Sunday, April 25, 2010

Support the Parent Resource Centers

Many of you are familiar with the Parent Resource Centers available for all children in Montgomery County. There are four locations of these centers, open for children and their parents to attend. Membership is available on a sliding scale, based on income.

Basically, these centers are set up like classrooms where you can play with your children. They have books, games, toys, art centers, sand tables, make-believe areas, and have a teacher-led circle time each morning.

They are wonderful resources and are in danger of having their budgets severely cut or eliminated in the coming year. The Parent Resource Center's entire budget is on the county's list of possible cuts.

I plan on contacting the county council to let them know how important these centers have been to me and my family, who have used them extensively.

If you would like to contact the county council to voice your support for the Parent Resource Centers, you can mail:
Nancy Floreen, President
Montgomery County Council
100 Maryland Avenue
Rockville, MD 20850
You can also email the county council at or call at 240-777-7959.

You can say anything you want in your letter or email, but the following is what I said in my email. You are welcome to borrow any sections you feel apply to you and your family.

Dear Montgomery County Council,

As a Montgomery County parent, I would like to voice my support for the Parent Resource Centers and request that you not eliminate this very valuable program from next year's budget.

I have three children, all of whom have used the Centers and benefitted immensely from them. These Centers gave them the opportunity to socialize in a safe, supportive environment when they were not in school. As the parent of a child with autism, this was especially important to him. Because parents stay with their children at the Centers, I was able to positively reinforce the social skills and behaviors that he needed to learn to be successful in school.

My children were able to use and play with toys, books, art supplies, and learning materials that I don't have at home. They were able to learn school routines, such as following directions, listening to the teacher, and participating in a group. During circle time, my children learned songs, games, language and concepts, all while having fun.

I met parents there who I am still in contact with. With them, I had a chance to share ideas, problems, and solutions. I got ideas for helping my child learn and be ready for school.

The Center staff was always ready with information about child development and parenting skills, as well as other county resources and services, such as libraries, Child Find, and Infants & Toddlers.

The Center teachers are all very welcoming, inclusive people. These Centers are unique and offer an extremely valuable service. Please consider the needs of the parents and children in the county when you are making your decisions about their funding.

Thank you so much,
Jean Winegardner

Event Summary for the Week of April 26, 2010

Apply for Delegate Roger Manno's Special Needs Students Scholarship

If you have a high school senior with a developmental disability, who will be attending a Maryland college next year, consider having him or her apply for Delegate Roger Manno's 2010 Scholarship for Students with Special Needs.

Delegate Manno, of Legislative District 19, created this scholarship in 2007. It is earmarked for applicants with pervasive developmental disorders (PDD), autism, learning disabilities, emotional or behavioral disabilities, mental health challenges, or other special needs. Applications are available now until the deadline of May 15, 2010.

Qualified applicants must be at least a high school senior; currently enrolled in or applying to an undergraduate, graduate, professional, or trade school in Maryland; and a resident of Legislative District 19.

Applicants for the up to 4 year/$120,000 scholarship will be required to write an essay and provide at least one letter of recommendation. For more information or for an application, contact Patty Brown at 301-610-0147 ext. 205 or at

Autism Speaks 5k

Autism Speaks will be holding its 10th annual 5k on July 4 in Potomac, Maryland. The entry fee is $30.

The race begins at 8 a.m. at the Potomac Library at the intersection of River and Falls Roads in Potomac. A one-mile walk begins at 8:05 a.m.

For more information, visit

May Webinars from Families Together

Families Together will be presenting two webinars this May, the first on Anger and Anxiety on May 4, followed by Functional Language on May 13.

Each webinar costs $10.

May 13—Functional Language, 5-6 p.m. ET: Does your child go back to screaming and being aggressive when he does not get his own way? This can be changed. This webinar can help. Register online.

May 26—Anger and Anxiety, 10-11 p.m. ET:Dealing with anger and anxiety in your child can be tough. Come to this webinar and Chris Curry will help. You will be able to ask questions and get the answers you need. Register online.

Beat the Odds Fundraiser for The Arc of MC

The Arc of Montgomery County will hold Beat the Odds, its signature fundraising event this Saturday, May 1, at 7 p.m.

Beat the Odds is a special evening featuring cocktails, gourmet food, Monte Carlo-style gaming, auctions and raffles. Tickets and ticket packages range from $100 for a standard admission ticket to $1000 for a four-admission Roulette Ticket Package.

