A Message from the Executive Director 
Happy New Year to our extraordinary community! I’m sure you welcome 2021 with open arms, like myself. 2020 is a year for the history books and will not be easily forgotten. The extraordinary circumstances touched all our lives. The TLC community has displayed strength in a year of adjustments. I am hoping that I can keep the words, “unprecedented event”, “challenging times” "perseverance” “grit” and “flexibility” to a minimum in my vocabulary. I will use them all right now to thank you for your herculean efforts to serve our TLC community while dealing with your own personal challenges that 2020 brought to our lives. We navigated these uncharted waters together, as a community. The community’s trust in our ability to serve was not lost on us, and to show our gratitude, we created an appreciation video.

I am grateful for the TLC community that supported us throughout the entire year with a commitment to our services, financial support through generous donations, and a passion for our mission through one of the most difficult times we have encountered. I am hopeful with recent breakthroughs that we will finally recognize our 70th anniversary with a celebratory event that we can enjoy together.

I will continue to say that I am PROUD of our TLC community and grateful that we are together on this journey.  
Patricia A. Ritter, PhD
Executive Director, The Treatment and Learning Centers 
Occupational Therapy and Speech-Language Pathology

The Occupational Therapy and Speech-Language Pathology Departments are continuing to offer free screenings throughout the winter. The screenings can be done virtually or in-office. The screenings are by appointment only; call 301-424-5200 x159 or nherndon@ttlc.org to schedule.

Now is the time to use those holiday gift cards on toys recommended by TLC’s Occupational Therapy department! The Occupational Therapy department clinicians released their list of 2020 recommended toys. The list can be found here. These toys were found to be fun, educational, and therapeutic to encourage development and growth.
Coming Soon! Virtual Valentine Craft Event
TLC is hosting a free virtual Valentine craft event for your child to make something special for the holiday. Your child will join TLC’s Occupational Therapists via Zoom to create a Valentine-tastic masterpiece.

When? February 10th at 3:30 (ages 3 to 6) and 4:00 (ages 6 to 12).

Stay tuned, we will update our social media channels with more details soon.
Feeding Therapy
TLC offers feeding therapy services for children of all ages. Our goal is to make mealtimes enjoyable for families including those with children who are picky eaters. We strive to promote healthy eating habits. Here are some tips to make mealtimes more fun and productive.
Testing, Tutoring, and Counseling 

Mental Health Check-In
Melissa N. Smith, Ph.D., Director
Testing, Tutoring, and Counseling Department

Today everyone is following updates on the coronavirus and taking a self-assessment of their hygiene habits. One positive outcome is that people are more aware of the measures they can take to keep themselves and others safer and healthier. So, while we are taking a health assessment, it would be a great time to take a mental health assessment too! Here are some tips on staying mentally healthy during times of stress and uncertainty:

There have been several studies that have shown the stressful impact of constantly checking in on a 24-hour news cycle. Designate one or two times per day to check in on news events and avoid rechecking throughout the day.

Notice how your body feels when reading the news. Is your heart beating faster, do you feel anxious, or do you have difficulty moving on after you have read an article? We tell our consumers and students to do deep breathing all the time, but it works for us too! Take a few moments to count your in-breath and outbreath. See if you can make your breath slower and slower. Notice your inner and outer experiences with a curiosity and a nonjudgmental awareness. Deep breathing and mindfulness exercises lower our cortisol hormone (the stress hormone) and blood pressure, and increase dopamine (the feel-good neurotransmitter).

Don’t neglect your self-care needs. Getting proper sleep, eating healthy, and exercising will ease your stress and anxiety too!

Worry about only what you can change. It does not help to worry about uncontrollable events, even though it can be a hard to stop. Set aside a designated time to worry. List all your worries, and cross out those that you can do nothing about. Then make a plan about the things you can change and focus on your plan, not the worry. Check in on your plans at the designated worry time and push yourself to avoid thinking about them at other times.

Find your joy. Are you someone who gets your energy from others (i.e., an extrovert)? Seek comfort from your family or close friends. Are you someone who rejuvenates when alone (i.e. an introvert)? Find some quality alone time to engage in enjoyable activities.
Is worry impacting your daily functioning and making it hard to enjoy life? If so, reach out to your HR Department or a licensed mental health professional. Your HT Department can connect you to EAP services.

