The Treatment and Learning Centers
December 2021 E-Newsletter
A Message from the Executive Director
As we enter the winter season, there are many opportunities throughout the holidays to enjoy family, friends, and special events. Although good sense and caution is still necessary, we can celebrate the ability to expand our time with others. We are grateful for the generous support and loyalty our community has gifted us in an ever-changing world. That support and loyalty has allowed those we serve to continue to receive the services they need, to make progress, achieve goals and experience success. The smiles and feedback we receive from our TLC community deeply touches us as we fulfill our mission to improve lives and expand possibilities.

Stay tuned for information on the spring event for our TLC 70+/KTS 25+ Anniversary Celebration. We are hopeful that we can host a safe, in-person, event to recognize our long TLC history. 

Have a safe and happy holiday season surrounded by those you love.  

Patricia A. Ritter, PhD
Executive Director, The Treatment and Learning Centers 
Outpatient Services
Speech-Language Pathology and Occupational Therapy
The Outpatient Speech-Language Pathology and Occupational Therapy departments have been busy this fall! We offered our annual FREE Back to School Speech-Language and Occupational Therapy Screenings. We screened over 80 children from ages two and up in our outpatient clinic, but also in schools in the area. The timing of these screenings is important in providing necessary detection and intervention to set children up for success in the new school year. We are also busy in hiring additional staff to meet the growing needs of our department, mostly in the popular afterschool and Saturday appointment time slots. If your child needs a screening, or if your daycare or school would like to screen their students, contact us at 301-424 5200 x159; email our speech-language pathology department at speech@ttlc.org; and/or email our occupational therapy at: occupationaltherapy@ttlc.org
Feeding Therapy Department
At TLC, our goal is to make mealtimes an enjoyable experience for families. Therapists work with children and their families to determine the cause of feeding challenges and to develop personalized plans to promote healthy eating habits. Learn more about our Feeding Therapy Program in our video!
Winter Activities
The leaves are falling and temperatures are dropping. Time for some activities and games to keep your child having fun and learning language through the winter!

The Hide A Kiss Game

This game is a wonderful way to work on basic concepts (e.g., on, under, and between). Hide chocolate kisses around the house. You can give your children clues as to where the kisses are (e.g., one is near the vase). After your child finds a chocolate kiss, s/he has to describe where it was located (e.g., “to the left of the green vase” or “under the rug”).  
Sequencing/Storytelling Activities

You and your child can make snowflakes, and then teach other people how to make them. When your child teaches someone how to do an activity, have him/her tell the person what materials are needed and then explain how to do the activity step-by-step.

What you need:
  • Several pieces of paper
  • Scissors
  • Tape

What you do: 
  1. Take a piece of paper and fold it up as many times as you can.
  2. Cut out different shapes. The more you cut out the more interesting your design will be. (Be careful not to cut out too much, or your snowflake will fall apart).
  3. After you finish cutting out your shapes, unfold the paper and look at your surprise design. You’ve made a snowflake!
  4. Take a piece of tape and tape your snowflake to a window.
Snow Picture Scene

What you need:
  • A square or rectangle piece of cardboard (at least 9 inches in size).
  • Colored construction paper or cloth pieces. You will need colors such as brown, black, orange, green and red.
  • Cotton gauze 
  • One piece of aluminum foil
  • Blue paint and a paint brush
  • Glue
  • Scissors

What you do: 
  1. Paint the cardboard piece blue and let dry completely.
  2. Cut out a brown tree trunk and brown branches and glue them onto the cardboard to form a tree.
  3. Cut out green bushes and glue them onto the cardboard by the tree.
  4. To make snow, glue on cotton gauze pieces to tree, bushes and ground.
  5. Cut gauze pieces to make a snowman, and glue to the cardboard. Then, cut out a hat, scarf, face, buttons and glue them onto the snowman.
  6. Cut a small circle of aluminum foil to be the moon and several long triangles to be icicles. Glue the moon in the sky and the icicles on the tree branches.
Testing, Tutoring, and Counseling Department
Surviving the Holidays
The holiday season is upon us with all its magic and excitement! This time of year often includes many of our favorite holiday traditions. Many parties and get-togethers are being planned and lots of activities are having their “end of the year” events. This year it is even more exciting as families and friends are starting to get together more, even starting to travel again. It’s a time of anticipation! A time to celebrate! A time to eat really good food and to stay up later than normal! 