You can register online for this event, which takes place at the Universities at Shady Grove (9630 Gudelsky Drive, Building 2) in Rockville. For more information, contact Douglas Gaddis at or 301-984-5777 ext. 244.

Least Restrictive Environment Access Group

Join the Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education, the Arc of Montgomery County and MCPS' Department of Special Education for the Least Restrictive Environment Access Group on April 28 from 7 to 9 p.m.

The workshop focuses on inclusion, Universal Design for Learning (UDL), education technology related to UDL, and more. It will take place at the Arc of Montgomery County (11600 Nebel Street) in Rockville.

For more information, contact Penny Veerhoff at 240-676-1073.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

How to Prepare for an IEP Meeting

It's getting near the end of the school year, which means that many of us are going through our annual IEP meetings to set up or finalize arrangements for our special education kids. If you are a parent of a child with special needs, you've probably been through one or a few of these meetings. You know they are not a lot of fun, but you understand how important they are.

Even though my child is only six years old, I feel like an old hand at these meetings. Last year alone, we had three IEP meetings. One of them involved a room full of lawyers (mine and the school district's), therapists, administrators, an educational consultant, and a county special education supervisor. That was a tough one.

Regardless of situations that could have created an adversarial situation with my school, both sides have remained friendly, supportive, and dedicated to helping my son. It's been incredible, but it's been hard. I regularly get asked about how to prepare for IEP meetings, so have decided to share what has been successful for me.

Know that you have to prepare. I had been to a couple of IEP meetings already when confronted with one where I knew I was going to ask for things they weren't going to want to give us. I freaked out on my blog and my special needs community came back with advice. It was a revelation. I realized then that you can't just walk into a meeting and get what you want. You have to prepare. You have to know what programs are out there. You have to know what your child needs. You have to think out how your child's disability affects his ability to learn, his ability to access the curriculum, and how it affects his safety. You don't have to know everything—you can't know everything—but you have to prepare.

• So what is the first step in preparing? Well, you have to get organized. Get all of your evaluations, reports, school communication, and documents organized and labeled in a binder. Have everything ready so when you need to find, for instance, your private speech therapy evaluation, you can locate it immediately.

Know the law. This is a tough one, but you have to have a basic understanding of your rights. Your school district should give you a packet about procedures and regulations. Read it. Find out if there is a local organization that will provide a free or low cost parent navigator to help you figure out the nuances of your case. (In my county the Montgomery County Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health is a good place to start.

Read up about special education. The absolute best resource I have found relating to special education law is From Emotions to Advocacy by Pete and Pam Wright. As far as I am concerned, this is a must-read for anyone who will be attending an IEP meeting on behalf of their child. It covers basic special education law as well as tips for how to succeed at your meeting. Pete and Pam Wright's organization Wrightslaw is an excellent place to find answers to questions about specific issues.

• Now that you have general information about special education and your school system, you need to know what you want. Does your child need a one-to-one aide? Maybe she needs weekly speech services. What about a lunch bunch social skills group? Does he need Extended School Year (ESY) services? Think about your child and figure out what he needs to be successful at school. It is vital that you have this solidified in your head when you walk into the room so that you know what you are advocating for.

• You will probably not walk out of the room with everything you want. Prioritize your wish list. Which of your child's needs is a must have? Create a list for yourself of deal-breakers, things that would be nice to have, and things that you are willing to let go. For instance, at the meeting where I took a lawyer, we were asking for a one-to-one aide, increased speech services, and occupational therapy. The aide was our must-have, more speech therapy was something we really wanted, but didn't insist on, and we were willing to let the OT go.

Be flexible. In the meeting I mentioned above, we got an aide, but not exactly a one-to-one. However, the solution we came up with worked for our son, and we are able to work with the school to make sure it fits his needs. Had we pushed for a literal one-to-one aide, we probably wouldn't have gotten one, and we would have alienated the school in the process. If you expect the school system to give a little, you're probably going to have to give a little too. But know when you shouldn't give. We were adamant that our son have direct support and not just access to support during the day. Somebody needs to be with him during certain times, even if that aide is also helping another child in the class at the same time.

Know that you are part of the IEP team. You will often walk into an IEP meeting to find that the school has already set out the plan. That is NOT the final plan. YOU are part of the team and YOU help create the plan. Don't be afraid to speak up. It is your legal right. Not to mention that you know your child better than anyone.

