Resources for Educators

xMinds Educator Grants

Our mission at Partnership for Extraordinary Minds (xMinds) is to improve the educational experiences and outcomes of the autistic students in MCPS. To advance this mission, xMinds offers grants to help motivated teachers and paraeducators pursue research-based training and purchase curricula and curricular materials that will enable them to better support their students on the autism spectrum.

Individual grants in the range of $50 to $400 will be awarded on a quarterly basis by the xMinds Board of Directors, who will select the recipients from the applications received prior to each quarterly deadline (March 15, June 15, September 15, and December 15). The Board will, in its sole discretion, determine which applications to grant, considering the Board’s assessment of both the quality of the training or materials requested, and the applicant’s potential to make use of them to advance the mission of xMinds.

We encourage both general and special educators and paraeducators to apply.  Apply online for an xMinds Educator Grant.

Spring 2018 Grant Winners

This year, xMinds was proud to send six educators from MCPS to the PEERS School-Based Training at the University of Maryland in mid-June. The six grant winners were Jana Coffey (Winston Churchill HS Bridge Program), Anna Gordin (Winston Churchill HS Bridge Program), Sarah Lobien (Ridgeview MS Asperger Program), Andrea Pham (Winston Churchill HS Bridge Program), Megan Sullivan (Tilden MS Asperger Program) and Mary Lou Tucker (Winston Churchill HS Bridge Program).

xMinds Publications

Deciphering Students with Autism

This helpful guide was written by xMinds Professional Member Sarah Wayland, Ph.D, founder of Guiding Exceptional Parents, with the help of xMinds Executive Director Susan Keisler, and Monica Adler Warner, former director of the Model Asperger Program at Ivymount. This document translates perceptions teachers and others may have of students on the autism spectrum into possible explanations of what might actually be happening for the autistic student.

Free Autism Training Resources

Autism Internet Modules (AIM)

These training modules are being developed by the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders in collaboration with Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence (OCALI) and other partners. AIM is designed to provide high-quality information and professional development for anyone who supports, instructs, works with, or lives with someone with autism. Each module guides you through case studies, instructional videos, pre- and post-assessments, a glossary, and much more. AIM modules are available at no cost. If you would like to receive credit for your time on AIM, certificate and credit options are available for a fee.

New York University ASD Nest Support Project

The NYU ASD Nest Support Project provides training and support for educators working with students with ASD, including those in the NYC ASD Nest Program. The goal of the ASD Nest Support Project is to advance the development and implementation of educational solutions for children living with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Learn more about the ASD Nest Model framework here.

Professors from NYU and Hunter College who are affiliated with the Nest Program have written two texts that MCPS educators may find helpful:

Cohen, Shirley and Lauren Hough. The ASD Nest Model: A Framework for Inclusive Education for Higher Functioning Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Bleiweiss, Jamie PhD, Lauren Hough, MsEd, and Shirley Cohen, PhD. Everyday Classroom Strategies and Practices for Supporting Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

In addition to these texts, the ASD Nest Support Project has made a number of resources available for free online. The Nest Egg Blog is particularly helpful in terms of providing practical strategies for common classroom issues.

Organization for Autism Research

Local Organization for Autism Research has also published two guides for educators as well as an entire curriculum for fostering autism awareness in schools:

An Educator's Guide to Autism

This guide helps educators prepare for having a student with autism in the classroom; emphasizes the importance of collaborating with the parents; supports the creation of an inclusive environment; and helps educators collaborate with the team supporting the child with autism, including therapists and special educators.

An Educator's Guide to Asperger's Syndrome

This guide is designed to give teachers and other professionals an introduction to Asperger Syndrome, some of its characteristics, and several teaching strategies that can be employed in the classroom. It is meant to serve as a starting point for further learning.

Kit for Kids

The Kit for Kids program is designed to teach elementary and middle school students about their peers with autism. The kit is centered around an illustrated booklet entitled “What’s Up with Nick?”. This colorful, kid-friendly booklet tells the story about a new student, a boy with autism named Nick, through the eyes of a typical peer. The story teaches children that students with autism may think differently or need some accommodations, but all students are of equal worth and should be treated as such.

ParaEducate Blog

This online blog provides strategies for paraeducators in inclusive classrooms.

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