Dyslexia is a mental illness which affects hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. The problem with dyslexia is that it is normally undiagnosed until much later in life when the damage has been done. Dyslexia is not a respecter of persons as even celebrities have been a victim. Does your favourite movie star, Tom have dyslexia?
Yes, Tom Cruise has dyslexia. He was diagnosed at age 7. He found it difficult to read and concentrate in school. As a result. This problem did not stop until much later in life. His acting had a huge impact on getting this issue resolved. Find out how he balances being an actor and being dyslexic.
How Tom Cruise Overcame Dyslexia
As a child, Tom Cruise could barely read or concentrate in class. His grades were really messed up, and according to him, he thought he was a functional illiterate. He could barely read even through high school. However, at age 19, after he got his first big role in a movie, he knew that he had to get this issue sorted out. He could also not read his lines easily, and he realized that this could hold him back if he does not take the necessary steps to resolve his challenges. Describing the position he found himself in, Tom said, “I had to train myself to focus my attention. I became very visual and learned how to create mental images in order to comprehend what I read.”
Thus, Tom Cruise sought for help and finally adopted L. Ron Hubbard’s learning method of “Study Technology,”. With this study methodology, he was able to develop a good reading and study pattern. He trained himself to concentrate on things. Nevertheless, Tom overcame this challenge when he started acting. He had the support of his mother who is a special education teacher. She encouraged him to pursue his acting career. According to Tom Cruise, she kept saying, “You’ve got so much potential. Don’t give up.”
As a result, Tom had to learn how to read his scripts right. He decided to learn visually. He would learn by creating mental images of things. This is not easy for dyslexics.
Describing his difficulty with reading, Tom says, I’d try to concentrate on what I was reading, then I’d get to the end of the page and have very little memory of anything I’d read. I would go blank, feel anxious, nervous, bored, frustrated, dumb. I would get angry….I wouldn’t want the other kids to know about my learning disability…” Poor Tom Cruise really found it difficult and struggled for a long time. Thankfully, that was a long time ago.
Being Dyslexic And Acting
Being dyslexic can be very challenging as an actor. However, Tom has his love for acting as a motivation. He was encouraged and kept pushing. According to Tom, “I love what I do. I take great pride in what I do. And I can’t do something halfway, three-quarters, nine-tenths. If I’m going to do something, I go all the way“.
Another thing that helped Tom was that he learned how to do adlibs. In Highschool, he would do that to entertain his friends and family. He brought the tradition to his auditions. When auditioning for movie roles, he would adlib. He also said his secret for scaling auditions was to get the movie directors to talk about the role and gather as much information as he could about the character. Then, he would use the information gotten from them for his audition. This would help him portray the role, and he got better with training and practising.
This experience has made Tom empathetic towards people with learning disorders. Tom donated handsomely to Hollywood Education and Literacy Project (H.E.L.P.), a nonprofit organization whose volunteers offer free tutoring. He doesn’t want people to go through what he went and is willing to help and support in any way that he can.