• You know your child, but all the people on the IEP team may not. Some of them have met your child once for an observation or evaluation. Some, such as her teacher, may know her very well. Others may not be able to pick your kid out of a line up. Help them see your child as a person instead of just a stack of documents. There are many ways to do this. I have a friend who creates a power point with photos to show to her team. I personally create a document that I call "Who is Jack?" that I pass out to every person in the room and that goes into his file. I put his photo on it and I start with information about Jack's likes and dislikes, then go on to add his strengths and weaknesses, what he struggles with in school, pull quotes from evaluations and documents supporting my case, and then I end with our larger goals for Jack's life. That always ends with, "Help Jack learn how to be a happy, successful autistic person in a non-autistic world." Every single person I have shown this to, from lawyers to the county special education supervisor at my most adversarial meeting, has loved this. It shows who your child is and it shows you are an involved, thoughtful parent.

• When you're going through your documents to create your Who is My Child document, comb through your current evaluations for phrases that support your case. When you talk to your private experts before they create your documents, ask them to use strong language when they write out their recommendations. Ask that they not use phrases such as, "Jack would benefit from..." or "The best environment for Jack would be..." You should ask them to write (truthfully of course) "In order to be successful in a school environment, Jack needs..." Make sure to type out a list of these supporting ideas to take with you to the meeting. It is easy to get flustered and forget something important, but if you have a piece of paper in front of you that states, "Her math scores have declined from a 90% average to a 60% average over the course of the past six months," you won't forget to mention it. Check off everything you've discussed.

Don't forget about the goals. Goals drive the IEP, but are notoriously badly written. Do some research on how to write goals and what kinds of things you want your child to accomplish. Make sure they are quantifiable, relevant, and make sense. Again, Wrightslaw is a wonderful resource for information on goals.

Don't overlook safety issues. Even more than making sure that your child can access the curriculum (and if the school says her disability doesn't impact your child academically so she doesn't qualify, figure out how it does), the school's main responsibility is keeping your child—and the other children in the school—safe. My son put staples in his mouth on a regular basis. That, more than anything, helped us get direct support for him.

• I mentioned above that you might get flustered. Know that you likely will. You might even cry. I have cried at probably two-thirds of my son's IEP meetings. Just be prepared by bringing someone with you to the meeting. That person can be a partner, a professional advocate, or just a friend. Have that friend type up notes for you on a computer so you don't have to worry about it. Plus, if you get overly emotional, they can help with questions or comments you might be too overwhelmed to utter. Just be sure to tell the team ahead of time that you are bringing someone.

Know that nothing is written in stone. If you agree to 15 minutes of speech services a week, but your child is not improving, you can call another meeting at any time. There are laws that specify that the school has to respond to your requests. Do it in writing and keep copies of all of it.

Stay amicable. Don't forget that the people at the IEP meeting are the people who will be working with your child for the next several months or years. It is okay to disagree with the team, but keep it on a professional level. Do not get personally antagonistic. If someone in the meeting gets nasty to you, respond civilly, hard as it may be. (As a side note, you are within your rights to tape record the meeting. Just let them know ahead of time that you will. If you end up in mediation or due process, you want your tape to show that you maintained civility even if the other side didn't.) I sicced a lawyer on my school system, and we are still on hugging terms. It's all about how both sides are able to relate as human beings. Let the IEP team know that you are doing this because you are advocating for your child, not because you dislike the team.

Recognize that the IEP process doesn't end when you leave the table. Carefully read your IEP document to make sure it reflects what was agreed to in the meeting. Know that it is a legal document that the school is required to comply with. Make sure that they do so. I find that volunteering in my child's classroom is not just a good way to get a sense of how things are going and how his goals are implemented, but it lets the school know that I want to be involved and that I want to help. If your child's teacher does not like having parents (or you) volunteer in the classroom, or you can't because of your work/childcare schedule, volunteer in the library or head a committee on the PTA. Be a presence at the school.

• Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, know that you are your child's best advocate. Hopefully your child's school legitimately and sincerely wants to help your child. However, their goals are not necessarily the same as yours. They have to look out for hundreds of children. You only have to look out for one. They are trying to teach and protect the entire school. You are trying to teach and protect one. Until he can advocate for himself, he needs you to do it for him. Don't let personality clashes, uncooperative staff, or anything else get in the way of your doing that.

