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Dyslexic Jackie Stewart – Racing Superstar Tackles Dyslexia

Dyslexic Jackie Stewart Former race car driver Jackie Stewart talks about his personal battle with dyslexia, chronicled in his new book "Winning is not Enough. The Power Of dyslexia is dedicated to serving the dyslexic community by providing a Free online community where dyslexics and those touched by dyslexia can post questions, provide advise and chat with other community members.

FREE audio books for people with print disabilities

FREE audio books for people with print disabilities
Published on May 4, 2010 by Robert Langston

How people with print disabilities can get my books and many others for FREE

Wow, what an honor! The organization Learning Ally has recorded both my books (For the Children and The Power of Dyslexic Thinking) for its audio library.

Having my books available through Learning Ally brings my struggle with a print disability full circle. In the 1970s, this organization began to serve an increasing number of people who had learning disabilities, and I was one of them. I received my textbooks in audio format as part of my Individual Education Plan in school.

Now, my books will be available to people just like me through Learning Ally. The old Hair Club for Men commercial comes to mind: "I'm not only the president, but I'm also a client." I am not only an author, but I'm also a client!

You can imagine my delight when I received an email saying my books had been approved for recording. I was doubly delighted when I was asked to record an introduction for each book. Learning Ally has recording studios around the country utilizing a volunteer force of more than 5,000 people who donate over 332,000 hours annually to recording books. I was invited to the studio in Charlottesville, Virginia, for my recording session.

About a month after my invitation to record the introductions, my speaking schedule landed me within 60 miles of Charlottesville. I emailed Mary Ann, my contact at the studio, and asked if we could schedule my recording session for March 9 at 4:30 p.m., and she agreed. In preparation for the session, I called her on the hour drive to the studio and asked her what she wanted to accomplish during the session.

Mary Ann replied that she just wanted me to read the introductions to my books. With that, my heart jumped into my throat. It's true that I am the author of the material, but a ghostwriter wrote the books, and I read on a fifth-grade level! I then found myself having a slight out-of-body experience. I heard myself replying, "Oh! I can't do that. I can't read."

Mary Ann sounded shocked. "You can't read!" she said. It was in that moment that I realized she was thinking of me as an author, but not as an author with dyslexia. Mary Ann, being a consummate professional, recovered faster than I did from the shock. She said, "When you get here, we will figure it out."

I hung up the phone and did what I always do when dyslexia gets the better of me. I called my momma! When Mom answered, I asked her, "Do you have copies of my books handy?" She said she did, and I told her that we had less than an hour for me to try to memorize the introductions. Mom immediately started reading them to me. An hour later, I felt pretty good about the 133-word introduction to For the Children. On the other hand, the 833-word introduction to The Power of Dyslexic Thinking was not going to happen.

I arrived at Learning Ally and Mary Ann had assessed the situation just as I had. She asked if I could read the short introduction to For the Children and record a statement of introduction for The Power of Dyslexic Thinking. So, the plan was set.

The volunteer production assistant assigned to me must have been the patron saint for patience because it took me a full two hours and thirty minutes to read 133 words and dictate a 30-second introduction. By the time we were done, I was worn out, but she was still smiling and congratulating me on a good job.

My work is now done, and it is free to individuals with documented print disabilities, such as a learning disability, visual impairment, or other physical disability.

Learning Ally Individual Memberships are free. For more information, click this link Learning Ally, or call the Membership Services Department at 800-221-4792.

A gift from one dyslexic to another,



A dyslexic walks into a doctor’s office

A dyslexic walks into a doctor's office...
Published on January 3, 2010 by Robert Langston


(Note: Some of the medical terms and situational content contained in this article may be unsuitable for children under the age of 18 years old.)

What does a urinary track infection and an ear infection have to do with dyslexia? Paperwork!

A major contributor to urinary track infections (UTI) is caffeine. A major contributor to caffeine being in my body is a hectic travel schedule: a five-hour plane ride, followed by a same-day, four-hour drive up the California coast to San Luis Obispo, four days of work, three time zones from home, and then steps one and two repeated to get back home. For me, this is a pretty good formula for UTI and a trip to the doctor.

I am a fairly active forty-two-year-old, and, as such, I have my records on file at several local urgent care facilities. The office I headed to for my UTI was one of them. I had previously visited it with two broken ribs from a freak zip line accident in my backyard. My wife had done the necessary paperwork, and I was admitted.

