Learn how MCPS educates autistic students at the annual xMinds in MCPS Forum on March 18. Register today!

xMindsWire March 2020

xMinds in MCPS Forum


Every year since 2009, xMinds has collaborated with Montgomery County Public Schools to cosponsor an event we call the “Extraordinary Minds in MCPS Forum.”This is an evening specifically for parents of students on the autism spectrum to learn about the services and supports available to their child in MCPS.

Preparing for the Forum is a big effort for xMinds staff and Board every year.Why do we do it? 

Here’s why -- Your child is relying on YOU to be their advocate on the IEP Team. The only way you can be their best advocate is by understanding what is possible within MCPS – and that’s NOT EASY.In fact, the lack of transparency in MCPS is the very reason that a group of parents started xMinds 12 years ago.

The Forum is our way of getting information out to parents – sometimes even very basic information – so that you can be an informed and effective advocate for your child.

This year we will have 12 break-out sessions on topics parents need to know about, including three completely new topics:

  • Functional Communication Plans – important for parents of non-speaking students
  • Applying for Funding and Resources Outside of MCPS – important for any parent who would like to get some financial help to pay for services outside MCPS
  • Parent Panel discussing their child’s experiences with the Alternative Learning Outcomes Curriculum – for parents of a child on the certificate track or considering it

    This year the Forum is on March 18, from 6 to 9 pm at Julius West Middle School in Rockville.Mark your calendar now and register today! 

    We hope to see you there!

    P.S. You don’t need to get a babysitter  -- childcare is provided for free at the Forum. If you need childcare at the Forum, please let us know when you register by March 8 so we can plan for accordingly.

    xMinds News

    xMinds Exploring NYC's NEST Program

    xMinds Executive Director, Sue Keisler, and xMinds Advisory Council member, Monica Martinez, were excited to join two MCPS educators at NESTCON2020 last month.

    NestCon is a bi-annual conference to share lessons learned in the highly-successful ASD inclusion program called “ASD NEST.” We heard from educators, researchers, administrators, and autistic self-advocates who were involved with the New York City Public Schools ASD Nest Program.  All four of us found the conference to be inspirational!

    The ASD Nest program – which is now in 54 NYC public schools -- gets its name from its goal of giving kids with ASD a nurturing place to learn and grow.  From what we learned at the conference, it looked like a great model for MCPS!

    With the goal of exploring the possibility of introducing an ASD Nest program into MCPS, xMinds funded MCPS instructional specialist Dr. Susan Mason and MCPS special education teacher Claire Lanham to attend the conference with us.  All of us were impressed by what we heard.  We were also excited when we learned that NYU will launch a new program in September to support schools that want to start their own ASD Nest programs. Great timing for MCPS!
    We were inspired by what we saw as an exciting possibility for real improvements in inclusion for ASD students in Montgomery County.  Learn more about the NYS ASD Nest Support project online and read our nine takeaways from the conference here.

    Upcoming Community Events

    Check the xMinds Calendar!

    All xMinds, professional member, and other autism-related free community events (including MCPS workshops) are now published in the xMinds calendar.

    Upcoming xMinds Events

    Wednesday, March 18; 6 - 9 p.m.
    xMinds in MCPS Forum
    See details and register here.

    Wednesday, April 29; 7 - 9 p.m.
    A Conversation About Applied Behavior Analysis
    See details and register here.

    Dr. Susan Mason, Instructional Specialist, Autism Spectrum Disorder Services and

    Claire Lanham, Special Educator,

    Gaithersburg Middle School at NESTCON 2020

    Spotlight on Professional Members

    As a benefit to both our families and professional members, xMinds publishes information about our professional member service providers here in the xMindsWire as well as in a Professional Member Services Directory on our website. Inclusion in the directory is voluntary and does not constitute our endorsement. This month, xMinds is happy to welcome the following renewing members:

    Matthew B. Bogin, Attorney at Law
    5454 Wisconsin Ave., Ste. 760, Chevy Chase, MD 20815

    301-656-1755; www.boginlaw.com

    Contact: Matthew Bogin; matthew.bogin@boginlaw.com

    Services: Financial/trust management

    Brian K. Gruber, P.C., Law Office
    6110 Executive Blvd., Ste. 220, Rockville, MD 20852

    301-657-3777; www.bkgpc.com

    Contact: Brian K. Gruber, Esq., brian.gruber@bkgpc.com

    Services: Special education law including consultation, representation at IEP meetings, conflict resolution, mediation, and due process hearings

    Steven Kane, Ph.D.
    4405 East West Highway, Suite 501, Bethesda, MD 20814

    240-476-8764; www.stevenkanephd.com

    Contact: Steven Kane; stevenkanephd@verizon.net

    Services: Psychological counseling; Social skills therapy

    Link Education Resources
    17208 Wellflet Dr., Olney, MD 20832

    240-644-4648; www.linkeducationresources.com

    Contact: Eve Margol; eve@linkeducationresources.com

    Services: Educational Consulting

    MOCO Movement Center
    5268-A Nicholson Lane, Kensington, MD 20895

    301-770-5437; www.MOCOmc.com

    Contact: Andrea Santman; info@MOCOmc.com

    Services: Occupational therapy; Physical therapy; Speech/language therapy; Social skills therapy; Athletics/recreational support

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    Become a Member
    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 education students, and other professionals who work with autistic students.

    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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