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<Short Synopsis>The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia provides personal and uplifting accounts of the dyslexic experience from children, experts and iconic leaders, such as Sir Richard Branson and financier Charles Schwab. Directed by James Redford, the film not only clears up the misconceptions about the condition, but also paints a picture of hope for all who struggle with it.

Shining a spotlight on the latest scientific and psychological research, the film also highlights the work of Drs. Sally and Bennett Shaywitz, co-founders and co-directors of the Yale Center of Dyslexia and Creativity to illuminate the hidden origins and implications of dyslexia. Proving that dyslexia is a neurological issue and not a character flaw, The Big Picture beautifully illustrates that while the condition is an obstacle, it also carries some unique advantages, and ultimately can be overcome.


<Long Synopsis>

Dylan, a dyslexic high school senior, hopes to attend a highly competitive university. In spite of his accomplishments in the arts, sports and academics, Dylan is a poor speller and slow reader. Will these limitations prevent him from getting into a top school?

Allison, a dyslexic graduate student at Columbia University, reveals her lifelong desire to surpass the low expectations of others, borne from their misassumptions about learning disabilities.

Skye, a bright dyslexic seventh-grader from Manhattan, confesses that dance competition is her “release valve” from the pressure to keep pace academically with her classmates.

Sebastian, a ski-racing fifth-grader from Connecticut, helps us understand why providing dyslexics extra time on tests is not an unfair advantage: dyslexia takes time away from the student; special accommodation in test situations simply gives him or her the time back.

Mothers of these young adults and children share intimate recollections and observations that suggest a sometimes painful irony: in spite of their clearly high levels of intelligence and creativity, these dyslexics struggle with activities that the rest of the population performs automatically. How can this be?

Drs. Sally and Bennett Shaywitz, co-directors of the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, discuss how scientific advances illuminate the diagnosis and treatment of dyslexia. Dr. Bennett Shaywitz explains how advances in functional magnetic resonance imaging has made visible what previously was a hidden disability. Dr. Sally Shaywitz explains the “Sea of Strengths” model of dyslexia which emphasizes a sea of strengths of higher critical thinking and creativity surrounding the encapsulated weakness found in children and adults who are dyslexic.

Super-achieving dyslexics revered in their fields – from Sir Richard Branson and financier Charles Schwab to politician Gavin Newsom and attorney David Boies – confirm what the children, experts and families suggest: dyslexia carries with it as many rewards as frustrations.