Register for our FREE webinar on psychological assessments — December 6.

xMindsWire November 2022

Get the Scoop on Psychological Assessments


Join us Tuesday, December 6, at 7:00 PM for a webinar on the role of psychological assessments and testing in identifying your child’s strengths and areas of need. At its best, psychological assessment can be transformative. A great assessment can open doors that allow a child to reach their full potential by informing educational interventions — everything from school placements to what specific type of reading instruction will be effective for the child’s unique needs. At its worst, an assessment can be stressful, expensive, or even inaccurate.

Licensed psychologist Dr. Rebecca Resnik will describe evidence-based assessment procedures so parents/guardians can select what is right for their family — including what is needed for special education advocacy. Dr. Resnick specializes in pediatric neuropsychological assessment and is the founder of Rebecca Resnik and Associates in North Bethesda, MD. She’ll also discuss best practices for assessing neurodiverse children who are nonspeaking, have motor/sensory support needs, or have other specific testing needs. She’ll end the evening 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.

The presentation is part of xMinds’ “Special Education Basics” series, which is designed to provide foundational information about how to navigate special education services in Montgomery County. Presentations will be offered throughout the school year on the first Tuesday of each month at 7:00 PM. Save the date for our January 10 program on Diploma vs. Certificate Track.

    Register Here

    Join Us for a Morning of Friendship and Fun!


    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 January meetup for elementary and preschool families, Saturday, January 21, 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM. Our meetups will be indoors during the winter and will be scheduled for the third Saturday of each month.

    Register Here for Reminders and Updates

    Respite Care Provides a Break for Caregivers


    We were privileged to have Julia Abate, Administrator of Respite Coordination for The Arc Montgomery County, join us at all four xMinds discussion groups in October. Julia shared valuable information about respite care, which provides funding that allows primary caregivers to have an occasional break from taking care of a loved one with a disability, such as autism. These much-needed breaks help caregivers return to their duties refreshed. Income eligibility requirements for respite care are currently being waived in Montgomery County.

    Families may be eligible for 140 hours of respite care in a fiscal year. Care can be provided in the home (up to 10 hours a day, no overnight stays), at a respite facility that provides overnight care, through therapeutic recreation programs, and through day and overnight camps. Funding is through the Department of Health and Human Services, with The Arc Montgomery County coordinating care locally. Applications for Fiscal Year 2023 are being accepted until March 31, 2023. Note that families receiving state-funded, in-home supports are ineligible for respite care through this program. For more information or to apply, click here.

    Get Free Help Navigating the IEP Process


    Did you know that xMinds provides free consultations to help families navigate the MCPS special education system? We’ve recently added eight new volunteer advocates to our team to help serve more families who need help advocating within the IEP process, whether they’re requesting services at their home school or seeking an appropriate placement. 

    Our new volunteers completed advocacy training over the summer led by special education advocate Monica Martinez, and they are eager to help families. Volunteer advocates provide guidance and support, and can connect families with resources, including educational consultants and lawyers. (Note: Our volunteers cannot provide legal advice.) Consultations are available in English or Spanish. Click here for more information and to submit a consultation request. Click here to submit a consultation request in Spanish.

    Thank You for Supporting xMinds’ Mission

    As Thanksgiving approaches, xMinds would like to thank all who work to improve education for autistic students in Montgomery County. We’re thankful for our board members, committee members, and other volunteers who put in countless hours planning speaker events and playground meetups, leading discussion groups, developing website resources, processing grants to educators, and providing guidance to parents of autistic students. 

    We're also grateful for our generous financial supporters who make it possible for us to offer our programs and resources for free. And we are indebted to the MoCo educators who support autistic students, day-in and day-out.

    If you want to join our team of volunteers or make a financial donation, we welcome your support! Contact us at or donate here.

    Cash for Classrooms Funding Still Available! 


    Do you know a MoCo educator who needs help purchasing classroom materials for their autistic students or wants to attend a training to learn how to better support autistic students? Through xMinds' Cash for Classrooms campaign, 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. Teachers, paraeducators, and related service providers who support autistic students are all encouraged to apply. 

    We've already awarded grants to more than 80 MoCo educators this fall. Limited funding remains. Apply today! 

    Now on YouTube: xMinds Webinar on Navigating Special Education in Maryland

    If you missed our recent online presentation “Navigating Special Education for Autistic Students in Maryland” — or you want to review the information — you can watch it on the xMinds YouTube channel. Our guest speaker, special education advocate Monica Martinez, walked us through the IEP process, from determining eligibility and developing an IEP to monitoring a student’s progress and completing triennial reevaluations. 

    Monica provided some great pointers on how to work with the IEP team, including what to do if you disagree. A video recording in Spanish is also available on YouTube.

    All our recent webinars are posted on the xMinds YouTube channel. Subscribe today so you’ll be first to know when we add new content!

    xMinds Welcomes Lizette Hoffman to Its Board 

    xMinds is thrilled to welcome Flor de Amelia Lizette Hoffman to its board of directors. Lizette (also known as Flor) earned her Master’s in Special Education at George Mason University and her Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis at Northeastern University.