Most of all, remember we are all in this together. Each one of us it trying to make sense of our world and figure out how to live our best lives. Outside events are constantly evolving and new threats feel ever on the horizon. However, we only have today, this hour, this moment in which to experience our lives. Let’s make the most of it!
The last several months of virtual to hybrid and back to virtual school have been challenging for all of us in many ways, but we are looking forward to being back in person as soon as we can safely do so. Our administrative team continues to monitor the Covid metrics and will be in touch with all of you as soon as we have more information on moving back to in-person learning.
Social Justice Week
Every year, the high school program enjoys an intersession week between the first and second semesters, led by an Artist-in-Residence. The students are grouped in cohorts, and they spend one period each day with the artist. For the rest of the day, they participate in supplemental classes and activities led by high school staff that support the week's theme and focus. In recent years, intersession week topics have included learning slam poetry, Capoeira (and Brazil), STEAM, and felting. This year, the high school staff will be the Artists-in-Residence, with a focus on Social Justice. 

During the Social Justice Week, the students will be following frameworks from Teaching Tolerance to promote social justice and challenge bias. These frameworks include understanding what shapes our identities and how identity has many characteristics and affects relationships, understanding diversity and developing respectful ways to discuss similarities and differences with others, understanding justice and recognizing unfairness on the individual and institutional level, and learning different ways of understanding, experiencing, and taking action. After the students are immersed in these timely and significant topics, the learning will not stop at the end of the week, but will be embedded in the academic and social-emotional curricula so that all of our students will be " active participants in a diverse democracy."
In the Classroom
KTS Music Teacher Ms. Health took a screenshot of Ms. Ramos’ lively Social Studies class! That day, the task of the class was to interpret an old West African story, The Epic of Sundiata, from Mali. Previously, the class watched a presentation of the story from traditional Griots (oral storytellers) who performed it as well. Students wrote their interpretation of what they heard and saw.
Parent Virtual Support Group 
KTS now has a virtual Parent Support Group. Each meeting will begin with a brief discussion of a monthly topic followed by an open forum for support. Meetings are scheduled for the first Thursday of each month, 5:15 – 6:15pm. For more information, contact Tonya Logan at tlogan@ttlc.org
Virtual Programs
TLC Outcomes Virtual Programming has been in place since Spring/Summer 2020. Since then we have had several virtual programs offered throughout the day that are designed to bring consumers together to work on social integration, social communication, job development, job seeking assistance, and sometimes just for fun.
Virtual Social Communication Group

Our Virtual Social Communication group is facilitated by our speech-language pathologist, Meika Billings. The group meets weekly to work on strategies to improve conversational skills, nonverbal communication skills, and interpersonal skills. The aim of the group is to help consumers communicate effectively and develop positive relationships with others in the community.

What Consumers have to say about Social Communication Group:
  • Meika is an amazing person and she makes us happy. I love playing kahoot.
  • I like Meika. It’s fun.
  • Meika is serious but I respect that and she makes us focus.
  • I like when we talk about communication and when we talk about how to ask follow-up questions. We also talk about taking charge, and listening when talking.
  • I like answering the questions when we play kahoot.
  • I like making friends and I think Meika is the best teacher.

YouTube Support and Social Skills Group

When the shutdown happened in March, Donna Cruickshank, social worker for Outcomes, began immediately posting daily YouTube videos to support and stay connected to the consumers and their families. Currently, the videos are posted once per week and continue to offer mental health advice to help the consumers stay sane during an insane time. Additionally, she conducts a weekly Social Emotional/Yoga workshop to address emotions, relationships, communication as well as larger community issues such as racism.

What consumers had to say about Social Skills Group:
  • Donna is very helpful. I like that we talk about different things that are useful. I like how caring and supportive Donna is.
  • I like the yoga. I’ve been so stressed and it helps me for the rest of the day.
  • I like the yoga. I like when we do the stretches.
  • I love Donna. She is amazing, funny, helpful, and helps us calm down. She puts us in a good mood. I love her dog Sophie. Donna makes our day.
  • I like hanging out.
  • Donna makes us feel better and cheers us up. Donna is kind and caring.
  • I like Donna’s sense of humor and trying different yoga poses. She lets me play my music.
  • I like the friendships, being friendly, and hanging out.
  • I like Donna, my friends, and fun.

Job Club

Our virtual Job Club runs daily Monday – Friday and explores several areas of job development and exploration, such as self-advocacy in the workplace, workplace expectations, interviewing skills, the dos and don’ts when applying for jobs, and exploring individual job leads.

What consumers had to say about Job Club:
  • I like the job leads.
  • I like to talk about advocacy and interviewing.
  • My favorite thing is learning job skills.
  • It’s fun. I’m not going to work right now because of the pandemic. I learn at job club. It’s good.
  • Job club has the best trainers. Jarrett, Rob, Brendan, and Owen. They are so good at what they do and it’s enjoyable.
  • I like learning about how to get a job so I can get out of the house someday.
  • I like learning skills for work, and how to answer questions in an interview.

