Welcome back to the xMindsWire. xMinds has been busy this summer. Read all about what we've been up to and learn about our upcoming events in this month's newsletter.

xMindsWire September 2019

Welcome back to the new school year!

xMinds has been busy over the summer working to provide new ways to support our  ASD students and their families. You may have noticed our snazzy new logo, but that’s just the most visible sign of our summer’s work. Here’s what else we’ve been doing: 

xMinds funded training in the elementary school intervention “Unstuck and On Target” for two new MCPS Asperger’s Program teachers, and partially funded 14 MCPS occupational therapists, special education teachers, speech language pathologists, social workers and one principal to attend the upcoming “Innovators in Education” Conference. To address the shortage of autism-trained para educators, xMinds is also exploring new options for providing them with online autism trainings.

We’ve updated the resources on our website, a job that will be completed over the next couple of weeks. You’ll soon see a new page of resources exploring the positive impact of inclusive education on students both with and without disabilities, as well as an interactive map showing where in the county all the special education programs are located. Stay tuned!

We’ve also planned our speaker events for the year -- with an exciting line-up of monthly speakers and workshops. The first one, on September 17 at 7 p.m., will feature  educational consultant Jean Hickey speaking about how to get your child ready for a successful school year. See details below and on our website.

We’ve also been planning social events for our new program year. We know how important it is for xMinds parents to connect with other parents who understand their challenges. Please join us for the first xMinds social event of the year on Saturday, September 28 at the Waredaca Brewing Company. Hang out and get to know other xMInds parents in a no-judgment atmosphere. See details below and on our website

Also, over the summer we transitioned to some new members in our leadership team -- a new Executive Director, Board Secretary, and Board Treasurer.  Monica Martinez, our recent Executive Director, is still active as our Co-Chair of Communications, and Holly Furdyna, who left the board after many years of service, will also keep a hand in our work, helping shepherd “educator grant” applications we receive from educators in MCPS who want to pursue autism trainings. 

You can read about our new team below and on our website, and meet them all in person at our events on September 17 and 28!

Here’s to a great start to an exciting new school year!

- The xMinds Leadership Team 

xMinds News

xMinds Announces New Leadership Team
As announced over the summer, Sue Keisler assumed the role of xMinds Executive Director on July 1. With a background as a lawyer and a tutor for students with special needs, and having navigated the education system for her own autistic child, the mission of improving education for autistic students is dear to Sue’s heart. For the last three years, Sue has been working closely with Monica and the Board of Directors to advance that mission both as Treasurer of the Board and Chair of Strategic Planning.

xMinds also welcomed Jean Winegardner as the new treasurer in June. Jean is a parent, an autistic self-advocate, and is currently the office manager at the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. She has three children who have been taught in many different MCPS programs and settings.

Rounding out our transition to new leadership is Nora Dudwick, who became the Board secretary in August. Nora recently retired from her work as an anthropologist in international development. She has spent many years as an MCPS parent advocating for her son (who has ADHD) and her daughter (in the Autism Resources Program) and brings that valuable experience to her work at xMinds. 

Please welcome Sue, Jean, and Nora! You can learn more about the other members of the xMinds Board of Directors at our website. 

Have you updated your Membership Information?
If your child has moved to a new school this year, please login to the xMinds website to update your contact information and your child’s placement information. It won’t take more than 2 minutes, we promise. Don't remember your xMinds website login information? Simply click on the "forgot password" link to gain access.

Want to help spread our resources? Become an xMinds School Representative
If you would like to help xMinds reach more autism families in your child’s school, please consider serving as your school’s xMinds Representative. As an xMinds School Rep, you create and increase awareness of xMinds as a resource for your school’s community – simply by forwarding information about xMinds programming to the school’s parent listserve. We will send you notices of xMinds events and you simply pass them on! It won’t take much of your time, but it will mean families in your child’s school who may never have heard of xMinds will have access to our resources. As a side benefit, being an xMinds Rep will keep you very much on top of autism resources, too! If you are interested in representing xMinds in your child's school, please contact the xMinds School Representative Coordinator, Crystal Poole at crystal.poole@comcast.net.

Parents Scholarships Available for “Innovators in Education” Conference
xMinds has been given 5 free parent tickets for the afternoon session of the 6th Annual Innovators in Education Conference. We will be using a lottery system to award these tickets to xMinds members. If you are a current xMinds Family Member and would like to enter the lottery for one of these tickets, please send your name and email address to Monica Martinez at mmartinez@xminds.org no later than Friday, September 20. You can see all the details about the Conference online.

