a result of no health care benefits, depression, anxiety and no access to preventive care.

    Service levels have never been a concern at these sites. GCE has served as a long-term partner with the U.S.  Army to provide custodial services since 1998 at Fort Campbell, and since 2011 at Fort Knox. They have consistently received satisfactory/outstanding/ and exceptional Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting (CPAR) scores. They prove our mettle every day.

    The Army’s decision erodes at the integrity of the AbilityOne Program, leaving the employees on these contracts to suffer the consequences. The odds have already been stacked against those with disabilities. Nationwide, the AbilityOne Program provides work to more than 40,000 people - like me or my family member - with disabilities. More than 700 not-for-profits (NPAs) ensure work for people like us (i.e. with a disability).

    I am writing to you to ask that you please give this decision some attention. Help them keep our jobs. Support the disabilities community by not allowing independence to be stripped away. We have been on the right track in recent years, closing the gap on employing persons with disabilities. Individuals with disabilities want to work and there is no reason why they can’t work. We do not want to turn to government assistance as a way to support our families when meaningful opportunities are out there.

    I’m hopeful you hear us – the people you serve – and have faith that you will support us in living the basic, American dream.

    My address is: 

    My telephone number is:

    Respectfully yours,

  • Tuesday, March 09, 2021 10:31 AM | Anonymous member
    • Disability Day On The Hill

      Sunday, March 7, 2021

      Hello Disability Day On The Hill Helpers and Participants:

      We are almost there. Get excited!

      Your response has been terrific.   DDH has grown from 34 meetings to 45 meeting with legislators.  We have also grown to 34 helpers and 41 self-advocates/advocates.  YOU are the reason this event will be successful.  I worked to put helpers with the advocates who match.  I also tried to not to overload any of our helpers.

      Notes to Everyone:

      • I have attached talking points for these areas of interest for The Arc Tennessee: Table changing station, Text to 911 bill, DSP wage increase bill, and the death penalty bill.  You do not need to discuss these.  Discuss whatever topic is important to you.  The talking points are available in case they are also your area of interest.
    • Notes to Helpers:

      • Please use the attached helper guide for a compass on how to facilitate your meeting.

      Thanks everyone.  I hope this is close to what you all wanted.  Contact me if you have any questions.


    Talking points Sheet,911 Bill.docx

    Death Penalty Bill.docx

    SB 602_HB905_ UniversalChangingTables-FINAL.pdf

    Wage Incerase Bill.docx

    Helper Guide, Amended, 2-15-2021.docx

    Self Advocacy Script for Meeting 2021.docx

    Dave Griffin

    People First Tennessee Coordinator
    The Arc Tennessee
    545 Mainstream Drive, Suite 100
    Nashville, TN 37228



    The Arc Tennessee does not discriminate based on race, color, national origin or Limited English Proficiency.  If you feel you have been discriminated against please contact me, The Arc TN's Title VI coordinator, at the number above or call  800-835-7077 ext. 22, or email imoody@thearctn.org.

    This e-mail may contain PRIVILEGED and CONFIDENTIAL information and is intended only for the use of the specific individual(s) to which it is addressed.  If you are not an intended recipient of this e-mail, you are hereby notified that any unauthorized use, dissemination or copying of this e-mail or the information contained in it or attached to it is strictly prohibited.  If you have received this e-mail in error, please delete it and immediately notify the person named above by reply mail. Thank you.

  • Friday, February 19, 2021 11:51 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      “Disability ministry is not complete until individuals with disabilities are ministering back.” - Jim Pearson (No Disabled Souls)

    I recently posted this apology on Facebook to our friends, because Morgan has such a hard time breaking her stride to say an unplanned hello. It went like this:

    “When we see each other at Walmart and are trying to say hello, if Morgan doesn’t acknowledge you, it’s because you’re not on her schedule. She currently doesn’t take walk-ins.
    As a long term member of her staff, I am advocating for policy changes. You’re important to us and we appreciate your patience. Please hold.”

