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Definition of “Dyslexia”

Historical Perspective

Before the National Institutes of Health began their research in the 1980's, the only definition of dyslexia was an exclusionary one. If a child's difficulty with reading could not be explained by low intelligence, poor eyesight, poor hearing, inadequate educational opportunities, or any other problem, then the child must be dyslexic.

That definition was not satisfactory to parents, teachers, or researchers. So here are three different definitions in use today.

Simple Definition

Dyslexia is an inherited condition that makes it extremely difficult to read, write, and spell in your native language—despite at least average intelligence.

Revised Definition from the International Dyslexia Association

Dyslexia is a neurologically-based, often familial, disorder which interferes with the acquisition and processing of language. Varying in degrees of severity, it is manifested by difficulties in receptive and expressive language, including phonological processing, in reading, writing, spelling, handwriting, and sometimes in arithmetic.

Dyslexia is not the result of lack of motivation, sensory impairment, inadequate instructional or environmental opportunities, or other limiting conditions, but may occur together with these conditions.

Although dyslexia is lifelong, individuals with dyslexia frequently respond successfully to timely and appropriate intervention.

Research Definition used by the National Institutes of Health

Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin.

It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition, and by poor spelling and decoding abilities.

These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction.

Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.

Definition of “Learning Disability”

“Learning Disability” is not a specific term; it is a category containing many specific disabilities, all of which cause learning to be difficult. The following definition of “learning disability” is used for legislative, financial, and educational purposes only. It is not a definition of dyslexia, which is one specific learning disability.

The term “learning disability” means a disorder in one or more of the basic processes involved in understanding spoken or written language. It may show up as a problem in listening, thinking, speaking, reading, writing, or spelling or in a person's ability to do math, despite at least average intelligence.

The term does not include children who have learning problems which are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or physical handicaps, or mental retardation, or emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.


Summary of warning signs

Disclaimer: No two people with dyslexia are exactly alike because dyslexia ranges from mild to moderate to severe to profound. Some people with dyslexia also have ADD/ADHD.

Therefore, someone with dyslexia may not have every single symptom listed below. But they will have many of them. Professional testers look for a “constellation” or cluster of symptoms in the following areas.

If someone struggles with spelling, is a slow reader who has a difficult time sounding out unknown words, and has difficulty getting their great thoughts down on paper in acceptable form, and that person has 3 or more of these classic warning signs, it is worth getting that person tested for dyslexia.

These problems are unexpected when compared to the person's proven abilities in other areas.

New – One-page summary sheet of the warning signs of dyslexia

Click here for the sheet. One is also available on the warning signs of ADD/ADHD. We will mail it to you, free. Just click here, then type in your home or work mailing address.

New – Watch our “Dyslexia: Symptoms & Solutions” video, FREE

Just click here to watch it now.

Preschool and kindergarten warning signs

If three or more of these warning signs exist, especially if there is dyslexia or ADD/ADHD in the family tree, the child should be tested for dyslexia when the child becomes five years old. Also, phonemic awareness games and other reading readiness activities should be done daily during the preschool years.

Reading and spelling difficulties

People with dyslexia do not make random reading errors. They make very specific types of errors. Their spelling reflects the same types of errors. Watch for these errors:



Handwriting issues (dysgraphia)

Also known as a visual-motor integration problem, people with dyslexia often have poor, nearly illegible handwriting. Signs of dysgraphia include:

Quality of written work

People with dyslexia usually have an “impoverished written product.” That means there is a huge difference between their ability to tell you something and their ability to write it down. They tend to:

Directionality issues

Most dyslexic children and adults have significant directionality confusion.

Sequencing steps in a task

Learning any task that has a series of steps which must be completed in a specific order can be difficult. That's because you must memorize the sequence of steps, and often, there is no logic in the sequence.

These tasks are usually challenging for people with dyslexia:

Rote memory of non-meaningful facts

Memorizing non-meaningful facts (facts that are not personally interesting and personally relevant) is extremely difficult for most dyslexic children and adults. In school, this leads to difficulty learning:

Telling time on a clock with hands

People with dyslexia have extreme difficulty telling time on a clock with hands:

Extremely messy bedrooms

People with dyslexia have an extremely difficult time organizing their belongings. They tend to pile things rather than to organize them and put them away. It is almost as though if they can't see the item (if it is behind a door or in a drawer), they will forget where it is.

So they have extremely messy bedrooms, lockers, desks, backpacks, purses, offices, and garages.

Math difficulties

People with dyslexia are often gifted in math. Their three-dimensional visualization skills help them “see” math concepts more quickly and clearly than non-dyslexic people. Unfortunately, difficulties in directionality, rote memorization, reading, and sequencing can make the following math tasks so difficult that their math gifts are never discovered.

Organizational skills

Students with dyslexia and/or ADD/ADHD do not know how to organize school materials, backpacks, homework calendars, or notebooks. Those skills can and must be taught and modeled.

Co-existing conditions

Attention Deficit Disorder (with or without Hyperactivity)

Attention Deficit Disorder is a completely separate condition than dyslexia. However, research has shown that at least 40% of people with dyslexia also have ADD/ADHD.

To read more, click here.

Light Sensitivity (Scotopic Sensitivity)

A small percentage (3% to 8%) of people with dyslexia also have light sensitivity (sometimes called scotopic sensitivity). These people have a hard time seeing small black print on white paper. The print seems to shimmer or move; some see the rivers of white more strongly than the black words. These people tend to dislike fluorescent lighting, and often “shade” the page with their hand or head when they read.

Colored plastic overlays and/or colored lenses can eliminate the harsh black print against white paper contrast, and may make letters stand still for the first time in someone's life. However, the plastic overlays or colored lenses will not “cure” dyslexia, nor will they teach a dyslexic person how to read.

Phonemic Awareness

What is Phonemic Awareness?

NIH research has repeatedly demonstrated that lack of phonemic awareness is the root cause of reading failure. Phonemes are the smallest unit of spoken language, not written language.

Children who lack phonemic awareness are unable to distinguish or manipulate sounds within spoken words or syllables. They would be unable to do the following tasks:

If a child lacks phonemic awareness, they will have difficulty learning the relationship between letters and the sounds they represent in words, as well as applying those letter/sound correspondences to help them “sound out” unknown words.

So children who perform poorly on phonemic awareness tasks via oral language in kindergarten are very likely to experience difficulties acquiring the early word reading skills that provide the foundation for growth of reading ability throughout elementary school.

Phonemic awareness skills can and must be directly and explicitly taught to children who lack this awareness.

Importance of Phonemic Awareness

Quotes from prominent NIH researchers:

Phonological Processing and Phonics

Phonemic awareness must exist or be explicitly and directly taught before phonics instruction begins. Otherwise, the phonics instruction will not make sense to the dyslexic child.

Phonological processing refers to understanding of sounds used in our language, ranging from big chunks of sound (words), to smaller chunks (syllables) and eventually to phonemic awareness (every sound within a syllable). Both phonemic awareness and phonological processing are auditory processing skills. Therefore, they can (and should) be taught before letters are introduced.

The goal of teaching phonics is to link the individual sounds to letters, and to make that process fluent and automatic, for both reading and spelling. In other words, phonics teaches students symbol-to-sound and sound-to-symbol.

But for phonics to work, a student must first have solid phonological processing and phonemic awareness.

To see how these different items are taught, take a look at our How to Get Help page.

Causes of Dyslexia

Dyslexia is an inherited condition. Researchers have determined that a gene on the short arm of chromosome #6 is responsible for dyslexia. That gene is dominant, making dyslexia highly heritable. It definitely runs in families.

Neurological Differences

Dyslexia results from a neurological difference; that is, a brain difference. People with dyslexia have a larger right hemisphere in their brains than those of normal readers. That may be one reason people with dyslexia often have significant strengths in areas controlled by the right side of the brain, such as:

In addition to unique brain architecture, people with dyslexia have unusual “wiring.” Neurons are found in unusual places in the brain, and they are not as neatly ordered as in non-dyslexic brains.

In addition to unique brain architecture and unusual wiring, f/MRI studies have shown that people with dyslexia do not use the same part of their brain when reading as other people. Regular readers consistently use the same part of their brain when they read. People with dyslexia do not use that part of their brain, and there appears to be no consistent part used among dyslexic readers.

It is therefore assumed that people with dyslexia are not using the most efficient part of their brain when they read. A different part of their brain has taken over that function.


Dissecting Dyslexia

Excerpt from “Dissecting Dyslexia”
Reading Rockets.org

Children who cannot read fluently or spell accurately are often thought to lack intelligence or motivation. But in most cases, they are neither stupid nor lazy. They have dyslexia, which makes it difficult for them to understand written language despite having a normal—or higher than normal—IQ.

Recent studies suggest that their reading difficulties are caused by identifiable genetic variations that create “faulty wiring” in certain areas of the brain.

Luckily, most of our brain development occurs after we are born, when we interact with our environment. This means that the right teaching techniques can actually re-train the brain, especially when used early.

To read the entire article, click here.

From Genes to Behavior

Excerpt from “From Genes to Behavior in Developmental Dyslexia”
Albert M. Galaburda et al
Nature Neuroscience, October 2006

This scholarly research article expands on the following:

All four genes thus far linked to dyslexia impact brain development. Comparable abnormalities induced in young rodent brains cause auditory deficits, underscoring the potential relevance of these brain changes to dyslexia.

Our perspective on dyslexia is that some of the brain changes cause phonological processing abnormalities as well as auditory processing abnormalities.

Thus, we propose a pathway between a genetic effect, developmental brain changes, and perceptual deficits associated with dyslexia.

To read the entire article, click here.

Scientists Tie Two Additional Genes to Dyslexia

Excerpt from “Scientists tie two additional genes to dyslexia”
Sandra Blakeslee
New York Times, November 2, 2005

One year after scientists discovered a gene whose flaw contributes to dyslexia, two more such genes have been identified.

The findings, described yesterday in Salt Lake City at a meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics, support the idea that many people deemed simply lazy or stupid, because of their severe reading problems, may instead have a genetic disorder that interfered with the wiring of their brains before birth.

To read the entire article, click here.

Dyslexia Susceptibility Gene

Excerpt from “Association of the KIAA0319 Dyslexia Susceptibility Gene With Reading Skills in the General Population”
Silvia Paracchini, D.Phil., et al
American Journal of Psychiatry, December 2008

Dyslexia (reading disability) is a complex trait determined in large part by genetic factors. Association studies and translocation breakpoint analyses have proposed several genes as susceptibility candidates at some of the quantitative trait loci linked to dyslexia: DYX1C1 on chromosome 15, KIAA0319 and DCDC2 on chromosome 6, ROBO1 on chromosome 3, and MRPL19 and C20RF3 on chromosome 2.

The results of this study both support the role of KIAA0319 in the development of dyslexia and and suggest that this gene influence reading ability in the general population. Moreover, the data implicate the three-SNP haplotype and its tagging SNP rs2143340 as genetic risk factors for poor reading performance.

