The importance of communication for a baby’s development cannot be understated. It builds the foundation of parental/child attachment, forges relationships and drives learning. To achieve optimal development, a baby needs to be exposed to over 30,000 words per day. What happens to a baby who is born with profound, but untreated hearing loss? For starters, it can lead to irreversible delays in speech and learning. Longer term, untreated hearing impairment has been linked to isolation, low self esteem and behavioral problems. Early intervention is important.
Sound Start Babies, located in Mountain Lakes, works with families of hearing impaired babies to introduce language, speaking and communicating into a baby’s daily routine. This is done regardless of financial status. Specialized technology supplied by Sound Start Babies is used to assess the learning environment in a home. Specialists will work with the family to ensure the baby has the best opportunities to learn, listen and speak in their home environment. The frequency of home visits and the type of specialist that participates (speech pathologist, audiologist, etc.) depends on the baby and family’s specific needs. 24 hour support is provided to the family during this time.
At age 18-36 months, a child can attend one of three classrooms that are designed to provide optimal listening environments. Taught by skilled teachers and therapists, one classroom uses sign language to foster language development. The second and third classrooms focus on learning, listening and speaking skills. In addition during this time, babies have access to various specialists including a pediatric audiologist, speech language pathologist, social worker, psychologist, occupational therapist and physical therapist.
Fundraising is essential to Sound Start Babies since public funding covers only about 1/3 of the organization’s cost. Approximately 88% of funds raised go directly to funding the programs. Surprisingly, the Department of Education does not cover any costs for early intervention until a child reaches age 3. Each year, there are 50-60 babies in the program and since its founding in 1996, over 1,500 babies from 11 counties throughout New Jersey have been helped.
Sound Start Babies is one of the finalist in the Sue Adler Team’s 100th Home Sale Program. To place you vote click here.
To learn more about Sound Start Babies, visit their website at http://www.soundstartbabies.com