By Mark Bell | January 21, 2012

HBO Documentary’s The D Word: Understanding Dyslexia is a fine documentary, especially for cable, which is to say that it’s polished and edited to that perfect length for easy watching on television. On top of that, the film utilizes a unique perspective by not just educating on the downsides of dyslexia, but also what it truly means to be dyslexic, and the creative pluses that can come from such a condition.

Like most I knew growing up, my idea of dyslexia was an ignorant one; I thought the dyslexics just got confused about the order of letters in words, and therefore had trouble reading and spelling. And while there is a very small nugget of truth there (dyslexics can have trouble with reading and spelling), it’s obviously nowhere near the complexity of the situation. Additionally, I never stopped to ponder where this condition came from, or what it meant from a medical standpoint, to be dyslexic. After having now seen The D Word, I feel better informed.

Beyond shedding light on the ignorant, the film does a great job of showing that dyslexia is not some developmental death sentence, where the sufferers spend the rest of their lives shunned by society. Richard Branson and Charles Schwab are just two examples in the film of dyslexics that are doing just fine.

If I were dyslexic, particularly at a younger age when one is known to feel all alone in the universe, I’d appreciate this documentary so much more for both trying to educate the ignorant and keeping such a positive perspective. It’s easy to dwell on the negative and spout technical or medical jargon, so I was pleased that the film engages on such a personal level. The D Word is an invaluable resource for starting both conversation and understanding.

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  1. Remedy Editorial says:

    Thanks for sharing your nice review on James Redford’s “The D Word: Understanding Dyslexia.”

  2. Davis Graham says:

    Recently, I viewed the HBO Documentary, “Journey into Dyslexia”, it was a good view of all the aspects of the Gift, and it gave to most of our peers an understanding of the “Mysterious Gift of our Intelligence”, but as for the person with dyslexia we were left with a “nowhere to go from here” feeling.

    For me the person who has the Gift of Dyslexia I can tell you once you overcome the failure, there are still calluses to the world of the written word which need to be conquered and I still feel alone in the closed door world in which I live, but have not yet mastered.

    The written world is like embarking on a new wilderness and I come across a guide who knows all of the trails and sources of water and danger. Turn this new world of reading with “assistive technology” and I now have my guide, but to get there is painful. Why because as Ron Davis’s book The Gift of Dyslexia states, a person with dyslexia “to read seems life-threatening”. Or another way to put it, is now that I have mastered my current environment, why return to the scene of my tragic accident of failure in consuming the written word. Internally you state, “I will have nothing to do with it, it is too emotional”, but yet I still feel so left out and in the dark when it comes to the written word.

    So we are caught in this closed loop of failure, if we continue on in our now well padded “Pseudocompetence” world I become harden to life. Life goes on and the once mastered skills come boredom, and I slip in to self condemnation.

    My life was changed to a new life of beginnings, for me it was starting with going to church with the high school guidance counselor who told me I would never make it in college, I forgave him, and when I forgave him I forgave myself, one callus gone. Then a contract comes across my desk and I find Readplease (2001) on line, I use Readplease to read the contract in an hour, it was 30 pages, another callus gone. Then a librarian encourages me to become a member of (2007) I read for the first time a book which I choose “The Preacher and the Presidents” and I’m starting to feel alive and look for another book. Before I know it, the life to the once closed door community opens and then I internally start to change. It is truly a freeing experience, it is life changing, because I was headed back to the life of failure because I “can’t” read.

    So for me a person with the Mysterious Gift of Intelligence”, Dyslexia, I am now in a new wilderness world with an expert guide and the Frontier of exploration is on.

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