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Dispelling Dyslexia Myths

A Plainview resident with more than 20 years experience in speech pathology wants to get the word out about dyslexia.

Lori Melnitsky, director of All Island Speech & Learning, graduated from Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School back in 1981, during a time when misconceptions about dyslexia were the norm and generally taken as fact. While most believe that dyslexia simply involves spelling words backwards, Melnitsky asserts that this learning disability is far more complex.

“Individuals with dyslexia do see things differently, but they do not see things backward,” she said. “Dyslexia is a language-based learning disorder. It is the difficulty in processing language that causes problems with word recognition, reading comprehension and vocabulary development.”

Melnitsky said those with the disorder might have difficulty learning a foreign language, rhyming, spelling, difficulty with letter naming, difficulty with handwriting, delayed expressive language, organizational issues, poor sequencing of sounds in words and spatial difficulties.

However, Melnitsky stresses that dyslexia has absolutely nothing to do with a person’s intelligence.

“I’ve found that kids with dyslexia have an average or above average IQ,” she said, adding that these learners think better with pictures and often have trouble associating and connecting symbols and letters with sounds and names. “And often these young people are extremely creative. They just learn in a different way.”

The most important way to nurture and help these individuals, Melnitsky believes, is with support and early detection. She said warning signs for possible dyslexia in a young child can include delayed language, frequent ear infections, the inability to rhyme and difficulty in saying the days of the week and alphabet in order.

Melnitsky said these warning signs are often manifested in a student’s performance around seventh grade when classes are split up by subject. Often, a dyslexic student will maintain passing grades in math and science, but their reading speed and English grades might suffer.

“A lot of times they don’t know what is happening. They feel stupid because they are not used to getting low grades,” she said. “Also, their parents might start to think they are not trying or they are not doing their homework. The parents end up blaming the student because they just don’t know about the possible dyslexia.”

To that end, Melnitsky is offering a dyslexia support group for parents at the Mid-Island Y JCC, 45 Manetto Hill Rd. In this support group, Melnitsky doles out wisdom to parents on how to approach dyslexia. She also clues in attendees to the methodology used in teaching a dyslexic child. She tells them about the Orton Gillingham teaching style, which is a multisensory approach used to teach reading, writing and spelling utilizing seeing, feeling and hearing to learn to read, spell and write.

Melnitsky said these individuals require and outside-of-the-box approach to education.

“When a dyslexic person is in a run of the mill learning environment, it is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole,” she said. “All things sequenstial in nature are hard for them. These are right brain thinkers, creative types. They do not learn in the same way.”

Most important to Melnitsky, is that her group offers a sense of hope to those who feel their’s or their child’s dyslexia is an insurmountable educational difficiency.

“It is important to provide hope. Most of these kids end up doing really well after high school when they get to college and give their minds a true opportunity to expand,” she said. “That is why people need to know what dyslexia is and what it is not.”

To learn more about Melnitksy and All Island Speech and Learning, visit www.allislandspeech.com. To learn more about dyslexia and about support groups, visit www.decodingdyslexiany.org. To find out about Melnitsky’s dyslexia support group, call the Mid-Island Y JCC at 516-822-3535.

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Plainview resident Gail Wurtzel will be leading her team, Memories of Miriam, in the Walk to Defeat ALS at Eisenhower Park later this month.

 

Wurtzel’s Mother, Miriam Hanania, also a Plainview resident, succumbed to the disease two years ago after a long struggle. The disease forced her to go from an active, vibrant person to being wheelchair-bound and dependent on others for her care. 

 

ALS or Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

While everyone is subject to the trials and tribulations that life offers on a day-to-day basis, some people can use just a little bit of extra help. Luckily, there’s help with a proven track record out there for those who need it. 

 

Joe Russo of Old Bethpage heads up the Recovery International meetings held weekly at the Plainview-Old Bethpage Public Library. These meetings extol the virtues of the self-help techniques developed by the late Dr. Abraham Low, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry as the University of Illinois Medical School.  


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