I was not anticipating any paperwork for this UTI trip because I was a returning patient, but a full dyslexic paperwork meltdown was on the way. I did not read the notice taped to the check-in desk window, which was not uncommon for me, so when I was handed the new patient form, I was horrified and glanced over and read the notice I had previously ignored: "As of 8-1-09 we will be using a new practice management system which will require all patients to fill out new paperwork in full."

Welcome to my dyslexic nightmare.

1. "Where were you born?" "Bermingham [Birmingham], Alabama."
2. "Are you currently taking any medicines?" "Rananadean [Ranitidine]." Can anyone spell this without a medical dictionary?
3. "Are you allergic to any medicines?" "Omeniself [Omnicef]." I was not likely to get that one either.
4. "Have you been here before?" "Returning paeshint [patient]."
5. "Date of birth?" "11/28/67." I got this one, but my own birthday is the only one I know by heart.
6. "What are you here for?" "Urinaray track infecksion [urinary track infection]." I did not know I could have put UTI until I noticed it on the take-home information sheet.
7. "What is your occupation?" "Author." Nice! The irony.

The list went on, but I think you get the point. I have been in this situation many times before, and I am comfortable enough with my dyslexia that I either just turn in the paperwork with a quick "I'm dyslexic. If you can't read anything, just ask me," or I call someone and have that person spell everything for me. The "No Cell Phones" sign in the lobby prompted me to go with the first choice. My second bout with the medical profession was not as familiar or as comfortable.

Several weeks earlier, my son had an ear infection. I met my wife at the pediatrician's office. After the appointment, I took my son's prescription to the Kroger pharmacy to be filled. The first thing the pharmacist asked me was my son's birth date. As I said before, the only birth date I know by heart is my own. Not one other birthday has been successfully stored in my brain. On my last formal test for learning disabilities, during college, I tested out on a kindergarten level in number sequencing. Months, days, and years just don't stick with me, not even my own children's birthdays.

I had to endure the look on the pharmacist's face while I went through my whole process of "He was born on St. Patrick's Day, so that's in March. January, February, March, so that's the third month. What day is St. Patrick's Day on? The 17th (with a little help from the pharmacist). Okay, I was married in 2000, my daughter was born two years later, that was 2002, and my son was born two years after that, so that would be 2004." At that point, the pharmacist said, "Here it is, Mr. Langston, 3/17/05."

Okay, he was born two-and-a-half years later. I sheepishly replied, "Whatever you have in the computer is going to be right because my wife put it in." I am quick to put my dyslexia out there, which normally gives me a sense of control of the situation, but this incident stung a little because not only did it take me by surprise, it involved my child.

As painful as going through situations like these can feel, I always ask myself how they will affect me in the grand scheme of my life. The answer is almost always "not very much." What's the prognosis? I still got medical treatment, even with a whole page of misspelled words, and my children still love me, even if I cannot recall their birthdays on demand. A dose of perspective always helps me remember that dyslexia is a part of who I am but does not define who I am.

Two doctors' visits, two bouts with dyslexia, and one big dose of perspective allow me to happily live to fight another day.


My own helpful tips:

1. I keep my doctor's business card in my wallet, so I wrote the medicine I take and the medicine I am allergic to on the back of his card.
2. I asked my wife to write the children's birth dates with a Sharpie on their insurance cards.
3. I have also entered this information into my cell phone.


Why become a Techno Dyslexic?

Why become a Techno Dyslexic?
Published on December 11, 2009 by Robert Langston

It is only appropriate that I start this blog by letting you know it is being posted from 30,000 feet in the air, on the Gogo in-flight internet. Yes - you and I, along with my computer and the Internet, are flying AirTran Airways from Los Angeles, California, to Atlanta, Georgia. Technology has come a long way, and the ability for dyslexics to utilize it has come just as far. The idea for this blog came to me as I was preparing for the trip to California last Saturday.

I was running around my house frantically looking for my Magellan RoadMate 700 portable GPS when it hit me. What would I do without my GPS system? For the past six years or so, I have been traveling approximately one hundred thousand miles per year to attend conferences, school assembly programs, and university lectures. My GPS has played a huge role in my being able to travel like this.

