Register for our FREE January 10 webinar on education support plans!

xMindsWire December 2022

Thank You for Supporting xMinds!


What a year it’s been! We’re excited about all that xMinds accomplished in 2022, thanks to the help of volunteers, community partners, professional members, and generous donors. 

We operate on a shoestring budget, and provide all our resources, services, and events for free so that we can serve the whole community. We offer up essential information, a helping hand, and a community of support to every family — no fees attached.

If you’ve benefited — perhaps by using our online resources; attending our playground meetups, IEP clinic, discussion groups, or online presentations; or getting guidance from an xMinds volunteer special education advocate — we encourage you to give back at this time of the year with a donation that fits your budget. Your donations also support our Educator Grants Program, which helps local teachers attend trainings and purchase classroom materials that benefit autistic students.

You can donate online or by mailing a check to xMinds at P.O. Box 231, Kensington, MD 20895. We now also offer the option of becoming a sustaining donor online, allowing you to easily make periodic donations throughout the year.

We’re looking forward to working with you in partnership in 2023 to help MoCo autistic children and their families!

Donate Here

What’s the Right Education Support Plan for Your Child?


Have you ever wondered how an IEP and a 504 Plan differ? Or, what the difference is between an educational accommodation and a modification? As parents, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the options and jargon in special education, when all we really want is what’s best for our kids!

Join us January 10 at 7:00 PM for a free webinar that will lay out the different types of education support plans and provide examples of common accommodations and modifications that these plans offer autistic students. We’ll be joined by a panel of educational experts:

  • Marci Skigen, Executive Functioning Specialist, Educational Therapist, Special Education Advocate, and founder of Enhance EFS
  • Rachel Sushner, Executive Functioning Specialist, Educational Therapist, and College Consultant at Enhance EFS, and

Our panelists will discuss IFSPs, IEPs, 504 plans, Service Plans, and private school education plans. The evening will end with a Q&A session, so get your questions ready! The event is FREE and will be held over Zoom, with simultaneous Spanish interpretation. Register here to receive the link. As a follow-up, Marci Skigen and Rachel Sushner will lead a virtual Lunch and Learn on Executive Functioning Challenges for ASD Students, Friday, January 13, at noon.

The presentation is part of the xMinds “Special Education Basics” series, which is designed to provide foundational information about how to navigate special education services in Montgomery County. Read on below for more information about the series, or click here to see the 2022–23 schedule.

Marci Skigen

Rachel Sushner

Naomi Rubinstein

Save the Dates: Upcoming Webinars in the xMinds Special Education Basics Series

We’re thrilled to see how many families are attending the xMinds Special Education Basics Series. This series of free webinars is designed to provide foundational information about how to navigate special education services in Montgomery County. Each month, we focus on a different topic that’s important to families with autistic children to understand. 

We’re offering presentations throughout the 2022–23 school year, typically on the first Tuesday of each month at 7:00 PM, with dates adjusted for holidays. Each webinar is designed to stand alone, so drop in whenever you can. You can also watch past webinars at your convenience on the xMinds YouTube channel or on the xMinds Past Events page. Here’s the schedule for the upcoming webinars:

  • Tuesday, Jan. 10, 7:00 – 9:00 PM. IEPs vs. 504 Plans vs. Service Plans, and Accommodations vs. Modifications: What Supports are Right for Your Child? Register here.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 7, and Thursday, Feb. 9, 7:00 – 9:00 PM. Primer on MCPS Placements for Autistic Students. Join us Tuesday, Feb. 7, for information on Preschool programs and Middle/High School programs. Join us Thursday, Feb. 9, to hear about the Elementary School programs. Register here.
  • Tuesday, March 7, 7:00 – 8:30 PM. Your Student’s IEP Explained – Section by Section. Register here.
  • Tuesday, April 18, 7:00 – 8:30 PM. How to Write SMART IEP Goals. Register here.

See You This Saturday for an Open Gym Meetup!


Join us Saturday, December 17, 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM, for a meetup for autistic preschool and elementary school kids and their families. With the weather turning colder, we’ll meet indoors at the gymnasium of Glen Haven Elementary School, 10900 Inwood Avenue, Silver Spring, MD. We will have balls, mats, parachutes and other fun equipment, and we'll organize activities for the children.

This is a great opportunity to connect with other local families with autistic kids. The whole family is welcome — bring siblings even if they're not elementary or preschool age. xMinds board members and volunteers will be there to provide snacks and to welcome you in English or Spanish. For more information, and to register for event reminders, click here.

Save the date for our free January meetup for elementary and preschool families, Saturday, January 21, 10:00 AM – 12 noon. This meetup will be at We Rock the Spectrum!, 7601 Airpark Dr, Suite D and E, Gaithersburg, MD. This inclusive kid’s gym offers sensory equipment specifically designed to aid children with sensory processing disorders. Take advantage of the opportunity to try out this sensory-friendly gym for free, all while socializing with xMinds families. 

Register Here for Reminders and Updates

Join Us for a Lunch and Learn on Executive Functioning Challenges, January 13

Join xMinds for a free virtual Lunch and Learn on Executive Functioning Challenges for ASD Students, Friday, January 13, at noon. Is your child overwhelmed by where to start on assignments, struggling to meet deadlines, and avoiding tasks? Executive functioning is a challenge for most autistic and neurodiverse students, and these challenges can affect all aspects of a student's life — from schoolwork to family life to social relationships.

