"The last puzzle piece to a great mystery.." Steven Spielberg was diagnosed with Dyslexia!
Updated: May 29
What! Steven Spielberg is Dyslexic?
That was my exact reaction after learning that one of my favorite filmmakers, who solidifies genius to me, was diagnosed with Dyslexia.
Through the definition stated by The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity (2017) and through Quinn Bradlee’s interview with Spielberg, I learned that Dyslexia is an unexpected difficulty in reading for an individual who has the intelligence to be a much better reader. Before learning this, I too believed that people with Dyslexia see letters and words backward but Sadman-Hurley (2013) broke the myth to clarify that people with Dyslexia see things just like everyone else. It is caused due to phonological processing, which does not affect an individual's ability to see language, but to manipulate it. It also affects the ability of an individual to speak, read, spell and, often, learn a second language (TYCDC, 2017).
I found Spielberg’s story extremely inspiring. In my earlier blog post about artist Judith Scott, I questioned if the emphasis on her biography is necessary when we see her sculptures. It is fairly interesting to recognize Spielberg’s biography with the exceptional course as a filmmaker and inclusive of his diagnosis. For Spielberg, the diagnosis was a revelation that helped him understand why he struggled in school despite his other obvious talents. The noted juxtaposition between his challenges at school to the demands of his career is intriguing to me. He found the simple task of standing in front of his class and reading extremely embarrassing and dreadful, often leading to Spielberg getting bullied. That said, he acknowledges how reading is of critical importance to his craft as a director. He is slow at reading and takes more time to read, however, he has also learned to adjust. It helps him to comprehend well and enables him to retain almost everything that he reads.
The interview can be resourceful to teachers to understand the role of intervention and empathy in working with the students facing difficulties. Spielberg credits one of his teachers who recognized his difficulties and assured him — "Let’s work on this together". I believe early intervention is crucial to diagnose disabilities in children. Spielberg, too, wished for early intervention that would have helped him articulate what happened to him and reassured him that many other students struggled with a similar difficulty.
During my first year of teaching a class of students with special needs, unknowingly, I asked a student with Dyslexia to read aloud the classroom agenda from the board. Being disappointed at failing to do the task, the student couldn’t focus on the following activities. I learned about his difficulty later through the homeroom teacher and developed a few strategies to assist him in reading in the art class. The accommodation involved breaking complex words with the help of the special educator and using visuals. The intervention assisted the student in the long run in the art class.
Spielberg asserted that when he pursued filmmaking, it made him feel inside his skill set. Spielberg’s interview encourages students to embrace their unique strengths, persevere at their passion, and become successful like him.
Dyslexia FAQ. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://dyslexia.yale.edu/dyslexia/dyslexia-faq/
Sadman-Hurley, K. (2013, July 15). What is dyslexia? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=zafiGBrFkRM&feature=emb_logo
What is dyslexia? (2013, July 15). Retrieved April 5, 2020, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=zafiGBrFkRM&feature=emb_logo