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"... the most important considerations in devising educational programs for children with autistic spectrum disorders have to do with recognition of the autism spectrum as a whole, with the concomitant implications for social, communicative, and behavioral development and learning, and with the understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the individual child across areas of development."
—Educating Children with Autism, 2001
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Extraordinary Speaker Meetings
All meetings are held in the first floor meeting room of the Rockville Memorial Library, 21 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD.
Cost: Members, free; Nonmembers, $15/meeting
Registration: Highly recommended

We recommend that members reserve a seat in advance. Reserved seats will be held until 7:05 p.m. the evening of the meeting. After 7:05 p.m. seats will be open to walk-ins.
Member Reservation

We recommend that nonmembers register and pay in advance:
Nonmember Registration

Parking:
Limited metered parking is available, but we recommend that you park in one of three adjacent parking garages; Garages A and B are most convenient with the entrances located off of Maryland Avenue near American Tap Room restaurant. Keep your parking ticket with you and present it at the information desk within the library, which will validate your parking for up to two free hours; an additional hour costs $2.

Public Transportation:
The nearest Metrorail station is Rockville.
Ride-On Bus routes 45 and 55.

Membership:
Membership in xMinds includes admission to all speaker meetings, members-only events, and the xMindsResource newsletter, a members-only monthly newsletter with helpful resources that focus on autism, education, special education law, and advocacy. Family, educator, and professional memberships are available. Become a member!


Winter/Spring 2014 Topics

Tuesday, January 14, 2014
A Parent’s Rights When Disagreeing with the IEP Team
Speaker: Anjali Prakash, J.D.

Disagreements are not uncommon when people work in teams, so how can parents resolve disagreements with their child’s IEP Team? First, parents must know their rights. Ms. Prakash will explain a parent’s rights in a variety of potential situations: What can parents do if they disagree with the IEP Team’s recommendation to reduce a student’s services? What can parents do if they disagree with information in their child’s records? If a student’s behavior violates the school’s code of conduct, what must the IEP Team do? What are the differences among mediation, State complaints, and due process complaints and what are the guidelines for evaluating the most effective form of resolution?

Anjali Parekh Prakash, Esq., is an attorney with Prakash Law LLC and concentrates her practice on special education law. Licensed to practice in the District of Columbia and Maryland, Ms. Prakash represents students with special needs and their parents to help secure an appropriate education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA). Prior to launching her own practice, Ms. Prakash was an associate attorney with Michael J. Eig and Associates in their special education law practice.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Social Challenges of Tweens and Teens on the Autism Spectrum
Speaker: David Black, Ph.D.

Adolescence can be a highly social time in typical childrens’ lives, and social interactions become increasingly complex and, consequently, create significant challenges for students on the autism spectrum. Dr. David Black will discuss social skills development in adolescents, focusing on how the challenges for this age group differ from those experienced by younger children. Dr. Black will introduce the Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS), a social skills training intervention for adolescents and young adults, including research that supports its efficacy. Strategies that can be implemented at home will also be discussed.

Dr. Black is nationally recognized expert in autism spectrum disorders and director of the Center for Autism Assessment and Treatment (CAAT). CAAT was created to improve the lives of children, teens, and adults, who struggle with social and self-regulatory disorders, such as autism spectrum disorders, social anxiety, and emotion and behavioral dysregulation. As a pediatric neuropsychologist he has spent much of the last ten years working clinically with children, adolescents, and adults with autism spectrum disorders. He is a researcher in the Pediatrics and Developmental Neuroscience Branch at the National Institute of Mental Health, NIH. His clinical and research interests have both focused on the neurocognitive and psychological underpinnings for effective navigation of the social world.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Helping Kids on the Spectrum Develop Motivation for Independence
Speaker: William Stixrud, Ph.D.

Recent research indicates that motivation in neurotypicals is largely social, driven by interactions with people around them and how they connect with their social circle. Many children on the autism spectrum have reduced social motivation, combined with restricted interests and reduced “safety zones.” How can parents and educators identify the barriers to developing motivation for tasks critical for independence, and scaffold skills necessary for persisting with tasks that might conflict with a student’s interests or that lack relevance to them? Dr. Stixrud will explain the autistic brain’s motivational system and the physiological factors that affect internal motivation, then suggest ways to tap in to a student’s motivation to help them engage in and master tasks required for independence.

William R. Stixrud, Ph.D., The Stixrud Group, is a clinical neuropsychologist who has been in private practice since 1985. For the past 20 years, Dr. Stixrud has been extensively involved in the training and supervision of psychologists and learning specialists. He is also a frequent lecturer on topics related to neuropsychological assessment, learning and executive disorders, brain development, brain-based learning, motivation, and the effects of stress and sleep deprivation on the brain. Dr. Stixrud is the Director of The Stixrud Group. Located in Silver Spring, Maryland this is a group of neuropsychologists and clinical psychologists who specialize in the evaluation of children, adolescents and adults with learning, attention, social or emotional challenges. 


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Medications and Evidence-Based Supplements to Improve the Quality of Life of Individuals on the Autism Spectrum
Speaker: Dr. Lance Clawson, M.D.

Dr. Lance Clawson will discuss the research that supports the use of both prescription medications and evidence-based nutritional supplements to help individuals on the spectrum with common challenges that can negatively affect their quality of life, such as restricted interests, anxiety, poor self regulation, mood instability, and inattention, among others. Included in the presentation are potential side effects, and guidelines for determining when medicine should be considered. In addition, ongoing research for new medications will be presented.

Dr. Clawson is Board Certified in both general Psychiatry and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. He graduated with honors from both the University of Southern California and Tufts University School of Medicine. He received his post-doctoral training in general Psychiatry and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. After completing his post-graduate training, Dr. Clawson served as the Chief of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and then the Chief of Psychiatry for the US Armed Forces in the Republic of Korea. Since then he has held a number of positions to include Director of Child & Adolescent Psychiatric Consultation Liaison and Director of Psychiatric Training while at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. After leaving the Army he served as Medical Director at the Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Maryland of Medicine. He is currently in private practice in Bethesda, Maryland and remains on the teaching faculty at Children’s Hospital National Medical Center, Georgetown University School of Medicine, and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Coaching Relationship Development in Children on the Autism Spectrum
Speaker: Sarah Wayland, Ph.D.

Many interventions for teaching skills to children on the autism spectrum rely on demands and rewards—prompting a child to say “hello” and rewarding them with a piece of candy if they comply, for example. Relationship Development Intervention (RDI™) takes a vastly different approach with children on the autism spectrum, helping them form personal relationships by gradually strengthening the building blocks of social connections. RDI considers the profiles of parents and their child to create a customized program that identifies the essential relationship abilities the child is missing and teaches parents how to restore those missing skills. The final goal of RDI is not compliance, but the ability to maintain meaningful relationships, shared emotions, and deeply felt connection with others. Dr. Wayland will introduce RDI, as well as provide practical strategies that can help you communicate more effectively and meaningfully with your child.

Sarah Wayland, Ph.D., is an RDI consultant-in-training and a special needs care coordinator at Guiding Exceptional Parents, LLC. She helps parents of children with ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, learning disabilities, and other diagnosed and undiagnosed challenges that make it hard to function at school or at home. She is also co-editor of the book, Technology Tools for Students with Autism: Innovations that Enhance Independence and Learning.
 
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