Join us for our upcoming IEP Clinic on November 4th!

xMindsWire September 2023

Save the Date! xMinds IEP Clinic, Nov. 4


Welcome to a new school year of xMinds programming! We have an exciting year of educational and informative programming planned, as well as opportunities to meet and connect with other families of autistic students. Save the date for one of our most popular events of the year: the annual xMinds IEP Clinic, Saturday, November 4, 12:30–3:30 PM at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, MD. Whether you’re preparing for your first IEP meeting or heading into your tenth, you’re sure to pick up new insights and information at our IEP Clinic.

If you would like professional input on your child’s IEP, the clinic is the place to be. We’ll have several professional educational advocates on hand offering free 25-minute consultations to answer your most pressing questions. To receive a free consultation, you must register in advance! Consultation spaces are limited. Sign up HERE today! 

In the upcoming year the xMinds speaker series will be packed with important information every parent with an autistic child should know. We plan to offer a forum for relevant and timely topics as well as enlightening programming such as a discussion with the authors of the new book, "Is This Autism?: A Guide for Clinicians and Everyone Else." We will bring back the Primer in MCPS Placements, welcoming administrators to explain and answer your questions about educational options for autistic students in Montgomery County. It's all part of an exciting year of speakers xMinds is planning for you.

Join Us for a Morning of Playground Fun! 


Come meet new friends and reconnect with old buddies at our September playground meetup for MoCo families with elementary and preschool autistic students. We’ll meet Saturday, September 23, 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM at the playground behind Ivymount School, 11614 Seven Locks Rd., Rockville, MD.

A new school year brings new beginnings, so if you haven’t had a chance to join us for a playground meetup, September is the perfect time. Our playground meetups provide a great opportunity for families to connect and share resources — all while the kids enjoy some fresh air and a beautiful enclosed playground! We will provide snacks, and xMinds staff and volunteers will be available to answer questions.

Everyone is welcome, including siblings, and as with all xMinds events, 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 email notifications if we are rained out, register here. We’re hoping for a beautiful autumn morning, but if it rains, we’ll reschedule to Saturday, September 30.

Mark your calendar for our October meetup, which will also be at the playground behind Ivymount, on Saturday, October 21, 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM.

Register to Receive Reminders and Updates

Families had a swinging good time at our August playground meetup!

New Online Resource: Guide to Children’s and Young Adult Literature with Autistic Characters!

We’re excited to announce our newest online resource: the xMinds Guide to Children’s and Teen Literature Featuring Autistic Characters. As you may recall, we hosted a panel discussion of autistic children’s and YA authors in June. (Watch a recording of the panel discussion on the xMinds YouTube channel.) We were so jazzed about the event, that we decided to build on its success and develop an annotated reading list of over 50 recommended books with autistic characters.

For autistic children and teens, these books offer an opportunity to see someone like themselves represented in the pages of mainstream literature, letting them identify with the characters and grow alongside them. We’re working with MCPS to get this list into the hands of teachers and media specialists. We hope to spread the word about these well-crafted stories, not only to autistic students, but also to their neurotypical peers. Check out the guide today to find a good read!

“Cash for Classrooms” Now Available!


Do you know a MoCo educator who needs financial assistance supporting their autistic students? Are they looking to purchase classroom materials, or to attend special training on supporting students on the spectrum?

xMinds is now accepting applications for our annual “Cash for Classrooms” campaign. We’re awarding grants of up to $100 to help educators set up their classrooms with items that support autistic students, including hands-on manipulatives, flexible seating, and noise-canceling headphones. We’re also offering grants of up to $250 for educator trainings centered on autistic learners.

Grants are available to Montgomery County teachers, paraeducators, and related service providers who support autistic students. Funds are limited, so apply early!

Apply Here for an Educator Grant

Join the Discussion!


As the new school year gets underway, our parent discussion groups are in full swing. These targeted groups meet over Zoom and 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. Join us whenever you have a chance! Register where indicated to receive the Zoom link. Here’s the schedule, with the next sessions indicated:

Small Steps Together. For MoCo parents/caregivers of autistic elementary or preschool students. Meets the fourth Monday of each month, with adjustments for holidays, 7:00 – 7:45 PM. Next discussion: Monday, September 18. 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, with adjustments for holidays, 7:00 – 7:45 PM. Next discussion: Wednesday, September 27. 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, with adjustments for holidays, 7:00 – 7:45 PM. Next discussion: Monday, October 2. Register here.

