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Adults With LD: Success Stories

Learning disabilities (LD) do not go away after high school. They present issues that need to be dealt with into adulthood, and these personal stories from adults with LD detail that experience. Be sure to share these inspirational accounts with friends and loved ones.

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Adults With LD: Success Stories



Henry Winkler: Dyslexic Celebrity, Children’s Author

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Best known as Arthur Fonzarelli, aka “The Fonz,” on the classic television show Happy Days, Henry Winkler is also co-author, with Lin Oliver, of a series of books about an imaginative, dyslexic fourth-grader named Hank Zipzer. The titles of Hank’s adventures include, The Night I Flunked My Field Trip, I Got a “D” In Salami, and The Curtain Went Up, My Pants Fell Down. Winkler also speaks frequently about learning disabilities and about his own struggles with dyslexia. NCLD honored Henry Winkler with the Children’s Advocacy Award at its 27th Annual Benefit Dinner in 2004.

In this interview, Winkler talks about how he and Oliver go about bringing Hank Zipzer’s adventures to life. Read an excerpt from The Night I Flunked My Field Trip.

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Interview With Ben Foss: How Self-Advocacy Can Lead to Innovation

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Ben Foss is currently director of access technology for Intel. He leads a team that makes tools for people with specific learning disabilities and others who have difficulty reading printed text. His experiences as an individual with dyslexia have motivated him to find new ways to help others with reading disabilities access information. He is also passionate about creating new opportunities for those with learning disabilities to connect with one another. He has an MBA and a law degree from Stanford University.


When was your learning disability first identified? How did your parents share this information with you?
I was identified in first grade. My mom was asked to come into the school and was seated at a desk with a box of tissue in case she burst into tears. She said, “I figured something was up. So what do we do?” They explained that they had just gotten new money—the first funds from IDEA were just reaching the schools at this time—and wanted to place me in special education.

My parents were very straightforward with me, making a point to involve me in the discussions. They talked to me about what dyslexia meant—that it meant I had trouble with reading, and that it didn’t mean I wasn’t smart. They also made a deal with me that I could act out in my room—even throwing things or wrecking my stuff—when I was angry over having failed a spelling test or sad about having to sit alone during reading time, but I needed to be respectful in school or elsewhere. This gave me space to express my frustration while still showing up to school ready to learn.

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A Special Education: Charlotte Farber’s Story

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Fashion designer Dana Buchman's book A Special Education: One Family’s Journey Through the Maze of Learning Disabilities written with her daughter Charlotte, describes the gradual discovery of Charlotte’s learning disabilities as well as Buchman’s own path to self-discovery. NCLD had the privilege of interviewing both Dana and Charlotte when the book was first published. In this exclusive interview, Charlotte Farber speaks out about what it’s like to grow up with a learning disability.


What did you think when your mom told you she was writing a book about you and your family? I was really excited and really happy because we’ve been through a lot and I thought it was a good thing that the story would get some notice.

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Learning the Rules of the Game

special-needs-stories-college-learn-keyboardAt my college graduation last June, my mom made a comment that surprised me. As I stood smiling after an awards ceremony, she stared at my final GPA; “It seems like at every school you’ve been to, from elementary school to now, you’ve finished stronger than you started,” she said. I answered her before thinking: “Of course I have. I’m good at learning the rules of the game.”

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Personal Story: Disclosing LD in the Workplace

Disclosure - LD WorkplaceBeing dyslexic has affected my entire life, however I was never more aware of the extent of my disability until I entered the work force. After being diagnosed with dyslexia in the third grade, I was lucky enough that my parents transferred me to a school that understood the challenges of learning disabled (LD) students and never lowered their expectations of me compared to non-LD students. This enabled me to receive additional time and assistance without questioning my potential to earn an A or attend the college of my choice, which was the University of Pennsylvania.

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Dyslexia Insights From Ben Foss, Dyslexic Author

Ben FossBen Foss is a dyslexic author and the founder of Headstrong Nation, a national organization for dyslexic adults and parents of dyslexic kids. He earned a JD/MBA from Stanford and invented the Intel Reader, a mobile device that takes photos of text and recites it aloud on the spot.

Ben, who is the author of The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan: A Blueprint for Renewing Your Child’s Confidence and Love of Learning, shares stunning facts about dyslexia and gripping insights about being dyslexic in the blog series below. In each post, he includes a snippet of the blog written in what he calls his “native tongue”—his writing written without the benefit of editing, word prediction or spellcheck.

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