Please show your support and donate to our Bike to the Beach fundraiser! 

xMindsWire July/August 2023

Help Team xMinds Cross the Finish Line! 


After miles and miles of training rides, Team xMinds is geared up to Bike to the Beach on Friday, July 28, for xMinds’ main fundraiser of the year. Some team members will pedal the entire 100-mile route from Washington, DC’s Union Station to Dewey Beach, Delaware, while others have opted for 75-, 50-, or 25-mile rides.   

Whichever distance our cyclists choose, their goal is the same — to raise funds that allow xMinds to continue to offer free programs and resources that help MoCo autistic children get the education they need and deserve. Our speaker series, playground meetups, discussion groups, advocacy assistance, and website resources provide families with essential information, a helping hand, and a community of support. Our educator grants help local teachers attend trainings and purchase classroom materials that support autistic students. Donate today to support our important work and to help Team xMinds cross the finish line.

We provide all our resources and services for free to be sure they are available to every family who can benefit from them. To extend our reach, we provide simultaneous Spanish interpretation of our webinars, offer a Spanish version of our newsletter, and have Spanish-speaking volunteers at our playground meetups. If you have benefited from our work, please show your support with a donation of whatever size fits your budget. For more information on how your donations will be put to use, read on below about xMinds’ 2022–23 achievements.

Donate Here

Team xMinds at the 2022 Bike to the Beach finish line

Sponsor Shout-Out


Special thanks to the following Bike to the Beach sponsors:

Gold Sponsor

Starobin Counseling offers individual, couples, family, and group therapy. Starobin Counseling also facilitates the following support programs: Parents Together, Siblings Together, and Autistic Adults Support Groups.

Silver Sponsor

Educational Resources Group of Greater Washington provides a broad menu of educational services tailored to meet client's individual needs  including educational advocacy and consulting — to help families navigate the complicated processes associated with the world of learning differences.

We invite other professionals to become a B2B official sponsor. Sponsorships are available starting at $250. It’s a great way to show your support for xMinds and MoCo autistic students. You’ll also receive recognition on xMinds’ social media channels, on the xMinds website, and in the xMinds newsletter. If you would like to be a sponsor, please contact Executive Director Melanie Carlos by July 24 at

Highlights of the Year: By the Numbers 


As we get ready for a new year of xMinds programming, we’re excited to report all that we accomplished in 2022–23, thanks to the support of our volunteers, donors, and professional members. We couldn't have achieved so much without your help!

The stats below show how xMinds is making a difference in the lives of MoCo families with autistic students.

In 2022 – 2023 . . .

4 virtual parent discussion groups met each month, providing parents with an important opportunity to connect with other families who have shared concerns. Each group focuses on a different segment of our community: families with preschool and elementary students; families with middle and high school students; families with students in the BIPOC community; and Spanish-speaking families.

20 MCPS staff members shared their knowledge about MCPS special education programs available to autistic students through xMinds’ three-part Primers on MCPS Placements for Autistic Students online event.

35 families received free IEP consultations from professional educational advocates at the xMinds annual IEP Clinic.

47 speakers — including 11 self-advocates — shared information through our online speakers series, addressing important concerns related to the education and development of MoCo autistic students.

95 educators received an xMinds Educator Grant to attend training sessions or purchase supplies that support autistic students.

101 families received free special-education advocacy consultation services from the xMinds team of volunteer advocates.

331 families engaged with our Preschool and Elementary Parent Outreach Committee, often by attending one of our open gym or playground meetups or participating in our Small Steps Together parent discussion group.

4,283 subscribers of the xMindsWire stayed informed about xMinds activities and resources. 

53,000 unique visitors viewed our online resources that provide support and information to families with autistic students.

To find out more about our accomplishments, see a list of the 2022–23 achievements on the xMinds website.

Let's Meet at the Playground! 