However, in this flurry of excitement and energy, it can also be a time that brings an avalanche of meltdowns! Even kids who are fairly even-keeled can lose control of their emotions in all the added activity and energy that the holiday season brings. So, families with kids who already struggle with BIG emotions during the rest of the year, could find themselves feeling anxious and anticipating the worst. 
Here are some survival strategies that will help everyone get through the holidays with (hopefully) a little less drama. 

  • Make a schedule for your child so they know what to expect each day. This could be as simple or detailed as your child needs to feel comfortable. It could include approximate times they’ll be arriving and/or leaving, who might be there, and some things to expect or prepare for while they are there. 
  • Be sure to set aside some quiet or downtime, or just some “me” time, especially before a busy evening. Encourage your child to take a nap, engage in a quiet activity, or get outside to burn off some excess energy before the festivities begin.
  • Take time for yourself in a similar way. Hire a babysitter or arrange a playdate so that you can get in some uninterrupted shopping, cleaning, or cooking done, or just to have a quiet couple of hours to yourself. This will help you to maintain your own calmness and keep your emotions in check. Children look to the adults in their lives for how to react in situations, so keeping your cool will help your child keep theirs.
  • Recognize the signs when your child is starting to get overwhelmed during the party or celebration so you can help them manage their feelings. Develop a “secret signal” to check in with them or help them get out of a situation. This could be a special word or a simple thumbs up. Make certain rooms “off limits” to guests so kids have a place to go when they are feeling overwhelmed or tired. Also, allow kids to put certain toys away that they don’t want others playing with. This can eliminate some conflicts and meltdowns before they even start. If you’re visiting, find a quiet place to sit and talk, or take a short walk to get some air. 
  • Finally, try to keep reasonable expectations for how the day will go and plan for the hiccups along the way. This means balancing your needs and the needs of your child, setting boundaries with family and friends, and planning ahead.

Happy holidays everyone!  
The Katherine Thomas School
Lower/Middle School Updates
The school year is off to a great start. We just finished the first marking period. Students and staff have remained relatively healthy and have had minimal group quarantines, likely due to everyone’s adherence to the Health and Safety Plan. This year, the elementary school added the Boost Program - a program that provides students with a lower-than-average student-to-staff ratio (3:1) and intensive reading intervention using evidenced-based practices from a specialized reading teacher. This program was previously only offered in Middle School. The Parent Association has been very active this year, hosting the Back to School Fall Picnic in September and the Fall Spooktacular in November. Students, families and staff have had such fun participating in these exciting community events. The lower/middle school team is thankful for all of the support from families and other supporters as we move forward with another healthy and productive school year
High School: Life After KTS for 2021 Alumni Fia
KTS is very proud of our students who persevere and make remarkable accomplishments despite challenges. Instruction at KTS is always aimed at enabling students to make smooth transitions from one stage to another. Fia, a 2021 graduate of KTS, is a student that we are very proud of. While at KTS, Fia was a very hard worker and received numerous awards and recognitions for her efforts. Most recently, in 2019, Fia was one of two students selected to give a speech and present her artwork in Annapolis, MD through “Celebrating Through Art: The First Lady's Mental Health Awareness.” We recently caught up with Fia and her mother Stacy to share Fia’s experiences, insights, lessons learned, and the transition from KTS to college.
Tell me about Fia. How long did she attend KTS?
Fia is a responsible, kind and creative student who has high-functioning autism. She attended KTS for eight years from 5th grade until she graduated in June 2021. Fia is now a freshman student at a top-rated, college in Leesburg, Florida for students with learning disabilities, dyslexia, and ADHD.

