Join us on February 24: Understanding Behavior: What are Autistic Children Communicating? 

xMindsWire February 2021

Understanding Behavior: What are Autistic Children Communicating? 


Children on the spectrum often react or operate in ways that confound families and limit navigation of school, the community and daily living, sometimes even resulting in dangerous situations. Unfortunately, autistic children -- with or without apparent communication challenges -- often cannot articulate the reasons behind their actions. 

The actions of autistic students are frequently treated as intentional, with rewards and punishments used to motivate the child to behave differently. Very often, however, these actions are not deliberate choices, but instead are the consequence of other factors, such as tics, heightened anxiety, lack of motor control, inability to communicate or sensory overload. 

How can we as parents and educators understand the behavior we see? How can we know whether the child’s actions are intentional? How can we figure out what the child may be reacting to? How should we respond and support our students? 

Join us to learn from our presenters: Sarah Wayland, Ph.D., founder of Guiding Exceptional Parents and Kim Clairy, Occupational Therapist and autistic self-advocate. Register here.

Open House for Parents of Black Autistic Students   


In honor of Black History Month, xMinds is acknowledging the unique intersection of the Autistic and Black experiences. Our recently formed BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) Outreach Committee is organizing a virtual Open House, and would love to meet you. 

Join us for a 1-hour open house to welcome parents of Black autistic children to xMinds. We strive to provide a safe space for parents to ask questions, learn what xMinds can offer, and meet other parents who may share similar experiences and challenges. Register here

Wanna Work for xMinds? 


In the interest of keeping up with the needs of our community, we are expanding the small xMinds staff. We are looking for a part-time employee with excellent communication skills. If you're interested or know someone who would be a great candidate, see the full job description here.

Changes to the Board of xMinds


xMinds is pleased to announce the election of two new board members, Gayle Day and Marci Skigen. Please visit our website to learn more about these two accomplished additions and see our whole leadership team!

We are sad to announce that Maria Ott has left the xMinds board to pursue a Fellowship with Disability Rights Maryland, but we are excited to know she will continue to make a positive impact on the lives of students with disabilities in her new role. Maria will remain the Chair of the xMinds Nonspeaking Autistic Students Committee, which was her inspiration and legacy to xMinds.

This month also marks the start of Jean Winegardner's term as President of the Board. Jean, our talented Treasurer, is taking over from our much-loved Laura Gordon, who is moving to California. Jean bring to this new role her valuable experience and perspective as an autistic self-advocate, Office Manager of ASAN, and mother of three neurodivergent teens. 

We are saddened to say good bye to Laura, who has been an invaluable member of the xMinds Board since 2015. Her experience as a special education para-educator in MCPS and as the proud parent of Stuart, gave her valuable insights about self-contained classrooms and the perspectives of educators, among many other contributions. Laura has been a strong voice in all our programming and a devoted leader of our board, whose dedication, intelligence, hard work, and humor have helped build the xMinds organization and expand our programming enormously over the last six years. Laura will be sorely missed, but she leaves the organization in a strong position and in very capable hands. We wish her all the best in her new adventure. 

Jean Winegardner begins her term as Board President in February,
succeeding Laura Gordon. 

xMinds welcomes two new board members: Marci Skigen and Gayle Day! 

Upcoming xMinds Virtual Events

Wednesday, February 24, 7pm-8:30pm

Understanding Behavior: What are Autistic Children Communicating?

See details here

Saturday, February 27, 10am-11am

Open House for Parents of Black Autistic Students 

See details here

Sarah Wayland and Kim Clairy will be presenters at our February webinar. 

Community Events 

The xMinds February and March calendar is FULL of great offerings! Check out the programs and many free events listed there. Events Calendar

Plan Ahead

Our Events Calendar shows events on their start date, but some programs require you to apply before the start date, so please look ahead!  For example, several PEERS groups starting in February and March require advance registration. 

Missed the January Webinar?

The video recording of Does Your Education Team Presume Competence in Your Autistic Student? is available on our website.

Terra Vance, Lisa Vallado and Gordy Baylinson were self-advocate panelists at our January 13 webinar.

Professional Member Spotlight

This month, xMinds would like to highlight the following new and renewing Professional Members:

Reach Every Voice
11900 Parklawn Drive, Suite 110, Rockville, MD 20852


Contact: Lisa Mihalich Quinn;
Services: Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC) Services; Rapid Prompting Method (RPM) provider; Communication/educational consultant; Academic tutoring/coaching

Reach Every Voice is a multi-faceted practice created and staffed by experienced teachers. REV provides communication instruction to nonspeaking or unreliably speaking individuals, hosts in-person group programs that build communication practice and provide opportunities for socialization, offers online courses for non speakers, and provides consultation, training, and coaching for families and schools working to improve their communication practices. REV is a nonprofit organization. 

The Stixrud Group, LLC
8720 Georgia Ave, Suite 606, Suite 110, Rockville, MD 20852


Services: Educational Testing, Neuropsychological Testing, Educational Consulting

The Stixrud Group is a group of neuropsychologists and clinical psychologists who specialize in the evaluation of children, adolescents and adults with learning, attention, social or emotional difficulties. We are committed to the alleviation of suffering for our clients and their families by removing any blocks to their experiencing happiness and fulfillment in life. We believe this is accomplished by helping our clients understand themselves. Our goal is to use our professional knowledge and skills to help people achieve educational and professional success, emotional healing and interpersonal harmony in their relationships.

Pediatric Development Center, LLC

15850 Crabbs Branch Way, Suite 150, Rockville, MD 20855

12520 Prosperity Drive, Suite 210, Silver Spring, MD 20904


Contact: Amy Wetherill;

Services: Occupational therapy, Physical therapy, Speech/language therapy, Social skills therapy, Coaching, Verbal Behavior

At the Pediatric Development Center (PDC) everything we do is centered around play and practical experience. We believe that all children learn best by fully engaging in stimulating, hands-on activities. Through our captivating, play-based model, PDC  provides skilled, collaborative speech-language, occupational, feeding, and physical therapy services. We partner with families to ensure that what the child learns with us transitions well to their home environment. Our bilingual office staff is here to help you get started, and our dedicated billing team will help you get the most out of your insurance benefits. We have physical offices in Rockville and Silver Spring, and the PDC Virtual Clinic lets us help children all across Maryland via teletherapy. PDC is truly the place where EVERYONE can discover what is possible. (Now in-network with BlueCross, United Healthcare, TRICARE, and Maryland Medicaid.)

Center for Communication and Learning 
6208 Montrose Rd., Rockville, MD 20852

301-468-9343 x2;
Contact: Susan Abrams;
Services: Speech/language therapy; Social skills therapy; Parent education.

The Center for Communication and Learning is a comprehensive pediatric speech and language private practice that provides evaluations and therapy to children diagnosed with communication challenges secondary to autism, social pragmatic language disorders, speech and language delays, apraxia and oral motor/feeding difficulties. Staff collaborate with educators and therapists to provide an integrated approach to services for your child. Family participation is welcomed. 

Suzanne Keith Blattner and Associates 
10605 Concord Street, Ste 102, Kensington, MD 20895


Contact: Suzanne Keith Blattner;
Services: Educational consulting; Advocacy; Academic tutoring/coaching

Ms. Blattner and her associates are highly skilled and experienced professionals who have provided supports to families of students with special learning needs for over 30 years. They offer a range of supports including tailored consulting, advocacy, specialized tutoring and academic coaching. A complete description and details of the services offered through this practice are outlined on the website. Ms. Blattner offers a free 1/2 hour consultation to families to learn about their needs and to point them in right direction to get started.

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