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  • Wednesday, January 20, 2021 9:09 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Morgan and I were noodling around, writing a song yesterday about some of the things she wants. Songwriting is a great tool for engaging Morgan in conversation, and having a little fun. There is a link below to let you hear the process.

    January Time Song

    We’ve had to get really creative while we wait to get back into our monthly routines, we’ve lost in 2020. We’ll get there, one day, one song, at a time. 


    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.

  • Monday, January 11, 2021 10:59 AM | Anonymous member

    When 2020 began, I had already met with the Autism Tennessee staff and board of directors several times and felt really good about where we were headed. We recognized that our families were seeking more and more resources online and decided that we were going to meet them where they are. We invested in technology and created accounts to stream our education and adult programs. We had a great line-up of education topics and presenters, a handful of consulting projects moving forward to create more autism friendly venues in Middle Tennessee, and had moved our Teen & Adult Programming to Saturday mornings to make them more accessible. We added a web based phone system so that our HELPline staff could access our calls from home, which allowed staff more flexibility to maximize their work availability. We secured a web-video hosting site to house all of our new online education events to make them permanently available to our members. I spent the last quarter of 2019 uploading our DVD vault of educational videos from 2015-2018 so that our members could access those resources as well and rebuilt our website so that it had more functionality for our members to access information at their convenience. Our staff worked to vet our Community Partners and common referrals so that we were certain that the information we provide is high quality. 

    On March 3rd, I awoke to the storms at my home and turned on the TV. It was apparent to me, based on where the newscasters were reporting from, that our building in East Nashville was going to be significantly impacted. As the sun came up, and the images poured in, it was clear that we would be cleaning up for weeks, if not months. Unfortunately, the impact was even worse than we could have imagined. By 6am, I knew we had no power at the building, everything in my office was destroyed, and we were going to have to find a way to communicate with our families. Two days after the tornado hit, we had landed at a "temporary office" generously provided by DIDD. Within a week of the tornado, our HELPline staff had created some very simple instructions about how to handle and create call records. The AutismTN staff and a couple board members got the HELPline back up and running at full capacity. We were forced to suspend all programming and focused on HELPline. Getting the families we serve the help they needed was our NUMBER ONE PRIORITY. We all worked from home most of the week and came to our temporary office for staff meetings. We were optimistic and brainstormed where we would host our in-person monthly events until our building was repaired. We were completely overwhelmed by our amazing Community Partners who generously were offering up their venues for us! We made a list of each option on the dry erase board in our temporary office with pros and cons of each option. I assume those notes remain on the whiteboard today as we have not been back to our temporary building since the pandemic struck in mid-March. 

    When the world shut down due to the pandemic, AutismTN was oddly unimpacted. We had already pivoted everything to a virtual service delivery two weeks prior. We had our computers and printers at home, our Zoom account was up and running, we had our education video media delivery live on the website, and we had mastered the art of the Google Drive, Google Voice, and Slack for office communication. One could say that the silver lining of the tornados was that our service delivery continued uninterrupted due to the pandemic. 

    Unfortunately, the calls for help on our HELPline were more desperate than ever. We had parents suddenly out of work or attempting to work from home with kids with autism in need of full-time supervision. Therapies were canceled for months until telehealth was approved in July. Many of our families were floundering, as was the stability of AutismTN. We had been forced to cancel our biggest fundraiser of the year and we would not be able to pay staff. Most staff members were furloughed and I cut my own pay significantly. HELPline was the only program that continued during this time. 

    In May, after securing CARES stimulus funds, we circled the wagons and got back to work. We suspended our consulting projects as most venues, religious institutions, and schools were closed. We reinstated all other programs virtually and they have continued uninterrupted since that time. We have worked hard as a staff to create new Standard Operating Procedures to support how we are now delivering our programs. We have strengthened the quality and reliability of programs offered by AutismTN. I could not be more proud of our team and what we have accomplished. 

    Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your journey with autism and Happy New Year!

    Babs Tierno

  • Monday, December 21, 2020 9:53 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    “Let your eyes look forward; fix your gaze straight ahead.”
    ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭4:25‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

    I am a big fan of do-overs when they’re needed. They allow us to fix what we can, and move forward. 2020 has been filled with cancellations, disappointments, frustrations, insane political incorrectness, and overwhelming loss. As Morgan would say, “We’ve not doing that again.” Although I don’t know anyone who wants a do-over on this year, we have to admit, it has taught us some things about ourselves.

    In this blog, I usually share a lot about the joy and blessings of autism. In the interest of fair reporting, I'm realizing it's equally important to share our struggles. We are learning we can live without some things we thought we couldn't. We’ve had some personal bests, and unfortunately some personal worsts this year. We have definitely felt our humanity.

