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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 Autism2001

Extraordinary Speaker Meetings

Fall 2016

Sunday, September 18; 2:00-4:00 pm
Understanding Children on the Autism Spectrum: An Afternoon for Friends and Family to Learn about Autism
Speakers: Eve Megargel, author of Learning to Kiss and Monica Adler Werner, Director of the Model Asperger Program, The Ivymount School

The Promenade Towers, Arcade Level, 5225 Pooks Hill Rd., Bethesda, MD 20814 
This meeting is FREE to all. Seating is limited, so registration is required. Register here.

Is someone in your extended family on the autism spectrum, maybe a grandchild, niece, nephew, or cousin? Do you have a friend with an autistic child? Do you wish that you understood the challenges and strengths of autism? Do you want to help an autistic child you love, but don’t know how?

Partnership for Extraordinary Minds (xMinds) is happy to share information about autism and answer your questions. xMinds will be hosting this event for friends, families, and community members who want to learn more about the full range of autism spectrum disorders. Please join us for enlightening talks by Monica Adler Werner, Director of the Model Asperger Program, The Ivymount School and Eve Megargel, Mom and Advocate for Autistic Individuals with limited verbal abilities and author of Learning to Kiss. Refreshments provided by Sunflower Bakery.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016; 7:00–9:00 p.m.
Book Club Discussion of Lost at School: Why Our Kids with Behavioral Challenges are Falling Through the Cracks and How We Can Help Them
Speakers: Sarah Wayland, Ph.D., Guiding Exceptional Parents and Holly F., xMinds Secretary
The Auburn School, 9545 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20910
Cost: Free to xMinds members.
Registration: Registration is required. RSVP to Sarah Wayland at 

Please join us for an xMinds Book Club discussion of Lost at School: Why Our Kids with Behavioral Challenges are Falling Through the Cracks and How We Can Help Them, by Ross Greene (author of The Explosive Child). Dr. Greene describes a respectful approach to understanding and addressing challenging behaviors in school and at home that he calls Collaborative and Proactive Solutions (formerly known as Collaborative Problem Solving). He believes that "kids do well when they can", and his book describes a method where adults and children work together to reduce problem behaviors and teach self-regulation. This approach helps kids identify and develop the skills they need to successfully navigate life at school and at home. Please note a second edition of Lost at School came out in September, 2014; however members can read either edition to participate.

This discussion will be facilitated by Holly F. and Sarah Wayland, Ph.D. Holly is an xMinds board member. Sarah is a Special Needs Care Navigator and certified Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) Consultant at 
Guiding Exceptional Parents.

Saturday, October 22; 1:00–3:30 p.m.
IEP Round Robin
Speaker: Rich Weinfeld
Consult Participants: Suzanne Keith Blattner; Jennifer Engel Fisher; Brian Gruber, Esq.; and Anjali Prakash, Esq.
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rockville, 100 Welsh Park Dr., Rockville, MD 20850 (enter through the courtyard entrance)
Cost: Free for members; $15 for non-members.
RegistrationRegistration is CLOSED.

Join us for “What I’ve Learned in 42 Years on Both Sides of the Table” by Rich Weinfeld. Mr. Weinfeld, who spent 30 years in MCPS in a variety of special education positions and now serves as Executive Director of Weinfeld Education Group, will speak about the IEP process. He will highlight the areas that he thinks are most essential for parents to know as they advocate for their own children. After the presentation, parents will have an opportunity to meet with an educational consultant or attorney for a 15 minute review of your child’s IEP.  Bring your child’s most recent IEP and your questions!

Suzanne Keith Blattner, M.S.Ed. is a special education consultant who has worked in various capacities in special education for 28 years. For the past 15 years, Ms. Blattner has served as a consultant for families who are seeking expert counsel regarding the process of evaluating their child's needs and securing school and services options that best meet those needs. Ms. Blattner's educational background brings in-depth training not only in special education, but also in child development and neurodevelopment.

Jennifer Engel Fisher, M.S., is the Director of Advocacy of Weinfeld Education Group. Jennifer earned her B.S. from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and her M.S. in Special Education from Johns Hopkins University. As the Director of Advocacy, Jennifer serves as an educational consultant for students in elementary through high school, conducting observation, reviewing records, and attending school meetings.