Hablemos Educación Especial. For Spanish-speaking MoCo parents/guardians of an autistic child. Meets the first Wednesday of each month, with adjustments for holidays, 7:00 – 7:45 PM. Next discussion: Wednesday, October 4. Register here.

We’re happy to announce that we have a new moderator for our Spanish-speaking discussion group, Dinora Hernandez. Dinora is excited to step into this leadership role. She's been an active member of the discussion group and has volunteered for both the Howard County Autism Society and the Jubilee Association of Maryland.

Melanie Carlos, Jean Winegardner, and Daria Hall return as moderators of Small Steps Together, Let’s Talk Transitions, and People of the Global Majority, respectively. Thank you to all our moderators for their commitment to creating a caring community!

Spotlight on MCPS Staff


xMinds recently met with Dr. Winter Bingham, MCPS’s new Special Education Liaison. The liaison position, created last school year, serves as a bridge between the district and families of students with disabilities -- facilitating, communicating, and building trust among families and MCPS staff.

Dr. Bingham reports directly to the Deputy Superintendent, rather than the Office of Special Education, allowing for a level of impartiality when dealing with disagreements between parents and schools about special ed services, and giving her direct access to the deputy’s resources. She handles high level disputes, including issues of IEP noncompliance. She prides herself on her responsiveness and open-door policy. Dr. Bingham works closely with the Family Support Center, which provides IEP training and workshops, and assists in resolving disputes.

Dr. Winter Bingham

In Dr. Bingham’s multifaceted job, she’s often a coach to parents and educators—pointing families to resources and information about options, and providing principals and teachers with insights and strategies.

Other times, she’s a referee. “The other day I was in an [IEP] meeting, and there was steam coming out of both sides,” recounts Dr. Bingham. “I said, ‘Hey guys, we need a 10-minute break. . . . I see that we have some things we need to work through, but we have to keep in mind that we're here for the child.’ . . . At the end of the day, it’s all about the child’s needs.”

Dr. Bingham brings the perspective of an educator who has served in multiple roles, starting as a special education teacher in North Carolina, where she worked with high school students with mild and moderate disabilities, and prepared them for a successful transition to adulthood. She’s worked in MCPS for the past decade, first as a resource teacher in special education at Gaithersburg High School, and later as assistant principal at Montgomery Blair High School.

She’s excited about serving in her new role. “I'm able to provide two-way support to schools as well as families, so I think it's a very unique position in that way, because if I do see that there are discrepancies or gaps, I can work with schools to improve their practices and services.” Families can reach out to her at; (240)740-0830. 

For more information: 

Wet & Wonderful Time at SpashPark Meetup


We were thrilled to host our third annual SplashPark get-together on Sunday, August 6. On a hot and sunny morning, nearly 60 members of our community joined us to cool off in the refreshing fountains and falls of the South Germantown SplashPark. Families picnicked under a shaded pavilion, where they had the chance to connect.

Sponsored by the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Outreach Committee, our SplashPark get-together was open to all MoCo families with autistic students. The Committee provides fellowship and resources to BIPOC families in Montgomery County with autistic children. For more information, check out the BIPOC committee’s webpage or email committee chair Daria Hall.

Kids and parents alike enjoyed some water fun at our SplashPark event.

Team xMinds Raises Over $58,000


Congratulations to Team xMinds for exceeding its goal and raising over $58,000 for xMinds through the 2023 Bike to the Beach fundraiser. Team members cycled up to 100 miles in sweltering heat during the July 28 fundraising ride to Dewey Beach, Delaware. Temperatures soared to 95°F, but that didn’t stop Team xMinds!

xMinds operates on a shoestring budget, and the Bike to the Beach fundraiser accounts for about half our funds, enabling us to offer all programming and resources for free. A heartfelt thank you to everyone who supported Team xMinds. 

Team Captain Patrick Quigley and member Ray Hotz each biked 100 miles for xMinds!

Special thanks to our Gold Sponsors: Center for Assessment and Treatment, Guiding Exceptional Parents, and Starobin Counseling, LLC; and Silver Sponsors: Educational Resources Group of Greater Washington, Gerlein Orthodontics, Rebecca Resnik and Associates Psychological Care, and Stixrud Group.

The bike ride may be over, but there’s still time to donate! If you haven’t had a chance to contribute, please donate here.

