Famous Dyslexics: James Middleton

His sister Kate may be the United Kingdom’s favorite celebrity – and now more than ever as she brings a royal baby into the succession – but James Middleton, age 25, has had a few successes of his own. He currently is proprietor of four businesses and is showing his talent as a born entrepreneur.

And he has dyslexia.

James Middleton attends the H.R. Owen and Boujis Mayfair Party to launch the Bentley Continental GT V8 in partnership with MasterCard's Priceless London programme at Jack Barclay Bentley on February 2, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images for Bentley)

When James revealed his dyslexia to the world a year ago, many people were surprised. You’d be hard-pressed to find a single fault in his delivery of the reading at a certain royal wedding.

However, James describes how that very experience brought back floods of memories from childhood, where reading aloud in the classroom was an exercise in enduring terror. As a boy, he struggled to spell any way other than phonetically, relying completely on little tricks and tips to get him through an exam.

“’Said’ was Sally Ann Is Dead,” he remembers, jokingly. Despite his light-hearted attitude of the present, he recalls a lot of painful moments. After enrolling in Marlborough College for secondary school, he couldn’t even spell its name reliably. Like many dyslexics before him, in class he would count down the paragraphs to find the one he would be assigned and then frantically attempt to memorize it before he was called upon to read.

After having to retake his GSCEs, he gained entry to the University of Edinburgh. But two weeks into his degree, James took his continuing education into his own hands and decided that formal learning had only frustrating his natural ability for many years.  He took the plunge and moved back home to start up his own business.

“If I had a choice,” he says, “I would still choose to be dyslexic because I feel it helps me to see things in a different way. There is a talent in dyslexia, it can help you see things creatively. So I wouldn’t change a thing.”

He still struggles with spelling, and reading in public still produces anxiety. So, you ask, how did he do so well on April 29th of 2011?

He confesses with a grin that he re-wrote out every single word phonetically. No one would be able to recognize the words but him!

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Sarah Forrest is a Program Coach for the Easyread System, an online phonics course specifically developed to help children with dyslexia, auditory processing disorder and highly visual learning styles who need support for spelling and reading problems. Find out more at www.easyreadsystem.com 

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