MICHAEL J. OSWALD RELEASES FULL-COLOR
SERIOUS STORIES FOR CHILDREN: SPECIAL PEOPLE
“They kept giving me the challenging kids,” Michael J. Oswald recalls about working summers during college at Paley Branch/Federation Day Care Services in Northeast Philadelphia. At the time, he was working toward a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Philadelphia College of Art (now University of the Arts) and he continued to work at Paley after graduating from PCA in 1972.
Now, 40 years later, Oswald might still say the children are challenging, but he also sees them as special people. Realizing this was going to be his career path, he earned a Master of Arts in Group Dynamics with Special Children from Goddard College in 1975. After numerous jobs helping children and adults with special needs, he started his private practice in 1995, 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 as well as children with special needs.
While “art became a hobby and kids my job,” he found a way to merge his art and practice by writing and illustrating stories. The first full-color book is Serious Stories for Children: Special People, a selection of four short stories about how children with special needs navigate their world. 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 (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), Asperger’s Syndrome, Autism Spectrum, emotional, developmental and behavioral issues. A Boy Named Monk was co-written with a nine-year old client.
It is Oswald’s intention that the book help families with children with special needs better understand the behaviors, but also for the general population to realize how these children may be struggling and become more accepting of others with differences. At the same time, the children in the stories are shown successfully working to meet their challenges, and "depicted as role models of behavioral concerns and struggles that are universal," says Oswald. The stories are written simply to encourage the adult reader to have a personalized discussion with their children.