Executive functioning specialists Marci Skigen and Rachel Sushner will offer practical ideas to strengthen executive functioning skills. They’ll leave plenty of time to take your questions, so come with any pressing concerns!

The event is FREE and will be held over Zoom, with simultaneous Spanish interpretation. Register here to receive the link.

Register Here

Support xMinds With Your Holiday Shopping


'Tis the season for online gift shopping! Did you know that Amazon will donate to xMinds every time you place an order? Simply log onto AmazonSmile to designate xMinds as your charity of choice and to do your purchasing. AmazonSmile will donate 0.5% of eligible sales to xMinds. Those funds add up the more people register!

Educators: What's on Your Classroom Wish List? 


During this season of giving, xMinds is excited to be giving back to the MoCo educators who work tirelessly to support autistic students. Through our Winter Wish List initiative, we’re awarding grants of up to $100 to help MoCo educators stock their classrooms with items that support autistic students, including hands-on manipulatives, flexible seating, and noise-canceling headphones.

We’re also offering grants of up to $250 for trainings on how best to teach and connect with autistic learners. Apply today for a Winter Wish List grant!

Now on YouTube: xMinds Webinar on Testing & Assessments in Special Education

If you missed our recent online presentation “Assessment, Testing, and Understanding,” you can watch it on the xMinds YouTube channel. Our guest speaker, licensed psychologist Rebecca Resnik, talked about how to use assessments and testing to identify students' strengths and areas of needs, so that families can work together with the schools to ensure their children receive the services and accommodations they need. 

video recording in Spanish is also available on YouTube.

Does Your Child Qualify for Social Security Benefits?


We’re excited to announce that special guests Diana Varela and Caroline Mason from the Social Security Administration will join our People of the Global Majority discussion group on Monday, January 9, 7:00 – 8:30 PM to present and answer questions about Social Security benefits for children with disabilities. This is our discussion group geared toward MoCo parents/guardians of autistic students who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). We welcome anyone interested in learning about Social Security benefits, even if your child is not BIPOC. This is a great opportunity to ask your questions in a small group setting.

Social security benefits are available to children of all ages, including adult children. The presentation will cover eligibility requirements for Supplemental Security Income, the application process, disability determinations, and the appeals process. Come and ask your questions!

Diana Varela already presented in Spanish to our Spanish-speaking discussion group last week. Stay tuned for information on when Diana and Caroline will meet with our Let's Talk Transitions group for parents/guardians of middle and high school students and our Small Steps Together group for parents/caregivers of elementary and preschool students. 

Upcoming xMinds Events

xMinds events, resources, & services are always FREE

Saturday, Dec. 17, 10:00 – 11:30 AM

Elementary and Preschool Open Gym Meetup 

Meet other elementary and preschool families. See the details here

Monday, Dec. 19, 7:00 – 7:45 PM

Small Steps Together 

Online discussion group for MoCo parents/guardians of an autistic elementary or preschool child. Register here.

Wednesday, Jan. 4, 7:00 – 7:45 PM Hablemos Educación Especial

Online discussion group for Spanish-speaking MoCo parents/guardians of an autistic child.Register here.

Monday, Jan. 9, 7:00 – 8:30 PM

People of the Global Majority

Online discussion group for MoCo parents/guardians of an autistic BIPOC child. Guest speakers on Social Security benefits. Register here.

Tuesday, Jan. 10, 7:00 – 9:00 PM

Understanding IEPs v. 504 Plans v. Service Plans and Accommodations v. Modifications: What Supports are Right for Your Child?  

An online panel presentation on the different kinds of education support plans. See details above. Register here. 

Friday, Jan. 13, 12:00 – 1:00 PM

Lunch and Learn on Executive Functioning Challenges for ASD Students

Online presentation by executive functioning coaches Marci Skigen and Rachel Sushner. Register here.

Saturday, Jan. 21, 10:00 AM – 12:00

Elementary and Preschool Open Gym Meetup 

Meet other elementary and preschool families. See the details here

Community Calendar

Our community calendar is FULL of great offerings. Check out the programs and events posted on our Events Calendar.

Plan Ahead!

Note: Our Events Calendar shows events on their start date, but some programs require you to apply before the start date, so please look ahead!

Professional Member Spotlight

As a benefit to both our families and professional members, xMinds publishes information about our professional members here in the xMindsWire as well as on our website. Inclusion does not constitute our endorsement. This month, xMinds would like to highlight the following new and renewing professional members:


10417-B Kensington Pkwy, Kensington, MD 20895

Contact: Jared Ciner;; 301-933-3722

Services: Athletics/recreational support, Athletics, Coaching

SPIRIT Club offers supportive fitness programs that are universally designed to support people of ALL abilities. We put a focus on functional fitness and movements that are used in our daily lives with our own SPIRIT Club spin to make the workouts fun and engaging for members and supporters. Classes are structured into a two-circuit workout routine with a fun SPIRIT Challenge to test what we learned throughout the class. We also offer 1:1 and small group training. Just bring your energy, water and some SPIRIT, and let’s have some fun with fitness!


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