Dyslexics in their early years tend to realize quite early that they are not like their peers. Their learning and coordination difficulties are different from others and often lead to impaired self-esteem, ridicule, being bullied. They often feel dumb, depressed, and isolated. It is because of this isolation that they often give up on themselves and are stuck in a spiral of regret and remorse. It is during these testing times that one needs to seek help and most importantly inspiration. Finding a role model or someone to look up to, someone you aspire to be like can change how you look at yourself and force you to become the person you’ve always dreamt of being.
Here is a list of successful dyslexics whose stories will surely give you the aspiration you need. These dyslexics became successful because they learned to overcome their hidden and frustrating barriers, permitting them to accomplish their dreams and desires. In fact, their disorder was sometimes found to be a catalyst for success & forcing them to develop and utilize hidden talents. Often, their most vital characteristics were determination and perseverance along with a desperate need to prove themselves and their abilities. As a result, they never gave up no matter how difficult the task before them seemed. Their successful lives, despite dyslexia, teach us that so long as dyslexics are encouraged by loving parents, caring teachers, and peers to believe in themselves, they can accomplish anything.
Pablo Picasso became a famous, trendsetting art icon despite, and no doubt because of, his apparent dyslexia. Reported to have failed parochial school education because of reading and related academic difficulties, he was eventually encouraged by his father, an art teacher, to develop his obvious innate artistic talent further. Over the course of his career, he developed a unique sense of beauty and style. Pablo painted things as he saw or felt them, out of order, deformed or tilted. His paintings demonstrated the power of imagination as well as raw or primary emotion and creativity within the human psyche. Some of his famous works include The Young Ladies of Avignon, Old Man with Guitar, and Guernica.
Richard Branson, founder, and chairman of London-based Virgin Group didn’t breeze through school. In fact, going to school was something like a nightmare for him. His scores on standardized tests were dismal, initially pointing to a similar future. Ridiculed by his teachers and peers he at times lost hope and was on the verge of losing himself. However, he had a dream, and he stood by it, despite the difficulties and challenges posed due to dyslexia. His gifted interpersonal and business talents drove him to succeed.
Many other CEO’s have also acknowledged their dyslexia, including Bill Gates (Founder Microsoft) and Charles Schwab (Founder of Charles Schwab Corporation).
The 2008 Pulitzer Prize winner for poetry has this to say about his dyslexia.
‘’My Tutor worked with me to try to teach me how to read, without any success at all. And one day out of frustration asked me what I thought I was going to do in life if I couldn’t read. And surprising both of us, I said I wanted to be a writer. And he laughed.’’
Schultz had a tough time in school, unable to read and write at the same pace as his peers, he was starting to fall behind and got kicked out of school twice. But his resilience and his persistence in wanting to prove to himself and the world, got him where he wanted to be.
Carol W. Greider, PhD
Carol is an American molecular biologist who earned the Nobel Prize in Medicine for the discovery of telomerase, an enzyme which plays a major role in human disease and aging. She spoke about her dyslexia in an interview given soon after her Nobel award was announced.
‘’My parents were scientists. But I wasn’t the sort of child who did science fairs. As a kid I had dyslexia. I had a lot of trouble in school and was put into remedial classes. I thought that I was stupid. I kept thinking of ways to compensate. I learned to memorize things very well because I just couldn’t spell words. So later when I got to take classes like chemistry and anatomy where I had to memorize things, it turned out I was very good at that.’’
Her determination and the will to succeed made her find ways to overcome dyslexia and make it her strength.
‘’As a scientist, one has to intuit many different things that are going on at the same time and apply those to a particular problem. Perhaps my ability to pull more information out of context and put together difficult ideas may have been affected by what I learned to do from dyslexia.’’
She discovered a love of biology through lab work in college, but her dyslexia raised another obstacle when she applied to graduate programs. She was rejected from many schools because of poor standardized test scores. Fortunately, the University of California at Berkeley looked beyond her test scores and invited her to interview for their program. It was there, as a graduate student, that Greider made the discovery that would ultimately lead to her Nobel Prize.
Greider, who is also the parent of a dyslexic son, encourages persistence and has this to say to all dyslexics out there: ‘’I’m a professor at John’s Hopkins. Just because you’re dyslexic, doesn’t mean you can’t do anything you want to do.”
Dame Agatha Christie
‘’Writing and spelling were always terribly difficult for me.My letters were without originality. I was an extraordinarily bad speller and have remained so.”
Christie was a prolific mystery writer and playwright. She is best known for the 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections that she wrote featuring the investigative work characters such as Hercule Poirot, Jane Marple, and Parker Pyne. She also wrote the world’s longest-running play, a murder mystery, The Mousetrap. In 1971 she was made a Dame for her contribution to literature.
One of the most popular and influential directors of all time, with a career spanning several decades. As a student with dyslexia during the 1950’s, Spielberg was exceptionally creative and social. However, he struggled to read aloud in front of the class because he was often two reading levels below his peers. Due to a lack of awareness about the signs and symptoms of dyslexia, Spielberg’s language-based learning disability went undetected for years. His difficulty reading was often mistaken for laziness. Fortunately, Spielberg’s parents fiercely advocated for his educational needs and challenged him academically. Today, as a brilliant movie director, Spielberg’s career revolves around reading and writing scripts and conducting research. In the interview, he advised students with dyslexia that sometimes you must, “dart between the raindrops to get where you want to go.”
However, students with language-based learning disabilities cannot always rely on perseverance and family support to cope with their learning differences. Today, early diagnosis and remediation programs help provide strategies for students with dyslexia to reach their academic potential. Knowing the signs and symptoms of dyslexia is the first step towards accessing the appropriate resources for remediation.