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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 MindsImproving education for autistic students in Montgomery County, MD

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Our Achievements

See our past accomplishments in 2017-182018-19, 2019-20, 2020-21, and 2022-23.

2021–2022 xMinds Program Year Highlights

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

  • Presented nine online speaker events — on topics from how to get IEP services to how autistic individuals can expand their social lives — broadening the knowledge base and perspectives of parents, caregivers, and educators who support autistic students. 
  • Hosted 10 individual autistic presenters through our speaker series, including Julia Bascom, executive director of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, as part of our continued emphasis on centering autistic voices, so that we can learn from the real experts!
  • Hosted an in-person IEP clinic, which offered families the opportunity to have a free 20-minute individual consultation with an educational advocate.
  • Prepared families for the shift back to in-person learning by offering presentations on compensatory education and a trauma-informed approach to re-entry to school.
  • Provided individual guidance to over 80 families who requested assistance advocating for appropriate special education services, with help from our volunteer Special Education Advocacy Team.
  • Partnered with local special education advocates to provide free special education advocacy for three autistic children who are in foster care or represented by Legal Aid.
  • Developed an online guide to homeschooling for MoCo families with autistic kids, featuring information on how to get started, where to find local in-person classes and co-ops, the various homeschooling styles, who to contact for help, and more.
  • Updated and expanded our resources about MCPS preschool placements and the IEP process for children ages 3–5.

Priority 2: Increasing and diversifying xMinds’ reach 

  • Continued to offer all xMinds programming for free, including speaker events, advocacy assistance, and online resources.
  • Expanded our efforts to reach Spanish-speaking parents of autistic students by publishing a Spanish version of the monthly xMindsWire online newsletter, creating a Recursos en Español webpage with information and resources for Spanish-speakers, launching a Spanish-speaking WhatsApp group “xMinds en Español,” and hosting a virtual monthly discussion group for Spanish-speaking parents. We also continued to provide a Spanish interpreter at all our speaker events and make a Spanish recording available afterward on our YouTube Channel.
  • Strengthened our outreach to members of the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) community who have autistic children by launching the monthly, online People of the Global Majority Discussion Group, updating the BIPOC resources webpage, and hosting special BIPOC Outreach Committee events, including a splash park meetup and a virtual back-to-school get-together.
  • Featured a presentation on Gender Diversity and Autism, focusing on how parents and educators can best understand and support autistic children who may be gender divergent.
  • Extended xMinds’ outreach to include preschool families, launching the Preschool and Elementary Parent Outreach Committee, creating a virtual parent discussion group for families with preschoolers and elementary school kids, and organizing monthly playground meetups for parents of young autistic children to connect in person.
  • Featured four nonspeaking autistic self-advocates as presenters in our speakers series (October ‘22 and March ‘22) and presented a screening of a documentary about a non-speaker, demonstrating to parents and educators the value of listening to the non-speakers who comprise an estimated one-third of the autistic population.
  • More than doubled the number of visitors to our website, compared to last year, attracting nearly 44,000 unique visitors.
  • Expanded our efforts to publicize our free resources and services to parents by  staffing tables at five local resource fairs and presenting at a Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) meeting for parents.

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

  • Distributed $17,900 through our Educator Grant Program to 166 educators of autistic students in Montgomery County. 
  • Through our Educator Grant Program we enabled 162 educators to purchase school supplies needed to support their autistic students, such as noise-canceling headphones, weighted vests, fidgets, flexible seating, social stories, and visual timers. 
  • Through our Educator Grant Program we enabled 4 motivated educators to attend autism-related trainings so they could provide better support for their autistic students and share that information with colleagues.
  • Received a $9,250 grant from Women Who Care Alliance of Lower Montgomery County to help us support educators, allowing us to fund the xMinds Winter Wish List Campaign for educators purchase classroom materials and attend trainings.
  • Maintained an open dialogue with MCPS special education administrators, exchanging information about MCPS autism programs and the local autism community.

Priority 4: Preparing ASD students in Montgomery County for life

  • Developed a Transition to Adulthood resource that walks families through a “transition timeline” from age 14 — when transition planning becomes part of a student’s IEP — to age 21, providing information on how to prepare for the work world, find housing, develop life skills, obtain government assistance, and search for postsecondary opportunities.
  • Launched a Let’s Talk Transitions virtual parent discussion group for MoCo parents/guardians of autistic students in middle or high school to share information and resources for supporting their children's transition into adulthood.
  • Hosted several Gen Z and millennial self-advocate speakers, who shared their post-high school experiences, including a panel that discussed social-life successes and struggles.
  • Offered a workshop on gap year programs and other options for the transition year after high school.
  • Launched an xMinds internship program exclusively for autistic high school students, welcoming the contributions of our first two interns, students from the Aspergers Program at Walter Johnson High School and the Bridge Program at Winston Churchill High School.

Priority 5: Growing our organization

  • Expanded our mission beyond education for kindergarden through 12th grade students, extending our work to support families of preschool students, which is a critical need in our community.
  • Launched the new Preschool and Elementary Parent Outreach Committee to support our newly expanded mission.
  • Welcomed the valuable contributions of over 20 active volunteers, assisting in our programming through our working committees; four high school student interns, including two autistic students; and eight professional educational advocates and education lawyers in our local community who provided their expertise for free to our parent community.
  • Benefited from the help of talented independent contractors who continued to expand our website resources, maintained our bookkeeping, and filed our second  Form 990-EZ with the IRS. 
  • Raised just over $82,000 from our generous donors and $3,000 from professional members who help sustain our work (FY 22).
  • Received a grant of $9,250 from Women Who Care of Lower Montgomery County to fund our grants to educators.
  • Earned a 2022 Gold Seal of Transparency from Guide Star charity rating agency.

See our past accomplishments in 2017-182018-192019-20, and 2020-21

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