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Successful Dyslexics in the News

Jessica Watson recently became the youngest person to sail non-stop and unassisted around the world. She completed her voyage three days before her 17th birthday. Jessica’s mother has discussed the difficulties Jessica experienced as a result of her dyslexia and the motivation it gave her to take the risk of circumnavigating the globe solo.
Jessica was diagnosed with dyslexia early in her schooling. She struggled to learn the alphabet and found reading very difficult. At age 11, her mother Julie read Jessica Lionheart, which detailed Jesse Martin’s solo world voyage at the age of 18. Julie Watson said her daughter had not let herself be held back by her dyslexia, but that she does need to be careful not to confuse numbers when conveying the coordinates of her location. Jessica has not been limited by her learning difficulties and her mother believes her courageousness is related to having to overcome her weaknesses in reading and spelling.

Dr. Carol W. Greider is a scientist at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA. She was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine along with her colleagues Elizabeth Blackburn and Jack Szostak for their discovery that telomeres are protected from progressive shortening by the enzyme telomerase. This finding is important to our understanding of how chromosomes are affected by diseases including cancer.
As a child, Dr. Greider thought she was stupid because she couldn’t spell and had a lot of trouble at school. She learned to compensate by utilising her strong memorisation skills. She enjoyed biology and thinking in a scientific way. Dr. Greider attributes her success to finding a way to channel her problem-solving skills into scientific investigation.

Orlando Bloom is an English actor famous for his roles in Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean. He spoke about his experience of having Dyslexia at the Adam Katz Memorial Lecture in New York on June 2nd, 2010. Orlando recalled his early childhood as being full of anger at times, as he experienced great difficulty coping with schoolwork, despite having an underlying feeling that he was smart. He acknowledges his passion for performance and the creative arts as helping him “get through”.
Orlando’s dyslexia was identified when he was young and he states that the support he received from his family was critically important to the success he has had. Acting allowed him to put his mind to work in a different way to that which was required at school. Orlando noted that having dyslexia can seem like a big obstacle, but that it takes challenges for us “to learn, grow, be better”.

A conversation with Carol W. Greider on winning a Nobel prize in Science, Claudia Dreifus, The New York Times, 12-10-2009.
Challenged and gifted: A lesson on Dyslexia from Orlando Bloom, Harold Koplewicz, Need to Know on PBS, (Accessed 29-06-10).
Jessica Watson, Wikipedia,, accessed 05-07-2010.
Solo sailor Jessica Watson battles dyslexia, Kathleen Donaghey, The Sunday Mail (Qld), 31-01-2010