Community Development Services (CDS) Activities

Our CDS Activities, run by various Outcomes staff via zoom, offers a variety of virtual tours and activities to increase social interaction between consumers and staff and to virtually integrate into the community. A calendar goes out monthly with several activities featured per day to choose from.

What consumers had to say about CDS activities:
  • I love the virtual tours of different countries and learning traditions around the world.
  • I like any activity that includes trivia.
  • I like dance workshop and cooking workshop.
  • I like all the activities with Lynda (a staff member).

Disney Trivia Club

The very popular Disney Trivia Club meets weekly and tests consumer’s knowledge on everything Disney! From movies, to songs, to television shows. This fun and interactive group gives consumers a chance to laugh together and unwind during the stressful times of the pandemic. Fun is had by all!

What Consumer had to say about Disney Trivia Club:
  • They have really good questions to answer and it’s really fun.
  • I love Disney. I also like Pixar and Star Wars.
  • I learn new, interesting facts about Disney that I did not know.
  • I love everything about it.
  • I like the funny staff.

Weekly Bingo Game

Our weekly Outcomes Bingo game has continued virtually but the fun factor has not changed one bit!

What consumers had to say about Bingo:
  • I like reminding consumers to use their free space.
  • I like when we have bingo with Nurit and Pam (staff members).
  • I like when we do virtual prizes (we choose if we had a superpower what it would be? What is our favorite TV show?).
  • I like the virtual prizes and hanging out and talking to my friends.
Free Parent Support Group
Parenting an adult child with a disability is hard and even harder when done alone. Your experience is valuable. Let’s travel this journey together!

Join Us on Thursday, January 14, 2021 (and other dates TBD)
Zoom Details to Be Sent Later

As a group, we will:
  • Help you realize the dream for your adult child
  • Support you through the tough times
  • Find balance between self and the demands of life

TLC Outcomes Social Worker Donna Cruickshank, LCSW-C will be running the group.
For questions or to enroll, please contact Donna at 240-813-6918 or dcruickshank@ttlc.org
Hear the Conversation This New Year!
$400 off when you purchase a pair of premium Phonak devices

Conversations with loved ones are especially important during the holidays. Whether you’re connecting over Zoom, or meeting together around the table, it’s important that you can join in the conversation. If you have trouble hearing, new technology may be able to help. Make an appointment and take advantage of our limited-time offer today.
The Family Hearing Center Winter
Don’t forget to check out the Winter Edition of The Family Hearing Center’s E-Newsletter. In this edition, you can find articles about how music is therapeutic and beneficial for the brain, cold weather and the impact on hearing, and information about clear masks.
Remember We Have Our Contactless Repair Service if You Don’t Want to Come In 
Gratitude is the word!
We are so grateful that our donor family stepped up to make the effects of the pandemic less severe for TLC and the families we serve. Year-end fundraising started off with our “Moment of Escape” Raffle. This year, the Leibowitz family was the winner of a luxury getaway to the Salamander Resort and Spa in the beautiful foothills of the Shenandoah!

The raffle event raised over $24,000. This took us right into Giving Tuesday, which we are excited to report allowed TLC to raise over $33,000, thanks to our sponsors and our very generous community of donors who chose TLC as their charity of choice.  Our Giving Tuesday sponsors were:
  • The TLC Board of Trustees
  • Conrad and Lois Aschenbach
  • Shulman Rogers
  • Richard and Laura Ward

In addition, over the last six weeks of 2020 our direct mail and online campaigns encouraged end of the year giving, and continue to be a way our donor family can support our causes into 2021. Our GOKTS campaign, Help Others Hear and TLC Scholarship and Subsidy letters and emails informed our donors of our most pressing needs during this pandemic. To date, these campaigns have raised over $35,000 for TLC.

Thank you to everyone who gave during this time of uncertainty and helped TLC continue our mission of improving lives and expanding possibilities.
Special Thanks to Our Gem
(Giving Every Month) Members  
Our monthly donors truly are GEMS to TLC. These individuals make monthly donations to sustain our organization throughout the year. Monthly support helps us reduce costs and makes a huge impact. We are so grateful to those who make a commitment to TLC all year long.
Mark Your Calendar for Our Golf Classic Scheduled for 2021
TLC 29th Annual Golf Classic—June 11, 2021
The Treatment and Learning Centers
2092 Gaither Rd Ste 100 Rockville, MD 20850 | 301-424-5200 | www.ttlc.org