    2020 has tested us all. The disappointments just kept stacking up. Morgan had a major meltdown recently, because she was having to wait on something once again. We had to bring out a forgotten tool, one we haven’t used in quite a while, reminding me it's one of the best tools in our behavior box.

    Social Stories, written in first person, have always been helpful for Morgan. I had to remind myself, when she’s really upset, she can’t hear anything we’re saying. She needs to SEE the story. One of the things Morgan says, when she's been upset, is "I was just trying to fix it". After reading this, she was able to calm down and take a breath, so we could “fix it” together.

    Although I wrote this for Morgan, it’s as if God was writing it to me. I've been exhausted from waiting on some sanity to kick in from those who are supposed to be leading us. I've been sad and angry over those who seem to have no concern for the vulnerable. I may not have said unkind things out loud, but I’ve certainly screamed them inside my heart. As I look up toward heaven and take a breath, I remember God is in control. I remember to be more patient and kind with myself and everyone else. I can forgive others, as He has forgiven me. I can let go of the things I can't fix, knowing that God can. I can move forward, knowing we should know better now, knowing we should be able to do better together now. Here’s to hearts healing in 2021.

    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.

  • Tuesday, December 08, 2020 8:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I am proud to be part of Autism Tennessee and am humbled by the role the organization plays in lives throughout Middle Tennessee. Serving as Board President for the past two years has allowed me to witness and experience what I already knew to be true -- we exist to enrich the lives and experiences of individuals on the autism spectrum, their families, and their surrounding community through support, advocacy, and education. Our staff members, volunteers, and board of directors come from various backgrounds, religions, nationalities and perspectives. All of these differences, in and of themselves, are our core strength, and they equip us to serve our diverse population with genuine care and intention.

    As a mother, I experienced the fear of the unknown when my son was diagnosed with autism. My need for information to better understand how this would impact my entire family was encompassing. I sought knowledge and resources, lots and lots of resources! Knowledge, resources, and relationship building are the core of Autism Tennessee, and the organization quickly became a lifeline for me. As our journey with autism continues, I am grateful to know Autism Tennessee has a team that understands my fears and accepts my questions with open arms. 

    I believe that wherever you are on your autism journey, a newly diagnosed family; an adult on the autism spectrum; an educator; or just a caring friend, you will find all the knowledge and resources you need when you reach out to Autism Tennessee. I hope that you will join the staff, volunteers, and board of directors at Autism Tennessee as we celebrate every milestone that once felt like a mountain. 

    Happy Holidays, 

    Amy Stewart
    Board President, 2019 and 2020

  • Tuesday, December 08, 2020 5:00 AM | Anonymous member

    President: Dr. Darrell Gwaltney, Jr. 
    Vice-President: Paul Wydra
    Secretary: Chris Sabis
    Treasurer: Walt Hovious

    Each of these individuals has a personal and/or professional connection to autism that they may, or may not, have chosen to share in their bio. 

    If you would like to join our board, contact us! Diversity at leadership levels is important to Autism Tennessee. We welcome and encourage you to consider ways to get involved in our work. 

    Dr. Darrell Gwaltney-
    Dean & H. Franklin Paschall Chair of Biblical Studies and Preaching Ph.D., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; M.A., University of Missouri-Kansas City; M.Div., Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; B.A., Missouri Baptist College; Additional Studies: Regent's Park College, University of Oxford 

    I came to Belmont to serve as dean for the College of Theology and Christian Ministry in 2004 and was named the H. Franklin Paschall Chair of Biblical Studies and Preaching in 2012. I also serve as the Director of the Moench Center for Church Leadership.

    I teach biblical studies, theology, worship and preaching, and church leadership classes whenever I can get away from the administrative duties of my job as dean. I love students and conversations with people about faith and life as we think deeply and purposefully about how to be best prepared for the work God has called us to do.

    In addition to my classroom and administrative responsibilities, I have an active ministry working in local churches. I serve as an intentional interim and work in leadership development roles for churches. Working in churches helps me be better prepared for the classroom.

    Serving as dean for the College of Theology and Christian Ministry at Belmont is particularly fulfilling because of the wide variety of denominational backgrounds and vocational interests among the students. Our students imagine themselves serving in churches and community non-profits, as musicians and doctors, artists and lawyers, and pastors and missionaries. It is exciting to serve here because everyone walks a somewhat different path of faithfulness.

    The faculty and students in the College of Theology and Christian Ministry form a community of people who are seeking to understand God’s claim upon their lives. I believe I am privileged to work with such faithful colleagues and students.

