Usually behind the scenes, filmmaker Steven Spielberg stepped in front of the camera to talk for the first time about his challenges with dyslexia and how he struggled for years with the undiagnosed learning disability.
It was just five years ago that Spielberg was properly diagnosed with the developmental reading disorder, which occurs when the brain does not properly recognize and process certain symbols. In a video for the website Friends of Quinn, the director explains how he “dealt with it by making movies.”
The director is interviewed by Quinn Bradlee, who also has learning disabilities and other physical ailments related to a condition called Velo-Cardio-Facial Syndrome, or VCFS, as documented in Quinn’s memoir “A Different Life: Growing Up Learning Disabled and Other Adventures.”
Spielberg, 65, reveals that as a child in New Jersey, it took him more than two years to learn how to read. He says growing up in the 1950s, including time spent in Arizona, before dyslexia was even a diagnosis, was tough, especially during the junior high years.
His inability to read, particularly in class, caused a lot of bullying and mean treatment from his classmates and had school administrators mislabeling him as lazy, he says.
“I never felt like a victim,” Spielberg said.
He says he banded together with a similarly quirky click of friends who also didn’t quite fit in or played sports like other students. It was this same group of friends that later became his inspiration for the ’80s cult classic film, “The Goonies,” which he produced and co-wrote.
“Movies really helped me, kind of saved me from shame, from guilt, from putting it on myself … when it wasn’t my burden.” he said. “I think making movies was my great escape, it was how I could get away from all that.”
Spielberg’s therapy of making films adds up to a bonus for the movie-going public. Steven’s new movie, “Lincoln”, is slated for release Nov. 9.