Tell us a little about yourself:
My name is Lori Melnitsky. I have been a speech pathologist for 25 years, which is hard to believe. I have been in private practice since 2003 and love what I do. My private practice is All Island Speech and Stuttering Therapy (www.allislandspeech.com). Interestingly I stuttered severely up until about the age of 25. It took me the remaining 25 years to become a confident speaker . Stuttering is my speciality and I treat children and adults of all ages. My practice has expanded. I am on Long Island, NY and am expanding into New York City. I also treat a large early intervention population and am prompt certified. Additionally, I am Orton Gillingham and Barton trained.
I started out as an accountant and after five years of saying I was miserable at my job I went back for a Masters in Speech Pathology and have never looked back. After I completed my pre requisite speech classes with all A’s I was told by my professors I would never be able to communicate with parents so I should not bother applying. I left devastated but picked myself up and went to speak to Hofstra University who welcomed me with open arms. Those years were not easy as I was afraid to raise my hand in class for fear of stuttering. Somehow I made it through and never gave up on my dreams.
How did you get started in private practice?
I decided to turn my unfinished basement into an office. The big question do I get the clients first or finish the basement? I chose the later one. I initially became Prompt Certified and Lidcombe Trained and started sending brochures to local doctors. It started slow and social media was not in the picture at the time. Every year I added on more clients and always kept my early intervention kids on my caseload. After a few years I spoke at local conventions and parent groups to spread the word on stuttering and apraxia. My first clients were toddlers with oral motor delays. I was able to use my prompt skills and oral motor experience to help them. I remember the first stuttering client was a little girl who stuttered. The feeling of seeing her progress and become fluent was amazing. Through word of mouth my stuttering practice has expanded significantly. My husband and daughters always encouraged me to keep going even when the phone did not ring often in the early years.
What has owning a private practice meant for you and your life?
Owning a private practice has allowed me flexibility and the desire to specialize in helping others. Initially health insurance was not an issue but my husband started contracting out and premiums started to rise. cannot lie that there have been times that I worry about not having a pension or paying such a high health insurance rate but love being able to set my own schedule and expand where and when I want to. Social media has helped me with this more recently as Facebook, linked in and twitter have evolved.
Share a success story, tip or lesson learned:
I think my most successful moment has been seeing a medical student go from low grades on his oral reports due to stuttering to getting into the best dermatology program in the country. The confidence fluency gave him due to the MPI Stuttering Program was amazing. I also have seen countless preschoolers with very nervous parents not stutter anymore. I have learned that I cannot solve every speech disorder presented to me but I can encourage and guide as many as I can. I also learned I need to learn about counseling to help others.
What is your best tip for beginners?
My biggest tip is develop a niche. It is important. Decide if accepting health insurance is right for your geographic location. Reach out to parent groups and local organizations. Most importantly follow your heart and dreams.
|Lori Melnitsky, MA CCC-SLP, has been an ASHA certified and NYS licensed speech/language pathologist for over 20 years and has helped hundreds of children, teens and adults in her diverse professional lifetime. She has completed advanced training in Lidcombe stuttering, MPI Stuttering, feeding, PROMPT, Orton Gillingham and the Barton Dyslexia Course. Lori served as a consultant to the children’s show Arthur of an episode on stuttering. Click here –> http://www.allislandspeech.com/index.php
) to learn more about All Island Speech and Stuttering Therapy.