Team xMinds just completed another successful Bike to the Beach DC ride on August 2, 2019. Thanks to our generous donors and sponsors such as Center for Communication and Learning, Gerlein Orthodontics, Guiding Exceptional Parents, The Treatment and Learning Centers, and the Weinfeld Education Group, we smashed our fundraising goal and raised over $24,000! We look forward to using this money to provide professional development grants to MCPS educators, expand our teen self-advocacy workshop, and so much more. You can see some team pictures at the website.

Advocacy News

MSDE Releases New Technical Assistance Related to Seclusion and Restraint
In July 2019, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) released two technical assistance bulletins regarding restraint and seclusion. Student Behavior Interventions: Restraint & Seclusion was developed to provide guidance to local school systems, public agencies, and nonpublic schools to answer frequently asked questions regarding restraint and seclusion regulations adopted by the State Board of Education in June 2018. The second document, Student Behavior Interventions: Physical Restraint and Seclusion Supplement on Students with Disabilities, was provided as a supplement of the general education document by the same title and addresses questions frequently asked about restraint and seclusion as it pertains to students with individualized education programs (IEPs).

Updated Maryland IEP Form Released
During July, MSDE also updated the standardized form used to document a student’s individualized education programs (IEP). You can find a copy of the new form with the changes highlighted at the xMinds website.

Upcoming xMinds Events

Tuesday, Sep. 17; 7 - 9 p.m.
Prepared, Proactive, and Positive - The 3Ps to Getting Your Child with ASD Ready for School Success 
See details and register here.

Saturday, Sep. 28; 1:30 - 3:30 p.m.
xMinds Social Event at Waredaca Brewing Company
Get all the details about food and let us know you’re coming here.

2019 xMinds Bike to the Beach Team

Events for Children, Teens, and Young Adults

Thursday, September 12; 2:00 p.m. at Kensington Park
Saturday, September 14; 11:00 a.m. at Aspen Hill
Saturday, September 14; 2:00 p.m. at Gaithersburg
Saturday, September 14: 2:00 p.m. at Little Falls
Saturday, September 14; 2:30 p.m. at Damascus
Saturday, September 14; 3:00 p.m. at Chevy Chase
Saturday, September 14; 2:00 p.m. at White Oak

Sensory Friendly Storytime
Montgomery County Public Libraries
Location: Multiple library locations
Cost: Free
Registration: Registration for these programs is required and can be done easily with a call to the library location hosting the program. 
Sensory friendly storytime is designed for children of all ages who prefer smaller groups due to sensory processing disorders. Storytime will be followed by social playtime with educational toys and an opportunity for parents to socialize. Participants are encouraged to bring their own noise reduction earmuffs and weighted items.

Saturdays, September 14 - December 14
Conversation Club and Conversation Street
Ivymount Outreach
Location: Ivymount School, 11614 Seven Locks Road, Rockville, MD 20854
Cost: For additional information email outreach@ivymount.org.
Registration: All programs require registration. Register online here. 
Our conversation groups address the “how” and “why” of conversation with activities that target conversation initiation, perspective taking, social motivation, active listening behaviors and gaining attention. Elementary aged students will join the “conversation club” and meet a cast of kid friendly club members. Older students will learn the “rules” of conversation through a concrete, systematic, and whimsical comparison to the rules of driving a vehicle using analogies like “Keep your eyes on the road” and “Steer the conversation”.

Saturdays, September 14 - December 14
Unstuck and On Target!
Ivymount Outreach
Location: Ivymount School, 11614 Seven Locks Road, Rockville, MD 20854
Cost: For additional information email outreach@ivymount.org.
Registration: All programs require registration. Register online here. 
Parent Groups: Yes, running simultaneously with weekly student group. 
A research based intervention developed at Ivymount for children (7-14 years of age) and their parents for students who are on or above grade level academically. Unstuck and On Target! is designed to promote flexible problem solving in students who struggle with executive function deficits.

Saturdays, September 14 - November 23; 10:00 a.m. - 1:15 p.m.
Camp LOL
Ivymount Outreach
Location: Ivymount School, 11614 Seven Locks Road, Rockville, MD 20854
Cost: For additional information email outreach@ivymount.org.
Registration: All programs require registration. Register online here. 
Youth and young adults engage in a variety of activities focusing on movement, sports, games, cooking and art. Special guests include Only Make Believe and ZamDance.

Tuesdays, September 17 - December 10; 4:30 - 6:00 p.m.
Self Advocacy
Ivymount Outreach
Location: Ivymount School, 11614 Seven Locks Road, Rockville, MD 20854
Cost: For participants who reside in Maryland, funding is available through the MD Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS). Speak to your DORS Counselor to apply. Families can also pay privately. 
Registration: All programs require registration. Register online here. 
Students will develop self advocacy skills by gaining a better understanding of their disability, practicing goal setting, and developing strategies and resources for problem solving.