I go where my inspirational programs are needed. I board a plane, fly to my destination, and jump in a rental car. The first thing I do in the car is check the cigarette lighter, not because I smoke, because I don't, but because I have to plug in "my girl," who takes care of me on the roads and gets me to my destination. When she comes alive, it is like music to my ears: "Proceed to highlighted route," "Left turn in one mile," "Left turn now," and, yes, even "Whenever possible, make a legal U-turn" but eventually, I get to hear "You have arrived".

Most people love a little technological convenience in their lives, but for me as a dyslexic it is more than just a convenience. When that GPS box lights up, it is like a warm blanket telling me that I don't have to "literally" read the signs to get to where I am going. What a relief.

Before I got my first GPS nearly thirteen years ago, travel was brutal. I hated venturing outside the comfort zone of familiar roads. I knew that once I crossed that invisible line of knowing where I was, to depending on street signs, I was at the mercy of the streets. It was read or get lost.

I'm from the sprawling and mostly rural state of Georgia. Here, the jokes about "Go down to the Piggly Wiggly and turn right" are very real to me. In my comfort zone, I know where the "big oak tree" is and that I have to turn left there. When my occupation required me to travel across Georgia, however, and later throughout the whole United States, without my GPS the traveling could have been a deal breaker.

Before traveling with "my girl," travel was a nightmare, and I was a traffic disaster for myself and others. I was that fellow in the car almost at a dead stop at the green light, the one people would blow their horns at and give hand signals of encouragement to (you know the ones). But why was I doing this? I knew green meant go, but I couldn't read the street signs fast enough to know if that was my turn or not. You can't imagine how many times I have prayed for red lights and crawled through green lights. It became a joke. I would tell people that I had to leave early enough to "enjoy traffic." In Atlanta, I promise, there is plenty of traffic to "enjoy"!

What I found myself doing when driving, to compensate for dyslexia, was judging the general length of the words on the signs. When I was looking for a street name that was long, like Peachtree or International blvd, I would just ignore all the signs with short words, like Park or Main, on them. I could see the word was the right or wrong length long before I could read the actual word. I had learned that sounding out words at major intersections was not going to make me any new friends and just added to the overall stress of my travels. Navigating through life this way was no picnic.

Then I found "my girl," and today I find myself becoming more and more of a techno dyslexic. Although my Magellan RoadMate 700 is a clunky and oversized box compared to the ones currently on the market, "my girl" gets me where I am going, and I embrace her for it.

Likewise, I embrace other technologies that make reading and writing less evasive in my day to day life. I love the idea of voice recognition technology software, such as Dragon Naturally Speaking and Kurzweil 3000. I like that my spell check caught about fifty words I misspelled in this blog alone. I am excited to see how far technology has come in my lifetime, and I look forward to embracing new technologies, whether it's a new "girl" helping me in my travels or whatever else technology holds for the future.

I am a techno dyslexic, and I look forward to seeing you on the road.



Is dyslexia inherited?

Is dyslexia inherited?
Published on January 10, 2010 by Robert Langston

Dyslexia is inherited, and my family tree is thick with dyslexic branches. My grandfather, father, older brother, and I all have struggled with dyslexia. Does it affect more boys than girls? Current research suggests it affects just as many girls as boys. My family seems to be a bit heavy on the male side, though. That is why I was not surprised when my wife and I started seeing signs that our four-year-old son might be having issues. It was not much, just an occasional "I don't like school" or "School's too hard." With my family history, we decided it would be better to be proactive than reactive.

So, the next day my wife walked into my son's preschool class and asked his teacher if she would meet with us concerning our son. She did not hesitate, and they set the meeting time. Our parental instincts were confirmed the day of the conference when his teacher leaned across the table and said as compassionately as she could, "It does not seem to be sticking." She was referring to his learning of letters and his memory for names. She explained that the letter of the week might be "A." They would work on this letter all week. At the end of the week, she would show him the apple they had used to illustrate the letter. She would ask, "What is this?" Instead of "apple," he would say "tractor." She told us he could describe an apple and could tell her it is something that people eat. He knows what an apple is, but he cannot recall the name of the object or the letter it starts with. Listening to my son's teacher, I was thinking, "This sounds just like me." I took the Woodcock-Johnson-Revised Test of Cognitive Ability at age twenty-three and scored on a kindergarten level in Memory for Names. Also, like my son, I have trouble with the beginning and ending sounds in words. I could tell by the tears swelling in my wife's eyes that she had been hoping that this was one family trait that would die on the vine, but as the reality of the situation set in, the tears became too much, and she had to take a break to compose herself.

