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 Autism2001

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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.

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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

Speaker Events

Fall 2013 - Spring 2014

September 18, 2013
Be All You Can Be at Your Child’s IEP Meeting
Speaker: Michelle Davis, Educational Consultant, 
ABC’s for Life Success

What are five common mistakes parents make in preparing for their child’s IEP meeting? How should parents review their child’s confidential file? How can parents provide new information about their child to support changes in the IEP? What are the key points parents should include in an input statement? Join us at this hands-on workshop to learn strategies that can help parents prepare for an IEP meeting in order to participate as an equal team member. Parents should bring a copy of their child’s current IEP or 504 Plan.

Michelle Davis is Director of 
ABCs for Life Success and Special Needs Advocacy Institute. Her book, Special Needs Advocacy Resource Book, forms the curriculum for the Training Institute of the same name taken by hundreds of parents and educators in the Washington DC area. She co-hosted the internet radio show “Teach Your Children Well: Hot Topics in Education.” Her most recent book, School Success for Kids with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, includes strategies for working with kids with Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Conduct Disorder, and Mood Disorders.

October 16, 2013
Sexuality and Sexual Behavior in Children and Teens on the Autism Spectrum
Speaker: Dr. John Strang, Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Neuropsychologist, Children’s National Medical Center, Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders (CASD)

This session will review the relevant research on sexual development in autism, with a focus on practical approaches to supporting adaptive sexual/gender development for young people on the spectrum. Topics will include sex education, techniques for talking about sexual development, common challenges, and when/how to consult a professional. Dating and interpersonal sexual issues, safety, and gender identity/sexual orientation issues will also be covered.

Dr. John Strang, PsyD, is a pediatric neuropsychologist in the Children’s National Medical Center in the Autism Spectrum Disorders (CASD). Dr. Strang specializes in the evaluation and treatment of children, teens, and young adults on the autism spectrum. He completed doctoral training at The George Washington University, Washington DC, and clinical internship and postdoctoral fellowship at Children’s National Medical Center. In addition to neuropsychological evaluation and individual and group autism treatment, Dr. Strang runs a clinic for young people on the autism spectrum with gender and sexual development issues. Dr. Strang is involved in collaborative research including school-based autism intervention development and a national study of gender non-conforming children.

November 12, 2013
Strategies and Techniques for the Hard-to-Manage Child
Speaker: Anne Kendall, PhD, MAT, 
The Wake-Kendall Group, Washington DC

Dr. Anne Kendall, coauthor with Georgia DeGangi of Effective Parenting for the Hard-to-Manage Child, will provide specific strategies and techniques for children who are intense, highly reactive, and unable to calm themselves. In addition, we will learn some of the reasons that children behave in ways that are difficult for parents to manage. By learning the causes of certain behaviors and developing tools for managing them, parents will foster their child's own self-control and self-esteem. 

Dr. Kendall received her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Wesleyan University. After teaching for 7 years, she earned a Ph.D. in School Psychology from the University of Maryland. Her approach to therapy follows a cognitive and behavioral therapy orientation and family work is often a part of her intervention. She is very interested in learning issues as well as emotional concerns, and works closely with schools to help children and adolescents. She has consulted with many area schools and presented training workshops on a variety of subjects: how to deal with children with anxiety and depression; how findings from neuropsychology give guidance into what teaching strategies work best; understanding learning differences and exploring what strategies can help. 

December 18, 2013
Reading Comprehension Strategies for K-8
Speakers: Amanda Leichliter, Reading Specialist & Dale Frengel, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, The Ivymount School

Research shows that typical literacy development is a social process, relying on joint attention, socialization, and oral language, all of which may be underdeveloped in students with autism and can negatively affect reading comprehension. Yet comprehension is crucial for the development of many skills, including learning from textbooks, writing, speaking, following directions, solving word problems, and critical thinking, and will continue to affect a student’s success through high school and beyond if not addressed. Dale Frengel and Amanda Leichliter from The Ivymount School in Rockville will present information on strategies that good readers use to comprehend text, and how to help your child strengthen his/her use of these strategies. Maryland’s switch to using Common Core Standards and its effect on reading instruction and expectations, and technology to support aspects of reading comprehension will also be shared. 

Dale Frengel has 30 years of experience in the field of special education in a variety of roles including teacher and administrator. She is currently the Director of Curriculum and Instruction at The Ivymount School. Amanda Leichliter is currently the Reading Specialist for Ivymount.

January 14, 2014
A Parent’s Rights When Disagreeing with the IEP Team
Speaker: Anjali Prakash, J.D.

Disagreements are not uncommon when people work in teams, so how can parents resolve disagreements with their child’s IEP Team? First, parents must know their rights. Ms. Prakash will explain a parent’s rights in a variety of potential situations: What can parents do if they disagree with the IEP Team’s recommendation to reduce a student’s services? What can parents do if they disagree with information in their child’s records? If a student’s behavior violates the school’s code of conduct, what must the IEP Team do? What are the differences among mediation, State complaints, and due process complaints and what are the guidelines for evaluating the most effective form of resolution?

