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.
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.