I will admit I was a little shocked my wife was not better prepared for this eventuality, since she knew dyslexia runs at least three generations deep in my family, but I do understand that the reality of the moment was overwhelming for her. I also have to admit I was inwardly glad my son was like me. I know how devastating dyslexia can be, and I would be lying if I said I am not a little concerned, but my initial reaction was the same that I have expressed to countless parents who have approached me after my lectures and whispered mournfully, "My child has dyslexia." As they brace for an outpouring of sympathy, they are shocked as I announce in my biggest voice, "GREAT!" This is not the reaction most people expect, but it is how I feel. "GREAT!" I hope my son's mind is naturally wired with the same visual, spatial, conceptual, and intuitive gifts as mine.

Now, with all this said, my son may not have dyslexia like I do. In my opinion, it is too early to diagnose him with an "impaired ability to understand written language: a learning disorder marked by a severe difficulty in recognizing and understanding written language, leading to spelling and writing problems," as defined by Encarta ® World English Dictionary. Even so, my wife and I want to make sure our son has all the advantages available today, just in case the acorn has not fallen far from the tree.

At the end of our conference, the teacher indicated she would like to start the process to evaluate our son. I served on the State Advisory Panel for Special Education in Georgia for seven years, so I know she is asking to initiate the national Child Find process. Child Find is a continuous process of public awareness activities, screening, and evaluation designed to locate, identify, and refer, as early as possible, young children with disabilities and their families who are in need of Early Intervention Programs (EIP). She did a great job explaining that in our county there is a representative from the local public school system whom she could contact on our behalf to evaluate our son for initial signs of learning difficulties. First steps are basic: hearing and vision screenings to rule out problems in those areas, a parental questionnaire, and observation of the student in the classroom. The Child Find process is important in case an Individual Education Plan (IEP) is needed in the future.

Studies show that parents wait an average of twelve to eighteen months to act on their initial instinct that something might be wrong. The best advice I can give is don't wait; listen to your instinct, be proactive not reactive, and accept the help that is available.

My family has been on its journey with dyslexia for generations, and it will be interesting to see if my son sprouts as a new branch of this tree. I rejoice in the possibility that my son may have the power of dyslexic thinking within him and be gifted with a visual, spatial, conceptual, and intuitive brain. But at the same time, I hope we have come far enough that I can prune out some of the more painful limbs that have plagued the Langston men in the past, allowing him to grow even stronger than those that have come before him.

Wish us luck,


"Good timber does not grow with ease; the stronger the wind, the stronger the trees,"
-- Author unknown.


Dyslexics have good reason to love Garfield

Dyslexics have good reason to love Garfield
Published on January 24, 2010 by Robert Langston

I was packing to go out of town when my seven-year-old daughter asked, "Dad, where are you going?" I replied, "Paws." She then asked, "What is Paws?" and I told her, "It is where Jim Davis creates the Garfield comic strip." She gasped and exclaimed, "You're going to Garfield's house!"

My plane landed at the Indianapolis International Airport, where I met up with a group of people from the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation. We were going to Paws to facilitate the transition of from the Schwab's Foundation to the Professor Garfield Foundation.

During the hour-and-half drive from Indianapolis to Muncie, I was trying to imagine what the corporate headquarters for the global icon Garfield would look like. After all, we were talking about Garfield, which is syndicated in 2,570 newspapers worldwide, is read by approximately two hundred and sixty-three million readers, and has won four Emmy Awards for Outstanding Animated Program. Guinness World Records named Garfield "The Most Widely Syndicated Comic Strip in the World." I was envisioning a large glass skyscraper with a twenty-foot-high bronze cat in the lobby.

During the last forty or so miles of the drive, all we could see around us were row crops. We were driving through the heartland of America, not corporate America. If our driver had not been paying very close attention, we would have missed our turn onto the little country road, next to a farmhouse, that would eventually bring us to Garfield's front door. Just when I was considering that we might have made a wrong turn, our driver announced, "Here we are."

The building was a combination of dark brown brick, light brown wood shingles, and glass. There was no large bronze cat to greet us, but it was apparent that we had arrived at "Garfield's house" by the five-foot round paw print in the bricks on the side of the building.

