ALL the School Options for 2020

This is a challenging time to choose how your child will be educated.  Luckily, there are so many choices that you just need to decide what is best for your child and your family. 

JHA works with families whose children go to public, private, and homeschool.  We would be happy to discuss your child’s needs and give you some options that may be a good fit for your child. 

Remember, whatever choice you make can be changed if needed.   You should talk to parents and do a virtual tour or a website tour of the schools you are interested in having your child attend. See which school feels like a good fit for your child – academically and socially.  Talk to other parents whose children go to the school you are considering. Find out what the school’s plans are for dealing with COVID-19.

Public Schools – You can see what their plans are for the fall. Some are offering all in-school, all virtual school, or a hybrid model.  As COVID-19 cases spike, the schools may move to all virtual learning.

Private Schools – Every school has a different model.  Because class sizes are smaller, many private schools are continuing in-person learning, and some schools are giving the option of all-virtual learning as well.  Contact each school to find out what their plans are.  Last spring the private schools continued teaching new material virtually, so they have had experience making that model work. 

Special Education Private Schools – There are many private schools in town that have “plus” programs (pull-out programs for extra help with reading/math). There are also private schools that have special education programs throughout the whole day (e.g., Madonna Learning Center, Bodine School for Dyslexia, Phoenix Learning Center, Bowie, Lindamood Bell’s school program, Faith Christian Academy, Shady Oaks School, Concord Academy, Memphis Oral School for the Deaf).

Homeschool – There is usually an “umbrella/cover” school that is like an administrator that does the report cards, makes sure you are completing all the requirements for your state, and makes sure your child will get credit for the coursework toward graduation. The most common ones used in TN are Homelife Academy & Faith Heritage.  Every state has different requirements, so be sure you are meeting the requirements for the state where you live. Then you choose the homeschool programs you use for each subject that are approved by the umbrella school.  If you are not registering through an umbrella school, you have to contact your local public school district to let them know you are homeschooling your child and complete paperwork for that.  Most people register through an umbrella school. 

Homeschool laws in TN:

Homeschool laws in MS:

Cover Schools/Umbrella Schools:                     

There are a few public school virtual programs that are free in TN including TN Virtual Academy and TN Online Public School. There are many other free online virtual schools based in other states that you can choose, but be sure that the virtual school you choose has “legitimate accreditation status” by one of the approved accreditation groups for TN.  Review the TN homeschool laws for more information. 

Some of the homeschool programs that our clients have used include the following: 

Abeka, Masterbooks, MyFathersWorld, Horizons (Christian Programs)           

There are some homeschool groups that meet in the Memphis area such as Collierville Connections (meet at Collierville Baptist),Horizon (meet at Church of Christ)

The Bridge, and Bellevue Tutorial. has listed many resources about homeschooling HERE             

There are many Facebook pages if you search “homeschool Memphis” such as the following:

Memphis Area Homeschool Buzz, Memphis Area Homeschool Curriculum, Memphis Homeschool Online Support, and Homeschoolers of Memphis Eclectic.

Good luck on your decision-making for your child’s education!  Contact us if you need any advice regarding your child’s needs and school options in the Memphis area. 

Parents and caregivers of babies and tots know all too well the physical toll child rearing can bring.  About 66% of parents report that they have pain stemming from caring for their children under the age of 4, especially low back1.  The way we lift, carry, and hold our children can be very demanding on our bodies.  If you aren’t careful, you can even injure your back, wrists, or shoulder.  Here are some steps to keep you pain-free and safe when caring for your children:

  • Carry close to your core. This is known as your center of gravity.  It will make carrying easier on your whole body and help protect your back.
  • Even better…for longer periods of time, use a baby or toddler carrier. This keeps baby close to your core/center of gravity, gives your arms a break, and transfers the load more evenly.  You may even find that this is a great way to soothe your baby.
  • When doing a diaper change, use a changing table or dresser that is around waist height to protect your back. Also, use a safety strap to protect baby.
  • Lifting should use your leg power, not your back. Keep your core tight, and do this for all lifting, including diaper changes, tummy time, transfers from crib.  This means squatting to pick up baby and also when you pick up toys etc.
  • Choose a stroller that has adjustable handle bars or has handlebars that are about the height of your belly button.
  • Be mindful of how you push a stroller. Wrists should be neutral-NOT arched back.
  • Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding, having a baby propped up on a nursing pillow will help prevent you from arching your back or having to place undue strain on your wrists.

1Sanders, M. J., & Morse, T. (2005). The ergonomics of caring for children: an exploratory study.

