Henry Winkler is unmistakable, even for non-“Happy Days” fans. The Fonzie actor has led an astonishingly successful career that is coming up on 60 years long. He is still hard at work today. And when he’s not working, he’s proven to be a man after our own hearts here at Outsider, taking trips to the best fly fishing spots on the planet.
But “Happy Days” fans may not be aware of the fact that Henry Winkler is dyslexic. The worst part? He didn’t realize he had a learning disorder until he was 31 years old. For his entire youth, he was made to feel lesser because he couldn’t keep up in school.
In fact, his parents punished him for it, citing a lack of dedication as the reason for his struggles.
“I was grounded 97 percent of my high school career. I saw the moon through the window,” Winkler told NPR in 2019.
Dyslexia is Way More Prevalent Than Many People Realize
These days, dyslexia is a well-understood disorder that affects more people than you may realize. According to DoSomething.org, dyslexia is present in roughly 1 out of 5 people. Further, an estimated 3/4 of all children in special education are classified as dyslexic.
It’s also a hereditary disorder, meaning dyslexic parents can pass it down to their children. And despite it being such a prevalent disorder, there are parents out there who either refuse to recognize the disorder as a legitimate handicap in their children or don’t know that it is.
“Those families that have children who learn differently, and that are embarrassed by the child because it does not live up to snuff, you’ve created it actually. It comes from your genes, parents out there.”
‘The Real Danger’ is Denying the Disorder, the ‘Happy Days’ Star Says
Henry Winkler suffered as a result of himself and his family being ignorant of his learning disorder. And that, in part, is the danger he described in the interview. Watch the full thing below to hear all of his comments on the disorder and how parents need to treat children with it.
“I’ll tell you where the danger really is. Here’s the real danger, in not allowing it to be true,” the “Happy Days” star continued in the 2015 interview. “And telling a child they’re just lazy, in telling a child it doesn’t exist. ‘Just work a little harder, change the curriculum and learn Latin, and you’re gonna be like a great student.'”
Winkler clearly has a very personal connection to the subject. He doesn’t want other kids to go through life thinking they are stupid or lazy. That’s the way he saw himself for years. But despite that, he became one of the most iconic actors of all time. And if he can do it, others with learning disorders like dyslexia can get there too.