Teacher for the Deaf, Sharon Fischer (standing), and Speech Therapist, Judy Bauer (sitting), work with the Baby and You students and their caregivers in Nassau BOCES Hearing Services Infant Program.
Imagine trying to learn to speak if you couldn't hear music or if you had never known the sound of the voices of your family. Birth to three years of age is the most important time for language development. Today, hearing-impaired students, through sophisticated technology such as cochlear implants, sound fields and advanced hearing aids, are assisted in learning by educators from the Nassau BOCES Hearing Services Infant Program.
Family education and support are crucial components in the Infant Program. The entire family is encouraged to participate in the child's program. The Baby and You program targets children from birth to two years. From the beginning, parents are given training on what the needs are for the child. Parents and children come to Nassau BOCES twice a week to work with teachers and speech therapists.
Noise and distance make it more difficult for anyone to hear. For the students who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants, the teacher wears an added FM system so the students can always hear as if someone is speaking into their ear.
"Music is also an integral part of the baby's learning as the repetition, what to expect and movements are precursors to literacy," explained Nassau BOCES Speech Therapist Judy Bauer. "Parents are given the music and movements so they can work with their children at home."
Teacher for the Deaf, Sharon Fischer (left), and Speech Therapist, Judy Bauer (right), work with the Toddler Group students in Nassau BOCES Hearing Services Infant Program.
The toddler group works with Teacher for the Deaf, Sharon Fischer, and Speech Therapist, Judy Bauer, for two hours a day, three days a week. The oral approach to communication by means of spoken English is emphasized through play, music and listening. A unique learning plan is developed for each student, focusing on the development of auditory skills, receptive and expressive language and speech, as well as developmental readiness skills.
Once students are mainstreamed into Kindergarten, the Teacher of the Deaf not only works with them in the classroom, but also advises the classroom teacher on how to work with the deaf.
The Hearing Services Infant Program is housed in the Nassau BOCES Rosemary Kennedy Center and serves students from birth to three. The goal of the program is to develop hearing-impaired students' auditory, speech and language skills, and to fully integrate these students into mainstream culture.