Inside, a Garfield figure greeted us, sitting on a park bench with his trademark grin. This was not the last we would see of this familiar feline. Something "Garfield" occupied every square foot of the building - from the boardroom, which was lined with countless awards, including the four Emmys, to the licensing room, which was filled with thousands of Garfield mugs, coats, clocks, collector plates, and more. The cafeteria we ate lunch in had a coin-operated Garfield kitty ride. Original art by Jim Davis hung on the walls, and every workspace of the more than twenty artists, writers, designers, web designers, sculptors, animators, and licensing business executives was adorned with Garfield items. This was truly the house that Garfield built.

I have had the pleasure of working with Jim Davis and his foundation for a little over a year now. The Professor Garfield Foundation is hoping to give credibility to the process of learning to read through reading comics. is a wonderful site, and I highly recommend it. I also recommend, the reason for my first visit to Paws. presents a unique blend of entertainment, technology, and information designed to nurture self-awareness, self-esteem, and self-advocacy among children with learning challenges. Targeting kids 8 to 12 years old, the site addresses several important areas in which they need support. Through an online community, kids can celebrate their hobbies, talk about their talents, and learn what other kids love doing. They can also create a music mix, write a poem, or draw a story - and share it with others. They can ask questions about learning disabilities, friends, or school - and get answers they can trust from people who know what they're going through. And they can turn to Dr. Bart, a learning disabilities expert, for tips on maximizing their learning strengths and managing their learning disabilities. is free of charge, carries no advertising, and is fully compliant with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

As I prepared to end my "play date" at "Garfield's house," I realized there was more going on under this roof than just turning out the comic cat. Even though it was not the glass skyscraper I had originally envisioned, this quaint studio in rural Muncie was a lot bigger in scope than I had thought.

The last thing I noticed before walking out the door was a plain sign that simply read "Take care of the cat, and the cat will take care of you," and it is true. The cat is taking care to make a difference for kids, whether it is by teaching them to read through comics or by providing a safe haven for kids with learning challenges such as dyslexia. So, I say, "Take care of the cat because the cat is helping to take care of some very special kids."

When I arrived back home, my daughter asked me, "How was your trip to Garfield's house?" and I answered, "His house is amazing and a lot bigger than I thought."

Big Garfield fan,



7 Ways to help dyslexic children succeed

7 Ways to help dyslexic children succeed
Published on February 7, 2010 by Robert Langston

7 Ways to help dyslexic children succeed

1. Full disclosure is the order of the day

It has been my experience that children want straight answers to what is happening with them and why. Educate yourself on dyslexia, and then share what you have learned with the child. If a child is left to his or her own devices to figure out what is wrong, the chances are what he or she comes up with will be worse than what is actually happening (i.e. 'I'm just stupid' or 'my brain is broken'). Educate yourself and your child to demystify the situation.
2. Reinforce strengths

The average child spends a tremendous amount of time mastering how to read and write. If a child has learning challenges, this time can become associated with struggle and defeat. It is critical that you find alternative ways for this child to experience success. Be attentive and aware; seek out the child's strengths and magnify them. Keep in mind that a child may look to you as a barometer of their overall worth. Remember that a child's strength may not always be a traditional strength like sports. It may be more unique, such as Lego construction or being a good friend to others.

3. Reading is hard work-- at least make it interesting

Dyslexic children might not like the reading process but they can really like the content. Finding passages that relate to the child's interests can make the experience more enjoyable. For example: If a child has an affinity for All Terrain Vehicles (ATV's) then take pages from ATV magazines and watch the motivation levels rise.

4. Provide current role models

Everyone has seen the black and white picture of Albert Einstein with his hair standing on end that has been associated with dyslexia. I feel it is harder for children today to draw self-confidence from someone who died in the 1950's, even though he is a great role model. Give them modern-day dyslexic role models: Orlando Bloom, Jackie Chan, McDreamy himself, Patrick Dempsey, and don't forget some ladies too: Selma Hayek, Jewel, Whoopi Goldberg. Keeping it current can keep it real for children.

5. Assistive technology

Buying a child with dyslexia a computer is not giving them assistive technology. Adding Dragon Naturally Speaking or Kurzweil 3000 and working with them until they master using the voice recognition software is a step in the right direction. Let's face it. For dyslexics, the ability to have your computer read an email aloud and transcribe your response is an assistive technology home run. I'm not saying to stop trying to teach your child to read. A good balance of hard work and help can ensure betterproductivity in school and life.