Brian K. Gruber, Esq. is a lawyer in private practice, representing the parents of students with disabilities and learning differences. Mr. Gruber has more than 17 years of experience navigating the IEP process and working collaboratively with school systems to achieve results for his clients. Mr. Gruber regularly participates in IEP meetings, and typically attends over 100 IEP meetings each year. Mr. Gruber is a frequent speaker on the legal rights and advocacy for students with disabilities. Mr. Gruber is a member of the bar of the United States Supreme Court, and has litigated special education cases at the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and the federal courts for Maryland and the District of Columbia.

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.

Rich Weinfeld is Director and Founder of Weinfeld Education Group, LLC, (WEG) a group of 50 educational consultants, psychologists, and a variety of other providers of related student services, dedicated to helping all students reach their potential. Rich’s 30-year career with Montgomery County Maryland Public Schools (MCPS) provided him with the experiences and knowledge that he utilizes today in his work, advocating for all students.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016; 7:00–9:00 p.m.
Transitions Night!
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rockville, 100 Welsh Park Dr., Rockville, MD 20850 (enter through the courtyard entrance)
RegistrationRegistration is required. Members can reserve their seat 
here. Non-members can pre-pay and register here.

Preparing for Kindergarten
Cost: Free 
Speaker: Lisa Grant, MCPS Special Education Program Specialist
Jennifer Strouble, Preschool Special Education Instructional Specialist, MCPS

Learn about preparing your child for the kindergarten transition. Participants will hear about the transition process from preschool special education into kindergarten. We will discuss the continuum of kindergarten services in Montgomery County Public Schools as well as the role of the parent in this process.

Jen Strouble is approaching her 20th year with Montgomery County Public Schools. Her passion for inclusion and vision for success via early intervention drew her to the Pre-School Special Education Program. As the Instructional Specialist, she provides professional learning and support to staff and students.

Preparing for College
Cost: Free for members; $15 for non-members.
Speaker: Janet Price, College Living Experience

Learn about the independent living skills, self-advocacy skills and executive function skills that you should begin to help your student on the autism spectrum develop during their high school years in order to have a successful post-secondary transition. Attendees will learn about:

  • The difference between accommodations in college vs. those in high school and the increased expectations that will come with them.
  • Strategies that empower vs. those that enable
  • Keys to successful self-advocacy skills in high school, college, and beyond.

Janet Price is the Regional Director of Community Education and Transition at College Living Experience in Rockville, MD. Janet holds a BA in International Affairs from The George Washington University. She spent 10 years working with the U.S. Department of State and on loan to the White House Advance Team, traveling internationally with two presidents. She began her second career in Special Education when her son was diagnosed as twice-exceptional, both gifted and learning disabled. Janet became a professional Educational Consultant and spent 9 years with a top consulting firm in the Washington, DC metro area. She has co-authored two books, Take Control of Asperger’s Syndrome, winner of the 2010 Legacy Book Award, and Take Control of Dyslexia, as well as numerous articles.

Monday, December 5, 2016; 7:00–9:00 p.m.
What Comes Next? Preparing Young Adults on the Autism Spectrum for the Path of Life
Speaker: Dr. David Black, Ph.D., Center for Assessment and Treatment

Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rockville, 100 Welsh Park Dr., Rockville, MD 20850 (enter through the courtyard entrance)
Cost: Free for members; $15 for non-members.
Registration: Registration is required. Members can reserve their seat 
here. Non-members can pre-pay and register here.

With rising rates of autism and with increasingly effective early intervention, larger numbers of individuals with ASDs are reaching adulthood with the potential to lead independent, productive, and fulfilling lives. Yet, many find themselves stuck - socially isolated, lonely, and struggling academically and vocationally. We take a strength-based, optimistic view by defining the problems, identifying common strengths, and focusing on practical, workable and empirically supported, and neuropsychologically informed solutions to those problems.

Dr. David Black, PhD, is a neuropsychologist, nationally and internationally recognized autism expert, and director of the Center for Assessment Treatment (
CAAT), which provides comprehensive neuropsychological assessment and treatment, including autism and early development specialty clinics. Dr. Black's research has investigated the factors that contribute to the best long term outcomes with autism spectrum disorders, including the neurocognitive and psychological underpinnings for effective navigation of the social world. Dr. Black's autism Clinic at CAAT specializes in the transition to adulthood and the unique challenges inherent in that transition, as well as in the role of stress and anxiety in autism and intervention that may reduce its impact.

Improving the educational experiences and outcomes of students on the autism spectrum in grades K-12

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