Read Ben’s post as it was written without the benefit of spell-check, word prediction or editing.
Let me introduce myself: My name is Ben Foss, and I am dyslexic.
When I was a kid, my mother read out loud to me. When I went to college, I’d fax my term papers home to her in New Hampshire so she could read them to me over the phone and help me find spelling mistakes.
My book is now available in the Learning Ally library! Check it out!
If you are unfamiliar with Learning Ally, take a moment and visit their site. Learning Ally is a national nonprofit dedicated to providing audio resources and support to those who need it. They started out as Recording for the Blind, but over the years it became clear that Learning Ally was helping a much broader community of people. Enter dyslexics.
Jim always did what he said he would do. This set James Gandolfini apart from many people, especially those in Hollywood. I was lucky to know him for four years before he died far too young in the middle of last year. He shared with me stories of his mother, a lunch lady, and his father, a high school custodian—and, with his characteristic knowing grin, of his “issues that made school tough.”
Jim went on to be one of the greatest actors of his generation, and he used this platform to tell the story of the underdog. He produced a number of documentaries on wounded warriors. And in a conversation we recorded together about dyslexia and my recent book, he stood up for people who have dyslexia, ADHD and other related profiles. He believed in hard work and that you had to take a risk to be successful. These are core experiences for people in the community he talks about here.
I chose not to release this footage last year. After talking with his family recently, we decided it was time to honor Jim’s wish to tell the story. My hope is that his celebrity and commitment will carry the message to people who need to hear it.
In the first film I made about dyslexia, Headstrong Nation: Inside the Hidden World of Dyslexia & ADHD we provided an overview of dyslexia and attention deficit disorder while exploring the lives of diverse individuals persevering in a world not designed with them in mind. Please share this with those who are still in the dark.
When I came back to get my results, the lab coat–wearing researcher looked very nervous. She couldn’t make eye contact with me and fidgeted in her seat. The more anxious she looked, the more nervous I got that this wasn’t going to go well. She finally looked up from her clipboard, and the following conversation ensued.
“Ben, I don’t know how to tell you this…but you’re really dyslexic.”
“Really? Excellent!” I meant it.