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© 2016 Focus

Success Stories

About one in seven children struggle with learning differences. These children are bright and capable, but are often labeled "poor" students because they have difficulty learning in the typical classroom setting.  We want you to know that with the right support and intervention your children can succeed in school and go on to successful, often distinguished, careers.   

"Over the years, my different way of thinking helped me to build the Virgin Group and contributed greatly to our success.”  

 Sir Richard Branson, Founder and Chairman Virgin Group

Branson dropped out of school at 15 and confesses to “having no understanding of school” because of his dyslexia and AD/HD.  But the condition that hurt him in academics helped him as he was building his business.  "I used my dyslexia to my advantage and learned to delegate those tasks I wasn’t so good at it. This freed me up to look at the bigger picture.”
 

"Many people who are dyslexic are different kinds of thinkers… you learn by listening, you learn by doing, you learn by making…”  

Dr. Nicholas Negroponte, Co-Founder MIT Media Lab

Negroponte, the dyslexic co-founder of the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and author of “Being Digital” is recognized as a leading visionary within the computer field.  Dr. Negroponte said as a kid he struggled with reading but was able to fake it because he had a  good memory.   He remains a “ terrible” speller and dislikes reading. "I don't read long articles period.  When people send me long [electronic-mail] messages, I ignore them."
 

“When I felt like an outsider, movies made me feel inside my own skill set.” - Steven Spielberg, Academy award-winning director

 

Spielberg  learned to read two years later than his classmates, who bullied him so much that he dreaded going to school. He struggled with math and eventually dropped out of college to pursue his passion for film making.  Today, he is one of the world's most accomplished filmmakers, a discipline that requires a lot of reading. Spielberg acknowledges that it takes him twice as long to read a book or a script than his peers but he takes his time and finds things to appreciate in the act of reading. 

"Learning compensatory skills played a role in my success as a scientist because one has to intuit many different things that are going on at the same time.” - Carol Greider, Noble Prize Winner

Greider remembers her early school days as being very difficult. A poor speller, she was taken out of her regular classes for remedial training but still received D’s and F’s in her English classes and performed poorly in standardized tests.  She credits these struggles with helping her to focus.  Dr. Greider made a breakthrough in DNA and cancer research and won a Nobel Prize in 2009.   “Look, I’m a professor at John’s Hopkins. Just because you’re dyslexic, doesn’t mean you can’t do anything you want to do.”

I'm real good at concepts and visualization.  I can process all kinds of stuff and get to the conclusion much faster than other people who have to go step by step, processing things sequentially.”- Charles Schwab, Founder, and CEO Charles Schwab

 

As a student, Schwab struggled with reading and invented his own accommodations, like relying on Classic Comic Books to read assignments such as A Tale of Two Cities and Ivanhoe.  He was admitted to Stanford University, thanks to strong scores in math and sciences but he floundered in English and had to rely on the help of his friends who took class notes for him.  Schwab pushed through, focusing on quantative and technical subjects that were his strength and ultimately went on to found what America’s first discount brokerage, which is now ranked within the Fortune 500 companies. 

 “I just see the world differently” - Jamie Oliver (dyslexia) - Celebrity Chef, Author

In grade school Oliver was diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD and was placed in special needs classrooms for five years because he struggled in his classes.  Kids taunted him in school and “people just thought I was thick.”   Oliver worked well with his hands and didn’t let his schoolwork struggles or the teasing damper his drive to succeed.  Today Jamie Oliver is the world’s wealthiest Chef and author of over 20 cookbooks.