As part of a family that produced writers since the 19th century, you might say Avi was born to write. Unless you knew him in grade school, where Avi struggled with spelling, sloppiness, and reversing letters on his school work as a result of dysgraphia, a learning disability characterized by problems with writing. Yet, his Read More…
S2, E8: Difference Maker – Dr. Shawn Anthony Robinson
Perhaps you’ve heard of dyslexia described as a superpower. Well, Dr. Shawn Anthony Robinson took that literarily. By day, Robinson serves as a senior research associate in Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. But whenever ignorance and confusion regarding dyslexia rears their ugly heads, Robinson abandons his guise as a mild-mannered, Read More…
S2, E7: Difference Maker – Jennifer Ford Knopf
Jennifer Ford Knopf knew her son Reed was curious and bright. But she also knew he wasn’t thriving in school as she’d expected. The answer why came four years ago with a dyslexia diagnosis. That diagnosis fueled the Orlando mother and practicing attorney’s passion to help her son, a passion that mushroomed into a mission Read More…
S2, E6: Difference Maker – Jeanne Betancourt
Growing up, Jeanne Betancourt struggled to learn to read and write. Her struggle to master those skills led her to hone in on the world around her, soaking up details. Years, later, Betancourt discovered a passion for making up stories and writing them down. Good thing. Betancourt parlayed her storytelling into a successful career as a children’s book author, a chapter in her life that she credits her dyslexia for authoring.
S2, E5: Difference Makers – Ulysses Owens Jr.
For Ulysses Owens Jr., the three Rs often was accompanied by a backbeat as he often passed time in class treating his desk as a drum kit. He was later diagnosed with ADHD, but the little drummer boy parlayed his BAR-RUMP-A-THUMP-THUMP into becoming the first African-American drummer admitted into The Juilliard School and later into a Grammy Award-winning jazz career.
S2, E4: Difference Maker – Meredith O’Connor
In 2013, as a 16-year-old, Meredith O’Connor stepped out from the shadows of bullying with the YouTube release of The Game, part music video, part therapy session that shared her personal experience and trauma. Since then, O’Connor, who has ADHD and OCD, spent years touring schools and sharing her experiences, while releasing charity songs to benefit mental health groups and hitting the high notes as a formidable advocate for anti-bullying and mental health.
S2, E3: Difference Maker – Garrett Graff
In the late 60s, Virginia Slims announced to women, that “You’ve come a long way, baby.” The same could be said for Garrett Graff. Having been diagnosed with reading, writing, and speech challenges early on, Graff was slated for non-mainstreamed schooling by school officials. Fast forward, he went on to serve as editor of The Washingtonian and POLITICO. Most recently, he captured the heartbreak of 9/11 in his masterwork, “The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11.” A long way, indeed.
S2, E2: Difference Maker – Mackenzie Thorpe
Mackenzie Thorpe creates art with heart. Actor Tom Hardy, author JK Rowling, and Queen Elizabeth II, to name a few, have collected the English artist’s sculptures and paintings, which combine tenderness and ardor through his unique depictions of animals and children. Yet, from early on, Thorpe endured having his heart torn apart by those who Read More…
S2, E1: Difference Maker – Daymond John
From running a business in his basement to starring on a hit reality television show, Daymond John has embodied the word “entrepreneur” and is now inspiring others to pursue their goals and empowering them to make positive changes in their lives. Diagnosed with dyslexia himself, John has been open in sharing his entrepreneurial journey, through Read More…
S1, E11: Difference Maker – Victor Villasenor
Author Victor Villaseñor has written 65 stories and nine novels, and his memoir Burro Genius, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, shares his experiences as a youth. Not bad for someone who remembers school in his youth as a nightmare, which led to him becoming a bed wetter. That was coupled with years of Read More…