Join us Tuesday, May 24 for our self-advocates panel!

xMindsWire May 2022

Hear from the Real Experts: Self-Advocates


Join xMinds on May 24 at 7:00 PM for an online panel discussion exploring the experiences of three autistic self-advocates who will speak about their social lives, past and present. Panelists will discuss what supports have been helpful and what well-intentioned supports may have been harmful. They will tell us what their ideal social engagements look like and how their goals may not always mirror what their parents envision for them.

Our accomplished panelists Joel Carver, Heather Weiss, and Justin Valenti will also answer questions from the audience. Find their bios and other details on the xMinds calendar. The panel discussion will be held over Zoom, with simultaneous Spanish interpretation. Register for this free event to receive the link.

Joel Carver, Heather Weiss, Justin Valenti

Preschool Playground Meetup, May 14


If you have a preschool-age autistic child, please join us for our first preschool playground meetup on Saturday, May 14, 10:00 AM, at the fully accessible Wheaton Local Park. This is a great opportunity to connect with other local families. The meetup is hosted by the xMinds Preschool Parent Outreach Committee, and xMinds board member Natalia Ahn will be there to welcome you and to provide snacks. 

Our Preschool Parent Outreach Committee also hosts a monthly virtual parent discussion group. Join us Monday, May 23, at 7:00 PM to chat with other families of preschool-age autistic kids and to exchange information and resources.

Join our preschool playground meetup, Saturday, May 14, at Wheaton Local Park 

The preschool years are a crucial time for autistic children, offering a window for early intervention. Many autistic children are diagnosed as preschoolers, and their families are searching for resources and for other parents who are on the same path. Our new committee, headed by xMinds board member Melanie Carlos, is here to help!

As part of our commitment to helping preschool families, xMinds recently updated our Preschool webpage with the latest information about MCPS placements and services for children ages 3–5.

Support Our “Bike to the Beach” Fundraiser


There’s still time to join Team xMinds for this summer’s Bike to the Beach fundraiser — either as a biker or a supporter. This important fundraiser provides more than half of xMinds’ annual budget, ensuring that we can offer all our events and resources for free. Here’s how you can help make this fundraiser a success:  

If you want to show your support, please donate here. Every dollar raised will go toward xMinds programs, resources, and educator grants. 

If you want to “bike to the beach,” sign up here to join Team xMinds and ride with us to Dewey Beach, Delaware, on July 29. 

If you want to support the team as a volunteer, contact Jean Winegardner or Marci Skigen, who are are planning the xMinds rest stop along the ride route. It’s fun to be part of the excitement and to cheer on the bike riders!

For more information about this fun and important event, visit the xMinds B2B website.

The next practice ride is Sunday, May 22, at 9:00 AM. We’ll post the meeting place and more details on the xMinds B2B website. Hope to see you there! Please email our captain Patrick Quigley if you plan to join us, so we'll know to look for you. 

Register for Our FREE Mindfulness Course 


Are you looking for ways to relieve the stress of parenting? Join xMinds for the  three remaining sessions of our free online class “Introduction to Mindfulness for Autism Parents,” offered on Thursday evenings this month. Last week's introductory session offered some great strategies for reducing stress, but we're just getting started! We still have a few slots available for parents who would like to join us.  

Led by mindfulness teacher Magüi Moreno, the online course is designed to help parents of autistic children reduce stress, increase wellbeing, understand our emotions, and connect better to our loved ones. We're all better parents to our children when we can do that!

A Bethesda mom to an 11-year-old autistic child, Magüi is a life coach and trained mindfulness teacher. She's currently becoming certified through the Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program offered in conjunction with the Awareness Training Institute at the University of California at Berkeley. The remaining sessions are Thursdays, May 12, 19, and 26, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM.  The free course is offered over Zoom; register to receive the link.

Magüi Moreno

Are You Considering a New School Placement?


As the school year begins to wrap up, it’s time to plan for the ’22–’23 year. If you’re considering a new school placement and/or program for your child, check out the xMinds website for our guide to MCPS placements, programs, and services.

You’ll find information about the various programs for elementary and secondary students, be they diploma-bound or certificate-bound. This information can be essential as you prepare for end-of-the-year IEP meetings and work to identify the appropriate program for your child. To help you find each program’s location(s), we’ve recently updated our Interactive Maps of MCPS Special Education Services.

New WhatsApp Group for Spanish Speakers


xMinds is proud to announce that the xMinds Spanish Language Outreach Committee has created a WhatsApp group, xMinds en Español, to facilitate conversation among Spanish-speaking families of autistic children in Montgomery County.

A free messaging app, WhatsApp is available for both iPhone and Android. To join xMinds en Español, text Committee Chair Carolina Harp at 240-263-5314 or email her, Please spread the word to Spanish-speaking families!

Showing Our Appreciation to Educators


Last week marked Teacher Appreciation Week — a wonderful time to thank teachers and the rest of your child’s education team. Educators reach into their hearts every day to guide and inspire our children, and all too often, they also reach into their pockets to purchase needed classroom supplies. Teachers across the country spent an average of $750 of their own money on supplies in 2021, according to one survey. Ninety-five percent of educators surveyed said their classroom supply budget isn’t enough to meet their students’ needs.