6. Multi-sensory approach to learning at school or home

There are schools which I refer to in The Power of Dyslexic Thinking as 'pockets of greatness.' These are schools around the country that use a multi-sensory approach to teach children with learning challenges. If you cannot afford to send a child to schools such as Churchill Center & School in Missouri or Currey Ingram Academy in Tennessee then maybe you can find local tutors trained in the same methods that these schools use. Some of these methods include the Orton-Gillingham, Slingerland Approach or Wilson Reading System. Look online for local tutor-locating search engines.

7. Provide accommodations

Early intervention provides the greatest chance of success in reading fluency. Remember that preserving a child's self esteem intact is the most important factor in his or her surviving and thriving in the classroom and life. For this, I offer the accommodation list I used myself: Oral test-taking, classroom note-takers, people reading written assignments onto a recorder, audio books and un-timed test-taking. Focus on what it will take for a child to learn in his or her class tomorrow and you both will live to read another day.

In service to children,


The article you just read was a contribution I made to To see the article on click this link 7 Ways to help dyslexic children succeed


Welcome to the Age of Dyslexia Awareness

Welcome to the Age of Dyslexia Awareness
Published on February 28, 2010 by Robert Langston

On Wednesday, February 17, I was a guest on the blog talk radio show Midlife Matters with Les Brown. you can click on the blog talk microphone image (left) to hear the interview. The conversation Les and I had started me thinking about the global state of dyslexia. During the interview, I expressed this theory.

We are in phase two of a three-phase process necessary to eradicate dyslexia as a fundamental learning disability in our society. Phase one is what I am calling "The Age of Ignorance," phase two is the "The Age of Awareness," and phase three will be the "The Age of Consciousness."

The Age of Ignorance

Unfortunately, my father, grandfather, and the generations of dyslexics before them were born in the Age of Ignorance. Seeds for a language-based, multisensory, structured, sequential, cumulative approach to teaching reading were being sewn in the early 20th century by pioneers such as neuropsychiatrist Samuel Torrey Orton and psychologist Anna Gillingham, but the world as it pertained to dyslexics was still overwhelmingly dark. During this age of darkness, terms such as retarded, slow, lazy, and even mirror-eyed (referring to turning letters and words around on the page) were used to describe individuals with dyslexia. Misunderstanding ran rampant, and seemingly unbreakablestereotypes were born, such as "dyslexics read backwards." My heart goes out to the generations of dyslexics who suffered through these dark times.

The Age of Awareness

I consider myself extremely lucky to have been born at the beginning of the Age of Awareness. This is a time when dyslexics themselves have decided to walk into the light and not be shamed by their dyslexic way of thinking. Standing on the shoulders of dyslexic giants such as Charles Schwab, Paul Orfalea, Richard Branson, Henry Winkler, Diane Swonk, Whoopi Goldberg, Jewel, and many others who have lent some portion of their time, resources, or fame to the cause of global dyslexia awareness, it is my belief that a wave of awareness has been started.

Embracing this era of scientific discovery enveloping dyslexia, I believe this age will be expedited just as so many other modern phenomenons have been accelerated by technology. The science behind how dyslexics process the written language and moreover the world is here and now. Quantum leaps are being made in our current era, propelling us into an undeniable understanding of the power of dyslexic thinking.

MEG scans, fMRI technology, longitudinal studies, and research-based multisensory approaches to early childhood interventions are being entertained daily by people "within the know" who are financially or geographically able to take advantage of the modern age of dyslexia. Seeds have been sewn, and fruit is coming to bear, but the challenge of this age will be feeding the masses.

The Age of Consciousness

The third age will come when a shift in consciousness is felt around the world, with the realization that there is a better way, when the human race collectively realizes the systemic benefit of changing an antiquated system of education. Education will become a catalyst for change, and scientific certainty will promote better ways to teach.

