xMindsWire September 2022

Join Us for the xMinds free IEP Clinic, October 8


Welcome back to a new year of xMinds programming! We have an exciting year planned, starting with our annual IEP Clinic on Saturday, October 8, 12:00 noon – 4:00 PM, in-person at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rockville, located at 100 Welsh Park Drive, Rockville, MD. This year’s free clinic will feature parent and student panelists who will share information about the MCPS special education programs in which autistic students are frequently placed. 

We’ll feature two panels, one focusing on elementary school programs and the other on secondary school programs. Panelists will answer your questions and provide their perspectives as parents and students. See our website for the complete schedule, including a listing of which special ed programs we’ll be highlighting. All panels and IEP consults are offered for free. 

Plus, we’ll have five professional educational advocates on hand offering free 20-minute consultations to answer your most pressing IEP questions. To receive an appointment for a consultation, you must register in advance. Be sure to select an appointment time that doesn't conflict with any panel you're interested in attending. Masks are required at this event regardless of vaccination status. Registration opens today, September 9. Register now to be sure you reserve your free consult. Spaces are limited.

The 2022 IEP Clinic is the inaugural event in xMinds’ new “Back to Basics” series, which is designed to provide foundational information about how to navigate MCPS’s special education services. This series, like all xMinds events, is free. Stay tuned for more information about this new monthly series! 

See You at the Playground This Saturday!


Join us this Saturday, September 10, 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM, for a playground meetup for autistic preschool and elementary school kids and their families. We'll meet at the enclosed playground behind the Ivymount School, located at 11614 Seven Locks Road, Rockville, MD. 

Special guest Amy Roberts, speech therapist from Talk Yoga, will offer a free demo class that combines yoga with speech and language instruction. All the kids are welcome to join in!

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.

We're hoping for sunshine, but if it rains, we'll postpone to Saturday, September 17. For more information, and to receive an email if we need to postpone due to the weather, register here. We will post any changes due to weather by Saturday at 9:00 AM here and on the xMinds Facebook page.

Save the date for our October playground meetup, Saturday, October 15, 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM.

Register here to receive reminders and updates

New Online Resource for Social Development


xMinds is excited to announce that we’ve launched a new online resource dedicated to fostering the social development of autistic students. Many autistic students find it challenging to make and keep friends and to feel comfortable in a range of social situations. That's why it's so important to find ways to nurture and support them in creating the kind of social life they want.

Our online Supporting Social Development guide highlights:

  • Programs that strive to help neurodiverse kids and teens find friends and connect with others who appreciate all the things that make them unique.
  • Social skills groups designed to help autistic students and young adults develop interpersonal skills and make explicit the implicit neurotypical social norms.
  • Recreational activities that welcome autistic kids, offering them the opportunity to develop their interests and connect with others who share those interests. Whether your kid is interested in acting, art, dance, hiking, hockey, swimming, tennis, or more, you’ll find an activity here!
  • Sensory-friendly performances and attractions. Check out our directory of performing-arts theaters, cinemas, museums, zoos, stadiums, and other venues that offer sensory-friendly performances or accommodations for the needs of autistic individuals. 

We’re lucky to live in an area rich with resources. Enjoy exploring the xMinds Supporting Social Development guide and all that our area has to offer!

Cash for Classrooms Campaign Begins Sept 13 


Do you know a MoCo educator who needs help purchasing classroom materials for their autistic students? xMinds is thrilled to announce that we will begin accepting applications for our second annual “Cash for Classrooms” campaign next week, on Tuesday, September 13. We’re awarding grants of up to $100 to help educators set up 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 educator trainings on how best to teach and connect with autistic learners.

Grants are available to Montgomery County teachers, paraeducators, and related service providers who support autistic students. Funds are limited, so apply early!

MCPS Releases New Special Ed Compliance Manual


MCPS recently released its 2022 Special Education Compliance Manual. The manual is an important resource that can help guide MCPS IEP teams, including parents/guardians, as they work to ensure that IEPs are implemented in compliance with state and federal laws and regulations. 

The manual details MCPS procedures for the entire IEP process, including initial referrals and evaluations, IEP meetings, discipline of students with disabilities, and triennial evaluations.

2022 updates include recent changes to Maryland law concerning seclusion of students — an issue of special importance to families of a child with a disability. Effective July 1, 2022, the use of seclusion is strictly prohibited in all Maryland public schools. (Seclusion may still be used in nonpublic schools.) The new Maryland law came in response to a 2020 federal investigation that found Frederick County Public Schools improperly isolated and restrained students with disabilities.

Find a Friend with “Quirky Buds”!


We all want our kids to find friendship and to connect with others who appreciate all the things that make them unique. At xMinds, we’re hopeful that a new free service will help forge these connections. Quirky Buds is a matching website that helps individuals with different abilities connect with like-minded individuals who live near them.

