School Contingency Plan COVID-19

ECLC’s Chatham school enrolls around 160 students with a range of special needs, primarily autism, Down syndrome and multiple disabilities. The goal is to mirror a “typical” school experience with clubs, activities, trips, proms and a beautiful graduation ceremony!

At the same time, students are prepared for life after graduation with a renowned Transition Program, beginning at age 14. The program begins with in-house work experiences and eventually places students into actual work places. Students learn basic jobs skills and get a taste for the type of job they might pursue as an adult.

After graduation, students have two potential paths. They can find a job with support from the Employment Specialists in ECLC’s Community Personnel Services (CPS), or they can enroll in ECLC’s PRIDE Adult Program, if appropriate, with a center in nearby Florham Park.


Award-Winning Speech Therapist

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

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

Laura Koch is part of the Chatham school team that provides specialized services and supports as part of the students’ Individualized Education Plan, or IEP She works with about 20 students each year, all have significant, lifelong challenges, including Down syndrome, autism and other special needs.

She relishes the rich reward of helping students enhance their communication skills. “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.”

Among accolades, Koch was picked as the “Related Services Provider of the Year” in Region II by ASAH, the umbrella organization for schools and agencies serving children with special needs. This annual award is part of a competition among schools throughout the state. Read more.

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Chatham School Opens New Sensory Room

Occupational therapist Mary Rooney works with students in the Sensory Room.

Our Chatham school has found tremendous success with providing sensory breaks, “sensory diets” and sensory input to help students regulate. A dedicated Sensory Room creates a permanent space for this purpose. It creates an atmosphere of calm and includes equipment that students can utilize with staff to smooth out their emotional states. The room is a “Snoezelen Room” and delivers stimuli to various senses, using dim, lighting effects, color, gentle pressure, sounds, music, scents and vibration. Read more.

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Peer Connections

ECLC collaborates with nearby schools to nurture opportunities for inclusion, such as:

  • Participating in friendly field days, sports clinics, evening and after-school programs
  • Playing on teams through the Special Olympics Unified Team
  • The longtime, award-winning PAIRS (Partners in Afterschool Inclusive Recreation for Special Needs) Program with Millburn High School students, who come to play basketball; create arts and crafts projects, play board games; and socialize.
  • Chatham High School launched the “Teens Connecting with Teens” club to forge new friendships with ECLC students. This club organizes activity nights and special events throughout the year.

These programs, teams and special events benefit both our students and those from other schools, creating greater understanding and awareness about children with special needs.

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