Obituary: Aleen Agranowitz

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Aleen Agranowitz, a noted speech pathologist, passed away peacefully at her home in Long Beach on May 10 surrounded by her family. She was 94. She was a part-time Idyllwild resident and founder of Speech and Language Development Center, which established Morning Sky School here on the Hill in 1979.

In 1955, Dr. Agranowitz co-founded a speech clinic. Her home served as the original clinic which became the Speech and Language Development Center (SLDC) in Buena Park, Calif. She led the school as the Chief Executive Officer and served as Chief Advancement Officer until April 2010. In addition, she continued her practice as a speech pathologist.

Dr. Agranowitz was born Aleen Crittsinger on June 16, 1915, in Waterbury, Conn. She was the only child of Edith and Lewis Crittsinger and was raised in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Dr. Agranowitz graduated in 1938 from Worcester State Teachers College. In 1972, she graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) with a Master’s degree in Speech Pathology and, in 1987, she earned her Doctorate in Education from the University of La Verne.

Her interest in language and special education problems began when she worked with adult aphasics at the Bethesda Naval Hospital near Washington, D.C. during her service in the U.S. Navy. Aleen was a Naval officer from 1943 through 1947.

She came West to study under Dr. J.M. Nielsen, a neurologist who was a leading authority on aphasia, and to work with brain injured WWII veterans at the Veterans Hospital in Van Nuys, Calif. When the hospital moved to Long Beach, Dr. Agranowitz was made Director of the Aphasia Clinic. She married a former patient, Aaron Agranowitz, in 1951. She resigned from the Veteran’s Hospital to raise her family in Long Beach where she ultimately began the clinic for children with special needs.

Although, the clinic began with three children with special needs, today SLDC serves over 300 children and young adults diagnosed with disabilities in the areas of language, learning and behavior. More than 70 percent of the students have a diagnosis of autism. Over 45 public school districts and Regional Centers in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties refer their students to SLDC. Parents have traveled from as far away as Ireland to have their son or daughter attend SLDC.

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