Jean would like to mention that she is not an attorney or a professional advocate. None of this should be interpreted as legal advice. If you are in a contentious situation, please consult with a professional. You can find advocates and attorneys on the Council of Parent Attorney and Advocates (COPAA) website.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Alex's Art Loft

There are many ways for individuals with autism to be successful. While autism absolutely can make life more difficult, it also presents certain gifts. One person with autism who is finding a way to contribute his art to the world is Alexander Martin, the artist behind Alex's Art Loft.

Alex has a website featuring his artwork and that sells cards that he has created. (The cards are also available for sale at VisArts in Rockville.) The cards feature his artwork and can be blank or include a quotation on the inside.

I particularly like this featured quote: "Disability is not a brave struggle or 'courage in the face of adversity.' Disability is an art. It's an ingenious way to live." —Neil Marcus

Furthermore, if you are interested in learning how Alex and his mother Diana set up Alex's business, you can read her blog on the subject. Contact Diana with any questions at

Event Summary for the Week of April 19, 2010

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

Monday, April 19:

Tuesday, April 20:

AutMont Pick of the Week: MCASA Fundraiser at Star Diner

Drivers Ed for Special Needs Teens

Montgomery College offers a Learner Permit Prep class for special learning needs students. This course is designed by a special educator to support students with mild to moderate learning disabilities.

This three-session course will help teens prepare for and pass the Maryland Learner Permit Quiz. Both spring and summer sessions are offered. The course costs $70, plus a $30 fee for Maryland residents.

To register, call 240-567-5188. Course dates are listed below and available in this PDF.

Wednesdays, April 28-May 12, 5-8:30 p.m. at the Rockville Campus

Wednesdays, May 26-June 9, 5-8:30 p.m. at the Germantown Campus

Tuesday-Thursday, June 22-June 24, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the Germantown Campus

Tuesday-Thursday, July 13-July 15, 1-4:30 p.m. at the Rockville Campus

Tuesday-Thursday, August 10-August 12, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the Germantown Campus

Tuesday-Thursday, August 17-August 19, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the Gaithersburg Business Training Center

Webinars About ABA & Autism Treatments

The Ivymount School Outreach Program is offering two free upcoming webinars, the first about ABA and the second about effective treatments for children with developmental disabilities.

April 27, 12:15-12:45 p.m. EST–Understanding Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA): ABA is an empirically supported treatment choice for individuals with autism and related disorders. Is ABA the same as discrete trials? Is it a therapy for autism? Or is it a behavior modification tool? This web seminar, presented by Tamara Marder, will answer these types of questions by providing a clear understanding of ABA. Register online.

June 8, 12:15-12:45 p.m. EST—How to Choose Effective Treatment for Children with Developmental Disabilities: When a child is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or a developmental disability, it can be overwhelming to determine the steps to find the "right" treatment. This webinar will provide an outline to help guide parents in making treatment and therapy choices. Register online.

Teleconference on Bullying

The Parents' Place of Maryland will present a teleconference called "Bullying & Harassment: More than Sticks and Stones" on April 20 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

This newly revised workshop will offer intervention strategies for parents and caregivers of children with disabilities who may be targeted by bullies at school. Participants will learn how to identify types of bullying, develop strategies to prevent bullying, identify responses to bullying, talk to their children about bullying, and learn how to obtain help from professionals. They will also learn about disability harassment laws.

Parent educator Missy Alexander will present the webinar.

For more information, contact Rochelle at or 800-394-5694 ext. 104.

Transition Program Webinars

Virginia's Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center will be offering several free webinars in the coming months covering a variety of topics. You can register online for these webinars. For more information, contact

April 19 at 2 p.m. EST—Parents as Essential Partners in Transition: Ann Turnbull will present this webinar for parents looking for options for their young adult children with high support needs as they transition from high school to life. Prevailing myths about the role parents play in supporting adult children's work opportunities will be explored.

May 3 at 2 p.m EST—The New Ticket to Work Program—What's in it for Young People?: Sallie Rhodes will present this webinar about the Ticket to Work Program. Learn how young people with disabilities can access the array of Social Security work incentive programs and how they can take advantage of the resources Ticket to Work employment networks provide.

May 17 at 2 p.m. EST—Universal Design for Learning—A Pathway for Lifelong Learning: Frances G. Smith will present this webinar about technology advances that can open doors for people with disabilities. Families and educators can learn how classroom accommodations may be transferred in the transition to post-school life. Parents can leverage this information to help their transition-age youth with disabilities embrace strategies to help them become life long learners.

