See the Highlights of xMinds Programming for the ’21–’22 School Year

xMindsWire June 2022

Highlights of the xMinds Program Year


As the school year comes to a close, xMinds is proud of what we’ve accomplished and grateful for the support of the volunteers, donors, and professional members who made it possible. 

Thanks to your help, this year xMinds expanded our programming in these important ways: 

(1) Through our Educator Grant program, xMinds supported educators of autistic students with grants totaling $17,900 to fund purchases of trainings and classroom supplies geared to their autistic students, enabling these motivated educators to better meet their students’ needs.

(2) xMinds created many new avenues for parents to connect, share and learn from each other with:

  • new monthly in-person playground meetups for parents of younger children,

(3) xMinds created comprehensive new resources on our website to meet the needs of parents who are planning for transitioning their child out of high school, parents who are considering homeschooling, and Spanish-speaking families

(4) xMinds launched a new internship for autistic high school students and benefited from the contributions of our first two interns, students from the Aspergers Program and Bridge Program.

(5) xMinds expanded our mission to include preschool families, adding a new Committee on Preschool and Elementary Parent Outreach, which now hosts in person playground meetups and online parent discussions for this age group.

And that’s just what was new this year!  

We also continued to provide the programming you’ve come to expect: 

We invite you to see the complete list by visiting this year's achievements on our website. 

Please consider donating to xMinds so we can continue to provide vital resources and services to families and educators for free. We rely on donations from those in our community who can afford to contribute. Please show your support with a donation.

See You at the Playground on Saturday, June 11!


Join us this Saturday, June 11, from 10:00 AM to 12 noon at Wheaton Regional Park for a playground meetup for autistic preschool and elementary school kids and their families. We'll meet at the park's Adventure Playground, located at 2000 Shorefield Rd., Wheaton, MD.

This is a great opportunity to connect with other local families with autistic kids. xMinds Board member Natalia Ahn will be there to provide snacks and to welcome you in English or Spanish. We're hoping for sunshine, but if it rains, we'll postpone to Saturday, June 18. For more information, and to receive an email if the weather's bad, register here. We will post any changes due to weather by Saturday at 9:00 AM here and on the xMinds Facebook page.

Please save the date for future playground meetups, which will be at an enclosed playground still to be determined:

  • June 11 (rain date: July 18)
  • July 16 (rain date: July 23)
  • August 6 (rain date: August 13)
  • Sept. 10 (rain date: Sept 17)

Register here to receive reminders and updates

Team xMinds Is on a Roll!


Team xMinds is on the road to success! Team members pedaled an impressive 36 miles this past Sunday as part of their latest training ride in preparation for this summer’s Bike to the Beach fundraiser. This important fundraiser provides more than half of xMinds’ annual budget, ensuring that we can offer all our events and resources for free.

The team organized a special “Ride and Dine” event for the June 5 training ride. Bikers built up an appetite pedaling along the Potomac River in Northern Virginia, finishing at Chalkboard Wings & BBQ in Alexandria for brunch. The restaurant generously donated 10% of its proceeds for the day to xMinds!

There’s still time to join and/or support Team xMinds as we prepare for our July 29 fundraising ride to Dewey Beach, DE. Here’s how you can help make this fundraiser a success:

If you want to “bike to the beach,” sign up here to join Team xMinds.

If you want to make a donation, please donate here. Every dollar raised will go toward xMinds programs, resources, and educator grants. 

If you want to volunteer, contact Marci Skigen to help with the xMinds rest stop along the ride route.

Our next practice ride is Sunday, June 26, at 9:00 AM at Lake Needwood. Hope to see you there! Please email our captain Patrick Quigley if you plan to join us, so we'll know to look for you. 

Team xMinds finished its June 5 training ride with brunch at Wings & BBQ in Alexandria, VA. The restaurant donated 10% of the day's proceeds to xMinds.

Join Our Team of Volunteer Advocates 


Did you know that xMinds provides free consultations to help families navigate the MCPS special education system? We’re looking for volunteers to join the cadre of advocates who provide these consultations. If you’re passionate about helping others and have some experience advocating for students’ educational needs — even if only for your own children — please consider applying to be a volunteer advocate. Individuals who are selected will receive free training on special education advocacy and law so that they’re equipped to provide general guidance. (Advocates do not provide specific legal advice or attend IEP meetings.) For more information and to apply, click here.

Apply Here

Are You Considering Homeschooling?


