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Writers with Learning Disabilities

Aug 17, 2007
Of all the professions to choose, being a writer would seem to be one of the most trying for a person with a learning disability. Still, some people with scholastic problems-even those that interfere specifically with language, such as dyslexia, feel the urge to express themselves through writing. The obstacles these individuals encounter are considerable, but if they can find a way to overcome them, they just might be able to create a true work of literary art. The following writers have all struggled with learning disabilities and have proven that the challenges that those with learning problems face head-on can often reap the biggest rewards. Among these inspirational examples are:

1. Robert BentonThis 74-year-old screenwriter grew up during a time when there wasn't much information available about dyslexia. Finding reading and writing difficult and branded as "slow," Benton's imagination was captured by the movies. He became a film fanatic, watching his favorites over and over again. This dedication led him to a deep understanding of what worked and what didn't in the cinematic world. After a brief stint as an art director for Esquire magazine, Benton decided to try his hand at screenwriting by partnering with his friend, David Newman. The product of their partnership was the critically-acclaimed screenplay for Bonnie & Clyde which launched his writing career. Benton went on to win best screenplay Academy Awards for Places in the Heart and Kramer vs. Kramer. He continues writing professionally to this day; his most recent work was the script for The Ice Harvest.

2. Fannie Flagg
Growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, Flagg struggled with severe dyslexia, which led her to believe that her dreams of being a professional writer were out of reach. She initially began her career as a news anchor, then moved on to acting in such movies as Five Easy Pieces and Grease. While Flagg had found success as an actress, the pull to write was just too strong to ignore. A writers' conference inspired her to craft her first short story, for which she won a prize. Encouraged by this warm reception, Flagg began writing in earnest. Her bestselling novel, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, was turned into a much beloved movie, for which she wrote the Academy Award nominated screenplay. Flagg's warm, funny novels have continued to land on the bestseller lists. Her latest book is Can't Wait to Get to Heaven.

3. Wendy Wasserstein
This late, great playwright also struggled with dyslexia throughout her formative years. She went on to receive degrees from Mount Holyoke, City College of New York, and Yale. Wasserstein was known for extremely witty and incisive plays about intelligent, successful women dealing with their inner demons. The Heidi Chronicles catapulted her into theatre world superstardom, earning her a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize. Her final play, Third, opened on Broadway in 2005. She is also the author of four books, including Elements of Style, and wrote the screenplay for the film version of The Object of My Affection.
About the Author
Jane Saeman runs an In-Home Tutoring service called Aim High Tutors. Find out about how to help your student reach their full potential at http://www.aimhightutors.com/blog .
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