AJOT: American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 59(3), 285+. Retrieved from http://


by Valorie Wheatley

This is the face of a child with autism. He is my child. And there are many, many other boys and girls just like him all over the world. Children who see the world differently than we do.

Children who may become obsessed with any matter of subjects. For Rex it was trains (and still is!). Trains everyday all day, lines and lines of trains. When their peers started talking, some children with autism were banging their heads into walls, straching your face in frustration, and crying because they had something to say but couldn’t find the words.

Children who sometimes find the words by scripting (repeating what they heard on tv or in a book) or by being brutally honest (“Yuck I don’t like that candy!” at the door at Halloween). Some children who are never able to speak verbally learn new ways to express what they need.  

Children who may demand structure, endlessly ask what day of the week it is, what will we do tomorrow, and will be upset when plans change.  Children who need social stories, speech therapy, OT, PT, and ABA therapy.

These children look just like yours. There is no one way a child who has autism is supposed to look. I think when people hear autism they expect to see a certain kind of person (Rainman) but autism looks different on every person.

Autism maybe a scary diagnosis for some, but for me it was the key that unlocked the door to me helping my
son. Now families all over know that my son is the one of the most beautiful gifts God ever gave me.

A child’s job is to play- this how they learn, explore, problem-solve and learn how to communicate. Getting down to your child’s level, talking and playing with them, and creating dialogue or stories with their toys provides priceless models for expressive language and language learning. 

When it comes to practicing age-appropriate grammar, there are more ways than pulling out worksheets to target language and still have fun!

Practicing Pronouns

Choose a boy and girl figurine. Let your child pick out two to help better associate which one is which. First, play alongside the child and model the use of pronouns:

  • Look at the people! Show me “He is sleeping” 
  • She is running fast!
  • She is at the table. She is eating
  • Now they are in the pool! They are swimming.

Make the activity fun by providing multiple props and working in different rooms or areas of your house/classroom!

Once the child has a good understanding of the pronouns, allow them to narrate or describe what they are doing during play.

  • Oh wow! Look at your people! They look like they’re having fun! Tell me what is happening.
    • If your child uses “girl, boy” or “her, his,” repeat what they said with emphasis on the correct pronoun 
    • Child: “Her is swimming”
    • Adult: “Oh, she is swimming? Wow!”

Verb Practice

Children are constantly moving and playing which provides great learning opportunities for using verb forms, such as verb+ing. Narrate what you or your child is doing with extra emphasis on the verb. Children need to understand language before they can use it, so give lots of models! Adult: “Look at you! You’re jumping! You’re jumping on the trampoline! Wow, you are so good at jumping! Look how high you’re going. What are you doing on the trampoline?”
Child: “Jump!”
Adult: “That’s right! You’re jumping!”

Activities that Don’t Require Materials

Engaging your child in activities like cooking and shopping sets you up for a ton of language opportunities! You can talk about:

  • Shapes, colors, textures size
  • Sequencing: First I’m going to ___, and then I’m going to ____.
  • Verb+ing: walking, choosing, opening, closing, stirring, cleaning, eating
  • Pronouns by looking at people in the store:
  • She has a hat, He is buying milk, He is holding pretty flowers, She is looking at apples 

The most important part of targeting language through play is to get down on your child’s eye level and have fun! Just sitting down and playing for 5-10 minutes provides your child with an incredible amount of language models, as well as a special time with mom or dad!

The most important part of targeting language through play is to get down on your child’s eye level and have fun! Just sitting down and playing for 5-10 minutes provides your child with an incredible amount of language models, as well as a special time with mom or dad!

Additional Resources for Language Activities:

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. The virus spreads between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze. It may be possible to get COVID-19 when a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touches his/her own mouth, nose, or eyes, but this it not thought to be the main way it spreads. 

How can I protect myself and others?*

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

• Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol (if no soap/water available)

If you have traveled to an area where COVID-19 is spiking or if you have been in contact with a traveler at risk, please notify JHA of your contact (e.g., a member of the household has recently returned from an area that is spiking).  JHA may require a client, therapist, or employee to remain away from the clinic for up to 14 days from the date of contact.

If your child is sick, please follow our standard protocol (from our policies):

• Do not bring your child to therapy if your child is ill or if someone in the immediate family has a highly contagious illness (e.g., flu, stomach bug, COVID-19). Please do not attend therapy unless your child has been healthy and fever-free for at least 24 hours. Please wash your child’s hands in JHA’s bathroom before each therapy session begins.

How is JHA prepared?

• Your therapist disinfects all surfaces and materials and sanitizes his/her hands before

   and after therapy.