    Due to her version of autism, Morgan is prone to self isolate. This year of added isolation has definitely backed us up a few steps. Morgan is very comfortable when she’s “busy relaxing” at home. The longer we’re here, the less she wants to go out. Although we need things to get back to “normal”, I admit, I’ll have to muster up my “want to” to dust off my cheerleading pompoms again.

    Morgan is 27 now. Her whole life, we’ve been “working on” something. It started with speech and occupational therapy. Then it was social and emotional skills, educational and vocational skills, life skills, and as strange as it sounds, we even have to work on Joy. Don’t get me wrong. She enjoys putting seasonal events on her calendar, painting the windows, and collecting things that are the colors of the month. But it seems to me, she only tolerates people sometimes, because we can be so unpredictable. I’ve told her that friends can be messy and loud, but they are SO WORTH IT. My constant prayer is for her to just be able to relax with people and enjoy being engaged with others, without the anxiety. It breaks my heart for her that she sees every encounter as a task. We keep pushing forward, because every little successful interaction matters.


     Mamaw and Morgan’s                     February Window Painting

    One thing I’ve been thankful to be reminded of again, during this time, is Morgan’s satisfaction when she’s accomplishing something “All Myself”. Thursday is our clean up day. As she helps change the bed sheets, wash the cloths and vacuum, I see her calm delight in doing something that she knows matters. I saw the same thing when she worked at the little sandwich shop before it shut down during the pandemic. We’ve been trying to get that feeling back again. I do believe in all of us there is a need to be needed, a need to know that who we are, what we have to offer, is valued.

    Because of Morgan’s social anxiety, it’s hard to get people to understand she is very capable of doing a good job. We’ve had to beg for her to be given any opportunity. I wish I could say that’s unusual, but for many young adults with disabilities, real employment opportunities are rare. Just having that hour at the sandwich shop, a couple of times a week, was very meaningful for both of us. That hour may seem so small to some people, but seeing her feel good about her “Busy Long Day” made it worth all the mountains we had to move to get there.

    The sandwich shop never opened back up. But recently, we were able to get back to Meals on Wheels. Morgan helped Papaw in the past, and now she has been given her own route. ❤ One morning a week, I drive and Morgan “trick or treats” folks with a warm meal. As she puts on her mask, and gets out of the car, I hear her say “I can do it. It’s Izzy.” When she comes back, there’s a high five and fist bump. “I did it!” 

           Meals on Wheels - “Trick or         Treat”

    Until Next Time,

    Know The Hope!


  • Wednesday, January 20, 2021 9:12 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    “If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18

    Our friends at Autism Tennessee asked parents how we are explaining all of the chaos in the news to our children. I told them I break it down as simply as I can for our daughter’s developmental level.

    Morgan has a lot of anxiety, so I always try to present things in a positive solution mode. We approach everything from a faith perspective, because it is the center of our peace. With Covid, she knows we are waiting for friends to get well so we can get together again. We pray for them. We wear our masks because we care about our friends. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:39

    As for the unspeakable events that unfolded on January 6th, I prayed to God to give me the appropriate words to say before I spoke to Morgan about it, because it left me feeling incredibly sad and empty.

    The Bible tells us to love our neighbor, even if we don’t agree with them. Doing things out of anger and fear doesn’t get us anywhere. It’s not ok to harm others. If we really trust that God is in charge, then as far as possible, we need to try and get along with everyone. God will separate the good guys from the bad ones.

    When Morgan created this piece of art above. I remember talking her through it. She’s always worried about making a mess, getting her fingers sticky, when she’s painting. I told her sometimes we have to make a mess to create something beautiful.

    Democracy can be messy. Praying for our country, that we learn from our mistakes. Now that we know better, we can do better. May we become America The Beautiful again, One Nation Under God, Indivisible, With Liberty and Justice For ALL.

    Until Next Time,

    Know The Hope!


    Disclaimer: **The views and opinions expressed in this blog are the those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official views or opinions of Autism Tennessee. The author and the blog are not be held responsible for any misuse, reuse, recycled and cited and/or uncited copies of content within this blog by others.

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