Meet Sierra. She’s been a student at Speech & Language Development Center since 2013

Sierra has been a student at SLDC since 2013. She is currently in our High School program. Sierra was diagnosed with CHARGE Syndrome at birth. CHARGE is an extremely complex syndrome. Sierra spent the first 5 months of her life in the NICU where she underwent 2 open heart surgeries. Sierra has hearing and vision loss and was unable to swallow solid food until she was 8 years old.

You would not know any of this to meet Sierra. She is a strong, independent teenage girl. Mom says, “Sierra loves school most of all and never wants to miss a day.”

Their family lives almost 2 hours away by bus but because of the therapies, education, safe environment, access to a school nurse, and ability for independence with trained staff nearby, Sierra’s family couldn’t imagine her being anywhere else. “We are lucky to be at SLDC!”

To look at Sierra, you see a very tiny statured individual. Someone who every day is in some type of pain. To most people she looks fragile, but as far as inner strength, perseverance, courage and willingness to please she stands 6ft tall. Sierra loves to participate with peers and always gives 110%. If I could bottle Sierra’s tenacity, inner strength, perseverance, and courage and spread it around, the world would be a better place.


Starting in August of this year, SLDC has launched our Adult Life Skills Academy for adults aged 22-40 years old.

We wanted to make a difference for adults with disabilities and we heard from the parents of our graduates over and over, “What now?” and “There are no programs available for my child.” In building on the vision of our co-founders we knew SLDC could create a program that would welcome adults with special needs on their journey and provide a safe space for them to grow and mature!