Alternating Sundays, September 15 - December 22; 1:00 - 2:30 p.m.
Social Club
DC Peers
: 5028 Wisconsin Ave, #100, Washington, DC 20016
Cost: $200
Registration: Registration is required. Register online.
Age group: 12 - 16 (with exceptions)
Our Social Club is a low-key and inexpensive social learning group, designed to help middle- and high-school students both learn, and understand the reasons for, the social norms and expectations of middle and high school. This group is for younger, verbal autistic teens who are beginning to understand their social challenges, and an equal number of neurotypical volunteers interested in learning about neurological differences. Complete details available online.

Alternating Sundays, September 15 - December 22; 3:00 - 4:30 p.m.
Neurodiversity Group
DC Peers
: 5028 Wisconsin Ave, #100, Washington, DC 20016
Cost: $200
Registration: Registration is required. Register online.
Age group: 14 - 18 (with exceptions)
Our Neurodiversity Group is for older and/or more self-aware high school students who are ready to deepen their understanding of themselves, others, and the misunderstandings that come from neurological differences. Most of the participants in this group know and accept their differences and come willing to discuss them and their unique perspectives and experiences. In this group, all of the participants get community service hours in exchange for sharing their experiences and perspectives, learning from each other, problem-solving about misunderstandings and awkward moments, coaching each other, learning self-advocacy, and helping us to build a broader awareness of neurodiversity.

Fall 2019
Be Social Kids
Center for Communication and Learning
Location:  6208 Montrose Road, Rockville, MD 20852
Cost: Contact Sue Abrams at info@ccl-md.com or call 301 468-9343 ext 2 for pricing information. These services may be covered by your insurance company. LISS funding is applicable for our social learning programs.
Registration: Registration is required. Complete the Interest Form to start the registration process.
At the Center For Communication & Learning, we continue to expand our programs for children and families. We are very excited to offer new groups to facilitate your child's social-emotional development. Our Be Social Kids programs are unique! We help your child to understand the "WHY" behind the social skills. Based on the frameworks of social thinking, we help children to navigate their social world by providing concepts and strategies that allow them to understand social expectations, to explore thoughts and feelings, and to learn how to form connections with their peers. New groups include Awesomely Social and Train The Brain.....Details available online.

Fall 2019

Center for Communication and Learning in partnership with Alliance Pediatrics

Location: Rockville, MD
Cost: Email inquiries to peers.maryland@gmail.com
Registration: Registration is required. Complete the online form to initiate enrollment.
The Center For Communication & Learning in partnership with Alliance Pediatrics is now accepting applications for our Fall  PEERS® Program for Adolescents. PEERS FLEX is a unique program for adolescents with social challenges in middle and high school.PEERS FLEX integrates the innovative UCLA curriculum + Social Thinking Methodology  + Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

PEERS® is an evidence-based treatment program developed by UCLA to teach teens with social communication needs how to make and keep friends. Through didactic learning instruction, role-play, and “opportunities to practice” teens will learn the steps necessary to foster interpersonal relationships.  The PEERS model includes a social coaching component for parents and family members.

Mondays, October 14 - December 9; 3:45 - 5:15 p.m.
ArtStream Broadway Song and Dance

The Treatment and Learning Centers
Location: 9975 Medical Center Drive, Rockville, MD 20850
Cost: $280
Registration: Registration is required. Register online or call Lisa Torvik at 301-424-5200 x 306. 
The Treatment and Learning Centers in partnership with ArtStream is pleased to present Broadway Song and Dance, an inclusive drama group for students with special needs held at The Katherine Thomas School. Siblings and friends are welcome too! Sessions are led by trained theater professionals with the help of additional staff and volunteers. Learn the music and the moves to your favorite productions! Discover fun and friendship through music and dance! The final class will be a sharing for family & friends. Classes are held at The Katherine Thomas School, and are open to students throughout the region. We are serious about having fun!

Mondays, March 2 - June 1, 2020; 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. 
MoCo PEERS® Social Skills Program


Location: 3413 Olandwood Court, Suite 104, Olney, MD 20832
Cost: Please contact mocopeers@gmail.com to receive information. 
Registration:  Registration is required. Please contact mocopeers@gmail.com, 301-417-5979 or 301-613-1766 to receive a screening form and other registration materials.
PEERS® is an evidenced-based, parent-assisted social skills group model, and it is proven to be highly effective for teens, and young adults on the autism spectrum and with social communication challenges. MoCo PEERS® is offered by certified PEERS® instructors trained by Elizabeth Laugeson, Psy.D., Founder and Director of the UCLA PEERS® Clinic. The groups emphasize learning, rehearsing, and practicing social skills in a warm, supportive, enjoyable, and focused group setting. Group members support each other to actively practice with their peers as they learn and develop tools to improve their relationship skills. The groups also include social coaching sessions for parents or family members. These sessions support parents and family members by teaching them how to be effective social coaches with teens and young adults whom require a greater sense of independence during this time in their lives.

