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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 2021-22.

2022–2023 xMinds Program Year Highlights

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

    • Presented 15 online speaker events, broadening the knowledge base and perspectives of parents, caregivers, and educators who support autistic students.

    • Developed and offered the xMinds Special Education Basic Series, a speaker series designed to provide foundational information about how to navigate special education services in Montgomery County.

    • Facilitated a three-session Primers on MCPS Placementsin which MCPS staff members shared information about the special education programs that serve autistic students. 

    • Hosted 11 autistic presenters through our speaker events, 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 35 families the opportunity to have a free 20-minute individual consultation with an educational advocate.

    • As part of our IEP clinic, hosted two panels where autistic students and parents provided firsthand information about their experiences with the  MCPS special education programs that serve autistic students. 

    • Provided individual guidance to over 100 families who requested assistance advocating for appropriate special education services, with help from our volunteer Special Education Advocacy Team

    • Updated and expanded our most popular resource, our webpage on classroom Accommodations that are helpful to autistic students — everything from kinesthetic seating to speech-to-text software. 

    • Launched an online guide to Supporting Social Development, highlighting resources that help autistic students build friendships, develop social skills, and enjoy a full social life with recreational activities and fun outings that interest them.

    • Updated and expanded our Summer Camp Guide, a popular resource, directing families to camps and programs that autistic students have enjoyed in past years.

    • Offered four targeted monthly virtual discussion groups, providing opportunities for parents/guardians to connect and share resources.

    • Featured guest speakers periodically during our discussion groups to address concerns of the group and to disseminate important relevant  information about topics such as advocacy for “burden of proof” legislation, Social Security benefits, respite care, and social opportunities for autistic students.

    Priority 2: Increasing and diversifying xMinds’ reach

      • Offered all xMinds programming for free, including speaker events, advocacy assistance, open gym meetups, parent discussion groups and online resources, to ensure that resources are available to all families, regardless of their financial status.

      • Continued our efforts to reach Spanish-speaking parents of autistic students by publishing a Spanish version of the monthly xMindsWire online newsletter, offering free consults with an educational advocate in Spanish at our IEP Clinic and through our Volunteer Advocacy Team, providing simultaneous Spanish interpretation at all our speaker events, and making a Spanish recording available afterward on our YouTube Channel.

      • Presented information about xMinds to over 100 MCPS Parent Community Coordinators and Pupil Personnel Workers, staff that support families and students impacted by poverty, language barriers, or other challenges —offering a new avenue to reach parents in need of our resources and support.

      • Developed an xMinds presence on Instagram, offering another platform for connecting with the community to share information and resources.

      • Launched the xMinds Slack channel for MoCo parents of autistic preschool and elementary students to connect and share ideas and resources.

      • Strengthened our connection to the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) community through our BIPOC Outreach Committee, which offers the monthly People of the Global Majority parent discussion group and hosted two speaker events and our popular annual SplashPark social event.

      • Established wintertime open gym meetups for families with autistic elementary and preschool students, offering opportunities to build community and providing a judgment-free place for autistic children to play. This was added for families who enjoy our playground meetups during warmer months so they could continue to get together in the cold weather months.  

      • Featured a presentation on Navigating Cultural Bias and reducing those disparities and biases in the autism community.  

      • Attracted nearly 53,000 unique visitors to our online resources.

      • Expanded our efforts to publicize our free resources and services to parents by staffing tables at three local resource fairs.

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

        • Distributed $9,764 through our Educator Grant Program to 95 educators of autistic students in Montgomery County. The program enabled 87 educators to purchase autism-related supplies and eight to attend autism-related trainings, in all cases with the goal of providing better support for their autistic students. 

        • Collaborated closely with MCPS special education staff to hold three separate Primers on MCPS Placements for Autistic Students, with each focusing on a different segment — preschool, elementary and secondary. Brought the voices of 20 MCPS staff members to our Primers on MCPS Placements, providing the opportunity for parents to ask questions to staff and express concerns. 

        • Maintained an open dialogue with MCPS special education administrators, exchanging information about MCPS autism programs and the local autism community.

        • Advocated for the passage of the Burden of Proof bill by the Maryland General Assembly, a civil rights bill that aims to give families a more equitable position when disputing the schools about needed services. 

        • Created a new Policy Advocacy Committee to influence public policies improving outcomes for autistic students.

        • Joined the Educational Advocacy Coalition, a group of more than 40 organizations and individuals that represent the interests of special education students and their families by proposing, lobbying for, and helping to enact legislation that impacts school districts in all of Maryland.

        Priority 4: Preparing ASD students in Montgomery County for life

          • Co-hosted with the Howard County Autism Society an Autistic Self-Advocates Panel focused on starting a career. Three autistic young adults shared how they embarked on their careers, including any challenges they’ve faced and insights they’ve gained.

          • Offered our monthly 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.

          • Featured a presentation to the Let’s Talk Transitions parent discussion group on the employment-related services that SEEC (Seeking Employment, Equality and Community for People with Developmental Disabilities) provides to young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are transitioning from high school.

          • Updated our 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.

          • Continued the xMinds internship program exclusively for autistic high school students, giving them opportunities to develop job skills and gain practical experience.

          Priority 5: Growing our organization

            • Continued to grow the xMinds Preschool/Elementary Parent Outreach Committee, which was launched in Spring 2022, creating a supportive community for MoCo families with young autistic children.

            • Recruited and trained eight volunteers to be special education advocates who, under the supervision of a professional special education advocate, provide families with free special education advocacy consults.

            • Welcomed the valuable contributions of over 50 active volunteers, assisting in our programming through our working committees or events; 11 high school students earning SSL hours, including 8 autistic students; and 19 professional educational advocates and education lawyers in our local community who provided their expertise for free to our parent community.

            • Raised over $58,000 through our Bike to the Beach fundraiser — money that’s used to fund our speaker series, develop our online resources, assist with our volunteer advocacy program, fund educator grants, and more!

            • Benefited from the help of talented independent contractors who continued to expand our website resources, develop our social media presence, maintain our bookkeeping, and file our third Form 990-EZ with the IRS.

            • Added to our staff the tech-savvy part-time assistant who had interned with xMinds for over two years.  

            • Raised over $92,400 from our generous donors (including one $5,000 grant) and $3,500 from professional members who help sustain our work (FY 22).

              See our past accomplishments in 2017-182018-192019-20, 2020-21, and 2021-22.

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