The director Steven Spielberg has recently opened up about his childhood struggles with dyslexia and bullying.
On 60 Minutes Sunday night Spielberg describes being a “nerd” and an “outsider” growing up, “like the kid that played the clarinet in the band and orchestra, which I did.” Spielberg wasn’t good at school or at sports, and he was an awkward kid, making him an easy target for bullying. He says he was also bullied for being in the only Jewish family in a very non-Jewish neighborhood. (In the interview his mom reminisces about the evening he snuck out to smear peanut butter on the windows of his tormentors.)
In another interview Spielberg revealed that he was diagnosed with dyslexia five years ago, which he described as “the last puzzle piece to a great mystery that I’ve kept to myself.” The diagnosis helped explain why he struggled so much in school despite his other obvious talents. Spielberg began making movies as a boy scout at the age of 12 and dropped out of college when he was offered an internship at Universal Studios. “Movies made me feel inside my own skillset, ” he told Quinn Bradlee during his interview on Friends of Quinn, a website for young adults with learning differences. Through the years he’s discovered how to work with his dyslexia, too. He tells Bradlee:
I’m in a business right now where reading is very important. It’s of critical importance to me that I read books and scripts. And I’ve been able to overcompensate, and I’ve basically—never feeling ashamed of myself—will take 2 hours and 45 minutes to 3 hours to read 120 pages. It takes me about two hours and 45 minutes to read what most people can read in about an hour and 10 minutes. I just know that I’m still slow at reading but I’ve learned to adjust.