Daymond John reveals how he successfully navigates his dyslexia
October is Learning Disabilities Awareness Month. AOL.com sat down with entrepreneur Daymond John to talk about his experience with dyslexia and how he learned to overcome it.
Daymond John is a successful entrepreneur, author and an investor on the wildly-popular ABC reality television series 'Shark Tank.' He's also dyslexic.
"It was frustrating," he told AOL.com about growing up with the learning disability. "I'd have to read a book three or four times just to understand what other kids got the first time around.
"Thankfully, my mother has always been my biggest supporter ... She was able to identify that and help me find ways to excel despite my differences. For instance, she always knew I was better at reading out loud, so she'd make me read the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal to her every Sunday while she was cooking.
"She made it seem like I was doing her a favor, like I was helping her to prepare for work the next day, so it never felt like a chore. She got me to practice reading without me even realizing it."
John didn't find out he was dyslexic until he was an adult -- and he says the diagnosis was a huge relief.
"It was like a lightbulb went off. I finally understood why I struggled the way I did." He was then able to use the disability to his advantage.
"I see the world in a different way than most people and for me that's been a positive thing."
According to Bob Cunningham, an advisor on learning and attention issues for Understood.org, one in five children in the U.S. struggles with brain-based learning and attention issues. That includes dyslexia, ADHD, non-verbal learning disabilities, Visual Processing Issues and more. The outcomes for those children can be devastating.
Nearly one-third do not graduate with a regular high school diploma, while 55 percent will have involvement with the criminal justice system within eight years of leaving high school. The way parents and schools are tackling those problems is changing though.
Last year 15 non-profits banded together to launch Understood.org, an organization intended to help parents of those with learning and attention disabilities successfully navigate the issues their children are dealing with.
"Understood wasn't around when I was kid. It was me and my mom taking it day by day. Understood lets parents of kids with these issues know they're not alone," John said. "It helps them understand what their kid is going through and gives them clear information and advice on what their kids need."
For people with learning disabilities, perhaps the most important development was the introduction of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 1975. The bill gave students with disabilities the right to individualized education programs.
"People used to think the best way to help kids in special ed was to put them in a separate classroom," Cunningham shared. "Now we see far more kids with ... learning and attention issues spending most of their day in general ed classrooms."
Cunningham added that the willingness of celebrities and public figures, such as John and actress Wendy Davis (featured in the video below), to share their stories provides those living with the disability hope and inspiration.