Steven Spielberg Reveals He Is Dyslexic. Making Movies Offered Him a “Great Escape” as a Child

We recent­ly brought you an inter­view with Steven Spiel­berg and his father, dis­cussing the films the direc­tor made as a teenag­er. Of all Amer­i­can auteurs, Spiel­berg may be the most in touch with his inner child, so it comes as no sur­prise that the young Spiel­berg record­ed train crash­es and bat­tles using his own room or yard as the back­drop.

What no one, includ­ing the Dream­Works co-founder him­self, knew until recent­ly is that all those 8 mm shorts were more than just a pas­time. In a recent inter­view Spiel­berg revealed that he is dyslex­ic and that he was only diag­nosed five years ago. “It explained a lot of things,” Spiel­berg told Quinn Bradlee. “It was like the last puz­zle part in a tremen­dous mys­tery that I’ve kept to myself all these years.”

Always two years behind the class in read­ing, Spiel­berg was teased by oth­er kids in school. He dread­ed hav­ing to read in front of the class. He nev­er lacked for friends, though look­ing back on it sev­er­al of his friends were prob­a­bly also dyslex­ic.

“Even my own friends who were just like me, we didn’t have the skills to talk about it,” he recalled in the inter­view for Friends of Quinn, a site for peo­ple with learn­ing dif­fer­ences. “I got bul­lied. I dealt with it by mak­ing movies. That was my cov­er up.”

Spiel­berg, whose films have spanned all gen­res over more than four decades, says that moviemak­ing was his “great escape” from feel­ing painful­ly dif­fer­ent.

“I nev­er felt like a vic­tim. Movies helped save me from shame, from guilt from putting it on myself when it wasn’t my bur­den,” he says. “In light of feel­ing like an out­sider, movies made me feel inside my own skill set.”

He says that it takes him about three hours to read what most peo­ple could read in a lit­tle more than an hour.

“I’m slow, but I’ve learned to adjust,” he says. “I am in a busi­ness where read­ing is very impor­tant. I read often and I have great com­pre­hen­sion. I retain almost every­thing I read. I real­ly take my time going through a book or a script.”

With all of that said, don’t miss our pre­vi­ous post: Steven Spielberg’s Debut: Two Films He Direct­ed as a Teenag­er

Kate Rix is an Oak­land-based free­lance writer. Find more of her work at .

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  • Robert says:

    I admire his strength in reveal­ing and talk­ing about his dyslex­ia. There are lots of peo­ple who go through school and are bul­lied, and his sto­ry helps them know they are not alone. I would con­sid­er him a role mod­el for every­one in that sit­u­a­tion. Steven Spiel­berg, you have inspired a gen­er­a­tion, and you con­tin­ue to inspire peo­ple. Thank you!

  • nena says:

    being dyslex­ic is not some­thing you should feel ashamed of. On the con­trary it may be a gift ’cause most dyslex­ic peo­ple seem to be very smart, and have an apti­tude for nat­ur­al phi­los­o­phy and sci­ence.

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