    Lizette is a Ph.D. student in The Chicago School of Professional Psychology's Applied Behavior Analysis program. She serves as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and educational consultant for underserved and underrepresented communities across the country through Avanzos Educational and Behavioral Services.

    Lizette Hoffman

    A mother of five, Lizette says that her drive to serve the special needs community stems from her personal journey as a mother of a child diagnosed with autism who is also medically fragile. Lizette is a native Spanish speaker and uses her language skills to help xMinds reach out to Spanish speakers. She offered free consultations in Spanish at the xMinds annual IEP Clinic in October and is one of our volunteers providing advocacy help to Spanish speakers.

    December's Spanish Discussion Group Will Feature Info on Social Security Benefits

    Special guests Diana Varela and Caroline Mason from the Social Security Administration will join our Hablemos Educación Especial discussion group on Wednesday, December 7, 7:00 – 8:30 PM to speak about Social Security benefits for children with disabilities. This is our discussion group for Spanish-speaking parents/guardians of autistic children, and this presentation will be in Spanish.

    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!

    Stay tuned for any updates about special guests in the other xMinds discussion groups!  

    Upcoming xMinds Events

    xMinds events, resources, & services are always FREE

    Monday, Nov. 28, 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, Nov. 30, 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.

    Monday, Dec. 5, 7:00 – 7:45 PM

    People of the Global Majority

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

    Tuesday, Dec. 6, 7:00 – 8:30 PM

    Assessment, Testing, and Understanding 

    Virtual presentation on the role of psychological assessments. See details above. Register here. 

    Wednesday, Dec. 7, 7:00 – 8:30 PM

    Hablemos Educación Especial

    Online discussion group for Spanish-speaking MoCo parents/guardians of an autistic child. Guest speakers on Social Security benefitsRegister here.

    Saturday, Dec. 17, 10:00 – 11:30 AM

    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:

    Enhance EFS

    Contact: Marci Skigen;; 847-903-5600

    Services: Executive Functioning Coaching; IEP Consulting; Academic Tutoring; College Counseling

    Whether you’re looking for executive functioning skills training sessions, educational therapy, college counseling, home organization, or IEP and 504 advocacy, we have you covered! All of our services are customizable for your needs to ensure we provide the critical tools needed to enhance each individual’s daily life! Many of our clients are intelligent, capable students — late elementary school to post-college — who are not achieving their potential as a result of ineffective work habits. Some have diagnoses such as ADHD, ASD, or other learning differences and see Enhance EFS as excellent additional support to interventions they may have already tried or would like to try. Some of our clients have emotional challenges, such as anxiety, which impact their ability to work effectively. Other clients we work with have no formal diagnoses yet and benefit from learning more effective ways to manage their academic or workplace demands.

    Brian K. Gruber, P.C., Law Office

    6110 Executive Blvd., Ste. 220, Rockville, MD 20852

    Contact: Brian K. Gruber, Esq.,; 301-657-3777

    Services: Special education law including consultation, representation at IEP meetings, conflict resolution, mediation, and due process hearings; educational consulting; financial and trust management

    The Law Office of Brian K. Gruber, P.C., represents students and their parents in matters related to special education, access to appropriate accommodations under section 504, and students who are facing long-term suspension or expulsion. By developing and maintaining strong relationships with public school agencies in Maryland and DC, the office is often able to help achieve a positive outcome for clients without the need for litigation. Our staff of attorneys have handled hundreds of due process hearings and mediations across Maryland and the District of Columbia.

    Martinez Advocacy

    10605 Concord St., Suite 102, Kensington, MD 20895

    Contact: Monica Martinez;; 202-255-7842

    Services: Special education advocacy

    Monica Martinez is a special education advocate working with families in Montgomery County, MD. Through her seven plus years of involvement in Partnership for Extraordinary Minds (xMinds), Monica developed an in-depth understanding of how Montgomery County Public Schools educates students on the autism spectrum and how to navigate the district’s special education system. Monica’s areas of expertise are services and accommodations for students on the autism spectrum, as well as those with ADHD and/or co-morbid mental health issues. Monica also works to help parents and guardians understand the educational rights of their children. Monica has attended Wrightslaw Special Education Law and Advocacy Training and completed the yearlong Special Education Advocate Training (SEAT) 2.0 through the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA).

    Spectrum Transition Coaching, LLC

    Contact: Beth Felsen;; 703-988-3470

    Services: Coaching; College assistance; Grades 9–12 and transition ages (18–21)

    Spectrum Transition Coaching, LLC provides college readiness coaching for autistic high school students and their parents as well as one-on-one coaching for autistic young adult clients, 18 and older. College readiness for autistic high school students focuses on the non-academic skills needed for college success: self-advocacy, executive function, social communication and life skills. One-on-one coaching after high school can focus on academic, social, organizational, life, and employment goals. Services are provided virtually. Private pay only. Navigating life with autism can be really difficult — working with a coach can make it easier.

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