Childrens Behavior Therapist, Author, Illustrator Michael J. Oswald

Michael J. Oswald has been able to combine his love of art, writing and working with special needs children with the publication of Serious Stories for Children: Special People. This is the culmination of a dream as his illustrations are now able to be reproduced in full cover. Serious Stories: Special People presents four stories about four very real children and how they successfully work to meet their challenges. One story, A Boy Named Monk, was co-written with a client.

There is a gentleness to the stories, written at a basic level, that is nice. While not wanting to focus on a particular disability, the main characters in My Friend Ted, A Boy Named Monk, The Girl Who Knew Enough and I Feel may exhibit characteristics of ADHD, Aspergers Syndrome, Autism and emotional issues. It is Mr. Oswald’s intention that the book help families with children with disabilities better understand the behaviors, but also for the general population to realize what these disabilities are and what is causing these children to act the way they do. Through this understanding, they will become more accepting of others with differences. These special needs children are really no different than another child sitting in a class, with equally special qualities.

With this edition I have based each new story on the challenges of a specific child or family who I have known,” Mr. Oswald says. “They are depicted here as role models of behavioral concerns and struggles that are universal. As always, an adult and child reading together can ask questions, discuss options, and personalize it to their own unique situation. If your child is one of the lucky ones who finds great success and ease in navigating their world, they can learn, together with you, that some of their friends with special needs may be struggling with managing their own lives, and gain insight into how to support them when they are together.”

Mr. Oswald received a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Illustration and Art Education from Philadelphia College of Art in 1972 (now University of the Arts), but soon realized working with children was his new career path. He had worked summers at Paley Branch/Federation Day Care Services in Northeast Philadelphia and continued to work there after graduation. He was Group Worker/Camp Program Director.

Mr. Oswald earned a Master of Arts in Group Dynamics with Special Children from Goddard College in 1975.  He participated in the Extern Program at the Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic from 1992-94, receiving a certificate in Family Therapy.

Since 1995, he has been in private practice as a Child and Family Therapist and Behavior Consultant, providing treatment and behavioral consultations for children and families with behavioral, emotional and developmental concerns. He works with mental health, mental retardation populations and children with special needs.

Mr. Oswald is Behavior Support/Behavior Specialist Consultant for Wrap Around Services, the primary mental health service for children after counseling. He consults with children, adults, parents, and staff to help determine what supports are needed to help that individual, then monitors to ensure continuity. There is direct contact with the children or adults, but also talks with teachers, counselors, or residential staff who do the actual work.  While he also provides Parenting Education, the behavior consulting is his primary focus. He uses art and games in his work with both children and adults.

Therapist, author, illustrator Michael J. Oswald reads with childrenPrior to entering private practice, Mr. Oswald served as Clinical Coordinator and Admissions Counselor for MENTOR Clinical Care in Conshohocken, PA coordinating all aspects of treatment and case management for emotionally and behavioral disturbed children and adolescents in community-based therapeutic care givers homes for short and long term placements; Behavioral Consultant for Northwestern Human Services CORE Team in Northeast Philadelphia; Executive Director Jewish Community Homes for Adult Independence in Bala Cynwyd, PA, developing and implementing all planning and start-up activities for a Jewish community-based group home program for young adults with developmental disabilities, and established the first agency designed to serve the Jewish community's residential needs for developmentally disabled adults in the Philadelphia Metropolitan area.

Additionally, he was Director of the Northeast Interfaith Consortium and Branch Director of Northeast Family Day Care.  His responsibilities were directing a family day care network serving infants, toddlers, pre-school and school-age children in home-based day care throughout Northeast Philadelphia.

From 1980-86, Mr. Oswald was Residential Administrator for Children and Youth Program at Woods Services in Langhorne, PA, directing residential programs for a cluster of residences including mentally retarded and behaviorally disturbed adolescents and adult men and women. He developed innovative new programs for retiring mentally retarded adults and persons with Praeder Willi Syndrome. Prior to that, he was Clinical Coordinator and Supervisor at the Developmental Center for Autistic Children in Philadelphia, utilizing developmentally based creative arts and relationship milieu treatment of children with autism.

Mr. Oswald has also worked as a Human Relations Specialist for the School District of Philadelphia, working towards increasing desegregation in the Philadelphia schools through training, education and conferences. He was a therapist at Albert Einstein Community Mental Health/Mental Retardation Center, developing and implementing a community-based partial hospitalization program for children ages 9 through 12 in a mental health and school-based setting. He created teaching materials and techniques for the learning disabled.

He lives in Elkins Park, PA with his wife, Lisa, where they raised Nick, Sally, Emily and Jenny. In 1978, the first Serious Stories For Children was created to assist with his work.  The stories were called: The Wrong Toy, The Shopping Trip, Friends, The Accident and Anger. It dealt with real life situations any child might experience and how they deal with it.

“…In the first Serious Stories, the goal was to write stories about the challenging issues we frequently saw with the children and wanted to provide a tangible example of how to resolve them. They were modern day fables, social stories before they were invented… It was an opportunity for children to respond to several story themes, to identify how they feel, to express those feelings, and to consider what one does with how one feels."

It wasn’t until 2000 when he published Dear Jenny, about his youngest daughter Jenny, that he returned to writing and illustrating stories.  Included in the book were Your Arrival, Getting Bigger and Your First Big Adventure, while Going to School, Jenny Searches for God, and Jenny's Newest Pet are stories that are available as download only on the Books page. In 2002, he published Serious Stories For Children, with five stories, redesigned by Mr. Oswald on the computer. That  Serious Stories for Children includes stories about real life situations any child could face: a toy
their parents won't buy for them; friends who have a fight; how one feels when a friend gets hurt
. In 2006, Three Years Apart was published about a sister and brother who experience normal childhood conflicts but grow up to enjoy a positive connection. His grandchildren were the model for the story.


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