Some of Team xMinds 15 cyclists at the finish line in Dewey Beach.

Donate Here

Farewell to Two Board Members

We sadly bid adieu to two xMinds board members, Marci Skigen and Flor De Amelia Hoffman, who are stepping off the board.

Marci served as an invaluable resource during her three years on the xMinds board, bringing her expertise as a special educator, advocate, and founder of her own executive functioning practice. A passionate supporter of teachers, Marci spearheaded the development of xMinds’ “Cash for Classrooms” campaign, providing educator grants for supplies and trainings. She also served as the xMinds rest stop captain for our Bike to the Beach fundraiser, providing an amazing spread of snacks, ranging from Boardwalk fries to mango sorbet, to hundreds of exhausted cyclists.

During her year on the xMinds board, Flor De Amelia shared her insights as a special education teacher, board certified behavior analyst, educational consultant, and parent of an autistic child. A native Spanish speaker, she helped xMinds reach out to Spanish speakers, providing advocacy help to Spanish speakers and giving free consultations at our IEP Clinic. A tireless advocate for families, Flor De Amelia helped to lobby with xMinds to convince lawmakers to pass important special education legislation.

Thank you, Marci and Flor De Amelia, for your service to xMinds!

Marci Skigen

Flor De Amelia Hoffman

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:

Advocate Navigator LLC

Contact: Melissa Stein;

Services: Educational consulting; Grades K–5

Advocate Navigator LLC serves families seeking to initiate or improve Montgomery County, MD, special education services for their child's academic, social-emotional, and/or behavioral needs. Melissa Stein empowers parents to effectively advocate for special education that is individualized and evidence-based for their child's unique strengths and needs. We provide advocacy tools, graduate level special education expertise, and a multifaceted understanding of the MCPS special education process.

Bass Educational Services LLC

3403 Olandwood Ct, Suite 101 Olney, MD 20832

Contact: Judy Bass;; 301-774-5211

Services: Educational consulting; Academic tutoring/coaching; College placement assistance; Serving special education and general education, grades 9-12 and transition ages 18-21

Bass Educational Services LLC provides an array of educational services for students with learning differences, ADHD, ASD, and other special needs. Our educational consultants offer guidance and structure throughout the college and postsecondary planning process, provide assistance in gap year programming, and assist families in facilitating local K-12 school placements. Our trained, experienced tutors provide online and in-home, one-on-one SAT/ACT test prep and subject tutoring. Additionally, we provide assistance in obtaining SAT/ACT accommodations when appropriate.

Casey’s Special Education Services LLC

Contact: Casey 

Services: Academic tutoring/coaching, Behavioral support, Pre-K, K-12, Transition Ages 18-21, Ages 21+

Casey’s Special Education Services is a comprehensive special education service in the DMV. We service neurodiverse students, ages 2–28, in the comfort of their home. We provide high quality one-on-one instruction for all learners and focus primarily on reading, writing, math, social/emotional learning, adaptive/independent living skills, and executive functioning skills.

We are comprised of a team of over a dozen licensed special education teachers who can support families and schools through instruction, professional collaboration, parent coaching, IEP planning, document review, and more.

Exceptional Educational Solutions

701 Hyde Rd, Silver Spring, MD 20902

Contact:  Stephanie Frumkin, M.A.Ed.;; 724-320-9026

Services: Educational consulting for all grades, special and general education, public and private schools

Exceptional Educational Solutions finds educational solutions for bright K–12 students with learning differences in the D.C. metro area. As an educational consultant and founder of Exceptional Educational Solutions, Stephanie Frumkin helps parents of bright students with learning differences gain clarity and find educational solutions so their child will thrive. She specializes in students with autism, ADHD, mood disorders, behavioral challenges, and other learning differences. Many of her students are gifted/twice exceptional. Stephanie has over 25 years of experience in the field of education. In addition to earning a B.A. in Elementary Education and an M.A. in Leadership in Teaching, she has completed both the COPAA Special Education Advocacy Training 2.0 coursework and the Master IEP Coach Mentorship. She is an associate member of the IECA—Independent Educational Consultants Association.

Gulnoza Yakubova, Ph.D.