This research article is extremely technical but is a “must read” for those who want to understand the latest in genetic research.

To read the entire article, click here.

Dyslexia Gene Controls Cilia in Brain Neurons

Excerpt from: “Dyslexia Gene Controls Cilia in Brain Neurons”

Karolinska Institutet

www.news-medical.net, June 20, 2011

Scientists at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have discovered that a gene linked to dyslexia has a surprising biological function: it controls cilia, the antenna-like projections that cells use to communicate.

Dyslelxia is largely hereditary and linked to a number of genes. One of these genes, DCDC2, is involved in regulating the signaling of cilia in brain neurons.

To read the entire article, click here.

Musical Ability Connected to Dyslexia Gene

Excerpt from “Genome wide linkage scan for loci of musical aptitude in Finnish families:Evidence for a major locus at 4q22”
Kristiina Pulli, et al
Journal of Medical Genetics, April 18, 2008

A team of Finnish and American geneticists have found that, for some people at least, music is in their genes. In what the researchers called the first study of its kind, they found specific regions of chromosomes that were connected to musical ability.

The chromosomal regions that were found to be connected to music are known to be involved in the migration of neurons during development. And the study also found that the musical DNA overlapped with a region associated with dyslexia.

To read the entire article, click here.

Same Gene in Chinese Dyslexics

Excerpt from an article published on May 25, 2011


Dyslexia exists in every country, even countries in which the written language is not phonetic.

Genetic studies in western populations have suggested that DYX1C1 is a candidate gene for dyslexia.

This study of 393 Chinese children determined that the very same gene is responsible for dyslexia in Chinese children. And those children have difficulty with rapid naming, phonological memory, and orthographic skills – just as dyslexic children in western countries do.

To read the entire article, click here.

Recent Research

NIH Research Project

In the early 1980's, the United States Congress mandated the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to research learning disabilities and answer 7 specific questions.

After conducting longitudinal research plus numerous studies on genetics, interventions, and brain function, we now have a great deal of independent, scientific, replicated, published research on dyslexia.

This section shares the research results released by the National Institutes of Health from 1994 to the present, as well as from dyslexia researchers in several others countries.

NIH Research Questions

NIH coordinated 18 top-notch university research teams throughout the United States to answer the following questions posed by Congress:

  1. How many children are learning disabled?
  2. Clearly define each specific type of learning disability.
  3. What causes each learning disability?
  4. How can we identify each learning disability?
  5. How long does each disability last? Map its developmental course.
  6. What is the best way to teach these children?
  7. Can we prevent any of these learning disabilities?

NIH investigated dyslexia first because it is the most prevalent learning disability.

NIH Results Released in 1994

These research results have been independently replicated and are now considered to be irrefutable.

Research Results Released After 1994

Longitudinal Research

The National Institutes of Health conducted a longitudinal study by tracking 5,000 children at random from all over the country starting when they were 4 years old until they graduated from high school. The researchers had no idea which children would develop reading difficulties and which ones would not.

There were many theories at that time as to what caused reading difficulties, and which tests best predicted reading failure. The researchers tested these children 3 times a year for 14 years using a variety of tests that would either support or disprove the competing theories. But the researchers did NOT provide any type of training or intervention. They simply watched and tested.

From that research, they were able to determine which tests are most predictive of reading failure, at what age we can test children, and whether children outgrow their reading difficulties. This study also spawned numerous other NIH research projects. The results of these studies were released in 1994.

Speech Delays Related to Later Reading Difficulty

Speech Delays Turn Into Reading Problems

Excerpt from: “The Relationship Between Language and Learning Disabilities”
Frank R. Brown III, et al

In 1980, Snyder predicted that the language-delayed preschooler of today may well become the learning-disabled child of tomorrow. A growing body of evidence supports her prediction and suggests that many of these children do not “outgrow” these problems, and that “simple” delays in communication may, in fact, be stable predictors of later learning disabilities.

One set of researchers followed a group of children from ages 2 to 6. The children were identified at age 2 as “late talkers”. Although the majority outgrew their oral language delay by age 4, they demonstrated academic delays at ages 5 and 6.

Another set of researchers found that the oral language disorders decreased over time, giving the impression of “recovery” by age 5. However, the majority of those children experienced reading disabilities by grade 2.

To read the entire article, click here.

Detecting Dyslexia In Preschoolers

Excerpt from: “Pre-school Age Exercises Can Prevent Dyslexia, New Research Shows”
Science Daily, August 22, 2008

Atypical characteristics of children's linguistic development are early signs of the risk of dyslexia, and new research points to preventive exercises as an effective means to tackle the challenges children face when learning to read.

The results achieved at the Centre of Excellence in Learning and Motivation Research were presented at Finland's Academy of Science breakfast on 21 August.

Headed by Professor Lyytinen at the University of Jyvaskyla, the study compared 107 children with a dyslexic parent to a control group of children without a hereditary predisposition to dyslexia. The researchers followed the children from birth through school age.

“Half of the children whose parents had difficulties in reading and writing found learning to read more challenging than children in the control group. The atypical characteristics of these children's linguistic development indicated the risk at a very early age,” says Lyytinen.

According to Lyytinen, the predictors of reading and writing difficulties are evident primarily in two contexts: a delayed ability to perceive and mentally process the subtleties of a person's voice, and a sluggishness in naming familiar, visually presented objects.

To read the entire study, click here.

Spelling Difficulties

Spelling & Dyslexia

Significant difficulty with spelling, when writing sentences and stories, is the most obvious warning sign of dyslexia. That's why spelling is mentioned in the research-based definition of dyslexia used by the International Dyslexia Association and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), which is:

Dyslexia is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction.

Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.

Reading Problems Show Up In Spelling

Excerpt from video by Reading Rockets

funded by the U.S. Department of Education

posted on www.YouTube.com

Poor spelling when writing essays and stories is a huge red flag of dyslexia.

As part of Reading Rocket’s Meet The Experts series, Dr. Louisa Moats shares how reading problems show up first in spelling. She then explains the importance of reading and spelling nonsense words.

To watch that short video, click here.

Spelling Fact Sheet

The International Dyslexia Association has recently released a 4-page fact sheet on Spelling (“Just the Facts…Spelling”), which states that people with dyslexia have “conspicuous problems” with spelling and writing. The fact sheet quotes the research and explains how spelling needs to be taught.

To download that Spelling Fact Sheet, click here. Produced by the International Dyslexia Association, posted on their website in 2008 www.InterDys.org.

Spelling Gene

Excerpt from: “Spelling bee: Bad at spelling? Could be your genes”
Kate Wighton
www.TimesOnline.co.uk, October 25, 2008

In the past, poor spelling was attributed to all manner of things, from bad schooling to a lack of moral fiber. But science is offering a new explanation. A difficulty with spelling could be rooted in your genes and in the way your brain is wired. These findings stem from research into the language disorder dyslexia, but they are proving important for the wider population.

Tony Monaco, a scientist at the Wellcome Centre Trust for Human Genetics, Oxford University, believes that our ability to spell lies partly in our DNA. In his study, his lab tracked the development of 6,000 children born in the early Nineties. Previous studies highlighted a particular gene that might affect reading ability, KIAA0319. We all carry it, but he found that 15 percent of the population have a slightly different version than normal.

According to Professor Monaco, the normal version of the gene helps to guide brain cells into the cortex when a child is developing in the womb. When the gene is different, however, it is unable to properly fulfill its function; brain cells get lost on the journey and end up in the wrong place. “This may disrupt the processing of information,” he says.

To read the entire article, click here.

Spelling Changes the Brain

Excerpt from: “Brain Images Show Individual Dyslexic Children Respond To Spelling Treatment”
MedicalNewsToday.com, February 15, 2006

Brain images of children with dyslexia taken before they received spelling instruction show that they have different patterns of neural activity than do good spellers when doing language tasks related to spelling. But after specialized treatment emphasizing the letters in words, they showed similar patterns of brain activity.

These findings are important because they show the human brain can change and normalize in response to spelling instruction, even in dyslexia, the most common learning disability.

To read the entire article, click here.

Brain Research

Reading and the Brain

This 30-minute video, hosted by Henry Winkler, who has his own struggles with reading, explores how brain scientists are working to solve the puzzle of why some children struggle to read and others don't. Startling new research shows the answer may lie in how a child's brain is wired from birth.

This program is the newest episode on Launching Young Readers, WETA's award-winning series of innovative half-hour programs about how children learn to read, why so many struggle, and what we can do to help.

To watch “Reading and the Brain” FREE, click here.

Dyslexia Begins When Wires Don't Meet

Excerpt from: “Dyslexia begins when the wires don't meet”
Mark Roth
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 11, 2007

Dr. Just, a brain researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, and his colleagues, as well as brain imaging carried out at Georgetown University, Yale University and other centers, has proven that seeing letters in reverse or out of order is NOT the cause of dyslexia.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which measures blood flow to different parts of the brain, researchers now know that dyslexia involves a weakness in the part of the brain that decodes the sounds of written language.

That region sits above the left ear, at the junction of the brain's temporal and parietal lobes.

Researchers have also shown that the right kind of intensive instruction can rewire the brain and help overcome reading deficits. When Carnegie Mellon scanned the brains of youngsters who received a year of concentrated reading instruction, they showed 40 percent more activity in the word decoding areas of their brains, Dr. Just said.

A similar study at Yale showed that a year after receiving such instruction, boys and girls continued to show increased activity in both the word-decoding and word-forming areas of their brains.

A study at Georgetown University showed that intensive intervention also helps adults with dyslexia.

To read the entire article, click here.

Slow Reading in Dyslexia Tied to Disorganized Brain Tracks

Excerpt from: “Slow Reading In Dyslexia Tied To Disorganized Brain Tracts”
Science Daily, December 4, 2007

Dyslexia marked by poor reading fluency—slow and choppy reading—may be caused by disorganized, meandering tracts of nerve fibers in the brain, according to researchers at Children's Hospital Boston and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

The study, using the latest imaging methods, gives researchers a glimpse of what may go wrong in the structure of some dyslexic readers' brains, making it difficult to integrate the information needed for rapid, “automatic” reading.

To read the entire article, click here.

Overcoming Dyslexia: Timing of “Connections” in Brain is Key

Excerpt from: “Overcoming Dyslexia: Timing of ‘Connections’ in Brain is Key”
Science Daily, September 5, 2007

Using new software developed to investigate how the brains of dyslexic children are organized, University of Washington researchers have found that key areas for language and working memory involved in reading are connected differently in dyslexics than in children who are good readers and spellers.

However, once the children with dyslexia received an intense and specialized instructional program, their patterns of functional brain connectivity normalized and were similar to those of good readers when deciding if sounds went with groups of letters in words.

To read the entire article, click here.

