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Subscribe to stay informed of xMinds events, opportunities for advocacy, relevant news articles, and regional programs, lectures, and workshops to help parents and educators improve the educational experiences of students on the autism spectrum.
"... 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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Advocacy
An advocate is simply anyone who speaks in support or defense of a person or cause. A parent can advocate for her child on the autism spectrum by becoming knowledgeable about autism and how it affects her child, and by sharing this information with family, friends, and the school community. A teacher can advocate for a student by understanding how autism affects the student's behavior and learning style in the classroom and by conveying this information in a sensitive manner to other students and school staff. A student with autism can advocate for himself by understanding how his behavior is perceived by others, how he learns and the accommodations he needs, and how and when to appropriately share this information with peers, educators, and other authority figures. 

 xMinds advocates for:
Knowledge and Understanding. Prominent autism organizations often promote the image of a lower-functioning, classically autistic child as the typical representation of autism spectrum disorders. These children can show more easily detected symptoms of autism: stereotypical behavior such as flapping, little eye contact, and/or limited conversational ability. At first glance, children with autism/Aspergers syndrome may appear mostly normal, but these children are different—their brains process information very differently. When people are unaware that a child has autism/Aspergers, they mistakenly assume that the child can control his behavior and attribute any inappropriate behavior they see to over-indulgent parenting or simply the fault of the child himself. We are committed to educating school communities about how children with autism/Aspergers can appear to others, why they might behave the way they do, and how to include them in the classroom and school activities.

Working in Montgomery County Maryland, we increase the awareness of school board members and other policy makers of the characteristics of autism and how these characteristics result in challenges to educating children with autism/Aspergers. We promote awareness among policy makers about the successes and challenges families and teachers are experiencing in Montgomery County Public Schools.

Trained Staff. It is essential that all staff who work with students on the autism spectrum receive general training to understand the unique characteristics of children with high-functioning autism and Asperger's Syndrome. Bus drivers and aides, cafeteria staff, and office staff need to know that the student has a developmental disability that affects how she thinks and behaves. Because autism/Asperger's Syndrome is mostly an "invisible" disability, staff may misinterpret inappropriate behavior as purposeful if they don't have this information. Additionally, all teachers and paraeducators who work directly with the student need to understand the individual's strengths and challenges, and the strategies that are effective in managing challenging behaviors.

Continuum of Placements. The levels of support needed by children on the autism spectrum can vary greatly from the most-restrictive, self-contained classroom to the least-restrictive general education classroom; therefore xMinds advocates for a continuum of placements to serve children on the autism spectrum.

Informed Parents. In order to understand and evaluate educational options and to participate fully as members of their child’s IEP Team, parents must have all information about placements, services, and accommodations that are appropriate for their child before the annual IEP Team Meeting. We support families in understanding the educational placements, services, and accommodations available in Montgomery County Maryland.
 
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