From the Beginning: Dyslexia Diagnosis, Treatment and Training

When Beth Ravelli noticed her daughter, Samantha, having trouble with language development at age 3, she just knew.

“Sam loved books and reading time, but she had trouble putting things together in the right order – a reading skill called ‘sequencing’ – and when she would ‘read’ to me, I noticed she was just telling the story in the book by its pictures,” said Mrs. Ravelli.  “She was very slow to speak, and her use of ‘baby talk’ persisted long past the time I thought it should have.”

When she asked friends and doctors, she was always told it was not her daughter’s problem, but hers – that she was over-thinking the issue and making a mountain out of a molehill.

In the first three grades, Samantha struggled greatly. It was not until 2006, when Sam was 8 years old, that the Cooper Learning Center would diagnose the Samantha with dyslexia. “It was our local pediatrician that referred us to Dr. Richard Selznick,” recalls Mrs. Ravelli. “Nobody was taking us seriously until we came to the Cooper Learning Center in Voorhees.”

After the assessment, Samantha received specialized learning therapy at the Learning Center. After about a year of the learning therapy, the Ravellis moved out of the area and they continued to receive multisensory intervention through their local school district.

Once they got the diagnosis of dyslexia, Mrs. Ravelli began reading everything she could about the disorder, and came to realize that New Jersey public schools were doing a disservice to learning-disabled children like Sam. Instead of recognizing dyslexia as a unique disability, it was being lumped in with other learning disorders and, in some cases, being  denied as a disability at all.

Thus began a journey, for both Sam and Beth.

In the eight years since Sam’s diagnosis at the Cooper Learning Center, Mrs. Ravelli has been instrumental in bringing about a whole host of solutions that are positively impacting families of learning-disabled students every day.

Among them was the establishment of a state reading disabilities task force that resulted in recommendations for public schools in recognizing and diagnosing dyslexia. A statewide parent advocacy group, Decoding Dyslexia NJ, also was an off-shoot of this advocacy, with Decoding Dyslexia groups forming nationwide. Finally, in August 2013, Governor Christie signed off on a bill requiring two hours of training for teachers in dyslexia and the inclusion of dyslexia in the special education code.

“It has been a long road,” says Mrs. Ravelli. “Samantha is now a high school junior, she’s getting her driver’s license, and she can’t remember that she ever struggled with reading at all. And we owe so much of that to Dr. Selznick and the staff at the Cooper Learning Center.”  

Letter from a Parent

My daughter attended The Cooper Learning Center for about a year while she was in second grade. After meeting with me, meeting with her and completing some testing, the Cooper Learning Center identified that she needed the Wilson Reading Program. She was in private school at the time, and they were doing very little in regards to assistance and refused to provide the Wilson Program (as they only provided it to first graders). If I had relied on the state assistance through that private school, my daughter would still be facing the same challenges she was battling in first and second grade.

I have since changed her school to the public school system, which not only had the Wilson Reading program available, but offered it almost every day. The school system continuously works with me to ensure she gets daily assistance, which she has now been getting for three years. She is progressing better than I had ever hoped. 

While my daughter only spent one year at The Cooper Learning Center, I can’t tell you how much of an impact the early intervention, identification of her specific needs and introduction to the Wilson Reading program has helped. Please pass my thanks along to the team at the Cooper Learning Center. Their work is life changing.

Thanks again for all of the work you do and for the impact you made on Alyssa. She still remembers what it felt like for someone to finally understand her.

- C.S., Audubon, NJ

Healthgrades Review

Dr Selznick. You can search the planet…but it would be in. vain. Simply…he is the best. You will not find better…yes he is top at his game. Many are. But Dr. S…..he’s more. Compassion. Caring. He loves what he does…and he does it well…God is with him. You will not soon forget him. Need help for your kid RUN to him. You will love him and his staff. If only there was another way to say Thank you….

- M.C. and G.C., Philadelphia, PA