I can feel the pain necessary for change building each time a teacher shares the heartbreak of watching another child fall behind. I hear the pain in the voices of parents desperately calling for help in a system that does not support their child's learning needs, and I see it in the eyes of our children being warehoused in juvenile detention centers, as half of them are functionally illiterate

What will be the benefits of this process of change? The visual, spatial, conceptual, and intuitive mind of the dyslexic will benefit. Teachers will succeed in a more holistic approach to meet their dyslexic students' educational needs, a free appropriate public education will be scientifically derived from a research-based multisensory learning environment, parents previously on a mission to litigiously tear down school systems for their inept attempts to meet their children's educational needs will pour their resources into supporting local schools, and last, there will be a reallocation of dollars being freed by a decreasing demand for beds in our juvenile detention facilities because our children are being caught before they fall through the cracks. All this will be brought on by a shift in global consciousness surrounding dyslexia.

There is a better way. Losing so many of our best and brightest is no longer acceptable, and their contributions to our society are worth the effort involved in changing a broken system.

At middle age, I find myself in the middle age of dyslexia.

Here's to a brighter future,



What Causes Dyslexia? We Do!

What Causes Dyslexia? We Do!
Published on December 20, 2009 by Robert Langston

Note: The thoughts expressed in this article are that of the author and in no way reflect the Virginia Department of Education's position on learning disabilities of a neurobiological nature (dyslexia).

What Causes Dyslexia?

I am asked this question frequently during television, radio, and print media interviews, but recently when a Facebook friend asked me what causes dyslexia, I did not feel restricted to the standard medical explanation I usually give as an answer. I decided to share what I believe to be a more humanistic and holistic cause of dyslexia. Here is my answer.

The cause of dyslexia is a perfectly healthy, functioning brain being born into a largely literate society. You see, the root cause of dyslexia is a largely illiterate society becoming largely literate over the last two hundred years. There is nothing medically wrong with a dyslexic person's brain. I have seen fMRI's and MEG scans to prove it. This leads me to believe that dyslexia is a technological disability, not a physical disability.

The technology is the written language, and the disability is that not every brain is born naturally wired to learn this technology easily.

Man created written language approximately four thousand years ago. When early symbols were drawn on tortoise shells, and then assigned value or meaning, which in turn other people could interpret, that was the equivalent of the Smart Board, I-Phone, and Internet all rolled into one. It was the newest, hottest, earth-shaking technology of its day. And, yes, it was a man-made technology. Now, fast forward to the last one hundred or so years. We, as a society, are dictating that everyone needs to be proficient with reading and writing.

So, you see, we, as a society, caused dyslexia. As little as two hundred years ago, if you had dyslexia, you probably would not have even known it. Now, don't get me wrong, striving to be a highly literate society is a good thing. The problem I see with this societal demand, relating to this relatively new technological revolution, is the inferred stereotype that people not proficient with the written language, are somehow stupid.

What causes dyslexia? In short, we do!

What causes the pain and suffering that almost always accompanies dyslexia, we do!

Some old food for some new thought,



Why Dyslexics Make Great Entrepreneurs

The ability to grasp the big picture, persistence, and creativity are a few of the entrepreneurial traits of many dyslexics. Just ask Charles Schwab

by Gabrielle Coppola

When Alan Meckler, the CEO of IT and online imagery hub Jupitermedia (JUPM), was accepted to Columbia University in 1965, the dean's office told him he had some of the lowest college boards of any student ever admitted. "I got a 405 or 410 in English," he recalls. "In those days you got a 400 just for putting your name down! Yet I was on the dean's list every year I was there, and I won a prize for having the best essay in American history my senior year."

It wasn't until years later, at age 58, that Meckler learned he was dyslexic. He struggles with walking and driving directions, and interpreting charts and graphs. He prefers to listen to someone explain a problem to him, rather than sit down and read 20 pages describing it. As a youth, Meckler discovered a unique strength—baseball—and cultivated it religiously to compensate for weakness in other areas.


All of these things, according to Dr. Sally Shaywitz, a professor of learning development at Yale University, are classic signs of dyslexia. Shaywitz has long argued that dyslexia should be evaluated as an asset, not just a handicap. She recently co-founded the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity, dedicated to studying the link between the two. "I want people to wish they were dyslexic," she says. "There are many positive attributes that can't be taught that people are generally not aware of. We always write about how we're losing human capital—dyslexics are not able to achieve their potential because they've had to go around the system."

It's not clear whether dyslexics develop their special talents by learning to negotiate their disability or whether such skills are the genetic inheritance of being dyslexic. It's a question Shaywitz plans to explore, along with trying to change the way dyslexia is viewed in the educational system and the business world. One project at the center will be an education series to train executives to recognize outside-the-box thinkers who don't perform well on standardized tests.

