Rethinking Dyslexia

As October is national dyslexia month cable network HBO is airing the documentary Rethinking Dyslexia that aims to help everybody understand the developmental reading disorder. Dyslexia is a medical problem with the area of the brain responsible for interpreting language and symbols; one of the misunderstood issues with dyslexia is that many people believe the issue arises from vision problems. Rethinking Dyslexia is a personal journey into understanding and searching for answers for one of the most misunderstood and misdiagnosed learning problems in the world.

Writer and director James Redford, an acclaimed writer, director and producer of documentaries and drama’s tells the story of his families attempts to find answers for his son, Dylan. Despite Dylan’s mother being a teacher who believed her son was affected by dyslexia as early as the first grade the developmental reading disorder was not diagnosed until Dylan was in the fourth grade. The Redford’s had noticed their son was having problems learning and remembering the alphabet and spelling his name, which are two of the symptoms of dyslexia. Frustrated at the lack of understanding and the reluctance of the education and medical communities to diagnose Dylan led to Redford crafting this hour long documentary.

Alongside Dylan’s personal story the story of three other people are told in the documentary; the diagnosis of a sixth grader leads to the realization that her father, a successful surgeon has also lived with undiagnosed dyslexia for the majority of his life. Attempting to change the attitude of the audience to those with dyslexia Redford intersperses interviews and personal stories from some of successful people living with dyslexia. British business magnate Sir Richard Branson, owner and operator of Virgin Airlines and the Virgin record label shares his experiences, as does investment expert Charles Schwab.

Redford’s documentary uses a variety of media and techniques to help the viewer understand how it feels to live with dyslexia. Animation and figurative language are used to show the viewer the everyday experiences of those with developmental reading disorders. Expert opinion is also provided by researchers into dyslexia from experts from The Yale Center for Dyslexia.

James Redford has explained he wished to make a documentary that his family could have watched at the time Dylan was diagnosed with dyslexia to help his family understand and learn how to help his son. Through the documentary the director tells his son’s story, including the fight from the first to fourth grade to have Dylan diagnosed with Dyslexia. The story of Dylan Redford continues to show the vast improvements in his academic achievements through high school and on to college. Once accepted to Middlebury College Dylan Redford appeared on the honor roll of the college because of the assistance of his family and his own personal fight to improve his academics.

Rethinking Dyslexia is an important documentary that was first shown at the Sundance Film Festival. Dyslexia is a growing problem in the American and global school systems with around 20 percent of students affected by dyslexia; this figure includes the children and adults in the world who are misdiagnosed or allowed to under-perform at school or college.

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