    I am an avid St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan, a lover of books, an erstwhile programmer, gardener, and big fan of my wife of 36 years, Donna, my daughter Meghan and her husband, Alvaro, my daughter Jordan, and my son Trey.

    Paul Wydra
    - Paul has worked at Middle Tennessee State University for almost 13 years now. He is the Director of Development Initiates and works with fundraising efforts for the James E. Walker Library, the Honors College, University College and special events, special projects and affinity groups. Prior to working in the development office, he was the Assistant Director of Alumni Relations for over 10 years. In that position, he worked with Alumni Affinity Groups, Young Alumni, the alumni scholarship program and organizes events all throughout Tennessee and out-of-state. MTSU is the second largest undergraduate university in Tennessee with over 21,000 students and has almost 140,000 living alumni. 

    Paul received his Master of Education degree in Higher Education - Management & Supervision from MTSU in August of 2011. Paul is currently the Vice President on the board and has been involved in Autism TN for over two years and loves the people he works with on the board and on staff. His mother is a retired special education teacher,  who for years worked directly with special needs children and autistic children.

    Chris Sabis- Chris heads Sherrard Roe Voigt & Harbison's Government Compliance & Investigations group. Chris concentrates his practice in the areas of Government Investigations and Litigation. He has extensive experience in False Claims Act (FCA) matters involving allegations of healthcare and procurement fraud, white-collar fraud investigations, commercial litigation, and government investigations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs). Chris has significant experience in the mediation of FCA cases and is a Rule 31 Listed General Civil Mediator by the Tennessee Supreme Court. He also has advised clients on provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the CARES Act, including emergency leave provisions and the Paycheck Protection Program enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Chris earned his J.D. at Georgetown University Law Center, where he was Senior Notes Editor of the Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics. He graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in History and Political Science from the University of Rochester.

    Chris serves as a Hearing Examiner for the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility. He is a member of the Harry Phillips American Inn of Court and of the Tennessee Bar Association, where he has served as Chair and Vice Chair of the Federal Practice Section. He is a member of the Nashville Bar Association and Chair and former Secretary of its Historical Committee. Chris is also a member of the American Health Law Association, the Health Care Compliance Association, and the American Bar Association.

    Active in the community, Chris is the Co-Chair and Past Chair of the Board for Stars Nashville, a non-profit that provides prevention, intervention, treatment, and training programs addressing bullying, substance abuse, violence, and social and emotional barriers to success in Tennessee schools. He is a Secretary of the Board of Directors of Autism Tennessee and is the Environmental Sustainability Chair for the Rotary Club of Nashville. Chris has been an Adjunct Professor of Law at Belmont University. He enjoys hockey, theater, and spending time with his wife and two young boys.

    Walt Hovious- Walt is an accountant at Pilot.com and a member of the Tennessee bar. He studied at the Saint Louis University School of Law and Belmont University.  He is Treasurer of the Board of Directors of Autism Tennessee. He lives in Bellevue with his wife Casey and a little one on the way.

  • Monday, December 07, 2020 2:22 PM | Anonymous member

    Make your own pizza dough! (Video at bottom to follow along!)

    Supply List:

    Mixing Bowl
    Measuring Spoons
    Measuring Cups
    Rolling Pin
    Pizza Stone or Cookie Sheet/Jelly Roll Pan


    1 Cup warm water (105-110 degrees)
    1 TBS Sugar
    1 TBS Active Dry Yeast
    1 TBS Olive Oil
    2 to 2 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
    1 tsp Salt


    Option A: Put Pizza Stone in the oven and then heat oven to 475 degrees F. Option B: Preheat oven to 475. Then, grease a pizza pan or large jelly roll pan and set aside.

    1. Put warm water into a large mixing bowl (check the water temp 105-110 degrees).
    2. Add sugar and yeast and stir to combine.
    3. Let mixture sit for 5 minutes, or until it becomes frothy and bubbles form.
    4. Add olive oil and gently stir to combine.
    5. Add 2 cups of flour and salt and mix with a spatula until a ball begins to form (dough will still be slightly sticky). Add more flour as needed to form a dough ball.
    6. Transfer to a floured surface and knead into a smooth dough, adding up to ½ cup extra flour if needed.
    7. Roll dough into your desired shape and gently transfer to your prepared pan.
    8. To ensure the dough doesn't form air pockets, use a fork to prick the dough all around (gently so you do not poke holes all the way through the crust).
    9. Bake on the lower rack of your preheated oven for 5 minutes and remove from your oven. (this is just to very slightly prebake the dough). If you notice air bubbles forming, poke them with a fork to let the air out.
    10. Add pizza sauce and toppings of choice!
    11. Bake on the lower rack of your oven for around 15-20 minutes until the crust looks crispy and lightly browned.
    12. Let cool, cut and serve.

