Early identification, appropriate hearing technology and intensive exposure to language is vital for babies with hearing loss to optimize their IQ and establish the foundation for learning and achievement.
Founded in 1969, Sound Start is a proven, ongoing program that has helped more than 1,000 infants and toddlers develop the communication skills to achieve in school and succeed in the mainstream world.
The Sound Start Program meets and exceeds the early intervention standards set by the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing and is a leader in innovative approaches to maximize speech and language outcomes. Each year 50 children and their families from throughout northern and central New Jersey receive individualized, comprehensive services provided in the family’s home as well as in group development classes held at the Lake Drive School for Children who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Mountain Lakes. The intensive model takes full advantage of the short window of opportunity for speech and language development by providing New Jersey’s most comprehensive and intensive therapeutic interventions including:
- Family education and support services.
- A coordinated multi-disciplinary team of early intervention specialists, all with expertise in working with children with hearing loss.
- Ivy Nursery-New Jersey's only full day intensive and inclusive class for toddlers 18 months-36 months.
- The only LENA (Language ENvironment Analysis) System in New Jersey. Only two EI programs for children with hearing loss utilize this speech and language analysis system.
Family Engagement is a Priority of the Sound Start Program.
Research proves high levels of family involvement correlates with positive language outcomes, and, conversely, limited family involvement is associated with significant child language delays at 5 years of age, especially when enrollment in early intervention is late.
Because nine out of ten babies born with hearing loss are born to parents who have no experience raising a deaf child, it is vital to provide education and support to the family as early as possible. Many families need to “mourn” or may deny their child’s hearing impairment. They also need to understand the many technological and communication options open for their child. At this difficult time, our team including a consulting pediatric audiologist, psychologist, social worker and teachers of the deaf provides overwhelmed and grieving parents the support they need to parent and teach their child.
After thorough evaluations, Sound Start specialists provide the families unbiased information about approaches for establishing communication with their child. Through one-on-one therapies and parent education, families develop the skills necessary to communicate with their child opening the door to a world of learning. Studies show one hour of early intervention therapy with a child and parent or caregiver translates into 84 hours of education and therapy time when family members follow the model at home.
In addition to visiting the families in their home, we utilize technologies to reinforce support and education. We communicate with and teach families using Skype, take video of therapies for parents to review, and train parents to analyze and optimize their speech and language at home with the LENA System.
Sound Start Services
Many early intervention programs for children with hearing loss focus solely on speech and language therapy or offer a number of services through separate providers. Because 30-50% of babies born with hearing loss have complex multiple disabilities it is important to treat the whole child. At Sound Start a team of specialists provides individualized comprehensive, coordinated services in the family’s home as well as in group development classes at The Lake Drive School for Children who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Mountain Lakes.Led by the Sound Start Coordinator, the team includes two teachers of the deaf, one speech and language pathologist, an occupational therapist, a physical therapist, two paraprofessionals and specialized consultants, all with expertise in working with infants and toddlers with hearing loss. The program also offers bilingual/bicultural support. All team members are highly knowledgeable about the newest developments in addressing the needs of this population. Once a week the team of specialists gathers to review the student’s progress, share problems, and discuss new therapies that may further improve outcomes for the children. Based on specific needs children receive:
- Speech Therapy and Language Therapy
- Physical and Occupational Therapy
- Audiological Services
- Parent Education/Support /Sign Language Classes/Skype Sessions
- Baby Development Group with Baby Brain Boxes
- Toddler Development Group in Full Day Inclusive Ivy Nursery Program
- Consultations with Oral Motor Feeding Specialist
- Consultations with A/V Therapy Specialist
- Consultations with Social Worker
- Consultations with Psychologist
- Use of the LENA System