Dyslexic Children Use Nearly Five Times the Brain Area

Excerpt from: “Dyslexic children use nearly five times the brain area”
University of Washington press release
UWNews.org, October 4, 1999

Dyslexic children use nearly five times the brain area as normal children while performing a simple language task, according to a new study by an interdisciplinary team of University of Washington researchers. The study shows, for the first time, that there are chemical differences in the brain function of dyslexic and non-dyslexic children.

The research, published in the current issue of the American Journal of Neuroradiology, also provides new evidence that dyslexia is a brain-based disorder.

This study, part of a wider UW effort to understand the basis of dyslexia and develop treatments for it, was funded by the National Institutes of Children Health and Human Development, a branch of the National Institutes of Health.

To read the entire press release, click here.

NIH-Funded Study Finds Dyslexia is Not Tied to IQ

Excerpt from: “NIH-funded study finds dyslexia is not tied to IQ”

From a press release issued November 3, 2011

By the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Regardless of high or low overall scores on an IQ test, children with dyslexia show similar patterns of brain activity, according to researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health.

The results call into question the discrepancy model – the current practice of classifying a child as dyslexic on the basis of a lag between reading ability and IQ score.

To read the entire article, click here.

Remediation Rewires Dyslexic Brains, Provides Lasting Results

Excerpt from: “Remedial Instruction Rewires Dyslexic Brains, Provides Lasting Results, Study Shows”
Carnegie Mellon University
ScienceDaily, August 7, 2008

A new Carnegie Mellon University brain imaging study of dyslexic students shows that the brain can permanently rewire itself and overcome reading deficits, if students are given 100 hours of intensive remedial instruction.

The study, published in the August issue of the journal Neuropsychologia, shows that the remedial instruction resulted in an increase in brain activity in several cortical regions associated with reading, and that gains became further solidified during the year following instruction.

“This study demonstrates how remedial instruction can use the plasticity of the human brain to gain an educational improvement,” said neuroscientist Marcel Just, director of Carnegie Mellon's Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging (CCBI) and senior author of the study. “Focused instruction can help underperforming brain areas to increase their brain proficiency.”

To read the entire article describing this study, click here.

Neural Systems Predict Long-Term Outcome

Excerpt from a research study

published December 22, 2010

on www.pnas.org

People with dyslexia vary in their ability to improve reading skills, but the brain basis for improvement remains largely unknown.

These researchers performed a prospective, longitudinal study over 2.5 years on 25 children with and without dyslexia to discover whether initial behavioral or brain measures, including fMRI and DTI, could predict future long-term reading gains in dyslexia.

This study showed that greater right prefrontal activation during a reading task that demanded phonological awareness, and right superior longitudinal fasciculus white-matter organization, significantly predicted future reading gains.

To read the entire article, click here.

Scanning for Early Signs of Reading Woes

Excerpt from: “Scanning for Early Signs of Reading Woes”

from the journal Science, August 18, 2011

on www.sciencecareers.sciencemag.org

The average dyslexic child is not diagnosed – and so does not begin to receive intensive reading help – until she is in 2nd or 3rd grade. But intervening in kindergarten, or earlier, is known to be effective.

Studies in preschoolers have shown that glitches in certain prereading skills, such as rhyming or rapid object naming, are associated with later dyslexia. Nadine Gaab, a researcher at Children’s Hospital in Boston, hopes to pin down markers in younger children, perhaps even infants.

Using brain scans, Gaab and her colleagues have found less gray matter in brain areas involved in mapping sounds in preschoolers, and neural deficits that prevent them from properly processing fast-changing sounds.

To read the entire article, click here.

Latest Brain Research

Dr. Sally Shaywitz
Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz

Finally. A book containing all of the latest research on dyslexia written in layman's terms. Dr. Sally Shaywitz is one of the NIH's leading dyslexia researchers, is codirector of the Yale Center for the Study of Learning and Attention, and is well known for her fMRI brain scan studies as well as the Connecticut Longitudinal Study.

In this superb book, you'll learn how:

Susan Barton highly recommends this book to any parent, teacher, or other professional who interacts with children or adults with dyslexia. In other words, everyone should read this book.

Sally Shaywitz Podcast: Dyslexia & Creativity

Dr. Sally Shaywitz, author of Overcoming Dyslexia, is an outstanding educator and speaker. In this one-hour lecture, given at Harvard University on September 30, 2006, she explains why dyslexia and creativity are two sides of the same coin—and shares many case studies that prove it.

To play that lecture as a free podcast:

  1. Go to the Yale University: Health & Medicine podcast page
  2. Scroll down to the bottom of the list. Their talk, entitled “Dyslexia and Creativity: Two Sides of the Same Coin”, was added on March 20, 2007
  3. Click on “Play Now” just below the title of that presentation
Sally Shaywitz 2007 Article on Research

To read an article Dr. Shaywitz wrote on her research in 2007, see The Neurobiology of Reading and Dyslexia,  by Sally E. Shaywitz & Bennett A. Shaywitz, published in Focus on Basics: Connecting Research & Practice, November 2007.

Dr. G. Reid Lyon

Dr. G. Reid Lyon is the former branch chief of NICHD, the arm of the National Institutes of Health that has been conducting research into dyslexia for the past 25 years.

Susan Barton was recently given a direct link to his research, as well as a link to a downloadable PowerPoint presentation Dr. Lyon created to explain his research.

NIH Brain Research

From a July 29, 2002 article in the Los Angeles Times:

For those who struggle with dyslexia, a reading problem that confounds 1 in every 5 Americans, the written word is a misfire in the mind.

Indeed, a lifetime of reading problems can be traced to a distinctive flaw in the brain that makes the mind strain and stumble over written words. That telltale signature of dyslexia now can be detected reliably in brain scans of children as young as 7, researchers say.

The scans showed that people with dyslexia have a much lower level of activity in areas at the back of the brain thought to be responsible for quickly matching words, sounds and meaning, compared to normal readers.

“We know now that this disruption is not due simply to a lifetime of poor reading because we see it in children as young as age 7,” said Dr. Sally Shaywitz, director of the Yale University Center for Learning and Attention and co-author of the study published this month in the research journal Biological Psychiatry.

To read the National Institutes of Health's press release on this study, see  NIH News Release: Children's Reading Disability Attributed to Brain Impairment.

For additional background on brain research and reading, see the Q&A with Dr. Gordon Sherman by SchwabLearning.org.

Dyslexia & Standardized Tests

Excerpt from: “55% of students who fail SATs have dyslexia or a learning disability”
University of Hull
Xtraordinary People publication, March 17, 2008

A new report released by Xtraordinary People on March 17, 2008, as part of their “No To Failure” project, has revealed the full extent of the hidden problem of dyslexia in classrooms around the country.

Here is a summary of their results:

In the screening phase of the study, a total of 1,341 pupils were screened in Year 3 and Year 7 in 20 schools across three different local authorities in England. This sample is reasonably representative of schools nationally, although slightly biased towards the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum.

Overall, 55% of all pupils who failed to reach expected targets on the national Standard Assessment Tests (SATs) were found to be “at risk” for dyslexia, indicating that unidentified dyslexia is a major cause of educational failure that could be remedied, but which at present, is largely ignored.

Xtraordinary People, a dyslexia charity supported by Sir Richard Branson, who is also dyslexic, is calling for the government to implement mandatory dyslexia awareness training for all teachers and to commit to providing dyslexia specialist training for one teacher in every school.

Their No To Failure project is an empirical study to:

“The link between dyslexia and academic failure has been made shockingly clear in our report. This level of failure is unacceptable and unnecessary because with a correct ‘diagnosis’ and support from trained specialists, dyslexic children can flourish. There is simply no need for these children to be slipping through the academic net,” said Kate Griggs, founder of Xtraordinary People.

To read the entire article, click here.

Auditory Processing

Dyslexia Makes Voices Hard to Discern

Excerpt from: “Dyslexia makes voices hard to discern, study finds”

Jennifer Carpenter, July 29, 2011


Because people with dyslexia are known to struggle with phonemes when reading, a US-based team of scientists at MIT wondered if they would also struggle hearing them in people’s voices.

To investigate, the team grouped 30 people of similar age, education and IQ into two camps: those with and without dyslexia.

The subjects went through a training period to learn to associate 10 different voices – half speaking English and half speaking Chinese – with 10 computer-generated avatars.

Non-dyslexics outperformed people with dyslexia by 40% when listening to English. However, that advantage disappeared when the groups were listening to Chinese – because neither group had learned to hear Chinese phonemes.

“Our results are the first to explicitly link impairment in reading ability to impairment in ecologically processing spoken language,” said researcher Tyler Perrachione.

To read the entire article, click here.

Abnormality in Auditory Processing Underlies Dyslexia

Excerpt from: “Abnormality in auditory processing underlies dyslexia”

published December 21, 2011


People with dyslexia often struggle with the ability to accurately decode and identify what they read. Although disrupted processing of speech sounds has been implicated in the underlying pathology of dyslexia, the basis for that disruption and how it interferes with reading has not been fully explained.

Now, new research published by Cell Press in the December 22, 2011 issue of the journal Neuron finds that a specific abnormality in the processing of auditory signals accounts for the main symptoms of dyslexia.

This new study shows that their left auditory cortex may be less responsive to modulations at specific frequencies that are optimal for analysis of speech sounds.

To read the entire article, click here.

Brain Changes Occur Early

Excerpt from: “Dyslexia’s Brain Changes Occur Before Kids Learn To Read”

January 24, 2012


New imaging research shows that the reduced brain activity associated with the onset of dyslexia develops before, not after, a child starts to read.

Key parts of the brain’s rear left hemisphere critical to language processing do not undergo activity changes, the study suggests, which may be part of the cause.

Guinevere Eden, director of the Center for the Study of Learning, a professor of pediatrics at Georgetown University, and past president of the International Dyslexia Association shared, “This means they have found a physiological signature for a child who is likely at risk for dyslexia, which will be of great help in doing what everyone really wants to do: identify and treat children with dyslexia as early as possible.”

To read the entire article, click here.

Strengths of Dyslexics

Common Strengths

Although their unique brain architecture and “unusual wiring” make reading, writing, and spelling difficult, most people with dyslexia have gifts in areas controlled by the right hemisphere of the brain. The right side controls:

Good Careers for Dyslexics

You'll find people with dyslexia in every field. However, many excel and become “super stars” in the following fields:

Famous People with Dyslexia

Lists of Famous Dyslexics

For more, click here for a list of famous people with LD and AD/HD.

Actors and Entertainment




Writers and Poets


Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders


Science and Medicine

Other Famous Dyslexics

Posters of Famous Dyslexics

Brand New: A set of posters of famous people with dyslexia and/or ADD that teachers or parents can display on their walls.

To view all of their posters about learning differences, click here.

To view their poster of famous people with dyslexia, click here.

Articles On and By Famous Dyslexics

Actors and Entertainment

Doug Bursch, daily radio show host

Excerpt from: “I'm Not Ashamed of My Dyslexia”
Doug Bursch
TheModerateVoice.com, October 20, 2010

I don't enjoy reading. Dyslexics lose their desire to read, or they never gain a desire, or they can't seem to maintain a desire to continue along the written page.