• Your therapist will sanitize your child’s hands before and after therapy.

• Common areas in the clinic are disinfected regularly.

• Universal precautions are followed.

*Source: CDC Website

By Rachel Jones, PT, MS

What is it?

*W-sitting is when your child sits with his bottom between his legs with his knees bent and legs rotated away from his body.  It looks like a “W”.

Why is it bad?

     *This position causes a strain on the hips and knees and can compromise the integrity of the joints.  The hips are placed in extreme limits of medial rotation (turning inwards) and muscles placed in shortened positions for a prolonged time can become short and tight.

     *This position does not allow a child to develop strong trunk muscles because they are relying on joint structures to keep them upright instead of using their core muscles.

     *This position discourages crossing midline, a skill that is required for development of motor and cognitive skills.  The position limits active trunk rotation, so a child cannot easily shift weight side to side, which can delay bilateral coordination.

How to correct?

Encourage sitting in other positions:

  • Pretzel sitting (criss-cross applesauce).
  • Side-sitting
  • Long sitting
  • Sit on a small stool
  • Tall kneel
  • Heel sitting (sit on heels with knees touching)
  • Prone (lie on tummy) – this position stretches hip flexors and promotes extensor strengthening

*Corrected sitting puts the pelvis in a more neutral position, the spine in better alignment, and less strain on hip and knee joints.  It also encourages a child to use back and abdominal muscles to maintain the position. 

*It is VERY common and okay for children to move in and out of this position while playing on the floor at some point in their development.  But, if they are W-sitting for extended periods of time, it can be a signal for an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

*If your child has difficulty maintaining another position, schedule a PT Evaluation for advice to treat any underlying strength deficits or muscle tightness or developmental issue that may be present.

By Komal Noordin, MS, BCBA

Many children struggle with transitioning from a preferred activity to a non-preferred activity. For example, they may not want to stop playing to do their homework.  Here are some suggestions to help make transitions easier.

1. Timer

           Setting a timer and letting your child know how much longer they have before it’s time to clean up or leave a setting is an excellent tool. It is important to then actually have your child transition once the timer goes off. Heavily reinforce your child as they transition (praise, positive reinforcement). You can use the timer on your phone or use a Children’s Countdown Timer app. 

2. Visual Schedule 

            A visual schedule is a great tool that can be adapted for any age and will allow a child to visualize their entire day and help them expect what’s next.  You can use photos, pictures from online, or hand draw pictures to represent the activities. You can tape a list to your child’s bathroom mirror to help cue them for the steps to get ready for bed.

3. Social Stories

           A social story is a personalized story created for a child that allows them to prepare ahead of time for bigger transitions (trips, moves, new school, etc.).

4. Token System (Sticker Chart)

            A token system is any type of generalized reinforcement system. Think money! Green paper doesn’t hold any value in itself. However, the fact that it can be traded in for things we need and want is reinforcing. Tokens serve the same purpose. Set up a contingency where your child can earn a token (sticker, marble, check mark, etc.) every time they transition without non-desired behaviors. The child can then trade in those tokens for an agreed upon reinforcer (prize!). 

Please contact us if you have any questions or need help trying out one the strategies (901)328-2110 or

Spring is finally here, and one of the best things about the season is the reopening of seasonal farmers’ markets all around town. You may already think of these markets as a perfect place to peruse fresh produce and handmade treats, but did you know they are also filled with language learning opportunities? Here are some great ways to help encourage your child’s language growth at the farmers’ market or grocery store, no matter where they are in their development!

Early Language Skills

  • Label all the goods for sale, and point at each one to encourage joint attention skills
  • Encourage requests by holding desirable items (cookies, favorite fruits, etc.) just out of reach of your child. Model a request for them to imitate, such as “I want the cookie” or “Apple please”!
  • Practice basic opposites, such as “big watermelon” vs. “little strawberry,” or “hard cantaloupe” vs. “soft peach.”
  • Learn about categories by asking your child to show you a fruit, vegetable, plant, or dessert item in different booths

Higher-Level Language Skills

  • Encourage your child to make predictions and inferences. For example, tell them you want to make a salad for dinner. Can they predict which ingredients you’ll need? If you tell them you’re craving something sweet, can they infer you might want to visit the bakery stand?
  • Compare and contrast different items. What do a peach and a mango have in common? What’s different about a tulip and a rose?

Social Skills

  • Have your child greet the different vendors with a friendly “hello.”
  • Allow your child to practice independence by paying for their own treats. This allows them to interact appropriately with the vendor, as well as work on important life skills!
  • Work on sharing by encouraging them to split a cookie or other treat with you or a sibling.

