A Sentence Can be a Labor of Love

One of the most exciting moments for me as well as a family I work with recently was a journal that included a picture and a sentence. What may you ask is so special about a sentence a first grade child wrote? Because this sentence, my friends, was composed completely independently and written quickly and fluently, with requests to spell a word when needed by a child who has written very few independent thoughts/sentences. So, this was a day we rejoiced!


“The whale is whooshing.”

Autism Signs to Look For…

JAC is approached a lot to help the community in the greater Jackson area and throughout Mississippi know what to look for in an autism spectrum disorder. Because autism does not always present itself the same way and is purely diagnosed behaviorally, it can be a hard and messy thing to diagnose. We currently do not diagnose autism, but occasionally provide consultations to families who suspect their child may have autism.

It is important to have a professional observe your child and interview you if you think your child may be on the autism spectrum.

Here is an important information sheet that provides helpful insight into autism.

JAC_Autism Spectrum Disorders Information Sheet_April 14

News at Jackson Autism Center April 2016

During April, as it is autism awareness month, it is my goal for you guys, my readers, to bring something to you each day of April! This is a pretty big challenge as I am the executive director and only interventionist at Jackson Autism Center currently, mom, student pursuing my BCBA, and recently began my supervision towards my BCBA…as overwhelmed as I am with life right now, I know you are too. I know you are tired when you come in and your child is pitching a fit about the ipad or getting up early or didn’t sleep last night…or has tummy problems. I see it as you fake a smile and say things are going well or you sit down as your sweet little (or not so little) boy or girl walks towards me to start our session.

But, I also see you light up when I tell you the awesome thing your son or daughter just did…or how well they sat to work or listened to directions…or looked at me. We are here for every single thing your child does- from the tiny glance my way to the “Hi Beka” or explanation about Easter weekend. No matter what skills your child is working on, we are thrilled to be a part of it. Even on the tired days. Even on the hard days. We. Are. A. Team! That is what makes it worth doing.

So this April, we may not have as many events as usual. And I hate that. I want to provide those fun things, lots of them, but can’t always do it. But here are some pretty cool things going on at JAC in April. And I hope to see you there!

April 23- 9:30 am Grandview Malco Theatre, Madison MS Sensory Friendly Showing of The Jungle Book. Tickets available for purchase.

April 30- 10 am-12 pm Premier Tumble and Cheer, BOUNCE FOR AUTISM. This event is $10 per child with concessions for sale. Come bounce and watch your child light up. Open to the general public.

Our first ever fundraiser t shirts! T shirts to promote autism awareness will be available for purchase through April 8, 2016. Find out more.

We have a support group meeting open to families affected by autism which typically meets the first Sat. of the month at 10 am, with child care available if signing up by the Wednesday prior to the meeting. This is open to all families affected by autism in the Jackson and surrounding areas.

Success with a Speech Generating Device

On April 1 and 2, 2016, LAMP Words for Life will be half off…that is, $150 instead of $300. What can a speech generating device mean to an individual with autism? I want to share a story of a student a friend of mine works with who used a speech generating device…until he didn’t need it anymore! He became so verbal that he passed it along.

This is not to say that verbal speech is always the result of using a speech generating device (SGD), but it can be a possibility! Research has not shown that kids who utilize speech generating devices are any less likely to become verbal than any other children. SGDs can only help speech development, not hinder it.

“Party” Says a Teenager using His Speech Generating Device

One of the most joyous moments recently was with a teenager I have been working with for 2 years. We have been using LAMP Words for Life for over a year now and he will request where he wants to go eat and tell me step by step what to draw, including what color to use, but no completely spontaneous language beyond that. He reads using WFL and loves to spell.

Recently, he was hanging out before our session started and I was getting another student to tell about his birthday party and how old he was, what he ate, etc. My teenager was standing still or pacing during this conversation.

When we started our session, he kept going to different things on Words for Life, but not settling on saying anything. I could tell there was something he wanted to say and continued to wait and encourage him. After a few minutes, he said “party.” He wanted to talk about the other little boy’s party or perhaps have one of his own. He didn’t give anymore details. This was so exciting for him to take what we talked about as a group, when he seemed to possibly not be paying attention and want to talk about it again with me. This was a huge moment for us!

