Joel McHale Repeated Grades In School. After His Son’s Diagnosis, He Understood Why.

Not a "slow-starter," just misunderstood.

For Joel McHale, dyslexia has always been a part of his life — even before he knew what it was called. In the latest episode of Dax Shepard's podcast Armchair Expert, McHale opens up about how the learning disability affects him and those around him.


"When I started The Soup back in 2004, I was so anxious because I can't really read and I had to read teleprompter," McHale explained, revealing to Shepard — who also has dyslexia —  that he had been undiagnosed in school and "repeated grades" because teachers didn't recognize he was dyslexic.

According to Merriam-Webster, dyslexia is defined as "a variable often familial learning disability involving difficulties in acquiring and processing language that is typically manifested by a lack of proficiency in reading, spelling, and writing."

Beginning in school, McHale said he was referred to as a "slow-starter." It wasn't until his sons — 10-year-old Isaac and 13-year-old Edward, shared with wife Sarah Williams — were diagnosed with it that it clicked to him that he had it as well.

"So my sons are also dyslexic," the 46-year-old Community alum revealed, adding that it was likely passed down to him from his father who also "clearly has dyslexia," even though he initially wouldn't admit it. Dyslexia is often passed down genetically.

Shepard asked McHale if being termed a "slow-starter" had impacted him as he was trying to succeed and figure out his future. McHale, who eventually graduated from the University of Washington, said he "fought it," and found "confidence and self-esteem" through acting, performing, and sports.

Now — with an Emmy nomination (for The Soup, which he did for 12 seasons) and a brand-new Netflix show, The Joel McHale Show With Joel McHale — McHale has proven that he won't let anything keep him from achieving his dreams. He joins the likes of Octavia Spencer, Richard Branson, and Jay Leno in living with — and thriving with — dyslexia.

For more information about dyslexia, visit the International Dyslexia Association's website.

(H/T: People | Entertainment Tonight)

Cover image via Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

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