Join us this summer for our monthly playground meetups for autistic elementary and preschool students and their families. Our playground meetups provide a great opportunity to connect with other families who have autistic children — all while the kids enjoy some fresh air in a beautiful enclosed playground! We will provide snacks, and we will have xMinds staff and volunteers available to answer questions. Here's our summer schedule:

Saturday, July 15, 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM (rain date: Saturday, July 22)

Saturday, August 19, 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM (rain date: Saturday, August 26)

Both meetups will be at the enclosed playground behind Ivymount School, located at 11614 Seven Locks Rd., Rockville, MD.

The whole family is welcome, including siblings, and there’s no cost to attend! Registration is not required, so feel free to just show up. If you would like to receive event reminders and an email notification if we need to reschedule for a rain date, register here.

Register to Receive Reminders and Updates

Families enjoyed a beautiful morning of outdoor play at our June meetup.

Cool Off With xMinds This Summer at South Germantown SplashPark!


Join the xMinds BIPOC Outreach Committee for summer fun at South Germantown SplashPark, Sunday, August 6, 10:00 AM  – noon. Splash with old and new friends! All local families who have an autistic child are welcome.

Preregister by 10:00 AM on Saturday, August 5, for a limited number of free passes on a first come, first served basis, courtesy of xMinds. Otherwise, admission is $6.00 per person, ages 2 and up. When you arrive, please let the staff know you are with xMinds. The park is located at 18056 Central Park Circle, Boyds, MD. xMinds will provide snacks and drinks, and there's also a snack bar available.

If we need to postpone due to the weather, we’ll email all registered participants and will post any updates here by 9:00 AM on August 6, and on the xMinds Facebook page. Remember to RSVP in advance to receive free admission and to get any email updates.

Not familiar with the xMinds BIPOC Outreach Committee? The committee connects with families in the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) community in Montgomery County who can benefit from the fellowship of other families with autistic children and from the resources xMinds offers. Check out the xMinds BIPOC web page, and try out our online monthly parent discussion group, which meets next on Monday, August 7, at 7:00 PM.

Register for a limited number of free passes

Join the Discussion!


Save the dates for the summer sessions of our virtual discussion groups for parents and guardians of MoCo autistic students. These targeted groups provide a great opportunity to connect with others who have shared interests and concerns. Discussion groups are always free and operate on a drop-in basis. If you haven’t had a chance to try out a group during the school year, the summer could be the perfect opportunity!

The summer schedule is below. Register where indicated to receive the Zoom link.

Small Steps Together. For MoCo parents/caregivers of autistic elementary or preschool students. Meets the fourth Monday of each month, 7:00 – 7:45 PM. Summer meeting dates will be July 24 and August 21. (Date adjusted because of scheduling conflict.) Register here.

Let’s Talk Transitions. For MoCo parents/guardians of an autistic child in middle or high school, approaching the transition to adulthood. Meets the fourth Wednesday of every month, 7:00 – 7:45 PM. Summer meeting dates will be July 26 and August 23. Register here.

People of the Global Majority. For MoCo parents/guardians of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) students. Meets the first Monday of every month, 7:00 – 7:45 PM. Meets next on Monday, August 7. Please note that this is an update from what was announced in the June newsletter. Register here.

Hablemos Educación Especial. For Spanish-speaking MoCo parents/guardians of an autistic child. This discussion group will not meet over the summer. Stay tuned to find out about dates in the fall. In the meantime, check out the xMinds en Español What’s App Group.

Sensory-Friendly Outings


For many families, summertime means baseball games, amusement park visits, zoo and museum days, and other fun outings – all activities that can be challenging for individuals with sensory issues. Luckily, more and more attractions and venues are offering sensory-friendly accommodations and supports that make these outings less stressful for individuals with sensory issues and their families.

Did you know that Nationals Park hosts a sensory room, that Six Flags America offers Sensory Friendly Days, or that the Maryland Zoo invites families to borrow sensory inclusive bags and offers a social story to help families prepare for their visits? Check out the xMinds directory to Local Sensory-Friendly Venues and Events for details on these and other sensory-friendly offerings in our area. If you’re traveling this summer, download the KultureCity app to locate sensory-friendly attractions across the country.