Preparing a Letter of Intent

M&L Special Needs Planning is offering a workshop on June 1 to help parents prepare a Letter of Intent. While not legally binding, this "morally binding" document communicates your wants and concerns for the care of your special needs child.

This seminar, which takes place from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Katherine Thomas School (9975 Medical Center Drive) in Rockville, costs $65.

Attendees should bring their laptops to begin writing their letter, which details what works well for your child, his or her financial overview, vital statistics, and suggestions about what changes might be needed in the future, as well as a list of locations of all pertinent documents and records and contact information.

Private meetings can be scheduled if your letter is not completed during the 90-minute seminar. Register online for the workshop.

Extraordinary Parents Night

The Partnership for Extraordinary Minds will hold an Extraordinary Parents Night on April 28 and June 9 from 7-9 p.m. for parents who have children on the autism spectrum.

At the event, parents will have a chance to share opportunities, promote constructive ideas, and share concerns so that their students can maximize their educational experiences and outcomes.

The meeting will take place at the Rockville Library Meeting Room (21 Maryland Avenue) in Rockville. Register online for this free event.

Free Sensory Friendly Screening of "Oceans"

AMC Entertainment and the Autism Society will present a special advance screening of the Disneynature movie Oceans on April 20 at 7 p.m.

This screening will be sensory friendly, with lights turned slightly up, sound turned slightly down, and audience members are welcome to safely get up to walk, dance, shout, or sing.

The screening will be held at the AMC Loews Uptown (3426 Connecticut Avenue, NW) in DC. Complimentary popcorn and soda will be served. Though the screening is free, RSVP is requested through the Autism Society's website.

Free Forum on Autism

The Sally Ride Elementary School PTA will present "Why is That Child So Different? Understanding Autism" on April 20 at 7 p.m.

This forum will introduce information about autism, what it "looks like," how local communities and schools can prepare, and why we should be sensitive to those with autism.

Melissa Grant, an itinerant resource teacher, and Kim DeJong, mother of one autistic and three neurotypical children, will speak. DeJong is also the co-founder of ChAMPs (Children Achieving Maximum Potential).

This free forum will take place at Dr. Sally K. Ride Elementary School (21301 Seneca Crossing Drive) in Germantown.

LDAMC Parent Connection

The Learning Disabilities Association of Montgomery County (LDAMC) will offer a support group for parents of students with learning disabilities led by Bonnie Massimino, a professional education therapist, learning specialist, and Maryland state certified reading specialist and special education teacher.

Join other parents to discuss issues that are specific to parents of learning disabilities, including understanding your child's strengths and challenges, learning about which accommodations and modifications fit your child's needs, working with schools, creating a supportive team, supporting your child outside of school, and sharing successful resources, tips and strategies.

This group is open and free to members of LDAMC (join on their website). The group will meet on April 20 and May 18 from 7:30-9 p.m. at the Olney Library (3500 Olney-Laytonsville Road) in Olney. RSVP at 301-933-1076 or

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Event Summary for the Week of April 12, 2010

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

Monday, April 12:

Tuesday, April 13:

Career/Technology Education and Transition Services Forum

The Partnership for Extraordinary Minds will present a Career/Technology Education and Transition Services Forum for diploma-bound students on the autism spectrum on May 19 from 7- 9 p.m. Networking and refreshments will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Administrators from MCPS' Departments of Career and Technology Education and Transition Services will present information about the opportunities for career exploration and the transition needs specific to students with autism spectrum disorders.

Learn how a transition plan is developed; what services are provided for transition to college, employment, and independent living; how students can apply classroom learning to careers; how students can receive training in technical and career skills while earning high school credit.

Registration is helpful but not necessary. You can register online for this free event. The forum will take place at Rocking Horse Road Center (4910 Macon Road) in Rockville.

Overview of Residential Options

M&L Special Needs Planning will be offering a workshop that is an Overview of Residential Options and How to Plan Financially on May 4 from 7-8:30 p.m.

Those at the workshop will discuss how important it is to focus on this issue in a planning perspective and get a general overview of what the options are. Also up for discussion will be how to make your resources work so the family can strive to finance this goal for the lifetime of the special needs individual.

You can register online for this workshop, which will take place at Katherine Thomas School (9975 Medical Center Drive) in Rockville.

