Success Stories

Telling your kids about successful people who have had similar struggles to them can really help build their confidence and develop their self worth.

 
 

1. Albert Einstein

 
 

People with learning differences, like Dyscalculia naturally think outside the box. Albert Einstein was no exception. His ability to think creatively meant he came up with ideas that other scientists hadn’t imagined. Like, oh, I don’t know, maybe E = mc2!

Albert Einstein passed away in 1955. While his research is still helping us understand the universe today, it’s unlikely we’ll ever know for sure if he had dyscalculia or not.

However, the people I know who have dyscalculia and/or dyslexia are some of the smartest, most creative and interesting individuals to be around. So, we like to think that Einstein, one of the greatest thinkers in history, may have had it too.

- Rae Jacobson, M.S.

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“You are all powerful. Every one of you. Even though school might be difficult, school does not define us. You all have wonderful and smart thoughts, therefore you are all smart.”

— Henry Winkler

2. Henry Winkler (aka The Fonz).

 
 

Actor and author Henry Winkler has a message for parents of kids with dyslexia and other learning and attention issues to pass along to their child. 

That message is: “You are all powerful. Every one of you. Even though school might be difficult, school does not define us. You all have wonderful and smart thoughts, therefore you are all smart.”

Winkler is on the road again, promoting his newest book for kids. Fake Snakes and Weird Wizards features Hank Zipzer, a kid with dyslexia, as its hero, Winkler said in an interview with NBC’s Today show host, Matt Lauer. And it’s part of Winkler and coauthor Lin Oliver’s mission to show kids how important reading is.

Winkler is best known to many as “The Fonz,” a role he made famous in the 1970s TV series Happy Days. But for more than a decade, he’s been an active advocate for people with dyslexia. And, with Oliver, he’s been writing kids’ books featuring the smart, funny Hank Zipzer.

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There are 17 books in the original Hank Zipzer series. But the latest book is part of the follow-up Here’s Hank series of books for younger readers. These books take place before Hank was diagnosed. In the latest book, Hank is in second grade and much to his surprise, he realizes he wants to help his sister have a good birthday party.

Winkler’s new book is the first published in the U.S. to use the Dyslexie font, he said to Lauer. This special font is meant to be easier for people with dyslexia to read. (At present, though, there’s no clear scientific evidence that special fonts like Dyslexie do make reading easier.)

Winkler’s goal is to encourage all kids to read. But he knows the challenges of dyslexia firsthand. Winkler didn’t find out he had dyslexia until age 31. That was the point when his son, Jed, was diagnosed. During that process Winkler realized that he’d had similar learning challenges.

But Winkler says he did not get much support as a student. “I was only told I would never achieve,” he told Lauer. Winkler proved the naysayers wrong.

He finished high school, graduated from Emerson College and received his master of fine arts degree from the Yale School of Drama. He’s had a successful career as a comedian, actor, director and writer. And he’s been a big inspiration for kids with dyslexia.

- Geri Coleman Tucker