LAMP Words for Life celebrates April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day and puts WFL, which is only available through Apple, half off for April 1 and 2, 2016 only. This makes such an impact for so many families who are waiting and watching for their child to ask for “popcorn” or “tickles”…or “party.” Party on, Wayne!


Recently, Dr. Rebecca Mullican along with one of her clients, had the joy to share their stories with the Aha Moment presented by Mutual of Omaha. Dr. Mullican shared about opening Jackson Autism Center while her client, Sabrina, shared about her daughter with autism and finding Jackson Autism Center.

Dr. Mullican’s Aha Moment

Dr. Mullican’s AHA moment- the object Dr. Mullican is holding in her hand at the beginning is a flying pig. This flying pig is special to her because a few of her students’ parents gave it to her as an end of the year present to symbolize that she helped teach their child things that they didn’t think would happen “until pigs fly.” Guess what? Pigs fly every day at Jackson Autism Center!

This is Sabrina, whose daughter attends JAC. She is making progress every day and it’s so exciting to see what she will say or do next! Even on a hard day, she can push through to show her potential!

New Intervention Service Being Offered through Jackson Autism Center

I am very excited to share a new opportunity that is in the works for 2013! It is geared towards children who are 3-6 years old and are being homeschooled, are not yet in a preschool program, or thrive with small group intervention for learning. Other children may be considered if deemed appropriate. This program, “Stay and Play,” is two days a week for two hours and consists of typical school activities such as circle time, one-on-one work, small group work, social play skills, and snack. It is developed for a small group learning environment, with a maximum of 2-3 children per group. Children participating will be learning new academic, social/personal, and fine motor skills through thematic units. “Stay and Play” meets the sensory needs of children with special needs as well as academic and social/personal needs. This program is offered on a first-come, first-serve basis so please inquire if you are interested. Children participating will be required to complete an academic evaluation through Jackson Autism Center.

More information is available here: Jackson Autism Center Stay and Play March to May 2013.

Building Partnerships…Working Together Conference Jackson, MS

After I signed up for this conference, I wanted to make sure everyone knows about it! Dr. Emily Rubin will be here as the keynote speaker which is super exciting along with many other speakers. Dr. Emily Rubin is a coauthor of the SCERTS model, which I am a big fan of- SCERTS combines teaching social communication and behavioral skills with child-centered activities while also focusing on how parents and professionals can better meet the needs of individuals with an autism spectrum disorder.

The conference will be held in Jackson, MS March 4-5, 2013 at the Jackson Convention Center. The fee is only $25 and there are stipends available for parents through the MSPTI. Encourage your teachers to attend also! This is a great opportunity for parents, teachers, school districts, etc. to learn more in order to facilitate the best opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Jackson Autism Center will have a table, so please stop by and visit.

Hopes and Dreams with Autism in 2013

Happy New Year! A new year brings lots of remembering and reviewing a previous year and making resolutions for the year to come. For teachers, therapists, and parents working with kids with autism, the resolutions we make look a lot different than they look for typically developing children. Instead of making a resolution to start a dance class, make all A’s, or win the soccer tournament, we may be considering the following goals- complete toilet training, eat five new foods, make a friend, or complete the state testing without any huge meltdowns. Opposite ends of the spectrum? I think so…

As we look to this wonderful gift of 2013, we should open our minds and hearts to all that “our” children can become. Maybe my fatal flaw is optimism, but I always dream big and hope high for the kids I work with- and it hasn’t served me wrong. I have seen kids accomplish monumental tasks due in part (I feel) to  the hope and faith I place in them. Dream big as we start this year and watch our kids impress and surpass our goals!

As for Jackson Autism Center, I am going to make my own list of hopes and dreams for JAC as we welcome 2013. Not only will I be continuing one-on-one intervention, but small social skills groups will be starting soon for kids and teenagers/adults. I can’t wait to see what this year will bring!