Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sensory Friendly Film: The Princess and the Frog

Enjoy a screening of the new Disney film The Princess and the Frog in a sensory friendly environment on December 12 at 10 a.m.

AMC Entertainment and the Autism Society have teamed up to provide a mellower setting for families affected by autism and other disabilities. The movie auditorium will have its lights brought up and the sound turned down, families can bring in their own GFCF snacks, and no previews or ads will be shown before the movies. Audience members are also welcome to get up and move or vocalize. (Unless the safety of the audience is questioned.)

Tickets cost between $4 and $6 depending on the theater. The AMC Rio Cinemas 18 in Gaithersburg (9811 Washingtonian Blvd.) is one of the theaters that participates.

Screening of "Including Samuel"

If you are a part of the autism community, the concept of inclusion is probably a big part of your everyday life. Including Samuel is photojournalist Dan Habib's film about his son Samuel, born with cerebral palsy.

The Kemp Mill Synagogue Special Needs Committee will hold a December 5th screening of the film, which chronicles Habib's family's efforts to include Samuel in every facet of their lives. The screening will be followed by a panel of speakers who will discuss inclusion.

The movie will begin at 7 p.m. at the Kemp Mill Synagogue (11910 Kemp Mill Road) in Silver Spring. The cost will b $5 a person with a $10 maximum per family.

Parenting a Child with Intense Emotions

Updated: This workshop has been rescheduled for January 16 from 1-5 p.m.

Do you parent a child who has intense emotions? (Who doesn't, right?)

NAMI MC will be hosting a workshop on this very topic by Pat Harvey, who has just written a book titled Parenting a Child Who Has Intense Emotions with Jeanine A Penzo.

The book and workshop provides dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) strategies and skills to parents of children with explosive emotions. Parents will learn to understand and accept their children's emotions and learn skills for changing family behaviors.

Registration is required for the workshop, which will take place December 5 at 1 p.m. Call 301-949-5852 or email to register. The workshop will take place at the NAMI MC office (11718 Parklawn Drive) in Rockville.

Lecture on Improving Your Child's Classroom Functioning

The Ivymount School's Model Asperger Program is offering another session in its lecture series, this time on practical strategies for home and school on December 1.

Laura Gutermuth Anthony, PhD, a clinical and developmental psychologist, will be the featured speaker. Her clinical practice includes diagnostic evaluations of children on the autism spectrum and individual, group, and family therapy. She also leads research efforts to improve classroom functioning in students with ASDs and reduce parent burden.

The lecture will take place at Ivymount School (11614 Seven Locks Road in Rockville) from 7-9 p.m. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. for networking and refreshments.

RSVPs are requested for this free lecture, but no one will be turned away. Register online.

Event Summary for the Week of November 30, 2009

Check out all of the amazing events on the AutMont Calendar for this week!

Tuesday, December 1:

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

SEEC's Parent to Parent Program Provides Information and Comfort

SEEC's new Parent to Parent (P2P) program provides emotional support and practical advice to families of children with special needs by matching parents of newly diagnosed children, or those in a formative transition period, with a parent who has experienced a similar situation.

"Our goal is to help families feel less isolated, get the information they need, and become more hopeful about their child's future," says Wendy Baumert, the program's coordinator. Launched in January 2009, P2P is now fully operational and parent/mentor matches are underway.

A mentor training manual focusing on effective communication skills and empathetic listening has been created and used at several training sessions. The manual also includes information on local and statewide resources families may want to access, and is being translated into Spanish to provide wider access to families in need.

P2P's long-term goals include forming an advisory committee to oversee the program, expanding training opportunities for mentors, and organizing social outings for program participants.

If you are interested in participating in this program as a parent mentor or as a parent in need, please contact Wendy at or visit and click the P2P icon on the home page.

SEEC—Seeking Equality, Empowerment, and Community for People with Developmental Disabilities

Asperger's Syndrome: An Insider's Perspective

Deborah Lipsky, M.Ed, who was diagnosed with high functioning autism in 2005, will be leading two seminars titled "An Insider's Perspective on Autism and Asperger's Syndrome: Bridging the Gap Between Understanding & Intervention" in December.

Lipsky is a recipient of a Temple Grandin award and an accomplished presenter. The seminar is intended for professionals who work with individuals with high functioning autism and Asperger's and costs $179. (CEUs are available.)

The first seminar takes place at the Holiday Inn in Gaithersburg (2 Montgomery Village Avenue, 20879) on December 9 from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Register online.

The Baltimore seminar takes place the following day, December 10, at the Holiday Inn Baltimore—Inner Harbor (301 West Lombard Street, 21201), also from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. You may also register for this seminar online.