Parent Academy Spring Workshops

The MCPS Parent Academy has published their spring schedule, full of workshops pertinent to special education. Check out the full schedule for all the classes they offer. Listed below are their autism-related offerings. You can register online for the workshops, which offer free childcare and translators.

April 12, 7-8:30 p.m.—Can We Talk? Speaking Up for Your Children to Help Them Succeed: Developed for parents by the Parent Advisory Council, this workshop offers information on how to talk effectively with teachers and principals and advocate for your children. Takes place at the Carver Educational Services Center Auditorium (850 Hungerford Drive) in Rockville.

April 14, 7-8:30 p.m.—Communicate Successfully with School Staff: Find out how to talk effectively with teachers and principals and advocate for your child. Share tips with other parents and take home helpful resources. Takes place at Fox Chapel Elementary School (19315 Archdale Road) in Germantown.

April 21, 7-8:30 p.m.—Special Education: Parents as Advocates and the Family-School Partnership (part 1 of 4): Learn about the special education process and share tips on how to advocate effectively for your child. This is the first in a series of four workshops facilitated by the Montgomery County Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health. Takes place at Newport Mill Middle School (11311 Newport Mill Road) in Kensington.

April 28, 7-8:30 p.m.—Special Education: The IEP Process and Special Education Law (part 2 of 4): Learn about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and how parents can prepare for the Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting. Components of the IEP will be discussed. Takes place at Newport Mill Middle School (11311 Newport Mill Road) in Kensington.

May 5, 7-8:30 p.m.—Special Education: Monitoring Your Child's Progress and Finding Support (part 3 of 4): Being prepared for IEP meetings requires organization. Learn some tried-and-true ways to organize your child's records and papers, and find out about community resources and supports. Takes place at Newport Mill Middle School (11311 Newport Mill Road) in Kensington.

May 5, 7-8:30 p.m.—Programs and Services for GT/LD Students: Learn about the characteristics of gifted students with learning disabilities (GT/LD) and their unique needs, and get resources and information about GT/LD programs and services in MCPS. Takes place at Martin Luther King Middle School (13737 Wisteria Drive) in Germantown.

May 12, 7-8:30 p.m.—Special Education: The School System and Resolving Disputes (part 4 of 4): Learn effective strategies for working in partnership with staff to discuss and resolve issues. Takes place at Newport Mill Middle School (11311 Newport Mill Road) in Kensington.

May 20, 7-8:30 p.m.—Resources for Children with Developmental Disabilities: Learn about community services and resources for children with developmental disabilities. Presenters from the Department of Health and Human Services will review local and state programs as well as local resources for children ages 3-21. Takes place at Forest Knolls Elementary School (10830 Eastwood Avenue) in Silver Spring.

May 24, 7-8:30 p.m.—Navigating College Admissions for Students with Disabilities: Learn from a college consultant and former MCPS teacher how to seek accommodations in college, tests needed, differences between IEP and 504/ADA, and five types of college programs offering accommodations. Parents and students are encourages to attend. Takes place at Tilden Middle School (11211 Old Georgetown Road) in Rockville.

Social Security Disability Programs

Transition Times will present a seminar on Social Security Disability Programs on April 21 and May 19 from 7:30-9 p.m.

Participants at the seminar will learn about Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplement Security Income (SSI). Topics for discussion include entitlement factors for both programs; the Social Security Administration's Concept of Disability; easy, convenient, and safe online applications, tools, and other online services; the appeals process; and what is the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives?

The seminar will take place at the Arc of Montgomery County (11600 Nebel Street) in Rockville. For more information, contact Haydee M. M. DePaula at 301-984-5777 ext. 275 or

MCASA Fundraiser at Star Diner

The Montgomery County Chapter of the Autism Society (MCASA) will hold their Annual Fundraiser at the Star Diner (705 Center Point Way, Gaithersburg) in the Kentlands on April 20 from 5-9 p.m.

The Star Diner will be donating a portion of its sales after 5 p.m. on April 20th to MCASA. Your night out at the Star Diner will help MCASA provide camperships, scholarships, and vacations for individuals with autism. It will also help fund support groups and general meetings of interest to the autism community.

MCASA will also be holding a raffle that evening of gift certificates, cash, and other prizes. Tickets are $1 each or six for $5. You can purchase them online or at the restaurant on the 20th.