Quirky Buds was started by Caroline Turner, a licensed social worker in Austin, Texas, who is passionate about serving individuals with neurodiverse needs. Caroline developed Quirky Buds after receiving repeated requests for ways to connect from clients, advocates, and community members.

For more information and to fill out an interest form, click here. Simply provide some basic information about the interested individual, including zip code, birthdate, interests, and mode of communication. Once a nearby match is found, you’ll receive an email introduction that will make it easy for you to connect if you want to. No obligation, of course, if you don't want to.

Caroline Turner, who runs Quirky Buds, will visit each of the xMinds online discussion groups in September to answer any questions you may have about her matching service. The more people that sign up in MoCo, the more likely we are to find a friend-match nearby. We know it can be hard to find like-minded buds for your kids. We hope this helps!

Note: Please consider taking precautions as you would when meeting any new individual, such as initially meeting in a public place.

Summer Fun at BIPOC SpashPark Get-Together

We were delighted to see families with autistic kids connecting and having a splashing-good time at the xMinds BIPOC summer get-together at South Germantown SpashPark on Sunday, August 7. Over 20 families joined us for fun in the sun — splashing around in the park’s fountains — and picnicked with old friends and new ones under a shaded canopy.

Sponsored by the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Outreach Committee, the event was open to all MoCo families with autistic students. The BIPOC Outreach Committee strives to provide fellowship and resources to BIPOC families in Montgomery County with autistic children. For more information, check out the BIPOC committee’s webpage or email the committee’s chair Daria Hall

XMinds President Nora Dudwick and BIPOC committee chair Daria Hall were on hand at the SplashPark to meet families and offer resources.

Join the Discussion!


Are you looking to connect with other families with autistic kids? Start off the new school year by attending an xMinds discussion group. These targeted groups provide a great opportunity to meet others who have shared interests and concerns. Discussion groups are always free and operate on a drop-in basis. Join us whenever you have a chance! Register where indicated to receive the Zoom link. Here's the lineup:

People of the Global Majority. For MoCo parents/guardians of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) students. Meets the first Monday of every month, 7:00 – 7:45 PM. Next meeting date is September 12, at 7:00 PM. (Date adjusted for holiday.) Register here.

Small Steps Together. For MoCo parents/caregivers of autistic elementary or preschool students. Meets the fourth Monday of each month, 7:00 – 7:45 PM. Next meeting date is September 26 at 7:00 PM. Register here.

Let’s Talk Transitions. For MoCo parents/guardians of an autistic child in middle or high school, approaching the transition to adulthood. Meets the fourth Wednesday of every month, 7:00 – 7:45 PM. Next meeting date is September 28, at 7:00 PM. Register here.

Hablemos Educación Especial. For Spanish-speaking MoCo parents/guardians of an autistic child. Meets the first Wednesday of each month, 7:00 – 7:45 PM. Next meeting date is October 5, at 7:00 PM. Register here.

Team xMinds Raises Over $58,000


Congratulations to Team xMinds for raising over $58,000 for xMinds through the Bike to the Beach fundraiser. Team members biked up to 100 miles in the heat to Dewey Beach, DE, during the July 29 fundraising ride. xMinds uses these funds to offer programs and events for MoCo families with autistic kids, develop online resources to help families support their autistic students, award educator grants to purchase classroom supplies, and more.

A heartfelt thank you to everyone who supported Team xMinds on this journey  — you are making a difference in the lives of autistic students and their families. We appreciate your donations, your volunteerism, and your pedal power!

Special thanks to our generous sponsors: Bass Educational Services, LLCSuzanne Keith Blattner, Ed.S. & Associates; Center for Assessment And TreatmentCSahm Foundation for ADHD Educational Services and SupportGerlein OrthodonticsGuiding Exceptional Parents; and Rebecca Resnik and Associates LLC.

The bike ride may be over, but there’s still time to donate! If you haven’t had a chance to contribute, please consider donating here. xMinds counts on families to contribute what they can so we can continue to provide all our resources and services for free to everyone who needs them.

Donate Here

Team xMinds at the 2022 Bike to the Beach finish line

Upcoming xMinds Events

xMinds events, resources, & services are always FREE

Saturday, Sept. 10, 10:00 – 11:30 AM

Elementary and Preschool Playground Meetup 

Meet other elementary and preschool families. See the details here(Rain date: Sept. 17)

Monday, Sept. 12, 7:00 – 7:45PM 

People of the Global Majority 

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

Monday, Sept. 26, 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, Sept. 28, 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, Oct. 3, 7:00 – 7:45 PM

People of the Global Majority 

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

Wednesday, Oct. 5, 7:00 – 7:45 PM

Hablemos Educación Especial

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

Saturday, Oct. 8, 12:00 noon – 4:00 PM

xMinds Annual IEP Clinic 

Learn about MCPS special ed placements; receive a free 20-minute IEP consultation. See details above. Register 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:

Bass Educational Services, LLC

3403 Olandwood Ct, Suite 101 Olney, MD 20832


Contact: Judy Bass; judy@basseducationalservices.com; 301-774-5211

Services: Educational consulting; Academic tutoring/coaching; College placement assistance; Serving special education and general education, grades 9–12 and transition ages 18–21.

