Sue mesmerized attendees with the story of her life journey, from losing her hearing at 18 months and learning to speak and lip read, to working as an undercover agent with the F.B.I. and traveling the world as an inspirational speaker. Recalling her visit that morning to the Sound Start’s Ivy Nursery at The Lake Drive School, Sue shared how impressed she was with the expertise and dedication of the staff teaching toddlers who are deaf and hearing impaired how to speak and communicate. “Because of this program, I know these children are going to succeed. I saw one little boy and I thought, he’s going to be a football player. Another one had recently had his cochlear implants activated and loved to talk and talk. He’s going to be a politician,” Sue joked. And when Sue said to the guests, “Show me the money!” they listened.
According to Gala chair Lis Olivo of Morristown, the event raised $90,000, which included more than $20,000 donated to a new initiative, Scholarships for a Sound Start. “State funding covers only one third of the cost of Sound Start services,” Olivo explains. “covers all therapies and services for one child, changing a life Scholarship donors will have a personal connection. They are invited to the classroom for special events and receive updates on the students’ exciting progress and milestones. For seniors especially who may have hearing challenges themselves, it is a meaningful way to make a difference.”
The Gala honored Audiologist Dr. Laura Crawford, the Director of Newborn Hearing Screening for MidAtlantic Newborn and Infant Medical Services (MANIMS). Dr. Crawford oversees the comprehensive hearing screening services within the newborn and intensive care nurseries for 10,000 babies annually at four major hospitals, Morristown Medical Center, Overlook Medical Center, St. Clare’s Hospital and Chilton Hospital. Early identification of hearing loss is critical in order to maximize the short window of early brain development for communication and learning. The goal is to screen at birth, diagnose hearing loss by 3 months and to provide early intervention services by 6 months.Butler resident, Lauren Bredolo, a parent of a child in The Sound Start Program presented the award to Dr. Crawford. Bredolo’s son Jake was only four days old when Dr. Crawford and MANIMS specialists identified his hearing loss at Chilton Hospital. “I want to thank Dr. Crawford for Jake’s all-important first hearing tests and excellent follow up with our family,” Bredolo shared. “Additional testing a month later confirmed the diagnosis: his hearing loss was severe to profound. By the time Jake was four months old he was in The Sound Start program and at six months he had hearing aids. It was a very exciting day when Jake got his hearing aids. Our audiologist turned them on and I remember we cried because Jake cried when he heard his first sounds. Jake attended Sound Start’s Ivy Nursery School in its very first year. Today Jake speaks so well, because of this full day, 5 days a week intensive program! Your newborn screening program led to our wonderful experiences at Sound Start and has given Jake the chance to reach for the stars.” Operating under the award winning Lake Drive Programs for Children Who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Mountain Lakes, Sound Start provides family education and support and intensive early intervention therapies for babies with hearing loss from birth through age three from throughout northern and central New Jersey.
“Without early identification and programs like Sound Start,” explains Dr. Laura McKirdy, co-founder of The Lake Drive School and Sound Start Program, “children with mild to moderate hearing loss, on average, achieve one to four grade levels lower than their peers with normal hearing. Children with severe to profound hearing loss usually achieve skills no higher than the third- or fourth-grade level. But when babies with hearing loss get appropriate intervention from birth to age three, they can acquire age appropriate communications skills by the time they are five. ”At age three, graduates of The Sound Start Program may be mainstreamed in preschool programs in their home community or continue in The Lake Drive Programs. Lake Drive offers New Jersey’s most comprehensive continuum of educational opportunities for children with hearing loss from birth to high school graduation. The school serves 200 children annually from throughout northern and central New Jersey. Lake Drive specialists also provide itinerant resources to school districts who have children with hearing loss mainstreamed in their schools.
The 2013 For the Babies Gala is Scheduled for May 16 at The Villa in Mountain Lakes. Please join us!