The Maryland Zoo, Nationals Park, and the National Aquarium are among the local attractions that offer sensory inclusive bags to visitors.

Are You Considering Homeschooling?


Are you thinking about homeschooling your autistic child? Some autistic students thrive being homeschooled. They benefit from the flexibility it offers and enjoy personal growth in a nurturing environment that can be adapted to their needs.

If you’re considering this option for the 2023–24 school year, check out the xMinds Homeschooling page. You’ll find extensive information on how to get started, where to find local in-person classes and co-ops, what are the various homeschooling styles, whom to contact for help, and more. All you need to know is in one place. Check it out!

xMinds Welcomes Two New Board Members

xMinds is happy to welcome two new members to our board of directors: Stacy Ganz Kahn and Candace Oluwole. Stacy is co-founder of the Educational Resources Group of Greater Washington, and brings vast experience working in the education setting. She has worked as a special education teacher, general education teacher, graduate level adjunct professor of special education, staff development specialist, and school administrator. You may remember her from the two xMinds webinars she co-led this spring: Your Student’s IEP Explained and How to Write SMART IEP Goals. She's happy to be serving on the xMinds board and is passionate about supporting autistic students and their families.

Candace is a single parent of a 10-year-old who is on the spectrum and has ADHD. Through her own parenting journey, she has learned a lot about the autism spectrum and how to advocate for her son. She’s excited to help other parents navigate the autism diagnosis, having served on the xMinds Parent Advocacy Committee this past year. Candace is a recruitment coordinator with expertise in human resources and legal support, and has experience working for law firms, corporations, and nonprofit organizations. She will be co-chairing the xMinds Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Outreach Committee with Daria Hall.

For more information about Stacy, Candace, and the other xMinds board members, see our Leadership page.

Stacy Ganz Kahn

Candace Oluwole

Seeking Spanish-Speaking Volunteers

Are you looking to make a difference in the lives of MoCo autistic students and their families? We are seeking Spanish-speaking parents/guardians of autistic students to chair the xMinds Spanish Language Outreach Committee. As a chair, you’ll also serve on the xMinds Board of Directors and help us in our efforts to reach Spanish-speaking families and provide resources in Spanish. 

We are looking for individuals who are committed to our mission and can represent xMinds in the community, assist in planning programs, volunteer at our events, participate in monthly board meetings, and lead the Hablemos Educación Especial – Grupo de Discusión de Padres. If you are interested or want to find out more, email us at

Summer Reads for Children and Teens


If you missed last month's Autistic Authors Panel, hosted by xMinds, you can now can catch the recording on the xMinds YouTube channel. We were thrilled to meet six talented autistic authors of children’s and young adult literature. We enjoyed getting to know them, learning about their writing journeys and how they’ve incorporated neurodiverse characters into their writings. Spanish translation of the recording is available.

We’ve compiled a list of books written by our panelists, and then went a step further and asked them for their recommendations for summer reading. Check out the book list on the xMinds website for some inspiration for summer reading!

Professional Member Spotlight

As a benefit to both our families and professional members, xMinds publishes information about our professional members here in the xMindsWire as well as on our website. Inclusion does not constitute our endorsement. This month, xMinds would like to highlight the following new and renewing professional members:

Great and Small

17320 Moore Road, Boyds, MD 20841

Contact:  Alexis Leonard;; 301-349-0075

Services: Speech language therapy; Athletics; Recreational support

Great and Small provides equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) to children and adults with a wide range of physical, developmental, and emotional disabilities. Our programs include therapeutic riding and summer camps, as well as hippotherapy through a partnership with REINS Therapeutic Services, a local speech-language therapy practice. Through a supportive and therapeutic engagement with horses, we strengthen and empower our riders, helping them develop their full potential.

