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xMinds Logo - xMinds in teal and dark blue where the X looks like a person with an orange head; followed by the words Partnership for Extraordinary Minds

Improving K-12 education for students on the autism spectrum in Montgomery County, MD

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Our Achievements

2020–2021 xMinds Program Year Highlights


Priority 1: Deepening parent empowerment by providing families with information and resources

  • Presented 11 online speaker events – on topics from distance learning to behavioral concerns – to broaden the knowledge base and perspectives of parents, caregivers, and educators who support autistic students. 
  • Hosted 14 individual autistic presenters through our speaker series as part of a new initiative centering autistic voices.
  • Featured five nonspeaking autistic self-advocates as panelists in presentations (October ’20, January and May ’21), demonstrating to parents and educators the value of listening to the nonspeakers who comprise an estimated one-third of the autistic population.
  • Through the trained volunteers on our Special Education Advocacy Team, provided guidance to 16 families who requested assistance advocating for appropriate special education services.
  • Partnered with local special education advocates to provide free special education advocacy for autistic children who are in foster care or represented by Legal Aid.
  • Upgraded our online resources with many new features such as an interactive map of middle and high school special education programs in MCPS, a guide to 2021 local summer camps, and a nonspeaking autistic students resources page, among many others.


Priority 2: Increasing and diversifying xMinds’ reach 

  • Eliminated event fees and family membership fees so that xMinds programming is available for free, including online resources, speaker events, and advocacy assistance.
  • Initiated a new focus on outreach to families of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) autistic students by forming a new BIPOC Outreach Committee, hosting a panel on Racial Justice in Special Education, hosting an Open House for parents of Black autistic students, funding two board members to attend the 2021 Autism in Black Conference, and creating a BIPOC resources webpage.
  • Renewed efforts to reach non-English speaking parents of autistic students by adding Spanish interpretation to our speaker events (starting in March 2021) and adding a website "Language" feature that translates our online resources into over 100 languages.
  • Launched our own YouTube channel to provide easy access for parents and educators to watch recordings of our events in Spanish and English if they miss the event in real time.
  • Quadrupled the number of participants at our speaker events compared to in-person events of previous years, with typical attendance for online events now over 100.
  • Attracted more than 8,300 unique visitors to xMinds’ website resources in the last six months, after making improvements in search engine optimization.


Priority 3: Promoting improved educational experiences for ASD students in MCPS through teacher and staff training and through advocacy concerning systemic problems

  • Through the xMinds Educator Grant program, funded training and curricular materials needed by 11 MCPS paraeducators and three MCPS teachers and occupational therapists so they could better support their autistic students.
  • Created a webpage of autism guides, trainings, and webinars to help support educators and caregivers.
  • At the request of MCPS, surveyed families of autistic students and advised MCPS special education administrators of their specific concerns regarding reopening school.
  • Influenced priorities for local special education funding by participating as a stakeholder in biannual MCPS Staff Planning Committee Meetings.


Priority 4: Preparing ASD students in Montgomery County for life

  • Hosted 12 adult autistic self-advocates as speakers who discussed a range of post-high school experiences.
  • Featured two autistic high school students as panelists in online discussions about virtual learning (October 2020). 
  • Initiated plans for an internship exclusively for autistic high school students, starting Fall 2021.


Priority 5: Growing our organization

  • Welcomed the contributions of 18 new active volunteers to our working committees plus one excellent high school intern.
  • Benefited from the help of independent contractors who upgraded our website, streamlined our communications, professionalized our bookkeeping, and filed our first Form 990-EZ with the IRS. 
  • Elected Jean Winegardner, an autistic self-advocate, to be President of our Board of Directors. 
  • Earned a 2021 Gold Seal of Transparency from Guide Star charity rating agency.
  • Raised almost $44,000 from our generous donors and $3,200 from professional members who help sustain our work (FY 21).


See our past accomplishments in 2017-182018-19, and 2019-20.

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