Housing Options for Adults with Disabilities

A collaboration of JSSA, Montgomery County DHHS Aging and Disability, and The Arc of Montgomery County will be hosting an educational seminar on housing options on January 6.

This is another educational seminar in a series by this group that is intended for family members caring for children and adults with developmental disabilities.

The seminar will take place from 6:45-8:45 p.m. at the Rockville Library (21 Maryland Ave, 20850).

Please call 240-777-1216 to register.

The Autism Society is Calling for Art Submissions!

Celebrate the autism community's creativity by participating in the Autism Society's Online Art Exhibit. The exhibit showcases art from autistic people of all ages.

The exhibit is open to all individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Just follow the simple online instructions to upload art.

The Autism Society has also included links in the exhibit to some of the artists' stories.

Check out the exhibit, upload your or your child's art, but most importantly, celebrate all the beauty that people on the spectrum have to offer.

Families Together December Webinars

Pullman, Washington-based organization Families Together regularly hosts online webinars covering a variety of topics related to parenting, running a household, and developmental issues.

You can find a list of webinars on their website, but here is a list of upcoming development-related sessions, each with a link to their registration page.

Each webinar costs $10.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Event Summary for the Week of November 23, 2009

The AutMont Calendar is short on activities this week. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and be sure to give some extra thanks for that special needs person in your life!

Tuesday, November 24:

Thursday, November 26:

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Friday, November 27:

Saturday, November 28:

Sunday, November 29:


Do you know of another event? Leave details in the comments!

Using Technology to Support All Students

The Least Restrictive Environment Access Group (LREA) of Montgomery County will be hosting a follow-up workshop to last month's meeting about the Universal Design for Learning.

This session, titled "Using Technology to Support Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in MCPS," will take place December 2 from 7-9 p.m at The Arc of Montgomery County (11600 Nebel Street, Rockville).

The presentation will describe UDL as a framework for designing lessons that integrate flexible strategies for all students. It will demonstrate the many technology tools that staff have available to implement the universal design for learning in their classrooms.

Pre-registration is required. Please call The Arc at 301-984-5777 for more information.

Parent Empowerment Conference

The Barstow Acres Children's Center is holding its fourth annual Parent Empowerment Conference this December. (Click this link for a PDF of the conference brochure.)

The Maryland conference, aimed at parents, teachers, and professionals, will feature sessions on general parenting as well as autism-related topics. Find the topics of each session in the conference brochure.

CEUs are available for the conference, which costs $35/person, $60/couple, or $50/professional for each day of the conference.

The registration form is available online. The conference takes place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both December 11th and 12th. It will be held at Emmanuel Baptist Church (3800 Old Town Road) in Huntington, Maryland.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Event Summary for the Week of November 16, 2009

Check out all of the amazing events on the AutMont Calendar for this week!

Monday, November 16:

Tuesday, November 17:

Support Group for Parents of Children with Developmental Disabilities

The Jewish Social Service Agency offers a free, ongoing monthly support group for parents and family members of children with disabilities.

The group is non-sectarian and open to all. Family members of children with disabilities share their joys and sorrows, hopes and fears, coping mechanisms, and strategies for living for today and planning for the future.

The support group meets the last Tuesday of each month (upcoming dates include: November 24, December 29, and January 26) from 10:30-11:30 a.m.

Pre-registration is required by calling 301-610-8357. The group mets at JSSA (200 Wood Road in Rockville) and is led by Ruth Berger, LGSW.

Supporting Special Needs Children at Church

There are so many places that kids with special needs need extra support. Help your religious institution learn how to give that extra support by inviting them to an Involve Workshop at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring on November 21.

The purpose of the workshop is to train religious educators, ministers, and lay leaders to minister to children with special challenges and insure their successful inclusion into Unitarian Universalist congregations. (Although I'm guessing the information could be useful for other faiths as well. Get in touch with the contact people at the email addresses below.)

Topics will include assessment methods, teaching strategies, sensitivity training, hands-on training activities, and discussions concerning pastoral and congregational care.

Developmental psychologist Sally Patton will lead the workshop, which costs $50 per person or $200 for a delegation of 4 or more people from a single congregation. Lunch will be provided.

The workshop will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalists Church of Silver Spring (10309 New Hampshire Ave). For more information, please contact Becky Brooks at or Reverend Ellen Jennings at

Disability Support Services at Local Colleges

Is your child headed to college soon? Attend the next Adolescent Transition Lecture on November 18, which is all about disability support services at local colleges and universities.

Panelists will include disability support staff representatives from Howard Community College, Anne Arundel Community College, and Community College of Baltimore County.

The lecture will be held from 7-8:30 p.m. at Kennedy Krieger Institute's Greenspring Campus' Bowles Building board room (3825 Greenspring Avenue in Baltimore).

