What We Do

Sound Start Babies helps hearing impaired babies during the most critical years of brain development—birth to age 3—that if missed can cause irreversible delays in speech and learning. Our teachers and therapists educate families so their children can listen and speak on a level comparable to their hearing peers.

In Home

You have the most important role in your baby’s development, so our specialists work with your family in your home to introduce language, listening, speaking and communicating into your daily routine.

For the majority of children with hearing aids or cochlear implants, we assess the language learning environment in your home with LENA. LENA is a specialized recorder and computer that tells you how many words your child hears each day and how many words or sounds your child makes in response.

The remarkable LENA technology can tell if the "conversation" was between two children or between an adult and child, and which background noise affects your child’s hearing. We then make suggestions to ensure your baby has the best opportunities to learn, listen and speak in your home environment.

LENA technology is just one way the Sound Start Babies program goes above and beyond standard early intervention for hearing impaired babies.

The frequency of home visits and the type of specialist that participates depends on the baby and family’s specific needs. Each specialist (speech pathologist, teacher of the deaf, audiologist, occupational and physical therapist) has the knowledge and skills to work with your family; they meet rigorous standards from the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing.

At School

Our three classrooms provide optimal listening environments where children ages 18-36 months learn together with hearing peers. The special environment allows children to hear speech clearly so they can develop language and speech without distracting noise.

One classroom uses sign language to foster language development for toddlers with hearing loss and includes hearing children who are eager to learn to sign. The second and third classrooms focus exclusively on learning, listening and speaking skills.

Our teachers and therapists are skilled in establishing the foundations for literacy, math, science, socialization, art, music, and movement. They meet the highest professional standards; their training is in developing language, listening, and speaking skills.

The babies have access to a unique range of specialists. Our team of professionals includes a pediatric audiologist, speech language pathologist with AVT certification, occupational therapist, physical therapist, social worker, and a psychologist.

Classes meet daily during the week (8am – 4pm) with opportunities for half and full-day participation.

For Families

Having a baby with hearing loss affects your whole family. Most families have no prior experience with hearing loss, so understanding the new terminology and making the best decisions for the child can be overwhelming. From medical and audiological appointments to dealing with the strains it puts on parents and siblings, we are here to help.

Our team will respond to concerns as they occur, provide information and put effective strategies in place to meet mutually agreed upon goals.

The family’s active participation is crucial to ensuring that babies with hearing loss reach their full potential.

Our therapists not only visit at home, but also are available by phone, text, email and Skype or FaceTime.

We focus on babies’ potential, not their limitations. We know they can lead limitless lives.

The COMPASS Project Using LENA Technology

Your baby needs to hear 30,000 words each day for optimal development. How many words does your child hear? Do you want to find out?

The COMPASS Project uses LENA technology to collect information about a child’s language environment. Practitioners from Sound Start Babies then provide individualized coaching for the family so they can enhance their child’s language experience, changes that can last a lifetime.

Due to generous grant funding, we have the opportunity to offer these services to families not currently enrolled in Sound Start Babies free of charge.

For more information, please contact Kayley Mayer, Project Manager: kmayer@mlschools.org

Some babies with hearing loss have additional medical and/or learning needs. Our team has experience and skill in developing programs to meet the needs of these babies and their families. Opportunities to meet other families with similar experiences are also available.