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Published: Monday, 8/17/2009

Educator battled dyslexia's stigma

Jean Armus, a longtime Toledo-area educator who helped erase the stigma associated with the learning disorder dyslexia, died Saturday in Hospice of Northwestern Ohio in Toledo.

The Old Orchard resident, who was 77, was given a diagnosis of lung cancer in April.

She was owner of Jean Armus & Associates Learning Specialists, which provided tutoring for children and adults with reading problems, especially dyslexia.

Dyslexia is thought to be of neurological origin and affects people of all intelligence levels, said her husband, Harvard, a longtime professor of psychology at the University of Toledo. It most often shows up as problems with reading and spelling.

Mrs. Armus began studying the condition in the 1960s as a substitute teacher after encountering children with reading problems, her husband said.

At the time, reading problems were commonly blamed on children's laziness or failure to apply themselves to school work, Mr. Armus added.

His wife continued her work in the field at the former Toledo Mental Hygiene Clinic and later as testing coordinator at the former Medical College of Ohio's Department of Pediatric Neurology's learning disorders unit.

She left MCO, now part of UT, in the 1970s to start a private tutoring service.

She received specialized training and was an advocate of therapies known as the Orton-Gillingham and Lindamood-Bell techniques.

She was the author of several scholarly articles on dyslexia and spoke at local, regional, and national conferences, Mr. Armus said.

She taught hundreds of Toledo-area children and also provided training to teachers preparing to work with people with dyslexia.

She was a past president of the Toledo branch of the Association for Children and Adults with Learning Disabilities and was a board member of the Northern Ohio branch of the International Dyslexia Association.

After moving to Toledo in 1960, she earned a master's in education from UT.

She was a native of the Bronx, N.Y. At one time, after graduating from the State University of Iowa with a bachelor's degree in music, she had aspirations of becoming a pianist, her husband said.

She was a former board member of Jewish Family Services, where she worked in the 1970s to resettle in the Toledo area exiles from the former Soviet Union.

Surviving are her husband, Harvard; daughter, Sharon, and son, Seth.

Services will be today at 2 p.m. at Beth Shalom Cemetery, Oregon. Mourners will meet at 1 p.m. at Wick/-Wisniewski Funeral Home, North Reynolds Road.

The family requests that contributions be to Congregation Etz Chayim or the International Dyslexia Association.

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