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  • Monday, February 21, 2022 11:16 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
    Ephesians‬ ‭4:29‬ ‭NIV‬‬

    Some people may see me as having endless patience for Morgan. The truth is, time and experience have given me a better understanding of the challenges of her disability. I’ve learned that she responds much better to positive input rather than negative. When I encourage her and expect better from her, she often rises to the occasion. Years in the School of Morgan have helped me see how much my tone of voice and my choice of words matter to her progress.

    Love always prompts me to believe the best. I readily look for all the possible reasons behind any negative behaviors, so I can support Morgan to be her personal best… But that hasn’t always been my first response with other folks, who I think “should know better”.

    Recently, I had an Ahah moment after reading Ephesians 4:29. One translation even offers the term, “worthless words”. Being human means we all have struggles and challenges that can bring out less than perfect behavior at times. When that happens, am I going to offer worthless words, or the needed words of grace and encouragement to lift others back up?

    I wear a puzzle pin, but not for the reason you may think. Many people see it as a symbol for autism. But for me, it is a reminder that each of us are uniquely created on purpose, for a purpose. We are each made differently to fill a space that only we are meant to fill.

    We all grow and learn at a different pace. Hearing the rights words at the right time, when we’re finally ready to receive them, can help move us closer to our sweet spot. And that sweet spot is where we can be our best to help others.






    As Thumper would say, “If you can’t say something nice. Don’t say nothing at all.“

    Until Next Time,

    Know The Hope!

    Tammy


    **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, January 26, 2022 8:35 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    “May you find grace to accomplish your God given goals”. - Laila’s Gifty Akita

    Morgan participates in a organization called Borderless Arts TN. It offers endless opportunities for artists with disabilities, allowing them to learn and shine. Recently they challenged the artists to let their imagination Take Flight, to create a piece of art related to the theme of flying. Of course, the first thing that came to mind was our favorite elephant!

    Morgan has always loved Dumbo and his story. She even dresses up like him to reenact scenes from the movie. I can relate to his mother, Mrs. Jumbo. When either one of my daughters is in crisis, my momma gene kicks into overdrive. My heart can defintiely get ahead of my head.

    Morgan dressed for Dumbo’s the Baby Clown scene

    While my older daughter, Allison, gracefully flew the coop years ago, Morgan is in a bit of a holding pattern. At 28, she’s still adjusting to her wings. Life skills teaching is ongoing. Keeping the JOY in the learning process can be a challenge at times. Since we both felt a connection to this latest project, I knew Joy And Learning should be a given.

    At first, we looked up some videos on how to draw Dumbo flying. It turned out they were all a bit too complicated. While it’s important to challenge Morgan, setting the goals too high only sets her up to fail. I could see Frustration was about to steal that joy factor. Break Time!

    Story Time

    When something is important, it’s important to give it time. As we both relaxed and took a little time to remember why we were doing this, grace was able to step in. It whispered to me, “This is Her Art, Her Goals. Find a fresh approach.” Grace meets us where we are and gently leads us to a better level. I know this because I’m a frequent flyer of Grace Airlines. 

    The Test Flight

    Working from a higher perspective, we were able to find the way for Morgan to paint this solo. When you’re flying above Dumbo, looking down, you can see that he’s made up of some simple shapes; a circle for his head, an oval for his body, ears like wings,… First a little practice, and then she was ready. ❤

    Finishing up Dumbo’s Toes and Nose. Look at those Beautiful Ears!

    Drying time allowed us another little break, so we took some time to discuss the snow falling.

    Snowing Inside and Out

    Here we go again! It’s almost time to land this project.

    The Delight is in The Details

    Thank you for joining us. We hope you enjoyed your flight!

    TaDah!

    Until Next Time,

    Know The Hope!

    Mom & Morgan


  • Tuesday, November 23, 2021 8:40 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

       “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns.” Psalm 139:23

    Our family has been, physically and emotionally, all over the map this past few weeks. A dear friend had open heart surgery. Thankfully, they are home and healing now. My daughter, Allison, her husband and our three grand pugs, moved across the country to Maine. They are home and safe now. We traveled to our favorite coast on the Alabama/Florida line to do an autism benefit. After being back home for a few days and settling into our routine, I heard Morgan say to herself, “Thank goodness you’re home. I missed me so much.” ❤

    Allison gave me a very sweet gift when she left. While making the two and half day drive to her new home, she shared her location with me through google. I was able to mom stalk her, check on her whereabouts throughout the trip, pray and feel connected, as I watched her little cartoon face moving up the map.

    Grand Pugs on the road to Maine

    Being the nerd that I am, I was interested to learn there are two different ways of measuring location; Absolute (Geographically, using latitude and longitude) and Relative (Showing where a place is in relation to another landmark). The absolute location does not change. The relative location changes, as our position and perspective changes.