Dyslexia is more than erroneous spelling.

Dyslexia is an issue of desire. My mind does not desire the written word. No matter the scolding, the guilt, the prodding or the pushing, my mind does not enjoy reading.

Reading is a race I've never enjoyed running. While others sprinted ahead, I lumbered forward, pausing between words and sentences as if they were high hurdles or steeple chase walls.

As I grew older, I began to tell people the story about how I used to be dyslexic, about how I grew out of my disability. It sounded right to me and it made me feel special, even though it was not true. Dyslexia does not go away. It does not disappear.

I host a daily radio show and a few months back decided it would be nice to do a show on dyslexia, and share how I learned to read and “grow out” of dyslexia. I found a professor from Yale (Sally Shaywitz) who began to describe my life. But she didn't use my name. She used the word dyslexic.

In the middle of our interview, I proudly blurted out, “I'm dyslexic!” I said those words as if I'd won a prize or at least found a place to stand without shame.

To read the entire article, click here.

Steven Cannell, Emmy-winning writer and producer

Steven Cannell overcame severe dyslexia to become one of television's most prolific writers. He has created more than 40 shows, of which he has scripted more than 450 episodes. His hits include The Rockford Files, Greatest American Hero, The A-Team, Hunter, Riptide, Hardcastle & McCormick, 21 Jump Street, Wiseguy, The Commish, Profit, and the hit syndicated shows, Renegade and Silk Stalkings.

He shares:

I was 35 years old when I found out that I was dyslexic. My daughter, who is now 30, was being thrown out of the sixth grade at her private school. I met with the head of the school and he said: “She may not be up to what we're trying to accomplish." What he was really saying was that she didn't have the intelligence.

I got really mad because I knew from talking to my daughter that she was smart, just as my father had known that I was smart when I was failing in school. We had her tested and all of the things that were going on with her were the same things that had been going on with me. I decided to get tested as well. The results showed she is dyslexic, and so am I.

By the time I got to college I had come to realize that I couldn't spell, no matter how hard I tried. So at the University of Oregon, I would sign up for extra courses. I'd be in registration lines all day. Then I would go around the first day of class and ask each professor: “What's your policy on misspelling?”

If the professor said: “This is history. Let your English department worry about spelling,” I'd keep the course. If he said, “Three misspellings is a flunk,” I'd drop it.

Steven Cannell is an avid spokesperson on dyslexia. In an inspiring video series, he explains what dyslexia is, recalls his experiences, and provides advice. To watch his videos, click here.

Tim Conway, comedian

Known for making America laugh on the Carol Burnett Show, McHale's Navy, Dorf videos and more, Tim Conway traces his handiness with a hammer to a high school shop class, one of his favorite subjects because childhood dyslexia made it difficult for him to read.

“People thought that I was kidding when I would read out loud in school, so they started laughing,” he recalls. “For instance, the book They Were Expendable, I read as They Were Expandable.” The students were going, “This guy is great.”

To read his story, click here.

Anderson Cooper, CNN anchor

Anderson Cooper is an Emmy Award winning American journalist, author, and the primary anchor of the CNN news show Anderson Cooper 360. He recently revealed his dyslexia while on Oprah.

To read his story, click here.

Patrick Dempsy, actor

Excerpt from: “The doctor is in—again: Patrick Dempsey of ‘Grey's Anatomy’ is being hailed as this TV season's comeback kid.”
Michele Hatty

“Dyslexia really hurt me during auditions. There was a 10-year period where I had to memorize pages of dialogue and invest so much of my time and energy into every audition, going in knowing I wouldn't get it anyway,” Patrick Dempsey says with a trace of bitterness.

Grey's creator, Shonda Rhimes, admits Dempsey's dyslexia threw her at first, particularly at the first few “table readings”—meetings when the cast gathers to read fresh scripts aloud. “I did not know about Patrick's dyslexia in the beginning," she says. “I actually thought that he didn't like the scripts from the way he approached the readings.”

“When I found out, I completely understood his hesitation. Now that we all know, if he is struggling with a word, the other actors are quick to step up and help him out. Everyone is very respectful.”

To read the entire interview, click here.

Sarah Entine, filmmaker

From the ReadMeDifferently.com website:

Sara Entine, a talented independent filmmaker, has created a film that tells the story of her family, whose complicated relationships stem from misunderstandings due to unidentified dyslexia and AD/HD. It is the story of a mother, daughter, and granddaughter who long to feel seen, accepted, and loved for who they are.

To watch a 10-minute trailer, free, on her website, click here.

Luke Ford, actor

Excerpt from: “Dyslexic youth discovers talent as an actor”
Jamie Portman

When Luke Ford was diagnosed with dyslexia as a child in Australia, the last thing he expected was that it would launch him into an acting career and pave the way for a major role in a big Hollywood film like The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.

He was told one of the best ways of dealing with dyslexia was to make his brain work in new areas.

“So I went and tried to be a musician, but that didn't work,” he grins. Then he tried to be a painter and discovered he was pretty untalented in that area as well. “So then I thought, ‘All right, I'll do this drama class.’ They told me I was really good, and I got an A—but the next thing they did was to drop drama from my high school.”

Ford's response to that was to quit school and try to become a professional actor.

To read the entire article, click here.


Tony Bennett, singer

Excerpt from: “Tony Bennett says he's ‘never felt better’”
Cassandra Szklarski

Bennett says coping with dyslexia, a learning disability that causes difficulty in reading and writing, has been an ongoing struggle throughout his impressive career.

“I've always had a bit of dyslexia, so it's very hard for me to read proficiently,” says Bennett, known for a rich, natural vocal style that appears effortless.

“It's very difficult. My eyes bounce, so it's difficult for me to follow musically that way. I have to do it instinctively and intuitively.”

To read his story, click here.

John Lennon, lead singer, Beatles

Excerpt from: “John Lennon: Imagine Dyslexia”
Rafael Scarnati
LearningFoundations.wordpress.com, December 13, 2010

Growing up, few people expected John Lennon to be any more successful than a pot scrubber or factory worker in Liverpool. Like many dyslexic children going to school, he was extremely bright yet grossly underestimated.

He couldn't spell, even though he loved to read and write stories. He couldn't memorize the lyrics to other people's songs, but wrote amazingly creative lyrics himself. Except for his art classes, he got terrible grades.

He was deemed a troublemaker, yet even when he dropped out of high school, his strong people skills and creativity moved his headmaster to make a special recommendation to get him into college.

He was an artist, a storyteller and a poet from a very early age. He was a leader among his peers. His ideas were always ahead of his time.

His is also a story that reveals both the challenges, and the gifts, of dyslexia.

To read the entire article, click here.

Tom Mulcahy, jazz musician

Excerpt from: “Seamless move to jazz music”
Michelle McDonagh

Tom Mulcahy finds it difficult to put into words the impact that being diagnosed with dyslexia had on him after a lifetime of failing exams and feeling inadequate.

It was not until ten years ago, while he was in college pursing a degree in jazz performance, that he was finally diagnosed with dyslexia. After the nightmare of his school days, the diagnosis came as an enormous relief.

“Everybody thought I was stupid in school. My older siblings were clever in class, but I was regarded as being lazy. There was no help from the teachers in those days.”

It is his passion for music, and jazz in particular, that kept him going through the many obstacles he faced.

“I could not have accomplished what I have without having a passion for music and a strong commitment to my goals. As a student, I have had to embrace struggle as a necessary part of my growth.”

“Understanding that I wasn't stupid, and that I just learned differently was a long journey that required a lot of reflection, perseverance and hard work. I learned that just the label of dyslexia is not enough to help a struggling learner.”

He devised ingenious methods of using technologies such as slow-speed transcribers, digital dictaphones, computers, and iPods to help him in his studies. He now advises others with dyslexia to do the same.

In teaching children with dyslexia, Mulcahy believes the best approach is to focus on their strengths.

To read the entire interview, click here.

Artists, Designers, Architects, and Chefs

Jeremy Emerson, chef

Excerpt from: “Seasoned Chef Still Perfecting His Recipe for Success”
Linda Broatch

As the sous chef at a five-star hotel in Florida, Jeremy Emerson once faced a situation so terrifying that he briefly imagined abandoning the career he loved. What pushed this accomplished man to the edge? He was asked, without warning, to read aloud during a meeting of the hotel's 30-plus department heads.

Jeremy has dyslexia. And he did what many dyslexic adults do in such situations, no matter how confident they usually are—he panicked.

Raised in England in the 1970's and 80's, Jeremy spent his elementary and secondary school years struggling to learn, not aware that he had dyslexia. Picking up on cues from the adults around him, he assumed that he must be lazy or stupid.

Dyslexia runs in families, and both of Jeremy's brothers are dyslexic. Jeremy's older brother, Julian, had been “asked to leave school.” Yet he is now a software engineer for Intel.

Jeremy has been the Executive Chef at San Francisco's Four Seasons Hotel since 2003, where he manages a staff of 50.

To read the entire article, click here.

Richard Rogers, Pritzker-winning architect

Excerpt from: “Richard Rogers, architect behind Pompidou Center, wins Pritzker”
Robin Pogrebin
International Herald Tribune

Three decades after his Pompidou Center in Paris turned the architecture world upside down and brought him global fame, the British architect Richard Rogers has been named the 2007 winner of the Pritzker Prize, the profession's highest honor.

The award—a $100,000 grant and a bronze medallion—is to be presented to Rogers on June 4, 2007 at the Banqueting House in London.

Other high profile projects by Rogers include the sprawling Millennium Dome in Greenwich, England; the new terminal at Barajas International Airport in Madrid; and Terminal 5 at London's Heathrow Airport.

Yet when his family moved to England in 1938, Richard struggled through the public school system. It was not until many years later that he received a diagnosis of dyslexia.

“I was called backwards,” Rogers said. “We didn't know about dyslexia.”

To read the entire article, click here.

Takanao Todo, architect

Excerpt from: “Architect helps other dyslexics succeed”
Midori Matsuzawa
Daily Yomiuri Online (Japanese)

Since his primary school days, Todo felt his efforts to write kanji were in vain, no matter how hard he tried.

For Todo, kanji are images. When he was in primary school, his mother taught him how to pronounce and guess the meaning of kanji by breaking them into their elements, much the way that foreign students study kanji. He still makes major mistakes when writing in kanji, and often confuses certain hiragana characters.

He describes reading as a sort of visual overload. “It's like all the textual information is coming out to me at once,” he explained. “It's so tiring to find my place.”

Todo's memories of school life in Japan are bitter. In primary, his teachers did not accept students as they were, but instead, insisted on forcing the “different” students to become “normal.” Todo was labeled a difficult student and was treated as such. He became even more frustrated while at boarding school during his middle school years.

“But my mother always accepted me the way I am,” he said. “If you can realize, even just once, that someone appreciates who you are, that feeling can last long, give you hope, and eventually the courage to try something.”