Rebecca Resnik & Associates

Executive Office: 6125 Executive Boulevard, North Bethesda, MD 20852 

Old Georgetown Office: 11510 Old Georgetown Rd, Suite F, North Bethesda, MD 20852

Contact:  Rebecca Resnik;; 301-581-1120

Services: Psychological counseling; Educational consulting; Educational testing; Neuropsychological testing

For over 13 years, Rebecca Resnik and Associates has offered exceptional psychological assessment, psychotherapy, medical/dental desensitization, parent coaching, educational advocacy, and training/continuing education for both parents and professionals. All professional services are conducted personally by Licensed Psychotherapists/Psychologists exclusively (we do not use techs or trainees). Our clinicians are highly skilled at serving clients with a wide range of neurodiversity, including non-speaking and Gifted/2e individuals aged two through adult. We personalize our care according to each person's goals and strengths so our clients can access their support needs and reach their full potential. Our offices are sensory friendly and fully ADA compliant.

Vista Choice Supports, LLC

1500 Pointer Ridge Place, Unit 1721 Bowie, MD 20716

Contact:  Linda Stringer;; 240-472-2846

Services: Coaching; Support Brokerage

Vista Choice Supports provides assistance to individuals with developmental disabilities who choose to direct their own services and supports, which are approved by the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA). The individual with disabilities (the "Participant") is supported by a team that helps to implement their "Person-Centered Plan."  A Vista Choice Support Broker can assist the Participant by serving as a human resource agent to help promote their goals, find work, live safely, learn new skills, and engage in activities in their community. 

The Support Broker can help with: navigating community waiver supports (Maryland DDA), recruiting and training direct support staff (personal supports), training Participants and their representatives in self-directed services, and managing the Participant's DDA Waiver budget and employees that are hired to support the Participant.

Upcoming xMinds Events

xMinds events, resources, & services are always FREE

Saturday, July 15, 10:00 – 11:30 AM

Elementary and Preschool Playground Meetup 

Meet other elementary and preschool families with autistic children. See the details here

Sunday, July 23, 9:00 AM

Training Ride for Bike to the Beach

Come bike with us as we train for this summer's fundraiser. See the details here.

Monday, July 24, 7:00 – 7:45 PM

Small Steps Together 

Online discussion group for MoCo parents/guardians of an autistic elementary or preschool child. Register here.

Wednesday, July  26, 7:00 – 7:45 PM

Let's Talk Transitions 

Online discussion group for MoCo parents/guardians of an autistic child in middle or high school. Register here.

Friday, July  28

Bike to the Beach Fundraiser 

Support Team xMinds as we bike to Dewey Beach, DE to raise funds for our nonprofit organization. Donate here!

Sunday, August 6, 10:00 AM – noon 

Summer SplashPark Get-Together

Enjoy summer fun with other families with autistic children. Organized by the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Outreach Committee. RSVP here for a limited number of free passes, courtesy of xMinds.

Monday, August 7, 7:00 – 7:45 PM 

People of the Global Majority

Online discussion group for MoCo parents/guardians of a BIPOC autistic child. Register here.

Saturday, August 19, 10:00 – 11:30 AM

Elementary and Preschool Playground Meetup 

Meet other elementary and preschool families with autistic children. See the details here

Monday, August 21, 7:00 – 7:45 PM

Small Steps Together 

Online discussion group for MoCo parents/guardians of an autistic elementary or preschool child. Register here.

Wednesday, August 23, 7:00 – 7:45 PM

Let's Talk Transitions 

Online discussion group for MoCo parents/guardians of an autistic child in middle or high school. Register here.

Community Calendar

Our community calendar is FULL of great offerings not only from xMinds, but from professional service providers located in Montgomery County. Check out the programs and events posted on our Events Calendar.

Plan Ahead!

Note: Our Events Calendar shows events on their start date, but some community programs require you to apply before the start date, so please look ahead!

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