Join us March 15 for a panel discussion on inclusion of nonspeakers

xMindsWire March 2022

Successful Inclusion of Nonspeakers in School


Join xMinds on Tuesday, March 15, 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM, for a panel discussion exploring the experiences of two autistic nonspeakers who were fully included in their schools through 12th grade and college.

You’ll meet DJ Savarese, who attended public school in Grinnell, Iowa, before enrolling at Oberlin College in Ohio. DJ is the subject of the 2017 documentary "Deej." You’ll also meet Lisa Vallado, who attended parochial schools in Newbury Park, California, before attending Montgomery College and Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, MD. Lisa is the subject of the 2017 documentary "Sisterly." Our third panelist, Tracy Harder, was Lisa’s English and U.S. History teacher in high school; she was an integral part of the team that made inclusion so successful for Lisa.

Our panelists will discuss how they successfully challenged the status quo to gain full inclusion. Their examples show that full inclusion of nonspeakers is not just possible but is already happening in some schools!

Panelists will offer their practical perspectives and insights on what makes inclusion work — and how their inclusion experience in high school prepared them for success in college. A Q&A session will follow the panel discussion.

 "What Successful Inclusion of Nonspeakers Looks Like: Two Real Life Examples," will be held over Zoom, with simultaneous Spanish interpretation. Register for this free event to receive the link.

DJ Savarese 

(Photo courtesy of Pamela Harvey Photography)

Lisa Vallado

Free Virtual Lunchtime Workshop on Gap Year Options with Educational Planner Judith Bass


Judith Bass

Join us at noon on Wednesday, April 6, to learn about gap year options for high school graduates who plan to attend college. Autistic students often mature later than neurotypicals, so taking an extra year after high school can be a real gift and can improve students’ likelihood of success when they eventually enter college.

There are so many options — it can be hard to know where to start! Certified Educational Planner Judith Bass of Bass Educational Services, LLC will provide an overview of transition programs and gap year programs and will answer parents’ questions. 

The lunchtime presentation will be held over Zoom on Wednesday, April 6, 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM. Register here to receive the link. 

This event is hosted by the xMinds Committee on Student Transitions to Adulthood. If you’re exploring future options for your middle and high school students, consider also joining this committee’s parent discussion group, Let’s Talk Transitions, held virtually the fourth Wednesday of each month, 7:00 PM to 7:45 PM. (Next discussion is Wednesday, March 23). Drop in on any session to meet other parents, share experiences, and exchange information. 

Join Team xMinds for Bike to the Beach


xMinds is thrilled to announce that we will be participating in the Bike to the Beach fundraiser this summer on July 29 — for the fifth consecutive year. xMinds relies on this event to provide more than half our annual budget — so it's important! These funds ensure that we can offer all our events and resources for free.

Wondering how you can support this critical xMinds fundraiser? You have options, whether you are a biking enthusiast or not!

If you want to “bike to the beach,” sign up here to join Team xMinds and ride with us on July 29. You can invite friends and family to support you with a donation — but you’re not required to raise a particular amount. To help you prepare for the ride, join other team members for our optional training rides throughout the spring. This is a great way to get in shape and meet other xMinds families. If you’re unsure, just drop in for a training ride — no commitment required! The first training ride is Sunday, April 3, at 9:00 AM. Find out the details here.

If you want to help in other ways, join Team xMinds as a volunteer! We need non-biking volunteers to help us host a rest stop along the ride route. You can donate snacks and drinks beforehand, reach out to your friends for donations, or staff the rest stop on ride day. It’s fun to be part of the excitement and to cheer on the bike riders. Find out more about volunteering here.

If you’re unable to help with the actual event but want to show your support, consider making a donation. You can support Team xMinds by donating here.

Find out more about this fundraiser on the xMinds website, where we spell out all the details about this fun and important event.