    In my relationship with God, distance happens whenever I try to suppress what’s really on my heart. Dishonesty causes a chasm that can’t be bridged. Brutal honesty has always brought me back home. Admitting to God and myself the things He already knows about me. The pride, the jealousy, the hurts, the anger, … All the Flaws. I’m grateful that I don’t have to pretend to be somewhere I’m not, something I’m not. When I come to Him just as I am, His love bridges my gaps. It’s Absolute.

    I’ve had several people ask me how I feel about Allison being so far away. Do I miss her being closer to home? Well Yes! But the truth is, it’s just geography. There are families who sit across the table from each other every day, whose hearts are miles apart. What’s important for her to know is that I love and support her. We’re staying connected, having honest conversations, and I believe the relative position of our hearts are closer now than they’ve been in a long time. What’s important for me to remember is, while I can’t physically be there anytime I want, God is always there for her. And He loves her even more than I do. I’ve told her as long as she stays close to the Lord, I know she’s in the best location she can be.

                                                                   Mom and the Mainer



    Until Next Time,

    Know The Hope!

    Tammy


    **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, October 20, 2021 11:52 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    “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

    **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, September 22, 2021 10:41 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Luke 6: 27, 28

    I am persistently praying how to best arm my daughters to live in this world, because it is truly a mine field. While Allison left the nest years ago, Morgan is hunkered down for the duration. The following is true for all of us. The words “Written in Red” are the best teachers.

    Deuteronomy 11:19 tells us “Teach them (God’s words and ways) to your children, talking about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

    Mornings - As part of our morning routine, Morgan and I read a devotional together and look up the verses on her Youversion iPad Bible app. Near the end of each year, I start looking for a new devotional book that I hope will be appropriate for her level of understanding. This can be tricky. Due to her autism, on hard days, Morgan’s behavior can be like that of a three year old. On good days, she says things that let me know she has a much deeper understanding of things than we all give her credit for. So when looking for a devotional book, I check over a few passages, pray, then choose one I believe will shed new light on things for both of us.

    But let’s get back to those “red words”. For those of you who are older, you might remember the EF Hutton commercial, referring to a trusted brokerage firm. Someone would say “Well my broker is EF Hutton, and EF Hutton says…”. Then the whole room would hush and lean in to hear what they had to say. Their tag line was “When EF Hutton talks, people listen”. For quite some time now, I’ve emphasized that the words written in red were spoken by Jesus. On occasion, when seeing the red words, Morgan will say “Jesus said it”.   And of course, when Jesus says it, we really do need to lean in and listen.

    Evenings - Morgan has been reciting her bedtime prayer for many years now. I realize it has become rote to her. She even garbles the words at times, rushing through it. So recently, keeping in mind those red words, we’ve reconstructed her prayer. We are helping her to understand the meaning of a new word and more importantly, a new concept. For her level; An enemy is someone who does not treat us with love and kindness. They are someone who mistreats or bullies us. We pray for them especially, because they need our prayers the most.

    Nightly Prayers help us keep a good grip on things

    “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. Let Love stay with me through the night, and keep me till the morning light. God bless Morgan, Mom & Dad, our family, our friends, and our enemies. In Jesus name, Amen.

    Until Next Time,

    Know The Hope!

    Tammy


    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, August 12, 2021 12:19 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    “There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, ...”
    1 John‬ ‭4:18‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

    I was on my way to the laundry room with a full basket of clothes. I balanced the basket on one hip, while blindly grabbing the doorknob. What I didn’t see was the lizard, who was minding his own business, comfortably resting on that knob. He didn’t want to be grabbed any more than I wanted to grab him. The laundry, that poor lizard, and me, All flew up in the air. Neither of us intended to hurt the other, but out of our fearful reflex to escape the situation, we both caused and suffered unnecessary damage. Every time I think about it, I still wince from the spasms, his and mine.

    Fear can make us say and do some pretty crazy things. It can cause us to hurt others and ourselves. Anger is often born out of fear. When we don’t take the time to measure how our actions affect others, relationships can suffer irreparable damage.

    Morgan, having a more friendly encounter with Precious, our Sunday School buddy.

    Love has No need, nor intention, to harm or deceive. It has the self control to take a breath before it speaks, before it acts. Love keeps its peace. It has a healthy sense of humor. It is gentle and kind, patient and considerate. “It bears All things, believes All things, hopes All things, endures All things.” 1 Corinthians 13:7

    Love, Perfect love, is a powerful thing. This world continue to be in a spin. So much is up in the air. When I feel the grip of uncertainty in my life, I can be tempted to lash out in response. Instead, I have to remind myself to take a pause and get my footing. I have No need to fear. I just need to remember Who I belong to and what His Love is capable of when I choose it.

    Until Next Time,

    Know The Hope!

    Tammy


    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, 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.


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