Bass Educational Services, LLC provides an array of educational services for students with learning differences, ADHD, ASD, and other special needs. Our educational consultants offer guidance and structure throughout the college and postsecondary planning process, provide assistance in gap year programming, and assist families in facilitating local K–12 school placements. Our trained, experienced tutors provide online and in-home, one-on-one SAT/ACT test prep and subject tutoring. Additionally, we provide assistance in obtaining SAT/ACT accommodations when appropriate.

CSahm Foundation for ADHD Educational Services and Support

7920 Longridge Ct, Cabin John, MD 20818


Contact: Candace Sahm; candace@csahmfoundation.org; 301-257-6655

Services: Coaching; Tutoring; Customized ADHD programs; Organizational, test-taking, and job readiness training; Support groups

The CSahm Foundation for ADHD Educational Services and Support, Inc. helps low-income youth with ADHD and autism. CSahm offers coaching support to help students with their organization and time-management skills, as well as academic tutors to help with coursework. CSahm also offers counseling and guidance for assessments, IEPs, and 504s.

DC Social Hikes


Contact: Lauren Devine; DCsocialhikes@gmail.com; 202-422-2315

Services: Social skills therapy, athletics, recreations support

DC Social Hikes was created by Maria Stangheriln and Lauren Devine with the belief that movement is medicine and that every kid can benefit from nature and friendship! Maria and Lauren are experienced professionals who bring decades of experience working with a range of kids and young adults. Hikes are geared at neurodiverse kids and address skills like problem-solving, regulating emotions, conversation skills, and identifying social cues.

Exceptional Educational Solutions

701 Hyde Rd, Silver Spring, MD 20902


Contact: Stephanie Frumkin, M.A.Ed.; Stephanie@exceptionaleducationalsolutions.com; 724-320-9026

Services: Educational consulting all grades, special and general education, public and private schools

Exceptional Educational Solutions finds educational solutions for bright K–12 students with learning differences in the DC metro area. As an educational consultant and founder of Exceptional Educational Solutions, Stephanie Frumkin helps parents of bright students with learning differences gain clarity and find educational solutions so their children will thrive. She specializes in students with autism, ADHD, mood disorders, behavioral challenges, and other learning differences. Many of her students are gifted/twice exceptional. Stephanie has over 25 years of experience in the field of education. In addition to earning a B.A. in elementary education and an M.A. in leadership in teaching, she has completed both the COPAA Special Education Advocacy Training 2.0 coursework and the Master IEP Coach Mentorship. She is an associate member of the IECA — Independent Educational Consultants Association.

Starobin Counseling, LLC

18213 Hillcrest Ave., Olney, MD 20832


Contact: Caron Starobin, LCSW-C; caron@starobincounseling.com; 301-417-5979

Services: Psychological counseling, Social skills therapy, Support groups

Starobin Counseling offers individual, couples, family, and group therapy. In individual and family counseling for people on the autism spectrum, individuals learn relationship skills and tools for thinking with greater flexibility, have a space for exploring their identity as an autistic person, and receive support and counseling for mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Family members learn to interact with greater ease and compassion with their loved ones and learn how to provide support and scaffolding for their autistic family member. Starobin Counseling provides the MoCo PEERS® social skills program for teens and young adults in collaboration with Jamell White, Ph.D., LCSW-C. The MoCo PEERS® groups help participants practice and generalize relationship skills with their peers, families, and communities. Starobin Counseling also facilitates support group programs called Parents Together and Siblings Together. The parent groups offer parents information, resources, emotional support, and connection to other parents with similar experiences and aims to strengthen the capacity of parents to navigate the maze of services for their children, adolescents, and young adults. Siblings Together offers a supportive and therapeutic space for children and adolescents who have family members living on the autism spectrum.

Gulnoza Yakubova, Ph.D.

3214 Benjamin Building, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742


Contact: Gulnoza Yakubova; (301) 405-6889; gulnoza@umd.edu

Services: Research studies involving autistic individuals and their families. Research interests: Autism, technology-based intervention, virtual and augmented reality, parent training, life skills instruction, academic supports

Gulnoza Yakubova, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in special education in the College of Education at the University of Maryland (UMD), College Park. Having received her Ph.D. in special education from Purdue University in 2013, Dr. Yakubova worked as an assistant professor at Duquesne University prior to joining UMD. She has several years of experience in working with autistic children to teach them independent living skills and supporting them in an academic environment. Her overarching research interest focuses on examining technology-based interventions to teach autistic students the skills they need to have a successful life after school. She uses technology with a primary focus on: 1) increasing functional independence of autistic children in schools and community, 2) supporting access to learning academic content, and 3) training parents on creating video-based interventions. She conducts virtual and in-person training and research with autistic children and their parents via ongoing research projects.

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 info@xMinds.org or visit xMinds.org.