Please RSVP to Kennedy Krieger's Resource Finder at 800-390-3372 or

MCASA's Annual Meeting

The Autism Society Montgomery County will be holding its annual meeting this Thursday, November 19 from 7-9 p.m. All are welcome at this free event, held at The Arc of Montgomery County's Bachman Room (11600 Nebel Street in Rockville).

Presenters will be speaking about AT:LAST, Inc., a non-profit organization focused on breaking down barriers that might prevent an individual from acquiring and using assistive technologies.

Free Reading and Speech & Language Screenings

The Friendship School in Eldersburg, Maryland, is offering free reading and speech & language screenings on December 4.

A speech and language pathologist will assess your child's speech and development. Tutors trained in the Orton-Gillingham approach will conduct reading screenings.

Call Vern Alban at the Friendship School at 410-552-6680, extension 173, to schedule an appointment for either evaluation between 1 and 3 p.m. on the 4th.

Screenings will take place at the Friendship School at 1545 Progress Way in Eldersburg.

Workshop on the Financial World of a Special Needs Family

Financial planning for any family is tough, but it can be especially difficult if you have to plan not just for yourself, but the generation after you as well.

M&L Special Needs Planning will be hosting a workshop on this very topic, "Navigating the Financial World of the Special Needs Family," on December 8.

The workshop will cover financial pressure points for the special needs child and the entire family and how they affect the need to plan for two generations. Actual case studies will be discussed.

Light refreshments will be offered at this free workshop, held from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Katherine Thomas School (9975 Medical Center Drive in Rockville). You can register online.

Workshop on Preventing Bullying

A new survey in Massachusetts found that nine of ten parents of children with autism say that their child has been a victim of bullying at school. Not only is that incredibly distressing news, but the parents further reported that the schools were not properly addressing the bullying.

Take a proactive step against bullying by attending MCPS Parent Academy's workshop on preventing bullying. "Bullying Hurts: How to Prevent It" will take place from 7-8:30 p.m. on November 16.

The session will provide information to raise awareness about the impact of bullying, identify the health risks for all involved, and identify steps for prevention.

The workshop will be held at John Poole Middle School in Poolesville (17014 Tom Fox Ave, 20837). You can register online.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

No More Asperger's or PDD-NOS Diagnoses?

Experts who are revising the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which will come out in or around 2012, are considering eliminating Asperger's Syndrome and PDD-NOS from the manual. Instead, they will be included under the larger diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

A final proposal for the DSM-V should come out in January, at which time the public will be able to comment.

There have been several good articles and/or blog posts on the topic, notably The New York Times, Disability Scoop, and Developmental Disabilities in the News.

My son is diagnosed with PDD-NOS, and I'm not sure how I feel about this. It makes me a little uneasy to eliminate such important diagnoses, which have only been included in very recent years. I'd like to hear what you have to say.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Check Out for Free This Weekend is a childcare and housesitting service that helps people find local caregivers and facilitates interviews, reference checking, and background checks. This weekend, November 6-8, they are offering a free weekend of access.

During the free weekend, all visitors to can check out the benefits of a premium membership at no charge. You'll be able to see full profiles for nearby care providers, contact them for interviews, check references, and request background checks.

Not only do they list babysitters, nannies, senior caregivers, tutors, pet sitters, and housekeepers, but they also have an entire section set up for special needs care providers.

I haven't tried, but if you're looking for a place to research care for your special needs family, this could be a great place to start.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Celebrate the Holidays with Kennedy Krieger

Bring your family and get a head start on your holiday shopping and entertainment at Kennedy Krieger's annual Festival of Trees.

The three-day event features fairyland forests, gingerbread towns, toy train gardens, more than 100 craft vendors, holiday goodies, and activities for kids of all ages.

It will take place November 27-29 at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium (220 York Road). Festival hours are 10 a.m.-9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and kids aged 5-12. Children four and under are free. You can buy your tickets at the door, or save $2 per ticket by buying online. You can also find a $1 off coupon on the Festival of Trees website.

My family went a couple of years ago and it was an incredible day full of pony rides, model trains, and sending letters to Santa. Lots of fun!

Event Summary for the Week of November 2, 2009

IACC Full Committee Meeting

Another IACC (Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee) Full-Committee Meeting will be held Tuesday November 10 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

The agenda will include a discussion of recommendations for the annual update of the IACC Strategic Plan for Autism Spectrum Disorder Research.

The meeting is open to the public and pre-registration is recommended. You can register online. There will be a live webcast as well as a publicly accessible conference call. The conference call phone number is 888-577-8995 and the access code is 1991506.

The meeting will take place in NIMH's Neuroscience Center at 6001 Executive Boulevard, Conference Room A1/A2, in Rockville.