His mother sent him to Britain for high school, where his relatives had once worked or studied. While there, he was diagnosed with dyslexia. The testing also revealed his strengths, in particular, excellent spatial perception. He studied 3-D modeling and graphic design when he took his A-levels at Cambridge.

In 2002, he matriculated to London's Architectural Association School of Architecture, where he graduated this summer.

After his diagnosis, his mother, Eiko, established a nonprofit organization in Japan called EDGE (Extraordinary Dyslexic Gifted Eclectic) to help those with dyslexia improve their innate strengths further so they can live with self-confidence.

To read the entire article, click here.

Writers and Poets

Christie Craig, award-winning author

Excerpt from interview: “Christie Craig—from dyslexic to humorous romantic suspense writer extraordinaire”
Teri Thackston
Houston Examiner

Christie Craig is an award-winning writer, whose zany, humorous tales of romance, suspense, and life at its wackiest is one reason four of her books were accepted for publication on the very same day.

During the interview, the reporter asked about her dyslexia:

Q: How difficult was it for a kid with dyslexia to grow into a successful romance novelist?

A: I seriously believe that I succeeded in this very hard business not in spite of my dyslexia, but in part, because of it.

Nothing came easy to me, and I didn't expect writing to be any different. The most needed tool to make it in this business I already had tucked inside—perseverance. So what if I got 10,000 rejections? Maybe the next one would not be a rejection.

Also, dyslexics have a knack of being intuitive. We pick up on people's emotions, body language, and tone of voice. So I could easily tap into human emotions, add my imagination, and—bingo.

To read the entire interview, click here. To learn more about Christie Craig and her books, go to Christie-Craig.com.

Debbie Macomber, best-selling author

Excerpt from: “Living with dyslexia”

Debbie Macomber has written more than 100 books. She has sold more than 60 million books worldwide, and is a New York Times bestselling author. Not bad for someone who couldn't read until she was 11.

“I am dyslexic, but they didn't have a word for that when I was a child,” says Debbie, who is from Washington State. “I was just considered slow. School was difficult.” That is an understatement.

“I was the only girl in the slow reading group,” says Debbie, on a visit to Dublin to publicize her latest book. “My teacher said, ‘Debbie is a nice girl, but she will never do well at school.’ And I didn't.”

To read the rest of this story, click here.

Philip Schultz, Pulitzer Prize Winner

Excerpt from: “Schultz wins Pulitzer Prize”
Deepti Hajela

Rochester, New York, native and poet Philip Schultz is among this year's winners of the Pulitzer Prizes.

In a recent interview with Garrison Keillor, Schultz said he was a “terrible student” who suffered from dyslexia. He did not learn to read until he was in the fifth grade.

To read the entire article, click here.


George Archer, champion golfer

Associated Press

George Archer, the former Masters champion who died in September, kept a lifelong secret that his widow recently revealed in Golf for Women magazine.

He was illiterate.

“Despite years of effort, he never learned to read beyond a rudimentary level. He never could write more than a few crude sentences,” Donna Archer wrote in the article, “The Secret They Shared”.

“Eventually, he was able to get through an article on the sports page, and he learned to write his name for autographs,” she wrote, “But that was it.”

“Over the years, George became incredibly adept at covering up his disability. But he was always afraid fans would want him to personalize an autograph, or that he'd have to read some prepared sentences on television.”

Duncan Goodhew, olympic swimmer

David Kelly
Belfast Telegraph

When Duncan Goodhew won the 100 meter breaststroke gold medal at the Moscow Olympics in 1980, he knew his life would never be the same. He said, “For me, the whole process of swimming was to change the deck of cards, because dyslexia is incredibly corrosive to your spirit.

“At the age of seven, I was asked to read out loud in class. I was laughed at because I was struggling. I was fidgeting so much that I was literally tied to a chair and put in a corner with the dunce's hat on.

“There was a lack of understanding then—and it's still happening.

“Dyslexia is like being in a job you're not qualified for, and you don't speak the language. You're sitting there being told you are stupid all day, every day.

“School gave me a fundamental understanding of what I was not good at. It gave me an acute desire to find something, a life preserver, and I found swimming.”

Molly Sliney, Olympic fencer

Excerpt from: “Olympic fencer Molly Sliney shares story of struggle and triumph”
Sally Kerans
Danvers Herald, September 27, 2007

Olympic fencer Molly Sliney spent the day at Highlands School last Friday.

The athlete, coach and motivational speaker shared not only her fencing expertise, but also her struggle with dyslexia, telling students that she is proof that anyone can set goals and achieve them if they learn to believe in themselves.

Her many accomplishments in sports are impressive:

Yet her proudest accomplishment was receiving her degree from Notre Dame.

Not bad for a kid who couldn't read until the age of 9.

She still remembers the spelling bee in 4th grade. She studied her spelling words every night. Her teacher gave her “the easiest word on the list” to spell. She got it wrong. Some of her classmates laughed. She returned to her seat, frustrated and stung by their taunts of “dumb” and “stupid.”

“Boys and girls, when people say bad things about you,” she said, “you have two choices. You can ignore them or you can believe them. That day in 4th grade, I made the wrong choice. I decided to believe that I was dumb and stupid.”

To learn how she turned her life around by reading the entire story, click here.

Jackie Stewart, motor sports and business

Excerpt from: “Please look after the poor wee boy at the back”
David Leafe

Reclining in the comfort of an executive limousine and looking every inch the motor-racing legend and multimillionaire businessman that he is, Sir Jackie Stewart shared that his parents were baffled by his poor performance at school. He remembers with horror one occasion when, as a little boy, he was asked to read in front of the class.

“All I could see as I looked at the book was a jungle: a whole clutter of words. My teacher, Miss Shaw, was telling me to get on with it, but I was blushing and couldn't swallow.

“All around me, the other children were sniggering, or pretending to blow their noses to hide their laughter.”

Describing school as “the most painful and humiliating period of my life,” he recalls his desire to leave school at the age of 15.

“When you are being called thick, dumb and stupid, you end up leaning towards others who are like you, who won't humiliate and abuse you. Unfortunately, I ended up in a very bad crowd.”

It was not until he was 42, and one of his sons was diagnosed with dyslexia, that he discovered, “I wasn't stupid after all. I felt like I had been saved from drowning.”

To read the entire story, click here.

Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders

Terri Bowersock, entrepreneur

Excerpt from: “Show, don't tell: A CEO defies dyslexia”
Terri Bowersock
Fortune, April 2, 2008

With a $2,000 loan from my mother, I have grown my Tempe-based firm, Terri's Consign & Design Furnishings, into the largest U.S. resale furniture retailer, with 16 stores and $36 million in annual sales. And I've done it despite my dyslexia.

I wasn't always open about my dyslexia. Because I was teased in school, I became a master at “fake it until you make it.” In meetings, I'd pretend I could read the papers being passed out.

People ask if I attribute my success to overcoming dyslexia. I tell them that I have not, and never will, overcome dyslexia. Yes, I run a national company, but I still use a Franklin Talking Dictionary to try to spell fifth-grade vocabulary words.

But at least I've shown my grade school teachers that it is not that I wasn't trying hard enough.

To read the entire article, and learn about the many tools Terri uses to compensate, click here.

John Chambers, CEO Cisco Systems

Excerpt from: “Leaders & Success: Chambers Has Cisco In Gear”
Brian Womack
Investor's Business Daily, June 27, 2007

John Chambers leads one of the largest high tech firms in the world—networking gear maker Cisco Systems—but the West Virginia native could not keep up with classmates as an elementary student.

Chambers suffered from dyslexia, crippling his reading abilities and damaging his confidence.

“There's nothing harder on you than when people come around the classroom in first, second, and third grade and call on you. Your stomach tightens up; you know you'll mess up the reading,” he told IBD.

Chambers says dyslexia is especially frustrating because more effort couldn't fix the problem. “My parents would sit and read with me in the evening, and it would get worse, not better,” he said.

Eventually his parents found expert help. The process did more than help him read more easily.

“Once you understand that you can overcome something that you doubted you would ever overcome, you gain more inner confidence. It helped me learn to deal with the challenges in life.”

To read the entire story, click here.

Barbara Corcoran, business

Excerpt from: “Barbara Corcoran: ‘Jersey girl’ trumped Trump with street smarts”
Jay McDonald

As a girl growing up in New Jersey, Barbara Corcoran would gaze across the Hudson River at the Manhattan skyline, not knowing that one day, she would reign as queen of New York residential real estate.

After all, she was hardly a born deal maker. Severe dyslexia earned her nothing more than straight D's in school and dire warnings from the nuns.

But what she could not accomplish in school, she made up for with a winning personality and a way with people.

To read the entire article, click here.

Jo Malone, business guru and TV presenter

Excerpt from: “Jo Malone: ‘I was terrified of presenting BBC show because I'm dyslexic’”
Daily Mail, May 28, 2010

Fearless on the shop floor and in the boardroom, fragrance tycoon Jo Malone found the transition from business guru to TV presenter terrifying. She nearly gave up.

“It was my dyslexia,” Jo admits. “I was terrified that I would make a huge mistake.”

The night before filming began, Jo was sick all night long.

The next morning, she told the editor, “I can't do this. I can't read the script.”

To find out what happened next, and how this high school dropout became a business guru, click here to read the entire article.

Evan Paul, college student and entrepreneur

Excerpt from: “Entrepreneur aims to inspire dyslexic youth”
Patrick McNamee
Stamford Advocate, June 6, 2008

Evan Paul started playing video games to escape from the realities of middle school.

Evan, who is dyslexic, recently completed his freshman year at the University of Arizona. He is founder and CEO of the online game-trading site, eGamePlace.com, valued at $30 million.

“Going through school, I felt like I was a stupid failure,” Evan shared. “Slowly but surely, because I did not give up, I eventually began to learn to read and things began to come together for me. It was by no means easy.”

Evan would play video games when he came home from school, after a long day of bullying and struggling in class.

“When I was younger, the only people who believed in me were myself and my family.”

Last year, he started the Dyslexic Dream Foundation, and he donates 70 to 80 percent of his earnings to fund programs to help students overcome dyslexia.

“The goal of the foundation is to raise awareness, and to educate teachers and schools,” he said. “I also set up scholarships because some of the great private schools cost more than some colleges.”

To read the entire article, click here.

Tommy Spaulding, former CEO of Up With People

Excerpt from: “Leadership guru addresses chamber”
Reflector.com, October 6, 2010

Former CEO and president of Up With People, the largest non-profit in the world, Tommy Spaulding has become a guru on the topic of leadership. In a luncheon speech to promote his book, he shared how he won a prestigious Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship to get an MBA—despite struggling with dyslexia in school.

As an East Carolina University graduate with only a 2.0 GPA, he faced stiff competition for the scholarship from Harvard, Yale, and Princeton graduates with perfect academic records.