These are just a few of many examples of how to elicit language at the farmers’ market or grocery store. Try them out next time you stop by one!

Play makes memories for our children, and they learn through play. 

These are the top six skills we target during social skills sessions.  

  1. Identifying and expressing emotions – “I feel ___ because ___”
  2. Following rules- card games, Uno, Go Fish
  3. Good listening skills -“Mother May I” and Simon Says
  4. Handling change (using a daily visual schedule, big/little problem, flexibility) incorporate small changes gradually
  5. Reading nonverbal communication – Charades, (acting out emotions)
  6. Theory of mind (thinking about others)

Happy, sad, angry or scared

Describe a time when……

Board games will always set up “mock” situations in which many social skills can be targeted. Your child will often experience a wide variety of emotions that can be discussed or redirected during play.

They will begin to follow rules, develop patience, and handle frustrations and disappointments during game play.

Some of the best games to target social skills:

  • Sorry
  • Operation
  • Hungry Hungry Hippos
  • Guess Who
  • Connect Four
  • Candy Land
  • Trouble
  • Fibber
  • Headbands
  • Mastermind
  • Clue
  • Life
  • Monopoly
  • Charades

Cooperative games such as:

  • Busytown
  • Hoot Owl Hoot
  • Race to the Treasure
  • The Fairy Game

You can also engage in pretend play (using character toys, stuffed animals, and real people) with your child to encourage cooperation and flexibility in play.  So have fun with your child, teach social skills, and play!

Valentine’s Flowers

        vday flowers

This is an easy, fun way to practice speech and fine motor skills! Practice drawing and/or cutting out hearts and stems and gluing them onto the paper. If your child is solely working on fine motor skills, having him draw shapes, lines, polka dots, etc. on the flowers in order to decorate them. If your child is working on speech skills, write target words on each flower. Your child can practice the words at the word, phrase, or sentence level. For more advanced articulation practice, have your child formulate a sentence with each word, with his good target sound. For language practice, have your child talk about the flowers. What do they look like- What are the colors you see? What shapes do you see? What size? What do we do with flowers? What else to we get or give others for Valentine’s Day? Have fun and be creative!

Valentine’s Day Card

vday card


This easy, creative Valentine’s Day card will be a hit with parents and grandparents! Using paints will be great practice for children with sensory disorders. This gives the child an opportunity to feel and work with textures he might not be comfortable with but will learn that he can have fun with them. Let your child smear the paint on his hands before making the hand-prints. Place three handprints on a blank sheet of paper and then have your child practice cutting and gluing by cutting out each hand-print and gluing them to another blank piece of paper. Practice painting three straight lines for the stems and making a bow at the bottom. This activity will really put those fine motor skills to work! You may then have your child formulate what he wants to write on his card. Practice good articulation skills by dictating what he wants to say out loud and then practice writing the Valentine’s note. Put a date under one of the handprints for a special keepsake!


Heart Butterfly Craft



We are buggin’ out over this craft! You will need pink and white construction paper, a clothes pin, two googly eyes, a pipe cleaner, red and black marker, glue, and scissors. For fine motor practice, have your child draw two small hearts on the white construction paper and two larger hearts on the pink construction paper. Then have your child practice cutting and gluing by cutting out the hearts and gluing the small white hearts onto the larger pink hears. Next, have your child color the clothes pin red and glue the googly eyes and heart wings to it. Cut the pipe cleaner in half and glue it to the back of the clothes pin for the butterfly’s antennae. Lastly, take the black marker and make a smiley face. For speech practice, break each step down and give 1-3 steps at a time for your child to follow. You can also write target words on the butterfly’s wings and practice them at the word, phrase, or sentence level. Clip the butterfly to a visible object in your house in order to practice the words each day!


Heart Shaped Quesadilla


Need a fun, creative Valentine’s Day lunch for your picky eater? Try this special lunch idea! Have your child help make the quesadilla by using a cookie-cutter to cut out hearts in the tortilla shells. Get creative and add foods that your child likes to the quesadilla and then encourage your child to add food that he might not prefer. If your child likes cheese and tomatoes, load them up! If your child doesn’t like mushrooms and peppers, encourage him to place one or two into the quesadilla. If your child refuses to eat them, practice holding, smelling, kissing, and licking them and leave them out of the quesadilla. This will still give your child practice to talk about and handle non-preferred foods. Practice following directions by giving your child 1-3 steps to follow while making the quesadilla. Your child will then have a fun lunch for Valentine’s Day!


image1 (1)image2