Take Control of Asperger's Syndrome Author Discussion

Janet Price and Jennifer Engel Fisher will discuss their book Take Control of Asperger's Syndrome: The Official Strategy Guide for Teens with Asperger's Syndrome and Nonverbal Learning Disorders at Barnes and Noble (12089 Rockville Pike) in Rockville on April 18 at 3:30 p.m.

They will discuss ideas, information, and advice for kids, by kids just like them, to help any child or teen with AS or NLD navigate life's challenges with success.


The MCPS Department of Family and Community Partnerships will sponsor Ask MCPS on April 17 from 10 a.m. to noon.

Drop by for coffee and conversation. Have your questions answered and pick up tips on how to support learning at home.

This meeting will take place at Carver Educational Services Center (850 Hungerford Drive) in Rockville. For more information, call 301-309-6277.

Summer Opportunities Fair

Tips on Trips and Camps will present a Summer Opportunities Fair on April 17 from 1-3:30 p.m.

This fair features sleep-away camps and other local options for children with LD, ADHS, HFA, PDD-NOS and other issues ages 7-21. Meet representatives and learn about their programs ranging from academic to sports to therapeutical.

The fair will take place at Ivymount School (11614 Seven Locks Road) in Rockville. For more information, contact Carey Rivers at 202-227-3451.

Sex Education & Sexuality in Young Adults with AS

The Ivymount School will present a lecture on Sex Education and Sexuality in Young Adults with Asperger Syndrome on April 14 as part of their Model Asperger Lecture Series.

Peter Gerhardt, president of the Organization for Autism Research, will present.

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

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

Teleconference on Conflict Resolution in Special Ed

The Parents Place of Maryland will present a teleconference on Conflict Resolution in Special Education on April 13 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

This workshop is for both parents of children with disabilities and professionals that work with them. Participants will:

• Gain strategies to resolve conflicts

• Understand procedural rights and safeguards

• Understand the importance of an Independent Educational Evaluation

• Understand the importance of Prior Written Notice

• Understand parent rights regarding student education records

• Receive an overview of due process complaint resolution options

Mary Baskar, a parent educator with PPMD, will be presenting.

For more information, contact Rochelle at 800-394-5694 x104 or

IACC Conference Call & Webinar

The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) Subcommittee for Planning the Annual Strategic Plan Updating Process will hold a conference call and webinar on April 19 from 10 a.m. to noon.

No registration is required for the call. The USA/Canada phone number is 888-577-8995 and the access code is 1991506. Register online for access to the webinar.

The agenda for the conference call is to discuss plans for updating the 2010 IACC Strategic Plan for Autism Spectrum Disorder research.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sensory Strategies in the Home

The Treatment and Learning Centers will offer Sensory Strategies in the Home, a free parent workshop, on April 14 from noon to 1 p.m.

Reservations are required for the workshop, taking place at TLC (2301 Research Boulevard) in Rockville. For more information, call Julie Bobrow at 301-424-5200 ext. 147.

Free Occupational Therapy Screenings at TLC

The Treatment and Learning Centers (TLC) is offering two days of free occupational therapy screenings for kids ages 3-9.

The screenings, on April 8 and April 22, are by appointment only. For more information, call Brigid Baker at 301-424-5200 ext. 128.

Fostering Cooperation in Children with Special Needs

The Parent Education Program (PEP) offers many wonderful parenting classes, and this spring they are offering one specifically about children with special needs. Fostering Cooperation in Children with Special Needs is a two-week course taking place on May 13 and 20, from 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. each day.

This two part seminar will teach parents how to boost children's confidence, increase their sense of positive power and contribution, and promote greater harmony in the family. The seminar is intended for parents of children ages 3-13 with AD(H)D, autism spectrum disorders, learning differences, sensory processing issues, and other neurodevelopmental issues.

The cost for nonmembers to take the course is $67/person or $115/couple. If you are a PEP member (not to be confused with the special education preschool program), the cost is $58/person or $107/couple. The class will take place at the PEP offices (10100 Connecticut Avenue) in Kensington. Download a printable copy of the registration form by clicking here and choosing "PEP Class Registration Form." The course number for this seminar is #506.

Event Summary for the Week of April 5, 2010

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

Tuesday, April 6:

Saturday Adaptive Technology Sessions

The Rockville Disability Resource Center offers Saturday Adaptive Technology Sessions for parents, adults, and students (elementary through high school) to bring their questions.