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 homeschooling your child for ’22–’23, check out the xMinds Homeschooling page. We’ve pulled together extensive information on homeschooling autistic kids in Montgomery County — 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 New President and V.P.

xMinds is excited to announce that Nora Dudwick will be our new president for the ’22–’23 programming year. A retired anthropologist specializing in international development, Nora just finished a term as xMinds secretary and has spent many years as an MCPS parent advocating for her son (who has ADHD) and her daughter (in the Autism Resources Program). She’ll be taking over the reins from outgoing president Jean Winegardner, who brought to xMinds her keen insights, strong principles, and nonprofit experience as an autistic self-advocate, MCPS parent, and office manager at the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. We will miss Jean's kind but unwavering leadership. 

We’re also happy to usher in Melanie Carlos as our new vice president. A documentarian and TV executive for a wildlife filmmaking company, Melanie says her most rewarding assignment to date has been raising her 16-year-old autistic son, who is in the Asperger’s Program at Walter Johnson High School. We bid a sad farewell to outgoing Vice President and Events Committee Chair Melissa Egan, who has served on our Board of Directors since 2017. Melissa planned and managed speaker events, forums, and IEP Clinics with competence and grace for the last five years, and guided us seamlessly through the transition to Zoom events! 

We’re a small team and every change matters. We will miss working with Jean and Melissa and wish them well in their next endeavors. For more information about our current Board, see our Leadership page.

Last Call for Summer Camps! 


Summer camps will be starting in just a few short weeks! If you're still looking to fill your kiddo's summer calendar, check out the XMinds guide to summer camps and programs. Our guide features a wide range of camps that autistic kids have enjoyed in past years. Some programs still have openings, so check out our guide today!  

Did You Miss Our Self-Advocates Panel in May?

Our panel of three millennial, autistic self-advocates discussed their social lives, letting us in on what supports have been helpful, and what well-intentioned supports may have been harmful. There is nothing that substitutes for hearing from the real experts on autism. A video recording of the presentation is available on the xMinds YouTube channel, in both English and Spanish.

Joel Carver, Heather Weiss, Justin Valenti

Upcoming xMinds Events

xMinds events, resources, and memberships are always FREE

Saturday, June, 11, 10:00 AM – noon

(Rain date June 18)

Preschool and Elementary Playground Meetup 

Meet other preschool and elementary families. See the details here.

Wednesday, June 22, 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.

Sunday, June 26, 9:00 AM

Bike to the Beach Training Ride

Join Team xMinds for a 35-mile practice ride as we train for the Bike to the Beach fundraiser. We'll meet at Lake Needwood. Details posted here. RSVP to team captain Patrick Quigley 

Monday, June 27, 7:00 – 7:45 PM

Preschool and Elementary Parents Discussion Group 

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

Wednesday, July 6, 7:00 – 7:45 PM

Hablemos Educación Especial

Online discussion group for Spanish-speaking MoCo parents/guardians of an autistic child. Register here.

Monday, July 11, 7:00 – 7:45 PM

People of the Global Majority 

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

Community Calendar

The June calendar is FULL of great offerings. Check out the programs and many free events posted on our Events Calendar.

Plan Ahead!

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

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:

Alliance Pediatrics

10810 Darnestown Rd., Ste 201, North Potomac, MD 20878.

Contact: Linda Quinones;; 240-252-4105

Services: Social-emotional summer program; Fall & Spring social groups; behavioral therapy; psychological counseling; behavioral support; caregiver support; and school consultations

We provide innovative, fun and effective social and behavioral interventions to children and adolescents! Our empathetic and highly skilled clinicians guide families to become empowered with a tool box of skills that children, teens and caregivers can apply to everyday circumstances. We enjoy consulting with school administrators and teachers to help students reach their potential, and we provide 1:1 student support when additional guidance is needed for students to become independent in school and community settings. In our summer program our #1 goal is for children to have fun while learning vital social and emotional skills. .

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.

SCI Educational Consultants, Inc.

8800 Quiet Stream Ct., Potomac, MD 208546

Contact: Dr. Sheila Iseman;; 301-996-4124

Services: Special education consulting, ages from Pre-K through elementary, secondary and transition years, age 21

Dr. Iseman, with 50 years' experience in the area of special needs, provides services to students and their parents to achieve appropriate educational programming and/or placement in public and private schools. Consulting services include case management, IEP development, support at all meetings, and referrals for evaluations and community services..

Talk Yoga

3207 Decatur Ave., Kensington, MD 20895

Contact: Kim Hughes;; (202) 607-0910

Services: Speech/language therapy; recreational support; ages preschool to 21+

Talk Yoga™ is a multidisciplinary, evidenced-based treatment approach incorporating the movement of yoga with speech-language therapy resulting in intentional, playful, and effective intervention.

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