Team xMinds at the 2021 Bike to the Beach finish line!

xMinds Awards $7,000 to Support Autistic Students


xMinds is delighted to report that our Winter Wish List program has awarded nearly $7,000 to help MoCo educators purchase classroom supplies and trainings needed to support autistic students. Limited funding still remains! xMinds is offering grants of up to $100 to purchase needed materials, such as noise-canceling headphones, weighted vests, fidgets, beanbag chairs, social stories, executive-function planners, and other items that help support autistic students. Professional trainings are funded up to $250.

Educators can apply online for a grant. Act quickly before funding runs out!

Check out the xMinds Summer Camp Guide


Spring starts in less than two weeks, which means summer can't be far behind! Camps and programs are gearing up, so it's time to start planning. To help you find the right fit, xMinds has put together a guide to summer camps and programs that autistic kids have enjoyed in past years. Check out our guide to find some summer fun for your child! We’ll continue to update the information as camp details are finalized and more offerings are announced. 

New Resource for Middle & High School Parents


Do you have a child in middle school or high school? Now’s the time to start thinking about how you can help them successfully transition to adulthood.

To guide you through the process, xMinds recently launched a Transition to Adulthood online resource.

You’ll find a “transition timeline” that takes you from age 14 – when transition planning becomes part of a student’s IEP – to age 21. You’ll also find information on how to prepare for the work world, find housing, develop life skills, obtain government assistance, and search for postsecondary opportunities and support. Be sure to check out this new resource!

xMinds Welcomes New Board Member

xMinds is excited to welcome our newest board member, Eric Skigen. Eric has a career in cybersecurity and has a special connection with the autism community because one of his children and a nephew are autistic. Eric previously served on the board of the Organization for Autism Research. He has extensive fundraising experience with Truman Charities, an organization that hosts events to raise money for local and national charities. Eric lives in Gaithersburg, MD, with his wife Marci, four children, and two dogs. You can read more about him and the rest of the xMinds board on our Leadership page.

Eric Skigen

Upcoming xMinds Events

xMinds events, resources, and memberships are always FREE

Tuesday, March 15, 7:00 – 8:30 PM

What Successful Inclusion of Nonspeakers Looks Like: Two Real Life Examples

Online panel discussion exploring the experiences of two autistic nonspeakers who challenged the status quo. 

Register here.

Wednesday, March 23, 7:00 – 7:45 PM

Let's Talk Transitions

Online discussion group for MoCo parents/guardians of an autistic child in middle or high school. Register here.

Sunday, March 27, 7:00 – 7:45 PM

People of the Global Majority 

Online discussion group for MoCo parents/guardians of an autistic BIPOC child. Register here

Sunday, April 3, 9:00 AM

Bike to the Beach Training Ride

Join Team xMinds as we prepare for the Bike to the Beach fundraiser. RSVP with team captain Patrick Quigley 

Wednesday, April 6, 12:00 – 1:00 PM

What Are Our Options for the Transition Year After High School?

Online workshop led by educational consultant Judy Bass on gap year options for autistic students. Register here

Wednesday, April 6, 7:00 – 7:45 PM

Hablemos Educación Especial

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

Community Calendar

The March calendar is FULL of great offerings. Check out the programs and many free events posted on our Events Calendar

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 in this list does not constitute our endorsement. This month, xMinds would like to highlight the following new and renewing Professional Members:

Matthew B. Bogin, Attorney at Law

5454 Wisconsin Ave., Ste. 760, Chevy Chase, MD 20815


Contact: Matthew Bogin;

Services: Financial/trust management

Matthew B. Bogin has been helping families with special needs members throughout the D.C. metropolitan area for over 35 years. He is well respected for his championing of the varying rights of special needs clients. Currently his particular focus is ensuring that families with special needs members complete and review planning to ensure a successful future for these children. Because that calls for specialized knowledge and expertise, Matthew is ideally suited to assist clients in the areas of special needs trusts, estate planning, and guardianship.

Steven Kane, Ph.D.

4405 East West Highway, Suite 501, Bethesda, MD 20814


Contact: Steven Kane;

Services: Psychological counseling; Social skills therapy

Steven Kane provides psychotherapy to children and adults with diverse neurodevelopmental profiles. He has worked in special education, residential, and private practice settings for over 30 years, with a primary focus on autism spectrum disorders.

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