We are so happy to shine the spotlight on Lori Wasserman Rizzo, owner of Huntington Speech and Feeding.  Lori has recently been in the media for moving her practice to a Church in the Huntington area, after a dispute with her landlord at her previous location.  Her work with children, specifically with speech and feeding difficulties is admirable, to say the least.  Get to know Lori below!

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in town?
I was born and raised in Melville, New York and have resided within the Huntington Township my entire life with the exception of college and graduate school.  My husband and I moved to East Northport in 2004 and we now live in Northport. 

Child(ren) and Age(s)?
We are the proud parents of two energetic boys Roman and Rex. Roman is 13 years old and Rex is 9. I have been married for 15 years to a boy I went to Junior High School with.

One thing people would be surprised to know about you- 
I would have to answer this question by saying that the journey in getting to this point in my career has had several turns, moments of fear and doubt and unexpected amounts of triumph and joy . It wasn’t a clear trajectory or path and there were several turns and snags in the road along the way. There was also a time when I didn’t think I could balance family and work and felt extreme feelings of guilt and conflict which almost resulted in a complete detour (e.g. if I wasn’t home early enough I felt like a bad mother and if I didn’t put enough time into my business I was not “doing” enough).  What I learned in the process was to trust in the universe and to follow the direction of the pull,rather than resist. What I learned was that I could have both aspects, even though family and work would not always be truly balanced but instead balanced in the averages. Everything did not have to be decided in a particular moment and that opportunities to fine tune and modify would be presented along the way if I just let go of my tight grasp and the false illusion of control. 

Going out on my own was a very significant step for me as it is for other business owners.  I had no business background. I generally did things by feel and instinct versus precise calculation and I certainly did not know how to network or feel comfortable doing anything to promote MYSELF!  I felt more comfortable being in the periphery and under the radar in general, but at the same time, I was being pulled in this direction and I had to trust in the process as I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.  I followed the thought and began to believe that I could possibly be successful in this endeavor. My questions of, “Why can’t I open and run my own practice”? “Why can’t I create an environment that I define as successful not only in terms of results, but in the level of care we provide for our clients and families? became the philosophy that opened the door to a real possibility.    Being a mother was something I had always dreamed of. I realized that there is also another part of me that is bent on giving back and making a difference in the life of a child. I need both parts to measure as a whole.. 

Anyone special you’d like to thank for helping you through parenthood? Wow, there are many people that played and play an integral role in my ability to parent.  I was brought up by parents that loved me; who did the best they could given their unique challenges. I came from a broken home with a lack of stability and connection. I often played the role of the parent in raising my younger brother which was something that came naturally to me.  I could see my imprint on his life which was very powerful and impacting. I did not have a roadmap for parenting, which was scary to say the least but I was given the gift of children and I was going to work tirelessly to raise loving children.. 

I was blessed that there were many individuals that demonstrated strong parenting characteristics that became a part of my own fabric; my best friend’s parents Linda and Vincent Tullo, neighbor’s that I knew, my own nanny that lived with us and gave me the consistent love of a parent (Rose), a teacher that recognized the good in me (Dr.Gary DeSesa), which felt like the love of a parent. When I married my husband David Rizzo I was so surprised that he and I had the same concept/philosophy of how to parent even though we had come up in vastly different scenarios.  In some ways, he wanted to repeat what he had experienced in a more stable home and I wanted to provide what I didn’t have.   The main ingredients that I truly needed was to be able to give and receive love and to be present with my children. They didn’t need gifts, overblown birthday parties or a response of “yes” to their every whim. They needed quality time, someone to listen to them and see them and they needed boundaries, clear expectations and consequences.. What I didn’t realize is how much patience I would need!! 

Favorite things to do with your kids/family? I would say that my favorite thing to do with my family is either to be just hanging at home with them sharing in a mutual activity and being in nature. I love connecting with them on a hiking trail, at the beach or in the mountains without distractions.  

How has this community been instrumental in getting you to where you are now? I absolutely love this community as I was raised here and have chosen to raise my family here. I have always been drawn to this community as it is a truly family oriented, tight knit and relaxed place.  It is also a community that values small business principles and the level of care a small business provides. I have worked in this community for close to 10 years and have built relationships with like minded professionals; including preschool owners, parent advocates, SEPTA board members, music therapists, pediatricians, reading specialists pediatric nutritionists, pediatric dentists etc. All of these members in the community are working to improve the lives and the future of our children.  We often work together to provide a seamless and positive outcome. I have gained a great amount of support from these professionals and we have formed a mutual network. This is how our community thrives, when professionals are doing solid, evidenced based, honest work.   

In the same breath I would be nowhere without the support of the families in Huntington. It is difficult to trust others, especially when it comes to our beloved children. Parents have provided me and my staff the privilege of determining the nature of their child’s challenge(s) and rely on us to work toward continued progress in tandem. In the end, parents talk to other parents about the professionals that they trust and word travels across the community.  They share their recommendations on local Facebook pages and through word of mouth and that is how other families come on board. It’s a matter of doing a great job with passion and care, which in the end comes full circle. This is how a small business survives. 

Huntington Speech and Feeding will be moving to 97 Little Neck Rd., Centerport, starting September 2019!

Huntington Speech and Feeding specializes in late talkers, sound disorders, early phonics/reading, social communication challenges (early signs autism, attention deficits), interfering behavior, feeding/sensory aversions, feeding difficulties (infant, toddler and school age), hearing impairment, language expression and comprehension.  They also provide Speech and language evaluation and intervention, feeding evaluation and intervention, family training, feeding consultation, behavior consultation -Early phonics/reading program, social learning groups and Feeding groups

(631) 606-3439    Email: Lori@huntingtonspeechandfeeding.com

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