Events for Parents and Caregivers

Wednesdays, September 18 - November 20; 7:30 - 9:00 p.m. 
Parent Child Journey - Raising Your Challenging Child
Guiding Exceptional Parents, LLC
Location: 6801 Kenilworth Ave Suite 200, Riverdale, MD 20737
Cost: Pay what you can ($150 - $350)
Registration: Registration is required. Register online
Dr. Dan Shapiro created the class, Parent Child Journey: An Individualized Approach to Raising Your Challenging Child, to help caregivers who have kids with challenging behaviors identify the source of their child’s behavior and learn what they can do about it. During each class, I will describe proactive strategies for raising children with difficult temperaments and developmental differences. Designed to address the needs of families with children from preschool age through early adolescence, caregivers will learn to customize their approach to fit their child’s unique profile.

Thursday, September 19; 6:00 - 7:15 p.m. and 7:15 - 8:30 p.m. (meets monthly)
Parents Together
Starobin Counseling, LLC
Location: 3413 Olandwood Court, Suite 104, Olney, MD 20832
Cost: $45/session
Registration: Registration is required. Please email caron@starobincounseling.com or call Caron Starobin at 301-524-4450 for a brief phone screening and to receive registration materials.
Parents Together offers parents of children and adolescents with autism and parents of young adults with autism opportunities to enhance coping skills and gain insight and understanding of the emotional impact of ASD on the family system. It also offers parents time and tools to develop supportive relationships, share resources, and aims to strengthen the capacity of families to navigate the emotional and practical challenges of raising children on the spectrum. The group has been going since Summer 2017, has both moms and dads participating, and offers a regular, real-time connection for families!  More information available online. 

Monday, October 7; 7:30 p.m.
Book Club: Beyond Behaviors
Guiding Exceptional Parents
Location: Bethesda, MD (exact location will be provided when you register)
Cost: Pay what you can; $10-$20 is suggested.
Registration: Registration is required. Register online.
We will be discussing Beyond Behaviors: Using Brain Science and Compassion to Understand and Solve Children’s Behavioral Challenges by internationally known pediatric psychologist, Dr. Mona Delahooke. In Beyond Behaviors, Dr. Delahooke describes behaviors as the tip of the iceberg, important signals that we should address by seeking to understand a child’s individual differences in the context of relational safety. Featuring impactful worksheets and charts, this accessible book offers professionals, educators and parents tools and techniques to reduce behavioral challenges and promote psychological resilience and satisfying, secure relationships. Dr. Delahooke will be joining us by video for the discussion!

Events for Parents/Caregivers and Educators

Saturday, October 19; 8:00 a.m. - 4:45 p.m. 
6th Annual Innovators in Education Conference: Embracing Neurodiversity: Strength-Based Strategies for Children & Teens
Center for Communication and Learning
Location: The Universities of Shady Grove, 9630 Gudelsky Dr. Rockville, MD 20850
Cost: Full Day: $180; Parent Half-Day: $99; Educators are encouraged to apply for ½ tuition grants through the xMinds Educator Grant program. Educator Grant applications can be found here. A limited number of parent scholarships are available. Apply for a parent scholarship here.
Registration: Registration is required. Register online. 
This year’s keynote speaker will be Carol Stock Kranowitz, M.A., author of The Out-of-Sync Child, the bestseller that demystifies sensory integration. The morning session will be run by Kathleen McClaskey, who will be presenting on Discovering the Learner through the Power of Story and Empowering All Learners with Agency and Self-Advocacy Skills: Personalize Learning through the UDL Lens. The afternoon session will be broken into two tracks. Track A will feature Dr. Sharon Saline and Track B will include three separate talks from Dr. Meliss Brotman, Elizabeth DuPont Spencer, LCSW-C, and Dr. Gonzalo Laje. For more complete information please see the conference website

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xMinds is run entirely by parents, and all membership fees are used to further our mission. Visit our website to learn about memberships for families, educators and college students, and professionals.

Partnership for Extraordinary Minds is a 501(c)3 based in Montgomery County Maryland working to improve the educational experiences and outcomes of students on the autism spectrum. For more information or to volunteer, call 301-444-5225, email info@xMinds.org or visit xMinds.org.


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