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Understanding Dyslexia

Last night, Sundance became something different for me than the entertainment craziness I've been describing in previous posts. Until then it was an activity, something to do before or after a workout or during lunch.  An event to witness and participate in similar to a concert or basketball game.  I was (and am) so moved by the films I watched last night and particularly by the crowd that spoke up, cried, and cheered during the discussion.  The previous films I saw were fantastic and they serve a purpose, but these 2 documentaries are going to change lives for years to come.  I hope to use this post to continue the movement, share what I learned, and provide some links.  If it hits a nerve or you know someone that could benefit, please forward it on to friends, family, parents, teachers, coworkers.

The Sundance listing for these 2 films was "The D Word: Understanding Dyslexia" with a small notation that the movie would be preceded by "The Movement: One Man Joins An Uprising".  Running times were each under an hour and it caught my eye mainly due to the timing and location since I knew I could catch it after work if my waitlist luck continued.  I had also heard an interview on our local radio station about The Movement since some of it was filmed in Park City, which intrigued me.  Next item of interest was the Director of The D Word.  I assumed the odds were high that James Redford was related to Robert Redford, which would probably guarantee high quality work.  Last on my list was actually Understanding Dyslexia.  In my ignorance, I have always associated dyslexia with switching numbers around in a phone number or spelling incorrectly/backwards.  I am embarrassed now that I know more about dyslexia and hope that I haven't offended someone in the past.

I made it to the theater only an hour before start time and ended up with waitlist #31 for a 175 seat venue.  The odds weren't great, but I was hopeful.  I met some energetic people in line, including two ladies who were both teachers. All of us got into the movie and then I was starstruck as the directors were announced before the screening.  I was suddenly staring at two famous sons of two very famous fathers and was amazed that there were empty seats left.
Kurt Miller (Father-Warren Miller)
The Movement
James Redford (Father-Robert Redford)
The D Word
 They gave small introductions and The Movement began.  I'm not going to give it away, but it was the best "ski movie" I've seen in a long time.  Narration by Warren Miller and Robert Redford, 5 amazing heroes, and beautiful scenery.  The directors (Kurt and Greg I. Hamilton) confirmed at the end of the films that this 43 minute masterpiece was just a starting point and their enthusiasm was contagious.

If that wasn't enough inspiration, The D Word started immediately.  James Redford is also extremely talented and did not get into Sundance just because he has the right dad.  Another fast 51 minutes that left you wanting to do more, learn more, and be more.  There were countless facts and myths about dyslexia woven between the story lines.  It was like being slapped in the face as I started to "Understand Dyslexia".  Before the movie started, I didn't know anyone with dyslexia.  Within 10 minutes, I realized that I may know several and even more considering 1 in 5 people have it.  Schools particularly teach us that you are only going to succeed and be intelligent if you are a fast reader, perfect speller, and decent writer.  Luckily, I was able to do all this and it came very naturally.  I took that train of thought into the real-world and found (find) it hard to understand why people with college degrees have trouble reading, writing, or spelling.  Starting last night, I will be so much more aware and understanding in these situations and hopefully recognize some of the signs.  That is so exciting for me in a work and personal environment, because dyslexic people also have astonishing creativity and problem solving skills.  I remember working with someone that told me he was color blind and wasn't following my graphs as best he could thanks to certain colors I had chosen.  Ever since, I've tried to be aware and look for those signs.  I know I can do the same with dyslexia and without calling anyone out try to help and make it easier.

I hope that The D Word gets airtime in every classroom and the stigma of being dyslexic goes away so that people can talk about it.  I am flabbergasted at the fact that there are several States (including Utah) that don't allow the word Dyslexia to be used in the school system.  Some can't even use "D Word".  The people in the movie embraced the label and were able to excel even more once they understand what was happening in their brains.  I was fortunate to sit next to a teacher that specializes in dyslexia and she shared some of her thoughts and stories.  The audience was extremely passionate and we heard stories in the discussion that broke your heart but also made you so proud of the families dealing with dyslexia and the roadblocks they encounter.  There were others on their phones as they walked out telling friends about the movie and how they get it now.  Talk about a movement!
The Directors Q&A, but the audience discussion took it to another level.


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