If you could describe your KTS experience in 3 words, what would they be?
Open-minded, Respectful, and Fun.

What is Fia’s best memory from KTS?
Attending the fall and spring Fiestas and making a lot of good friends there who understood her.

What or who motivated you most at KTS?
Some of my favorite teachers throughout the years motivated me to be curious and do my best work. Also running club motivated me to strive to get stronger and to be a mentor and good leader.

What was your favorite class and teacher, and why?
My middle school English teacher, Mr. Matt Vadney, inspired me to love reading — all kinds of different materials. And my high school English and Geography teacher, Ms. Laura Wilson, inspired me to explore poetry and classical literature and to learn about new cultures around the world.

How did the school prepare you for your college and life in general?
Over the years, KTS taught me how to self-advocate and practice little by little over the years. I also took an internship class as a junior that gave me some real life work experience.

Do you keep up with other alumni?
Yes, I stay in touch with some of my closest friends that I attended KTS with for years.

What has been your biggest success in college?
I am doing really well at college. I am living independently —in a dorm apartment with four other freshman and I have made a wonderful group of friends. I have been successfully navigating the academic and social rigors of college life, regularly expanding my use of the college supports (such as regularly meeting with my Learning Specialist, instructors and using the Writing Center). I have been using my problem-solving and self-advocacy skills that I learned at KTS.

What advice would you give students who are about to graduate high school?
Don’t be afraid to be yourself — use your strategies and your support resources. Be brave to experience new things in the world … that’s how we become wise. Be kind and loving and patient with yourself and set goals for what you want to do in your life.
The Outcomes Service
Montgomery County Council Recognition of TLC
October was National Employment Disability Awareness Month, and The Montgomery County Council recognized the efforts, passion, and commitment of TLC for helping individuals with disabilities live and work within our community. We were honored to be recognized! Dr. Pat Ritter, Executive Director of TLC, accepted the honor on behalf of TLC and gave a brief speech recognizing the other organizations awarded. In her speech, Dr. Ritter emphasized that employing an individual with disabilities supports community inclusion, increased independence for the individual, and provides a diverse workforce and a valued employee, which makes good business sense. TLC hopes that this recognition will raise awareness and result in even more job opportunities for individuals with disabilities in Montgomery County.
Community Development Services (CDS) Update
TLC Outcomes started venturing out in the community with individuals supported in Community Development Services (CDS) funded by the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) in Maryland this summer as participants had been vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine and wanted to get out and explore the world again. You may be asking what are CDS services? CDS are Community-based activities that provide the participant (person served) access and supports to engage in community-based activities for development, acquisition, and maintenance of skills.  The end goal is to increase the individual’s independence related to community integration with individuals without disabilities. 

TLC Outcomes began providing virtual support services in the spring of 2020 because of a Maryland State mandate to stay at home. TLC is now helping those we support to expand options for community integration. Many individuals we support have had great anxiety because of COVID-19 and there is some hesitancy to get back out in the community again. TLC is helping those we support to access the community and, in some cases, instructing on health and safety in the community as some of these skills were lost while being at home for several months and being afraid to go out. As noted in a recent Department of Justice (DOJ) publication, crimes against individuals with disabilities has been increasing, therefore being aware of your surroundings is critical. TLC Outcomes had Montgomery County police officers provide some training on community safety in October 2021 to individuals supported and their families. This was provided virtually to help everyone feel safe.

CDS is provided in a variety of community settings and activities that promote opportunities for increased independence and inclusion. Currently, community-based CDS programing is focusing on developing and strengthening socially acceptable behavior, learning self-advocacy skills, and building and strengthening relationships in the local community. TLC Outcomes anticipates that CDS activities will again include volunteer opportunities for those served early in 2022, with a goal of obtaining paid employment. Currently, volunteer sites that work with TLC Outcomes have not permitted a small group of volunteers to come and volunteer due to concerns around health and safety and the ability to keep everyone safe.