His experience with his college roommate who was paralyzed in his freshman year, plus his rejection by 35 law schools, pulled at the heart strings of the committee.

But it was his treatment of the bartender at the hotel where the scholarship committee held interviews that got him the award. The committee was deadlocked between Spaulding and a Harvard graduate when the chairman asked the bartender what he thought.

Spaulding had spent hours talking to the bartender about his life and family, while the other applicants ignored him.

“The committee heard about my heart and passion from the bartender, and they overlooked my grades,” he said.

To read the entire article, click here.

Spaulding's book, It's Not Just Who You Know, which he co-wrote with Ken Blanchard, was released in August.

Tracing Business Success to Dyslexia

Excerpt from: “Tracing Business Acumen to Dyslexia”
Brent Bowers
New York Times, December 6, 2007

It has long been known that dyslexics are drawn to running their own businesses, where they can get around their weaknesses in reading and writing and play on their strengths. But a new study of entrepreneurs in the United States suggests that dyslexia is much more common among small-business owners than even the experts had thought.

The report, compiled by Julie Logan, a professor of entrepreneurship at the Cass Business School in London, found that more than a third of the entrepreneurs she surveyed identified themselves as dyslexic.

“We found that dyslexics who succeed had overcome an awful lot in their lives by developing compensatory skills,” said Professor Logan. “If you tell your friends that you plan to start a business, you'll hear over and over, ‘It won't work. It can't be done.’ But dyslexics are extraordinarily creative about maneuvering their way around problems.”

To read the entire article, click here.


Jeffrey Gallet, judge

Excerpt from: “First Person: A Judge's Story”
Jeffrey H. Gallet

Everyone at school said that I was lazy or stupid or both. After a while, I began to believe them. Sometimes, I just gave up. I couldn't write, spell, or read, or answer questions quickly. I didn't even know which hand to put over my heart when we recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

My mother was a trained teacher, but even she did not understand dyslexia. The term was almost unknown when I was a child. But my parents never gave up on me, although it must have been a great disappointment to those two scholarly people that their first born could barely graduate from high school.

They encouraged me to go to college and I did, graduating last in my class.

I wanted to go to law school, and Brooklyn Law School took a chance on me. I was lucky to have loving parents, as well as a college professor and a law school roommate who supported me, encouraged me, tutored me, and refused to let me fall victim to my frustrations and give up. I graduated in the middle of my class.

I wasn't diagnosed with a learning disability until I was 35. By the age of 37, I was a judge.

Having failed English courses in both high school and college, I finally learned how to write. But today, with 5 books and over 30 articles to my credit, I still suffer from an irrational fear that I am about to make a fool of myself every time I sit down to write.

I agreed to write this article, after first refusing, because as a judge, almost every week I see a learning disabled child who, undiagnosed or untreated, is venting his or her frustrations in anti-social ways. I could have stood in that same spot. If not for loving, caring, involved parents, my frustrations at not being able to keep up in class, and to some extent in the play yard, could have burst forth in the same self-destructive way.

The schools and the courts have not met their responsibilities to LD children. They have not allocated the resources to do what must be done.

To read the entire article, which includes Judge Gallet's attempts to improve the judicial system, click here.

Dan Malloy, governor of Connecticut

Excerpt from: “AP Interview: Malloy overcame dyslexia, physical struggles”
Susan Haigh
Boston.com, May 29, 2006

When Dan Malloy accepted the Democratic Party's nomination for governor at this month's state convention, he mentioned how proud his mother would have been had she lived to see that moment.

As a child, Malloy struggled to read, calculate math problems, and even tie his shoes. He suffered from dyslexia at a time when the term “learning disabilities” was uncommon.

As late as fourth grade, Malloy's teachers thought he was mentally retarded.

He recalls how one teacher posted his failing spelling grades on the chalkboard.

Malloy, 50, and mayor of Stamford, said “People from my childhood would not have predicted the level of success I've been able to accomplish.”

To read the entire interview, click here.

Scientists, Doctors, Engineers, and Inventors

Dr. Maggie Aderin, rocket scientist

Excerpt from: “Seeing stars”
Trudy Simpson
VOICE Online, August 1, 2007

Dr. Maggie Aderin, who holds a Bachelors degree in Physics and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, has built telescopes, has helped create instruments to test missile warning systems and detect landmines, as well as satellites that monitor climate change.

Yet her teachers dismissed her when she declared she wanted to study science because she had dyslexia. She shared:

I was not considered very bright because I had dyslexia. When I first told my teachers I wanted to study science, they shook their heads and said I should consider something else.

But I received encouragement at home. My father always said if you work hard, you can achieve so much. So I pushed myself. Although I suffered from dyslexia, I was quite logical, and I really loved science because I loved being hands on.

When people realized I was good at science, I got lots of tuition and encouragement.

In her first year at Imperial College in London, she was one of only two black people, and one of only ten women, in her class of 200.

Scientists have a good life. The work is hard, the pay is good, and it can be fun. Her company, Science Innovation Limited, has a program to get the public engaged in science, especially girls and minorities.

She'll also appear in two of the BBC's upcoming six-part science series, “The Cosmos: A Beginner's Guide.”

To read the rest of her story, click here.

Mark Fairbank, winner Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching

Excerpt from: “Obama picks alumnus for teaching excellence award”
Cayla Gales
StateHornet.com, December 8, 2010

Shortly after failing third grade, Mark Fairbank found out he had dyslexia. But that did not stop him from becoming an award-winning teacher.

President Obama recently declared Fairbank one of the top science and math teachers in the country. He will receive the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

Even as a third grader, Fairbank knew he wanted to teach chemistry.

“I struggled through my entire career at school. So I went to community college for three years,” Fairbank said. “At Sacramento State, I studied from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. every single day, including Saturdays and Sundays, so I could make it through.”

He received help from his mother, who read textbooks to him, and from his wife and best friend who typed his papers.

To read the entire article, click here.

Jack Horner, paleontologist

Excerpt from: “Jack Horner: An Intellectual Autobiography”
Jack Horner

I suffered from a lack of confidence due to dyslexia. I wasn't diagnosed until well after I had reached adulthood, had struggled through school being considered lazy, dumb, and perhaps even retarded, and had flunked out of college seven times. Most people expected I'd wind up working at a service station, or if I was really lucky, I might get to drive a truck at my father's gravel plant.

Kindergarten through eighth grade was extremely difficult for me because my progress in reading, writing, and mathematics was excruciatingly slow. I would never read out loud in class, even if the teachers threatened to give me failing grades. The joke was that I only carried schoolbooks to ballast my lanky body against the strong winds of Montana. Eventually, I managed to graduate from high school, but just barely, having received Ds in all required classes, including English, in which my grade was a D minus, minus, minus. The teacher told me that this was essentially an F, but that he never wanted to see me again.

There was, however, one area of school besides P.E. in which I excelled: science projects.”

Jack Horner became one of the most well known paleontologists in the world. He has discovered the most dinosaur eggs, the first dinosaur embryos, and three species of dinosaurs. Although he never graduated from college, Jack received the MacArthur Foundation Award (called the “Genius Award”), several honorary doctorate degrees, and served as technical advisor for all of the Jurassic Park films.

To read the entire article, click here.

James Sorenson, billionaire inventor

Excerpt from: “Billionaire inventor James Sorenson dies at 86”
Diana Rosenthal
CNNMoney.com, January 22, 2008

James Sorenson, inventor of the computerized heart monitor and of disposable paper surgical masks, died on Sunday.

Although he was the richest man in Utah when he died, with a fortune estimated at $4.5 billion, he struggled through the Great Depression, and dyslexia, to emerge as one of the century's great inventors.

To read the entire article, click here.

Dr. Ronald Thompson, professor and NIH researcher

Excerpt from: “Professor transcended dyslexia for a life of the mind”
Stephanie Hayes
TampaBay.com, November 3, 2007

He was the kid with the butterfly net. The one who could repair the class projector.

He was the student with the dry sense of humor. You'd miss his jokes if you weren't listening.

He had trouble reading. He couldn't spell. Instead of writing things down, he kept information in his head.

He was the dad with the cool job.

After getting his Ph.D. he researched human temperature regulation at the National Institutes of Health. He worked on NASA space suits. He studied cystic fibrosis and obesity.

At home, there was usually a microscope on the dinner table.

His son Karl had trouble reading in first grade. An expert diagnosed Karl as dyslexic.

“You may be explaining my son,” Dr. Thompson said, “but you also just explained me.”

To read the entire article, click here.

Edward Wilson, winner 2007 Young Engineer Award

Excerpt from: “Award May Be a Big Brake for Clever Edward”
Joseph Watts
ThisIsNottingham.co.uk, October 1, 2007

He may be too young to drive, but that has not stopped Edward Wilson from winning a top prize for a road-safety invention.

The 16-year-old's innovative brake light system shows how quickly a car is slowing, and it won Edward the Design and Innovation Trophy at the 2007 Young Engineer for Britain awards.

Edward's device, called SlowSafe, warns a driver that the car ahead of them is slowing without the person in the car in front putting their foot on the brake. This patent-pending invention should reduce accidents and traffic jams. Edward will be giving presentations to car manufacturers for the next few months, trying to persuade them to use SlowSafe.

His mother, Serena Wilson, shared that her son's achievement was all the more impressive because he also had to deal with dyslexia.

“I'm so proud of him. He even wrote his own computer program, and no one taught him how to do that. He learned it himself,” she said.

“At times, his dyslexia made things hard, but he persevered.”

To read the entire article, click here.

Famous Dyslexics: What They Remember

I grew up in a school system … where nobody understood the meaning of learning disorder. In the West Indies, I was constantly being physically abused because the whipping of students was permitted.

Harry Belafonte

Since I was the stupidest kid in my class, it never occurred to me to try and be perfect, so I've always been happy as a writer just to entertain myself. That's an easier place to start.

Stephen J. Cannell, screenwriter, producer, & director

I never read in school. I got really bad grades—D's and F's and C's in some classes, and A's and B's in other classes. In the second week of the 11th grade, I just quit. When I was in school, it was really difficult. Almost everything I learned, I had to learn by listening. My report cards always said that I was not living up to my potential.


I, myself, was always recognized … as the “slow one” in the family. It was quite true, and I knew it and accepted it. Writing and spelling were always terribly difficult for me. My letters were without originality. I was … an extraordinarily bad speller and have remained so until this day.

Agatha Christie

I was, on the whole, considerably discouraged by my school days. It was not pleasant to feel oneself so completely outclassed and left behind at the beginning of the race.

Winston Churchill

I had to train myself to focus my attention. I became very visual and learned how to create mental images in order to comprehend what I read.

Tom Cruise

You should prefer a good scientist without literary abilities than a literate one without scientific skills.

Leonardo da Vinci

My teachers say I'm addled … my father thought I was stupid, and I almost decided I must be a dunce.

Thomas Edison

He told me that his teachers reported that … he was mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift forever in his foolish dreams.

