Book documents extraordinary success of people with dyslexia

by Mike Frontiero

A new book co-authored by a Virginia Commonwealth University professor offers the first in-depth look at how people with dyslexia and other learning disabilities (LD) achieve high levels of success.

In Leaders, Visionaries and Dreamers: Extraordinary People with Dyslexia and Other Learning Disabilities, Paul J. Gerber, Ph.D., the VCU School of Education Ruth Harris Professor of Dyslexia Studies, and Marshall H. Raskind, Ph.D., look at 12 incredible people with LD and dyslexia whose lives are characterized by major accomplishments and contributions that they have made in their respective fields as well as on the contemporary American scene.

These men and women are from a variety of fields, such as arts and literature, science, politics and sports. Included are individuals such as Gavin Newsom, the lieutenant governor of California; Gaston Caperton, former governor of West Virginia and former of the College Board; Jack Horner, a paleontologist and recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship (also known as the genius grant); Chuck Close, one of America's preeminent visual artists; actor Henry Winkler; and financier Charles Schwab.

The book explores a myriad of underlying dynamics of accomplishment to give the reader a thematic view of LD and by hearing the voices of those included in the book.

"We found that academic struggles are not necessarily an indicator for failure in adulthood," Gerber said. "With passion and capitalization on strengths, one can have a reasonable chance for achieving success."

The content was derived from extensive interviews and is presented in a reader-friendly format from what has been gleaned from research and the prevailing wisdom in this area over the past 25 years.

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