Due to limited seating, registration is required. These sessions take place in the computer lab at the Rockville Library (21 Maryland Avenue) in Rockville from 1-3 p.m. For more information, call 240-777-0959.

Upcoming sessions will take place on April 10, May 1, and June 5.

Teleconference: How Well Is Your IEP Written?

The Parents' Place of Maryland will offer a teleconference on IEPs on April 6 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Parent educator Missy Alexander will lead the teleconference called "How Well Is Your IEP Written?"

Topics to be covered include information about what an IEP is, what is contained in a successful IEP, what needs to be considered when developing a successful IEP, what goals and objectives are, and what is the parent's role in developing an IEP.

For more information, contact Rochelle at 800-394-5694 ext. 104 or The teleconference will be available as an audio file after it takes place.

Professional Workshops at TLC

The Treatment and Learning Centers is offering a series of workshops this spring covering a number of autism-related issues. Each workshop costs $30 in advance and $35 at the door.

Workshops take place at TLC ( 2301 Research Boulevard) in Rockville. Use this link to print out a registration form that you can print out and mail to TLC with a check. Space is limited. For more information, contact Julie Bobrow at 301-424-5200 ext. 147 or

April 6, 6:30-8:30 p.m.—Sensory Integration Strategies for the Classroom: Professionals working with children at the preschool level will be provided with strategies to use in the classroom or school setting for children with attention, coordination & sensory issues.

April 15, 6:15-8:15 p.m.—Understanding, Helping & Coping with Bullies in the Classroom: This workshop is designed to help parents and individuals who work with children better understand why some children become bullies, how to help these children decrease their bullying behavior and how to help other children deal with bullying behavior.

April 20, 6:30-8:30 p.m.—I Don't Care About You: Encouraging Tolerance & Flexibility in Young Children: This workshop will identify why flexibility and adaptability are important skills to nurture in young children and address techniques to teach and practice with young children in the classroom. Attendees will learn how to encourage parents to model flexibility for their young children.

April 27, 6-8 p.m.—When to Refer a Child for a Speech-Language Evaluation: This workshop will give attendees information regarding the normal variation of speech and language development as well as risk factors and signs that indicate a child might benefit from speech and language services.

May 4, 6-8 p.m.—How to Encourage Oral Expression in Young Children: Professionals will be given information and practical tips on expanding children's language skills, including how to use turn taking, imitation, building/scaffolding, connecting nonverbally and pretending.

May 11, 6:30-8:30 p.m.—Ways to Prevent Hitting, Biting & Other Forms of Bad Behavior: Professionals working with children between the ages of 2½ - 6 will receive practical information to prevent bad behavior and will be given specific ways to address biting, kicking, etc.

Honestly Autism Day

It's a little outside Montgomery County, but the 1st Annual Honestly Autism Day (link opens a PDF file) sounds like a great conference. This conference, sponsored by the Autism Society of Baltimore-Chesapeake & the Baltimore County Public Schools Office of Special Education, takes place on April 24 from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

Some of the speakers and topics are:

• William Stixrud on Self-Regulation in Children with ASD

• Amber Eisenmann on Addressing Sexuality with
Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum

• Janelle Love on Common Autism Issues: Constipation, Diarrhea, and Sleep

• Kama Dwyer & Jennifer Langenberg on Visual Communication Systems and Strategies

• Chris Swanson on Tips for Maximizing Outcomes for Children with Autism

• Carol Kranowitz on Sensory Strategies

• Presentations by Chase Johnson and others with ASDs about their personal stories

The conference will take place at New Town High School (4931 New Town Boulevard) in Owings Mills. The cost of the day is $20 per person and includes breakfast and lunch. Registration information is included on the last page of the event PDF.

"B" Social Camp Open House

Fitness for Health and Early Intervention Therapists are offering a "B" Social Mini Camp this August and have scheduled an open house on April 25 for parents to learn more about the camp and ask questions while their children play and have fun on the equipment.

The Open House will take place from 5-6:30 p.m. in the first floor gym at Fitness for Health (11140 Rockville Pike, Suite 303) in Rockville.

The "B" Social Mini Camp, for kids 6-14, integrates social cognitive thinking with motor activities. A team of professionals, including speech therapists from Early Intervention Therapists and the staff at Fitness for Health will lead the camp.

For more questions about the camp, contact Julie Schumacher at 301-231-7138 or You can register online for the camp.