Hans Albert Einstein, on his father, Albert Einstein

Having made a strenuous effort to understand the symbols he could make nothing of, he wept giant tears…

Caroline Commanville, on her uncle, Gustave Flaubert

Kids made fun of me because I was dark skinned, had a wide nose, and was dyslexic. Even as an actor, it took me a long time to realize why words and letters got jumbled in my mind and came out differently.

Danny Glover, actor

I barely made it through school. I read real slow. But I like to find things that nobody else has found, like a dinosaur egg that has an embryo inside. Well, there are 36 of them in the world, and I found 35.

Dr. John R. Horner, American paleontologist

I am, myself, a very poor visualizer and find that I can seldom call to mind even a single letter of the alphabet in purely retinal terms. I must trace the letter by running my mental eye over its contour in order that the image of it shall leave any distinctness at all.

William James, psychologist and philosopher

I just barely got through school. The problem was a learning disability, at a time when there was nowhere to get help.

Bruce Jenner, Olympic gold medalist

The looks, the stares, the giggles … I wanted to show everybody that I could do better and also that I could read.

Magic Johnson

Young George … although he was bright and intelligent and bursting with energy, he was unable to read and write. Patton's wife corrected his spelling, his punctuation, and his grammar.

Biographer Martin Blumenson on General George Patton

I was one of the “puzzle children” myself—a dyslexic … And I still have a hard time reading today. Accept the fact that you have a problem. Refuse to feel sorry for yourself. You have a challenge; never quit!

Nelson Rockefeller

When I had dyslexia, they didn't diagnose it as that. It was frustrating and embarrassing. I could tell you a lot of horror stories about what you feel like on the inside.

Nolan Ryan

I couldn't read. I just scraped by. My solution back then was to read classic comic books because I could figure them out from the context of the pictures. Now I listen to books on tape.

Charles Schwabb

My problem was reading very slowly. My parents said “Take as long as you need. As long as you're going to read, just keep at it.” We didn't know about learning disabilities back then.

Roger Wilkins, Head of the Pulitzer Prize Board

As a child, I was called stupid and lazy. On the SAT I got 159 out of 800 in math. My parents had no idea that I had a learning disability.

Henry Winkler

My father was an angry and impatient teacher and flung the reading book at my head.

William Butler Yeats

Willie was sent to lessons in spelling and grammar, but he never learned to spell. To the end of his life he produced highly idiosyncratic versions of words.

Biographer A. Norman Jeffares on William Butler Yeats

I hated school.… One of the reasons was a learning disability, dyslexia, which no one understood at the time. I still can't spell…

Loretta Young

Triumphs over Dyslexia

Edward Hall, learns to read at 70

Excerpt from: “Letter: Septuagenarian triumphs over dyslexia thanks to tutor”
Edward Hall
TCPalm.com, December 23, 2007

Recently, I read a book for the first time. That may not seem like much. But for a man in his 70's, this meant the world to me. I spent decades living in shame and fear of being “found out.” I refused countless promotions just so my co-workers would not learn I could not read.

Once, I wanted to send my wife a birthday card. I picked out the most beautiful card I could find. My wife told me I had actually given her a sympathy card.

My issue with reading stems from dyslexia. Historically, students with dyslexia have been ignored, labeled “dumb,” put in the back of the room and left alone. That was my fate.

The reality is that those with dyslexia are bright and eager to learn.

A volunteer tutor in an adult literacy program taught Mr. Hall to read. To read the entire letter, click here.

Tina Krueger, going to college at 45

Excerpt from: “Overcoming obstacles: Dyslexia doesn't hold down FVTC grad”
Krista B. Ledbetter
TheNorthwestern.com, December 10, 2006

Tina Krueger, 45, spent nearly 20 years working in the OshKosh B'Gosh factory before her department shut down in 2004. Left without a job, she made the decision to return to school. But one hurdle stood in her way—Krueger has dyslexia.

Krueger says she has moderate to severe dyslexia which made schooling difficult for as long as she can remember.

“I did okay. I got by,” she remembered. “But I don't know how I got by. My teachers probably could not read my papers. I look at them now and wonder, ‘What was I trying to say?’”

It took a leap of faith for her to enroll in FVTC. “It was a difficult two years,” admitted Kruger, who attended full-time. On Saturday, she graduated with an AA degree in Marketing and a 3.9 grade point average.

She doesn't plan to leave it at that. She plans to earn her Bachelor's degree.

“It's never too late. The desire to learn will always be there. There are so many people out there willing to help. You are not doing it alone.”

To read the entire article, click here.

Linda Worden, learned to read at 40

Excerpt from: “How I hid not being able to read or write”
Linda Worden
BBC.co.uk, July 30, 2008

Thinking back to my school days, all I can remember is the pain as I struggled from a young age. Classes were so big that I would just sit quietly at the back, or find any excuse not to be there at all.

My reports were full of the usual lines: “Linda could do better … Linda's lazy,” when, in fact, I just kept quiet so no one would notice that I could not do the work. I dropped out at 16.

As an adult, forms filled me with dread.

There were times I would miss something important—appointments, bills—because I didn't dare to open the mail.

Yet I could sell myself, coming across as full of confidence, impressing people at face value. What I lost through not being able to read and write, I gained in other ways. People always commented on my smile and cheerful personality.

I have done all sorts of jobs—including factory work and restaurant work—but the minute I received any sort of promotion that would have revealed my weaknesses, I'd leave.

To read the entire article, click here.

What Not-So-Famous People with Dyslexia Remember about School

Parents of Dyslexics

Katherine Kerston

Excerpt from: “Kersten: Defeating dyslexia at home”
Katherine Kerston
StarTribune.com, August 18, 2005

For years I dreaded this time of year: back-to-school time. For my elementary-school-aged daughter, it meant another year of teasing, frustration, and a constant sense of defeat.

I first realized that something was wrong during her kindergarten year. Try as we might, with songs, games and repetition, she couldn't learn the alphabet. After first grade, my husband and I had her tested. She scored between the fifth and tenth percentiles in reading—as if she had never been to school.

In the classroom and on the playground, my daughter endured misery. She was always an outsider, feeling stupid. Often, her teachers didn't comprehend the nature of her difficulties, or thought she wasn't trying.

“Learning to read at school was like trying to run through mud,” she says now. “You struggle so hard, but you never seem to get anywhere.”

To read the entire article, click here.

Imogen Stubbs

Excerpt of an article Imogen Stubbs, a parent, published by an Australian newspaper.

For many dyslexic children, the experience of reading and writing is like driving in a foreign country. Everything seems to be on the wrong side, going in the wrong direction. Everyone seems to be traveling faster than you. It requires exhausting concentration—and you experience a sense of tension, fear and total isolation as everyone roars past, hooting and looking at you as if you were an idiot.

When you finally reach your destination, after many wrong turns and a circuitous route that has taken an insanely long time, you then have no desire ever to get behind the wheel again. Meanwhile, your hosts have gone off to a party without you.

And yet. And yet. You could excel behind the wheel, if only you were on familiar roads.

Her child wrote:

when i do riting and pariigrafs my brayn is uncunferdble and herts and i get the writ word but wen it travls down my arm it disapeeurs befour it coms out of my hand and sumtymes im chrying.

Students with Dyslexia

Janet Bell

Excerpt from: “A Senior Citizen Reflects on Her Lifelong Struggle With Dyslexia”
Janet Bell

In June 1928, my mother enrolled me in first grade. I was so excited. I was going to learn wonderful things and have lots of fun. Wrong! In the years that followed, I found school was full of fear and frustration. I quickly was labeled “the dumb kid.”

Every day in school, I hid behind the child in front of me so the teacher wouldn't call on me. Writing the alphabet was easy, but reading it was a problem. I couldn't seem to pronounce words right. This played havoc with my spelling, and I worked hard to memorize words for weekly spelling tests. School was a living nightmare.

I studied every night, but my father would get frustrated with me. He'd bang his fist on the table and say something like, “Use your head!” or ask, “Where's your brain, girl?”

In spite of all this, I managed to receive a high school diploma. But my belief that I was dumb overshadowed my entire adult life. I made no attempt to attend college.

Three years ago, at the suggestion of a co-worker, I purchased a book on dyslexia. As I read the first few pages, I was in shock and tears. My immediate and joyful reaction was, “Dear Blessed God, I am not dumb. I have dyslexia.” I was ecstatic. At last I knew there was a reason for my being different—different, not dumb.

Today a teacher or dyslexia testing specialist can say to parents, “Your daughter has dyslexia, and we can help her.” How I wish my parents could have heard those words.

To read the entire article, click here.

Mackenzie Meyer, 2010 Anne Ford and Allegra Ford Scholarship Winner

When Mackenzie Meyer was identified with dyslexia, she was told she would not be able to reach her goal of becoming a veterinarian. As a result, she has pursued her dream in full force and is a shining example for any LD student who has been told to lower her expectations.

Here is the beginning of her essay:

President Obama has a nation of educators looking for “it.” Steve Jobs of Apple Computer wants to unleash “it.” Superpower countries like the US, China and India are in the race of their lives for “it.”

As for me … well, I already have “it.” Actually, I was born with “it.” I was born with the gift to create, to invent new ways of doing and being. I am a person who learns differently and therefore, by default, sees differently and will help this planet in ways it has yet to see.

Oh, yeah, I know it sounds like I have it totally together and have long since figured out that having a learning disability is a gift. But in truth, it has been a long journey. Just as it is with anybody who has a disability, you have two choices: you can take the easy way out and accept that you will have a life with limits, or decide that you are going to fight for the life you want to have and are meant to have. I chose to fight.

To read the rest of this inspiring essay, click here.

Source: “The Gift of Learning Differently”
Mackenzie Meyer
Application essay for the Anne Ford and Allegra Ford Scholarship
Published April 28, 2010

Charles Rachal

Excerpt from: “College Student with Learning Disabilities Designs His Own Future”
Linda Broatch
GreatSchools.org, March 11, 2005

Identified with dyslexia in sixth grade, Charles Rachal always struggled in school. Even now, with college graduation in sight, he seems a little surprised at what he has accomplished.

During middle school and high school, it seemed that no matter how hard he worked, he rarely made good grades—and regularly made bad ones. Fortunately, his parents didn't pressure him about his grades, except when they thought he hadn't given a class his best effort.

“It took me 15 years to figure out how to do well in school. When you have a disability, you have to use your strengths to defeat it.”

To read the entire article and his advice to parents of kids with learning and attention problems, click here.

Henry Sherwin

Excerpt from: “Spinning in My Head”
Henry Sherwin
GreatSchools.org, April 13, 2001

What's good and smart about me? I have a good memory and can remember songs and what people say in movies. Animals love me because I'm not afraid, and they sense this. I'm good at playing the clarinet and the saxophone. And I can make anyone laugh with my voices and faces.

But I have trouble with other things. My mother and teachers call it a learning disability. This means I can't learn things as fast as other kids, and languages are harder.

