Growing pains welcome at Bryam private school

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:17

    BYRAM-The demand for programs geared toward children with relating and communicating disorders is rapidly increasing. But a behavioral therapist at a new private school in Byram that specializes in teaching social skills to pre-school and elementary age children with autism said at a meeting of the town council this week that the growing pains are welcome. "It's a pleasant problem," said Monica Osgood, founder and director of Celebrate the Children, a facility for special needs children located at the lower level of the former Byram Consolidated School on Lackawanna Avenue. "There's a growing need for places for children on the autistic spectrum. People are finding out about us. We are providing a good quality program and parents as well as school district personnel are spreading the word." Osgood said enrollment has grown from 13 to 25 students since the day the school opened in January and the facility hosts up to five to 10 visitations a week by parents and educators looking for placements. Celebrate the Children, she said, sometimes must turn down requests for services on a daily basis due to the lack of space and trained professionals. "Our numbers are going to continue to increase rapidly," said Osgood, who first started a similar program six years ago in Mount Arlington. "The amount of space we will need is going to increase rapidly and we want to maintain quality services all the way around, from the program we provide to the building we are in." Osgood is asking the town council to consider extending the leasing agreement to include on-site custodial services. "We love Byram," said Osgood, herself a township resident. "Our children like it here. We're happy with where we're at. We would like to stay here and possibly grow a little more." Celebrate the Children provides day school, early intervention, after school programs, summer camp, parent/sibling training and support facility, and consultation services to individual families and other private and public schools in Sussex, Morris, Warren and Essex counties, said Lauren Blaszak, assistant director. "It's definitely a place where every morning the children come in with a big smile on their faces," she said. "We make it a place that's home for them, too. Everything is going well right now, but it's constant monitoring and development of the program to keep the quality as it is." Officials at Celebrate the Children believe more children are being diagnosed on the autism spectrum, with Down's syndrome, expressive language delay, and mild physical disabilities disorders in relating now than in previous years. With more children receiving early intervention, there has been an increase in the number of these children entering regular school settings.