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

xMindsWire January 2023

Jan. 10 Webinar on Education Support Plans


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 Tuesday, 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 can 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

There will be plenty of time for questions and answers, 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. 

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. Click here to see the entire schedule.

As a follow-up to our January 10 webinar, Marci Skigen and Rachel Sushner will lead a virtual Lunch and Learn on Executive Functioning Challenges for ASD Students, Friday, January 13, at noon. Read on below for more details.

Marci Skigen

Rachel Sushner

Naomi Rubinstein

Join Us for a Lunch and Learn on Executive Functioning Challenges, Jan. 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

Is Your Child Eligible for Social Security Benefits?


Did you know that some children with disabilities are eligible for Social Security benefits? 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 share information 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! Register here to receive the Zoom link.

Register Here

See You Sat., Jan. 21, at We Rock the Spectrum! 


We're thrilled to host our next meetup for elementary and preschool families in a very special location — We Rock the Spectrum! This inclusive kids gym offers sensory equipment specifically designed to aid children with sensory processing disorders. We'll meet Saturday January 21, 10:00 AM – noon, at We Rock the Spectrum!, 7601 Airpark Drive, Suite D and E, Gaithersburg, MD.

This is a great opportunity to try out this inclusive gym for free, all while socializing with xMinds families. Because the gym has limited space, the number of attendees is capped, and we have reached capacity. If you haven't reserved a spot, please join our waitlist to be notified if there's a cancelation. 

We're looking forward to seeing everyone who has pre-registered. If your plans change, please notify us, so we can make room for other families. 

Save the date for our February meetup for autistic preschool and elementary school kids and their families — Saturday, February 18, 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM. We’ll meet at the Glen Haven Elementary School gymnasium, 10900 Inwood Ave., Silver Spring, MD. For our February 18 meetup there is no need to register -- just come!

    Join the Waitlist for "We Rock the Spectrum" Meetup

    Wondering About Employment Opportunities After High School? 


    If you’re the parent of a recent high school graduate seeking work — or if you’re looking ahead to future employment opportunities for your middle or high school student — you won’t want to miss the January session of our online Let’s Talk Transitions discussion group. 

    Join us Wednesday, January 25, at 7:00 PM, to hear our guest speakers from SEEC (Seeking Employment, Equality and Community for People with Developmental Disabilities), an organization that provides employment services to young people transitioning out of high school into the workforce. You’ll hear about SEEC’s employment-related services, including Project SEARCH, a one-year school-to-work transition program designed for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are either in their last year of high school or are recent graduates. You’ll also find out how these services can be funded by state agencies such as the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) and the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA).  Register here to receive the Zoom link. 

    Register Here

    Save the Dates for a Primer on MCPS Placements


    Most autistic students in MCPS take classes in the general education setting and receive special support and services specified in an IEP or 504 plan. However, some autistic students have greater success in a special education program that provides more support.

    MCPS places autistic students in an an array of special education programs. Some programs are exclusively for students diagnosed with autism, while others serve a mix of students, with similar needs. Which program is right for your child?

    Join xMinds in February for a primer on MCPS placements for autistic students. We’re offering separate online sessions about preschool, elementary, and secondary programs in which autistic students are commonly placed, so drop into the presentations that interest you:

    • Tuesday, February 7, at 7:00 PM. Choose between a presentation on preschool programs and one on middle/high school programs. The two panels will run simultaneously in separate Zoom meetings. 
    • Thursday, February 9, at 7:00 PM. We’ll offer an online presentation about the elementary school programs where autistic students are commonly placed. 

    MCPS representatives will share information at all three of these sessions, and will be happy to take questions. There’s no cost to attend, and simultaneous Spanish interpretation will be available. Register here for any of the three presentations.

    The presentations are part of the xMinds Special Education Basics series, which provides foundational information about how to navigate special education services in Montgomery County. Each month throughout the 2022–23 school year, we’re addressing a different topic in special ed that’s important to families with autistic students. Mark your calendars for the rest of the 2022–23 lineup.

    Register for a Primer on MCPS Placements

    Educators: What's on Your Classroom Wish List? 


    Do you know a MoCo educator who needs help purchasing classroom materials for their autistic students? Through our Winter Wish List initiative, xMinds is 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!

    Sensory Friendly Morning at the Smithsonian


    After a three-year hiatus, the Smithsonian Institution is relaunching its Morning at the Museum program, which offers free, sensory-friendly programs for families of children, teenagers, and young adults with disabilities who are neurodiverse, autistic, or have other sensory processing disorders or cognitive disabilities.

    On specific Saturday and Sunday mornings, pre-registered families visit a Smithsonian museum before it opens to the public, where they can participate in activities or explore the exhibitions independently at their own pace. Programs rotate among the various Smithsonian Institution museums. The first event is scheduled for Saturday, January 28, at 9:00 AM, at the National Museum of American History. To register click here. To be added to the Morning at the Museum contact list for notification about future events, email

    We’re fortunate to live in an area that offers a wide array of sensory-friendly opportunities, allowing our kids to enjoy a full life with fun outings that spark their interests. Check out the xMinds website for a listing of local sensory-friendly attractions, including museums, theaters, cinemas, amusement parks, zoos, and sports arenas.

    Now On YouTube: Special Ed Basics Series

    If you missed the first two webinars in our Special Education Basics Series, you can watch them on the xMinds YouTube Channel on our series playlist 

    You'll find guidance by education advocate Monica Martinez on "Navigating Special Education for Autistic Students in Maryland," and a talk by licensed psychologist Rebecca Resnik on the role of assessment and testing in special education. The videos are also available with Spanish translation on our Seminarios en Español playlist. We'll add more videos as our Special Education Basics Series continues throughout the school year.

    Upcoming xMinds Events

    xMinds events, resources, & services are always FREE

    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 types of education support plans and accommodations. 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 at We Rock the Spectrum 

    Meet other elementary and preschool families. See the details here

    Monday, Jan. 23, 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. 25, 7:00 – 8:00 PM

    Let's Talk Transitions 

    Online discussion group for MoCo parents/guardians of an autistic child in middle or high school. Guest speakers on SEEC employment services. Register here.

    Wednesday, Feb. 1, 7:00 – 7:45 PM 

    Hablemos Educación Especial

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

    Tuesday, Feb. 7, 7:00 – 9:00 PM: Placements for Preschool Students. Part of xMinds' Primer on MCPS Placements for Autistic Students. Register here.

    Tuesday, Feb. 7, 7:00 – 9:00 PM: Placements for Middle and High School Students. Part of xMinds' Primer on MCPS Placements for Autistic Students. Register here.

    Thursday, Feb. 9, 7:00 – 9:00 PM Placements for Elementary School Students. Part of xMinds' Primer on MCPS Placements for Autistic Students. Register here.

    Community Calendar

    Our community calendar is FULL of great offerings not only from xMinds, but from professional service providers located in Montgomery County. 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!

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