Celebrating How We are Still Connected

The second week of May typically marks the celebration of New Jersey’s Special Education Week across the state.

Sadly, this year, the poster art contest, awards luncheon and official recognition all had to be canceled because of COVID-19.

At ECLC, we decided to celebrate, anyway, but in a safe, virtual way. We asked our Chatham and Ho-Ho-Kus school students and staff, plus community members, first responders and elected officials to create paper links, with messages about the importance of special education or just to send good wishes.

The paper links symbolize “connections” to our schools; to the community; and, most importantly, to each other. Right now, connections to one another at ECLC and within our families, friends and neighbors are how we are coping during this crisis. We may be physically apart, but together in spirit!

ECLC of New Jersey Chatham School Speech Therapist Wins Award!

Laura Koch
Laura Koch is part of the ECLC team that provides specialized services and supports as part of the students’ Individualized Education Plan, or IEP.

The progress may seem small to an outside observer. A student enunciates words a little clearer. Another student broadens their vocabulary. A third speaks, without being asked a question. But, for speech therapist Laura Koch and for her students, it’s something to celebrate!

Koch works with about 20 students each year at ECLC of New Jersey’s school in Chatham for students with disabilities. All have significant, lifelong challenges, including Down syndrome, autism and other special needs. She is part of the ECLC team that provides specialized services and supports as part of the students’ Individualized Education Plan, or IEP.

She has been with the Chatham school for six years and has relished the reward of helping dozens of children make progress in speech therapy. “From September to June, I see significant progress in social and communication abilities, which definitely brings me a great feeling of satisfaction,” said Koch. “What is even better, though, is witnessing students’ pride in their own abilities, as they begin to independently use the skills we once worked on together.”

For her success and caring, Koch has been selected as the “Related Services Provider of the Year” in Region II by ASAH, the umbrella organization for special-needs schools and agencies serving children with special needs. The award is part of an annual competition among dozens of schools. It culminates in statewide winners being named and recognized at ASAH’s annual conference in November. Read more.

Chatham School Opens New ABA Classroom for Students with Autism

The Chatham school has opened a new classroom geared especially for students with autism, using a teaching method called ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis). The school hired an ABA specialist, Taryn McLaughlin, who is excited to lead this new classroom.

The new ABA classroom continues to build a foundation of success for the growing number of students with autism.

“ABA helps the students learn by closely tracking their achievements and understanding of specific skills,” said McLaughlin. “They get a lot more one-on-one time, which also helps keep the classroom calm and behaviors in order.”

The plan is for these students to transition into the regular classrooms with their peers. “This new class is a bridge to a less restrictive environment,” said Killian. “One of the great things about ECLC is we have decades of experience working with students who have different disabilities. That gives us more flexibility and creativity in our approach.” Read more.