Deaf Infant Program
The Deaf Infant Program setting at St. Mary’s School for the Deaf offers a unique opportunity to foster language experiences and concepts for children from birth through age three who have hearing loss, as well as children who are speech and/or language delayed. The goal of the Infant Program is to develop cognitive, language and communication skills through family-centered early intervention and support services. The Deaf Infant Program utilizes the Ski-Hi Curriculum, a Family-Centered Program for Young Infants. Monthly themes incorporate new language learning opportunities. Stories are read daily. Hands-on learning and visual presentations provide a language-rich environment to motivate the youngest learners.
Through immersion in our language-rich environment, babies and their families are given the tools to learn and to express themselves through Total Communication. The Total Communication philosophy embraces all forms of communication including spoken language, amplification (cochlear implants, hearing aids, and assistive technology), speech reading, sign language, visual imagery, and written language.
Components of the Deaf Infant Program include:
• Classroom based instruction in a home-like environment - The classroom is designed with a carpeted living room area, an art area, and a welcoming space for circle time.
• Natural environmental experiences – Children visit places in the community that support classroom topics.
• Home visits – One day a week is designated for home visits. The teacher demonstrates how to effectively interact with the child to maximize the child’s exposure to language, both spoken and signed. A brief lesson and suggested activities are given to the care-giver to try with the baby that will encourage language development.
• Communication books – Pictures of events that occur in class are sent home daily with a sentence or two describing each picture. Parents are asked to review the daily entry in the book with their baby. To encourage the home-school connection, parents are asked to write something in the book each day or draw a simple illustration that may be shared with the other children as part of our morning routine. Sharing each child’s “news” is a high-interest activity, and therefore a great opportunity for language development.
Support service providers available for infants at SMSD include:
• Speech-language pathologist
• Occupational therapist
• Physical therapist
• Vision therapist
• Music teacher
• Parent coordinator
• Nursing staff
St. Mary's campus welcomes visitors. SMSD is located at 2253 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14214.
To arrange a tour, contact Pupil Personnel Services at (716) 834-7200 ext. 148.
There is always something fun happening in the Deaf Infant Program classroom!