University of Maryland, College Park, 3214 Benjamin Building

Contact:  Gulnoza Yakubova, Ph.D..;; 724-320-9026

Services: Research studies involving autistic individuals and their families. Research interests: autism, technology-based intervention, virtual and augmented reality, parent training, life skills instruction, academic supports

Gulnoza Yakubova, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in Special Education in the College of Education at the University of Maryland, College Park. Having received her Ph.D. in special education from Purdue University in 2013, Dr. Yakubova worked as an Assistant Professor at Duquesne University prior to joining UMD. She has several years of experience in working with autistic children to teach them independent living skills and supporting them in an academic environment. Her overarching research interest focuses on examining technology-based interventions to teach autistic students the skills they need to have a successful life after school. She uses technology with a primary focus on: (1) increasing functional independence of autistic children in school and community, (2) supporting access to learning academic content, and (3) training parents on creating video-based interventions. She conducts virtual and in-person training and research with autistic children and their parents via ongoing research projects.

Special Education and Therapy Center

Contact: Keisha Berry.;

Services: Pre-K, K–12, Transition ages 18-21, Ages 21+

We specialize in supporting families who have chosen to homeschool their children. Consider us a "Homeschool Related Services Team." Our multidisciplinary team partners with parents to provide their family members with a quality education at home. We also serve children and young adults in traditional education and community settings through tutoring, parent coaching, vocational training, and social skills development.

Starobin Counseling LLC

18213 Hillcrest Ave., Olney, MD 20832

Contact: Caron Starobin, LCSW-C;; 301-417-5979

Services: Psychological counseling, Social skills therapy, Support groups

Starobin Counseling offers individual, couples, family, and group therapy. In individual and family counseling for autistic people, people have a space for exploring their identity as an autistic person, exploring and addressing trauma that impacts their daily living, learning relationship skills and tools for thinking with greater flexibility, and receiving support and counseling for mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Family members learn to interact with greater ease and compassion for their loved ones and learn how to provide support and scaffolding for their autistic family members. Starobin Counseling facilitates the following support group programs: Parents Together, Siblings Together, and Autistic Adults Support Groups. The parent groups offer parents emotional support, information, resources, and connection to other parents with similar experiences and aim to strengthen the capacity of parents to navigate the maze of services for their children, adolescents, and young adults. Siblings Together offers a supportive and therapeutic space for children and adolescents who have autistic siblings. Starobin Counseling also offers two support groups for autistic adults. These groups are open to self-identified autistics and autistics with formal diagnoses. The adult groups provide a supportive space for making connections that can reduce social isolation and a space where members can share experiences and exchange resources with others who may relate to the path autistics travel in a world designed for neurotypicals.

TAR Education in Motion LLC

Contact: Pia Seltmann;; (202) 808-5924

Services: In-home occupational therapy services and parent coaching

TAR Education in Motion LLC is committed to making a positive impact on children's lives through personalized in-home occupational therapy services. Our comprehensive approach encompasses addressing sensory needs, enhancing activities of daily living (ADL) skills, refining fine motor abilities, and more. With a specialization in working with children with special needs, including those on the autism spectrum, our goal is to provide tailored care that supports growth and development in a familiar setting. Additionally, if in-home speech therapy is desired, we are dedicated to helping you find the right speech therapist to cater to those needs.

Weinfeld Education Group (WEG)

4865A Cordell Ave, Ste 240, Bethesda, MD 20814

Contact: Rich Weinfeld, Executive Director;; 301-681-6233

Services: Educational Advocacy, IEP Planning, School Selection, Trainings and Consultations, Expert Witness, Gifted and Talented, Behavioral/Discipline Services

Weinfeld Education Group strives to help all students reach their potential. They focus on students who face increased obstacles presented by their learning challenges or disabilities, and are in need of special education or other educational support services. WEG provides services in Maryland, Virginia, DC, and virtually, nationwide.

Upcoming xMinds Events

xMinds events, resources, & services are always FREE

Monday, September 18, 7:00 – 7:45 PM

Small Steps Together 

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

Saturday, September 23, 10:00 – 11:30 AM

Elementary and Preschool Playground Meetup 

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

Wednesday, September 27, 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.

Monday, October 2, 7:00 – 7:45 PM 

People of the Global Majority

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

Wednesday, October 4, 7:00 – 7:45 PM

Hablemos Educación Especial

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

Saturday, October 21, 10:00 – 11:30 AM

Elementary and Preschool Playground Meetup 

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

Saturday, November 4, 12:30 – 3:30 PM

Annual IEP Clinic 

Sign up for mini consultations with professional consultants and learn more about the IEP process. 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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