  • Thursday, December 03, 2020 8:44 AM | Anonymous member

    I am uploading two videos. One of them discusses preparing for a new job when you have autism. The other focuses more on moving out of state and geographic region. I try to mention how autistic people can write down things to set a routine and also mentioned how moving out of state could be an advantage based on geographic region. 
    Here's a link to  Reis' website. 

    Thank you,

    Reis Fitzsimmons

    **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. 

  • Monday, November 30, 2020 8:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    This video will go into how the problem solving abilities and attention to detail of autistic people can be used to solve problems in manufacturing. This industry does highly seek autistic workers for their technical skills, focus on routine, and detail-oriented nature. 

    Thank you, 

    Reis Fitzsimmons

    **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.

  • Tuesday, November 24, 2020 9:18 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient in you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.” Paul. II Corinthians 12:9

    Recently, my daughter Allison and I attended a baby shower. It was a Harry Potter theme. I don’t know much about Harry Potter, but I was so impressed, from the food to the decorations, how they weaved everything into their theme. What a creative gift they had. ❤ As I sat my present on the table, I realized how my simple wrapping paled in comparison to the other gifts. When I mentioned it to Allison, she giggled and agreed with me, noting these kinds of things weren’t my best skill. 

    Here’s the thing. There’s a whole lot of things I’m not good at. I can cook enough to keep my family fed, but no one chases me down for recipe ideas. I dress appropriately for the weather, but have no idea whether or not I’m in style. I can stand on a stage, sing, and speak to countless people about subjects I’m familiar with, but making one on one small talk can be a bit uncomfortable for me. Truth - I am a little quirky and socially awkward.

    I could go on and on about the things I’m not able to do well. But I know God made me like He made me for reason. I believe God equips each of us specifically for what He’s called us to. Knowing this keeps me looking up, because I want to accomplish everything He’s called me to and nothing He hasn’t. Knowing this helps me celebrate what others are able to accomplish, without feeling less. No one is meant to do everything well. We need each other. We need each other’s gifts.

    I’m not saying I don’t get disappointed at times, especially when I feel like I’ve been on the shelf for quite a while or I’ve missed the mark. But I do believe in a God’s timing and His perfect love. He has delighted me on numerous occasions with the accomplishments He’s allowed me to be a part of.

    I will to continue to boast about everything I’m not, because I am amazed and grateful for all our God is.

    Until next time,

    Know the Hope! Really!! 

    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.

  • Thursday, October 22, 2020 9:47 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    “... I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live,”

    ‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭30:19‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

    The other day, I asked Morgan what she wanted for lunch. Her answer was “How about food?”.   This was not sarcasm. This is her autism. Where many of us are grateful to be given choices, it causes her a great deal of anxiety. Why? The answers to some questions are infinite. I believe she’s actually afraid of giving the wrong answer. Morgan still doesn’t understand that her choice is just that, Her Choice. If I can ever get her to understand that, I believe it will free her from a lot of the anxiety choices cause her.

    As I’ve worked with Morgan for several years on this life skill, I’ve come to realize just how important choices are for all of us. They give us independence and freedom. At the same time, they come with responsibility and consequences. Good ones build us up and bad ones tear us down. Hopefully, as we mature, we learn to make choices that are not only good for us, but respectful of others. When others respect us, they allow us to make choices too.

    Everyone deserves the right to make choices to the extent they are able. Often times, the choices of individuals with disabilities are overlooked. Whenever we assume we know what’s best for anyone without offering them a voice, we may not realize it, but we’re being dismissive of that person. On several occasions, when I thought I knew exactly what Morgan wanted, but gave her the option, I found out I was wrong. 

    God loves us so much that Even He Allows us to CHOOSE Him. If that decision was forced, it would mean nothing. As much as I want others to believe as I do, I have to remember that every person has the right to make their own decisions. My Individual Joy and Confidence in what I believe comes from knowing I’ve been given a choice, and I choose Him.

    I will continue to offer Morgan every choice I can, working with her through the anxiety and OCD, because more that anything, I want her to find her own voice, her own joy.

    **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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PO Box 60345
Nashville, TN 37206

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Autism Tennessee, legal name ASMT, Inc. is a 501(c)3 charitable organization and donations are tax deductible. This statement is not intended to be tax advice.
100% of donations stay in Middle Tennessee to provide Support, Education, and Advocacy for the autism community. 
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