TLC currently has four CDS groups that meet out in the community. The numbers of groups are increasing monthly. We had one group in August 2021. The groups are no larger than four (4) individuals with a TLC Outcomes Staff. The current groups meet in Germantown, Gaithersburg and we have two groups that meet at two different locations in Silver Spring to start the day. You may be asking yourself where are the groups going as there is still many limitations to what is open? The individuals we support have made many suggestions as to where to go or the type of activities. TLC has been in the community in many locations. The locations include Croydon Creek Nature Center, Germantown Splash Park, Germantown Mini Golf, Gaithersburg Community Museum, Brookside Gardens, Constitution Gardens Park, National Museum for Health and Medicine, Days End Horse Farm, Robinson Nature Center, and Smithsonian Museums. Participants practiced travel training to learn how to get around in the community for things such as leisure activities, shopping, medical appointments, volunteer jobs or paid employment without support of TLC Outcomes staff or family.   
TLC Outcomes’ Lynda Rockey Received Direct Support Professional Recognition Award 
As we celebrated Direct Support Professional Recognition Week (DSP) week in October, TLC Outcomes staff member Lynda Rockey was recognized with a DSP award. She was invited to a Baltimore Orioles Game in appreciation and was presented with a Governor’s Citation from Governor Larry Hogan. Congrats Lynda and thank you to the whole team for all that you do all year long in supporting our individuals and making TLC a quality program! 
The Family Hearing Center
The Family Hearing Center team is committed to providing our community with the best quality of care and services possible and deeply value the trust you place in us. In an effort to keep you informed of important health news, we personally wanted to let you know about a recently published study that correlated hearing aid use with a slower rate of cognitive decline. Evidence suggests that people who proactively manage their hearing health have a greater tendency to be socially engaged, less depressed and more self-confident in their ability to communicate effectively in everyday listening situations. Staying socially engaged and physically active ultimately improves your quality of life.

Whether you currently use hearing aids or generally experience difficulty hearing, routine care is imperative to maintaining good hearing health. If it has been more than one year since you last had a hearing test or have new concerns related to your hearing or balance, we invite you to call (301) 738-1415 to schedule an appointment for a hearing evaluation. 

All of our audiologists hold a master’s or doctorate in audiology and provide a full spectrum of medical-based hearing care. We look forward to seeing you!
You’re Invited: An Exclusive Hearing Health Event. December 6-17
You are invited to experience the pure, natural sound of WIDEX MOMENT™ hearing aids. These rechargeable devices are available in a variety of styles and deliver a personalized hearing experience.
Development Department
Giving Tuesday
Giving Tuesday was November 30th. Thanks to everyone who gave during this national holiday. #GivingTLCDay was a huge success. We were able to raise over $41,500. We especially want to thank our matching grant donors who made a commitment to improve lives and expand possibilities: GEICO, GMMB, TLC Board of Directors, Conrad and Lois Aschenbach, Mullins, PC.
Giving Season
We are beginning the Giving Season. Please consider TLC as your charity of choice during the season. Here are several ways you can make an impact.

Napa Valley Raffle
Congratulations to our Raffle Prize Winner. The winner was chosen on November 3rd. We are excited to report we raised nearly $28,000 from the event. Thanks to all who participated and for supporting our mission.
Raise the Roof Improvements
Over the summer, it was anything but lazy days at KTS! Thanks to the generosity of our community who supported the Raise the Roof campaign, we were able to complete improvement projects so we can continue to meet the changing needs of our community. In addition to the building improvements, the support of our community has made it possible to purchase 140 new Chromebooks! A picture of our new modular building is on the left. Improvements included:

  • Several bathrooms were remodeled.
  • The HVAC unit serving the main gym was replaced.
  • The modular building was installed.
  • 12 additional cameras were added throughout the interior.
  • All the doors were rekeyed to a new master key system.
  • Lower school classroom/breakout rooms were repainted.