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.

February 12, 2014

Social Challenges of Tweens and Teens on the Autism Spectrum
Speaker: David Black, Ph.D.

Adolescence can be a highly social time in typical childrens’ lives, and social interactions become increasingly complex and, consequently, create significant challenges for students on the autism spectrum. Dr. David Black will discuss social skills development in adolescents, focusing on how the challenges for this age group differ from those experienced by younger children. Dr. Black will introduce the Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS), a social skills training intervention for adolescents and young adults, including research that supports its efficacy. Strategies that can be implemented at home will also be discussed.

Dr. Black is nationally recognized expert in autism spectrum disorders and director of the 
Center for Autism Assessment and Treatment (CAAT). CAAT was created to improve the lives of children, teens, and adults, who struggle with social and self-regulatory disorders, such as autism spectrum disorders, social anxiety, and emotion and behavioral dysregulation. As a pediatric neuropsychologist he has spent much of the last ten years working clinically with children, adolescents, and adults with autism spectrum disorders. He is a researcher in the Pediatrics and Developmental Neuroscience Branch at the National Institute of Mental Health, NIH. His clinical and research interests have both focused on the neurocognitive and psychological underpinnings for effective navigation of the social world.

March 13, 2014
Helping Kids on the Spectrum Develop Motivation for Independence
Speaker: William Stixrud, Ph.D.

Recent research indicates that motivation in neurotypicals is largely social, driven by interactions with people around them and how they connect with their social circle. Many children on the autism spectrum have reduced social motivation, combined with restricted interests and reduced “safety zones.” How can parents and educators identify the barriers to developing motivation for tasks critical for independence, and scaffold skills necessary for persisting with tasks that might conflict with a student’s interests or that lack relevance to them? Dr. Stixrud will explain the autistic brain’s motivational system and the physiological factors that affect internal motivation, then suggest ways to tap in to a student’s motivation to help them engage in and master tasks required for independence. 

William R. Stixrud, Ph.D., 
The Stixrud Group, is a clinical neuropsychologist who has been in private practice since 1985. For the past 20 years, Dr. Stixrud has been extensively involved in the training and supervision of psychologists and learning specialists. He is also a frequent lecturer on topics related to neuropsychological assessment, learning and executive disorders, brain development, brain-based learning, motivation, and the effects of stress and sleep deprivation on the brain. Dr. Stixrud is the Director of The Stixrud Group. Located in Silver Spring, Maryland this is a group of neuropsychologists and clinical psychologists who specialize in the evaluation of children, adolescents and adults with learning, attention, social or emotional challenges.  

May 13, 2014
Medications and Evidence-Based Supplements to Improve the Quality of Life of Individuals on the Autism Spectrum
Speaker: Dr. Lance Clawson, M.D.

Dr. Lance Clawson will discuss the research that supports the use of both prescription medications and evidence-based nutritional supplements to help individuals on the spectrum with common challenges that can negatively affect their quality of life, such as restricted interests, anxiety, poor self regulation, mood instability, and inattention, among others. Included in the presentation are potential side effects, and guidelines for determining when medicine should be considered. In addition, ongoing research for new medications will be presented.

Dr. Clawson is Board Certified in both general Psychiatry and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. He graduated with honors from both the University of Southern California and Tufts University School of Medicine. He received his post-doctoral training in general Psychiatry and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. After completing his post-graduate training, Dr. Clawson served as the Chief of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and then the Chief of Psychiatry for the US Armed Forces in the Republic of Korea. Since then he has held a number of positions to include Director of Child & Adolescent Psychiatric Consultation Liaison and Director of Psychiatric Training while at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. After leaving the Army he served as Medical Director at the Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Maryland of Medicine. He is currently in private practice in Bethesda, Maryland and remains on the teaching faculty at Children’s Hospital National Medical Center, Georgetown University School of Medicine, and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

June 12, 2014
Coaching Relationship Development in Children on the Autism Spectrum 
Speaker: Sarah Wayland, Ph.D.

Many interventions for teaching skills to children on the autism spectrum rely on demands and rewards—prompting a child to say “hello” and rewarding them with a piece of candy if they comply, for example. Relationship Development Intervention (RDI™) takes a vastly different approach with children on the autism spectrum, helping them form personal relationships by gradually strengthening the building blocks of social connections. RDI considers the profiles of parents and their child to create a customized program that identifies the essential relationship abilities the child is missing and teaches parents how to restore those missing skills. The final goal of RDI is not compliance, but the ability to maintain meaningful relationships, shared emotions, and deeply felt connection with others. Dr. Wayland will introduce RDI, as well as provide practical strategies that can help you communicate more effectively and meaningfully with your child.

Sarah Wayland, Ph.D., is an RDI consultant-in-training and a special needs care coordinator at 
Guiding Exceptional Parents, LLC. She helps parents of children with ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, learning disabilities, and other diagnosed and undiagnosed challenges that make it hard to function at school or at home. She is also co-editor of the book, Technology Tools for Students with Autism: Innovations that Enhance Independence and Learning.

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

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