One of our priorities at xMinds is to support our dedicated MoCo educators. We have distributed $17,800 through our Educator Grant Program this school year to help educators of autistic students purchase needed school supplies, such as noise-canceling headphones, weighted vests, fidgets, beanbag chairs, social stories, and executive-function planners. These funds have also paid for educators to attend training sessions on how to better support autistic students. Please consider supporting our Educator Grant Program by making a donation to xMinds.

Educators: Apply online today for an educator grant! Limited funding remains for this school year.  Additional funding for educator grants will become available in August for the ’22–’23 year.

Check out the xMinds Summer Camp Guide


Summer is just around the corner! To help you plan, xMinds has put together a guide to summer camps and programs that autistic kids have enjoyed in past years.

We've updated the information recently to include new offerings and additional details, so check out our guide today!  

Did You Miss "Gender Diversity and Autism"?

If you missed our recent online presentation exploring the intersection of autism and gender diversity, you can watch it on the xMinds YouTube channel. Our guest speaker, Zosia Zaks, M.Ed., C.R.C., discussed how parents and educators can best understand and support autistic children who are also gender divergent. A video recording in Spanish is also available.

Remember, all our recent webinars are posted on the xMinds YouTube channel. Subscribe today!

Zosia Zaks

Upcoming xMinds Events

xMinds events, resources, and memberships are always FREE

Thurs. May 12, 19, 26, 7:00 – 8:30 PM

Introduction to Mindfulness for Autism Parents

Free mindfulness class for parents/guardians of autistic children. See description above. Register here. 

Saturday, May 14, 10:00 – 11:00 AM

Preschool Playground Meetup 

Meet other preschool families at Wheaton Local Park. See the details here.

Sunday, May 22, 9:00 AM

Bike to the Beach Training Ride

Join Team xMinds for a 20-mile practice ride as we train for the Bike to the Beach fundraiser. Details posted here. RSVP to team captain Patrick Quigley 

Monday, May 23, 7:00 – 7:45 PM

Preschool Parents Discussion Group 

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

Tuesday, May 24,  7:00 – 8:30 PM

Self-Advocates Panel: A Discussion of Social Lives

See the description above about our online presentation. Register here. 

Wednesday, May 25, 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.

Wednesday, June 1, 7:00 – 7:45 PM

Hablemos Educación Especial

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

Monday, June 6, 7:00 – 7:45 PM

People of the Global Majority 

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

Community Calendar

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


Programs offered throughout the DMV.

Contact: Heller An Shapiro;;; 301-565-4567

Services: Social Skills; recreational support; performing arts support

ArtStream offers performance opportunities to people of all ages with IDDs — including autism. Classes, workshops, and performances are available throughout the DMV. ArtStream’s programs encourage collaboration and engage people in lifelong learning opportunities. Through ArtStream’s classes, performances, social skills workshops, and other programming, participants gain skills and confidence to engage with the world. There is a role for everyone at ArtStream.

H2D Counseling, Sumaiya Olatunde

Contact: Sumaiya Olatunde;; 301-575-4885

Services: Educational advocacy; educational consulting; admissions services; Serving students ages pre-K through graduate school.

H2D Counseling provides educational advocacy and K12, college and graduate school admissions services for all students. We participate in IEP and 504 meetings, connect families and students with resources, and help identify needed supports in the areas of education, mental health, therapies, and other needs as they arise. Our approach is very individualized and student-centered with a focus on balancing short-term needs with long-term goals.

Integrated Living Opportunities

5603 Potomac Avenue NW, North Entrance, Washington DC 20016

Contact: Founder and Executive Director Maedi Tanham Carney;;; 202-248-7113

Services: Independent living support; coaching

Integrated Living Opportunities is a non-profit organization that is devoted to helping families with special needs build supportive, integrated communities that enable safe, productive, independent living options for their young adults with developmental disabilities. ILO helps families create networks of support for adults with disabilities by developing teams of paid and unpaid individuals for our self-advocates as they move out of their family homes into their own homes.

MOCO Movement Center

5268-A Nicholson Lane, Kensington, MD 20895

Contact: Andrea Santman;; 301-770-5437

Services: Occupational therapy; physical therapy; speech-language therapy; behavioral therapy; social skills therapy; athletics/recreational support; coaching

MOCO Movement Center is a fully inclusive pediatric therapy practice and athletic movement center. We offer movement classes for children of all ages and abilities and provide therapy services to support their function. MOCO's proprietary method, Applied Functional Therapy, takes evidence-based physical, occupational, and speech therapy out of the clinic and integrates it into real-life activities to help your child achieve better functional outcomes. MOCO Movement Center is committed to excellence and puts our patients and families first! That means staying on the cutting-edge of medical research and education, truly understanding your child’s goals, and adapting therapy to meet their specific needs. Showing families how to interact and grow in a real-world environment is our way of showing you that MOCO’s commitment does not end at our doors.

Did you receive this from a friend?
Subscribe Now

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to read about current news stories and upcoming events. Participate in discussions in our Google Group. Subscribe to our YouTube Channel. Support us by shopping with Amazon Smile

For more information, call 301-444-5225, email or visit