Here are some more well known people for whom dyslexia is part of life.
Cher: This entertainer has achieved success in the fields of acting and music. Cher dropped out of school because she found learning so difficult. “Almost everything I learned, I had to learn by listening. My report cards always said I was not living up tp my potential.”
Thomas Edison: One of the most prolific American inventors, Edison was considered hyperactive and stupid by his teachers because he asked too many questions and was a slow learner. His maths was poor, he had difficulty with words and speech and found it hard to concentrate. His mother withdrew him from school after three unhappy months and taught him herself.
Walt Disney: Disney lost his job at a Kansas City newspaper for not being creative. As a child he was also labelled as slow.
Winston Churchill: “I was, on the whole, considerably discouraged by my school days. It was not pleasant to feel oneself so completely outclassed and left behind.”
Churchill did poorly at school. He attended three different schools before embarking on his military career. He went on to become a politician, statesman, one of the great wartime leaders, an historian, a writer and artist. He also received the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Whoopi Goldberg: Whoopi is an outstanding comedian, actress, song writer, political activist and television presenter. At school she really struggled with reading. She was called ‘dumb’ and ‘slow’ and even ‘retarded’. She dropped out of school at age 17 and was diagnosed as dyslexic as an adult.
Each of these people has struggled to learn yet they have managed to overcome their learning difficulties and achieve wonderful things. If they had received the necessary support as children, perhaps their journeys may have been easier. Their determination to succeed is inspiring. Fortunately in each case there was someone, whether the individual themselves or someone close to them, who did not believe that they were ‘dumb’, ‘stupid’, ‘retarded’, ‘slow’, ‘uncreative’, ‘unable to concentrate’ or any of the other labels that were applied. A way to learn was found and these people showed that they were in no way slow or unable to learn.
We know a lot more now about how to support dyslexic learners. What is needed is better teacher training to
a) identify children with dyslexia or other learning difficulties and
b) to provide the specific and differentiated instruction necessary for each student.
Let’s give every learner the best possible chance.