It's tough when I see others succeeding, and I can't do it as easily.

The “Good Zone” is when things fall into place and click for me. Here are some things that help me get into the “Good Zone.”

To read the rest of Henry's article, click here.

Excerpts of Anne Ford Scholarship applications

Excerpt from: “The Path to Success: Pearls of Wisdom from Anne Ford Scholarship Applicants”
Noreen Byren

Here is one excerpt of an Anne Ford Scholarship application:

I am a very determined person, and I don't like being told that I have limits on what I can do with my life. I am the kind of person who believes that one person can change the world and make it a better place, and that you can do anything you set your mind to. For years, my main goal was to graduate high school, go to college, and then go back to Dr. Cutler and show her that she was wrong. That goal has changed. I no longer want to do this just to prove to everyone who ever doubted me that they were wrong. I want to do this because I know that I can. And when I do, I will be able to help children who went through the same thing I did.

Emily M.

To read the entire article, click here.


The Basics

Myth: Dyslexia does not exist

Fact: Dyslexia is one of the most researched and documented conditions that will impact children. Over 30 years of independent, scientific, replicated, published research exists on dyslexia—much of it done through the National Institutes of Health, funded by taxpayer dollars.

Some of that research is quoted on this webpage. Even more research is contained in the books and websites on our More Info page.

Take a look at the Dyslexia Fact Sheet published by the International Dyslexia Association.

Myth: Dyslexia is rare

Fact: According to the NIH researchers, in the United States, dyslexia impacts 20% of our population. That's 1 out of every 5 people.

But it does come in degrees. Some have it only mildly, some have it moderately, some have it severely, and some have it profoundly.

Very few children with dyslexia are in the special education system. Only 1 in 10 will be eligible for an IEP (when tested in second or third grade) under the category of Learning Disability (LD).

That means 9 out of 10 “fall through the cracks.” Although the parents and the teacher know there's something different about the child, the child does not qualify for special education services, and most will no longer get help from the reading specialist after first or second grade.

Dyslexia is not rare. It is the most common reason a child will struggle first with spelling, then with written expression, and eventually “hit the wall” in reading development by third grade.

Myth: Dyslexia is a “catch all” term

Fact: That was true back in the 1960's and 1970's before the research existed. But we now have a research-based definition of dyslexia, which is:

Myth: Dyslexia affects four times more boys than girls

Fact: Although more boys are sent for testing than girls, research shows that dyslexia impacts just as many girls as boys.

So why are more boys sent for testing than girls? It's because of their behavior.

It seems when boys in first, second, or third grade can't do classroom assignments or homework, they get frustrated and act out their frustration. Parents and teachers notice that behavior and then try to figure out why they are behaving that way—by sending them for testing.

But often, when girls in first, second, or third grade can't do the work, they tend to get quiet, move to the back of the room, and try to become invisible. So they don't get noticed as early. Often, their dyslexia is not discovered until high school or even college.

Myth: People with dyslexia see things backwards

Fact: People with dyslexia do not see things backwards. They see things the same way you and I do.

Dyslexia is not caused by a vision problem. That is why vision therapy does not work for this population. There is nothing wrong with their eyes.

Yes, they reverse their b's and their d's and say “was” for “saw.” But that's caused by their lifelong confusion over left versus right and by their difficulty reading by sounding out.

Myth: Children outgrow dyslexia

Fact: Dyslexia is a lifelong issue. That means waiting—due to a false hope that it will disappear as the child gets older—is the worst thing you can do.

It will not go away. The child will only get further and further behind—unless that child gets the right type of intervention or tutoring.

All the experts agree: Waiting is the worst thing you can do.

There are effective research-based methods that will bring their reading, spelling, and writing skills up to—and beyond—grade level.

Although it is never too late to greatly improve their skills, early intervention is the best way to prevent or minimize the damage to their self-esteem, their emotional distress, and their fear of going to school.

Myth: Any child who reverses letters or numbers has dyslexia

Fact: Most children will reverse some of their letters and some of their numbers while they are learning. Up to a certain point, that is considered perfectly normal.

But those reversals should be gone after two years of handwriting instruction and practice.

But letter or number reversals that continue after two years of handwriting instruction and practice are a classic warning sign of dyslexia.

If a child truly has dyslexia, however, the child will have many of the other classic warning signs of dyslexia.

Diagnosis of Dyslexia

Myth: There is no way to diagnose dyslexia

Fact: Professionals with in-depth training can accurately diagnose dyslexia as early as age 5.

To learn who should—and who should not—test for dyslexia, the types of tests that are given, and the types of errors and difficulties that a tester is looking for, click here.

Myth: Dyslexia is a medical diagnosis

Fact: Doctors do not test for dyslexia. Dyslexia is not classified as a medical problem.

Doctors have no training in how to test for reading, spelling, and writing problems. And there is no medical solution (no pill or operation) for those types of academic struggles.

That is also why medical insurance does not cover anything having to do with dyslexia. Dyslexia is not classified as a medical issue.

The International Dyslexia Association publishes a Fact Sheet on Testing.

Myth: Dyslexia cannot be diagnosed until third grade

Fact: Professionals with in-depth training can accurately diagnose dyslexia as early as age 5.

Myth: If you don't teach a child to read by age 9, it is too late.

Fact: It is never ever too late to greatly improve the reading, spelling, and writing skills of someone with dyslexia.

Myth: Intelligence and ability to read are related. So if someone doesn't read well, they can't be very smart.

Related Myth: Gifted children cannot be dyslexic or have a learning disability.

Fact: Dyslexia is not related to IQ. That means you can have a very high IQ and be dyslexic, you can have an average IQ and be dyslexic, and you can have low IQ and be dyslexic.

Many people with dyslexia are very bright and accomplish amazing things as adults. Take a look at our list of over 200 famous dyslexics.

Dyslexia and Reading & Spelling

Myth: People with dyslexia cannot read

Fact: Everyone with dyslexia can read—up to a point. But they will “hit the wall” in reading development by third grade, if not sooner. When reading, they have great difficulty sounding out an unknown word—despite being taught phonics. They will often read a word fine on one page, but not recognize the very same word on the next page.

But it is spelling that separates kids with dyslexia from kids who struggle with reading for some other reason. If the child and their parents spend hours and hours studying the spelling list, the child may be able to learn the list of 20 spelling words long enough to do “okay” on Friday's test. But they cannot retain those spelling words from one week to the next.

They also cannot spell when writing sentences or paragraphs—not even the high frequency words such as “because,” “friend,” or “does.” That's why extreme difficulty with spelling is considered a classic warning sign of dyslexia—and why the International Dyslexia Association publishes a Fact Sheet on Spelling.

Myth: Most children outgrow early reading and spelling problems. It is just a developmental delay

Fact: Independent, scientific, replicated research on reading development shows just the opposite. It shows that if a child is struggling with reading, writing, and spelling in mid-first grade, that child has better than 90% odds of still struggling with those skills in eighth grade and on into adulthood if someone doesn't step in and do something.

That means less than 10% of the time will a child outgrow those struggles. That also means waiting is the worst thing you can do. The child is only going to get further and further behind.

Myth: Every child who struggles with reading is dyslexic

Fact: Dyslexia is not the only reason a child will struggle with reading, but it is the most common reason.

How can you tell whether dyslexia is the cause of the child's reading struggles?

Dyslexia will impact way more than just reading. It will impact:

The more warning signs a child has, the more confident you can be that dyslexia is the cause of their academic struggles. Click here for a summary of the classic warning signs of dyslexia.

Myth: Dyslexia is caused by a lack of phonics instruction

Fact: That is not true. Phonics is not the answer for a child with dyslexia. The teacher can use the best phonics program in the world, but it will not prevent a child with dyslexia from “hitting the wall” by third grade.

Most parents already know that phonics does not help. Most parent have already tried “Hooked on Phonics”—and it did not improve their child's reading or spelling.

Children with dyslexia can learn phonics. They just can't apply it. That's why a classic warning sign of dyslexia is a child who can not sound out an unknown word—despite being taught phonics.

Overcoming Dyslexia

Myth: Retaining a child will improve their academic struggles

Fact: Retention is a failed educational policy. It has never improved academic struggles. That's why these organizations are against retention.

The National Association of School Psychologists:

“Through many years of research, the practice of retaining children has been shown to be ineffective in meeting the needs of children who are academically delayed.”

The American Federation of Teachers:

“Social promotion and grade retention are mechanical responses to an educational problem. The scandal is how little attention they give to preventing failure in the first place.”

The U.S. Department of Education:

“Neither social promotion nor retention is appropriate for students who do not meet high academic standards.”

The National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (NJCLD):

“The weight of the evidence of literally hundreds of studies shows that retaining children does NOT produce higher achievement.”

For links to these studies, click here.

Myth: If a dyslexic child reads out loud for 20 minutes a day, it will improve their reading

Fact: Reading out loud will not teach a dyslexic child how to sound out unknown words. They will continue to try to memorize the shape of a word, and use picture clues or context clues to guess at the words.

If a child cannot easily and accurately sound out unknown words, especially multi-syllable words, by the time the child starts third grade, that child will “hit the wall” in reading development.

Reading out loud for 20 minutes a day will not teach that missing skill—reading by sounding out, which is also called “decoding” or “word attack.”

The inability to decode is caused by weak phonemic awareness skills. Part of the research-based definition of dyslexia is a child who lacks age appropriate phonemic awareness skills.

Myth: Dyslexic children will never read well, so it is best to teach them to compensate.

Fact: People with dyslexia can become excellent readers, decent spellers, and good writers if they receive the right type of intervention or tutoring.

Independent, scientific, replicated research recommends an Orton-Gillingham based system as the most effective way to improve the reading, writing, and spelling skills of people with dyslexia.

That's why the International Dyslexia Association publishes two fact sheets on Orton-Gillingham.

There are seven well-known Orton-Gillingham based systems. The Barton Reading & Spelling System is one of the best. To watch a 20-minute demo, click here.

Myth: Children with dyslexia are just lazy. If only they tried harder…

Fact: If students with dyslexia do not receive the right type of tutoring and classroom accommodations, they often struggle in school—despite being bright, motivated, and spending hours on homework assignments.

Article excerpt from The Huntsville Times, published February 11, 2008:

John Colby Whisante has dyslexia. Even though he sometimes fails, he will not give up on his education. He wrote this open letter to educators:

You have questioned my abilities and my need for help. You have even questioned my diagnosis of dyslexia.

You have no concept of the effort and time it takes for me to achieve my accomplishments because you have never allowed me what I need to show my full potential.

I could give up and walk away from getting an education, but I am not a quitter. I may fail in the beginning, but I will keep on trying until I succeed. I will not allow you to defeat me.

As my school official, you have choices. You can assist me in getting an education by making accommodations that have been proven to help me, or you can allow me to fail and hope I will go away. Even if you turn your back on me, I will not go away.

To read the entire article, click here.

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Bright Solutions for Dyslexia

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