Shaywitz recently tested a well-known CEO (whom she declined to identify) for dyslexia. The man confessed that he'd hired an outside company to help identify future leaders within the organization by administering a reading test. "'The irony is,' I told him, 'you're eliminating and sifting out all the people like yourself who might actually be the ones to be creative and make a difference.'"


That kind of rejection, along with a penchant for creativity, may help explain why so many dyslexics are inclined to become entrepreneurs. Julie Logan, a professor of entrepreneurship at Cass Business School in London, believes strongly in the connection.

In a study to be published in January, Logan found that 35% of entrepreneurs in the U.S. show signs of dyslexia, compared to 20% in Britain. Logan attributes the gap to a more flexible education system in the U.S., vs. rigid tracking in British schools, and better identification and remediation methods. "Most of the people in our study talked about the role of the mentor and how important that had been," Logan says. "The difference seems to be somebody who believes in you in school."

The broader implication, she says, is that many of the coping skills dyslexics learn in their formative years become best practices for the successful entrepreneur. A child who chronically fails standardized tests must become comfortable with failure. Being a slow reader forces you to extract only vital information, so that you're constantly getting right to the point. Dyslexics are also forced to trust and rely on others to get things done—an essential skill for anyone working to build a business.

"People really struggle to delegate, and these people have learned to do that already," she says. "If you're bogged down in the details, you're not out there looking at where your business needs to go."


Paul Orfalea, who founded the copy-and-graphics chainKinko's 37 years ago, has both dyslexia and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. He proudly attributes much of his business success to an inability to do things most others can. "I would always hire people who didn't have my skills," he says. "My secret was to get out of their way and let them do their job." He is also inured to failure. "You know what's great about a C student? They have risk-reward pretty much well-wired," he says. "A students are always putting in maximum effort, and C students say, 'Well, is it really worth it?'"

Cisco Systems (CSCO) CEO John Chambers says dyslexia helps him step back and see the big picture. His third-grade teacher discovered his reading trouble; he says alternative teaching methods and supportive parents helped him learn to deal with it at an early age. "Dyslexia forces you to look at things in totality and not just as a single chess move. I play out the whole scenario in my mind and then work through it.… All of my life, I've built organizations with a broad perspective in mind."

Meckler, who was one of the first to convert his IT trade publications into a sustainable, ad-supported business model for Web publishing, also strives for the big picture and has little patience for details. "In business meetings…I can hear a whole bunch of people talking about a lot of things, and I seem to be able to cut right to the chase," he says. "I think my mind has been trained…to zero in on the salient point."


Those entrepreneurs who have embraced their dyslexia have also made it their personal mission to pave an easier way for the next generation. Discount brokerage pioneer Charles Schwab (SCHW) started the Charles & Helen Schwab Foundation, a resource center for kids and parents to overcome learning and attention disorders. Orfalea founded the Orfalea Family Foundation, to support and identify different learning styles and try to remove the stigma that comes with them.

Ben Foss, a researcher in assistive technologies in Intel's (INTC) Digital Health Group, started a nonprofit and made a documentary film about the first man in America to win an employee discrimination case based on dyslexia. He's now working to adapt technologies for the blind to also assist people with learning disabilities, too. Despite the titans of business disclosing their dyslexia to the world, Foss says it's still daunting to climb the corporate ladder as a dyslexic. "If you're John Chambers, Charles Schwab, or Richard Branson, sure. But if you're a corporate VP in the mid-ranks, there's a very large disincentive to saying you're dyslexic, because you're still being evaluated," he says. "Ironically, talking about it on your terms is what allows you to become successful."

Of course, being a misfit often lends itself to great entrepreneurship. Health-care entrepreneur and real estate magnate James LeVoy Sorenson has more than 40 medical patents to his name and is responsible for inventing the first computerized heart monitor, the first disposable paper surgical masks, and the first blood-recycling system for trauma and surgical procedures. He also dropped out of community college at 18, and was told by grade-school teachers he was either "slow-witted or developmentally disabled."

At 86, Sorenson says overcoming dyslexia trained him to be persistent and solve problems in new ways: "I like to add one word to the end of many sentences: 'yet.' Instead of saying, 'I can't do it,' I say, 'I can't do it—yet.'"

Coppola is a reporter for in New York .