CNN’s Anderson Cooper is known for diving into the personal stories behind the news. But the winner of multiple Emmy awards has a compelling backstory of his own.
The longtime host of Anderson Cooper 360° was diagnosed with dyslexia as a child. And even now, he’s grateful to reading specialists for the role they played in his career success.
A rocky road to reading
“I grew up in a home where reading and writing had great value,” Cooper has said. His brother was “a voracious reader,” always carrying a book around with him. So Cooper did the same. But he admits, “I would just pretend to read it, because I had trouble reading and making sense of words, in particular, letters.”
At his private school in New York City, his teachers noticed his reading issues, which led to his dyslexia diagnosis. Cooper recalls that he worked with a reading specialist several times a week. “One way she helped was to encourage me to find books that I was really passionate about,” he’s shared.
Cooper became a strong student, and went on to graduate from Yale. He started his journalism career straight out of college. But Cooper had no intention of easing into his chosen field. Instead, he went to the front lines, with a home video camera in hand.
An emotional career kick-off
“I don’t think it’s an accident that I became a war correspondent. I’m interested in stories of survival: how some people make it through desperate times and others don’t,” Cooper has said.
Cooper, whose mother is designer Gloria Vanderbilt, has survived personal tragedy and loss in his own life. His father died when Cooper was 10. His brother committed suicide when he was a young adult.
Those experiences propelled Cooper to start his career covering impoverished and war-torn countries. He sold his early reports to Channel One, the classroom news network that Lisa Ling, who has ADHD, also worked on.
From there, he became one of the youngest correspondents ever at ABC. Many reporting and cohosting jobs followed, until Anderson Cooper 360° aired in September 2003.
Gratitude for his early help with dyslexia
Cooper has said that even people who have known him for a long time are surprised to learn he has dyslexia.
“I think it’s a sign of probably how well I tried to hide it when I was a little kid. I remember at the time being concerned that other people would find out about it.” Cooper made those remarks at an event for the National Center for Learning Disabilities, a founding partner of Understood.
“To a child with a learning disability, school can be an incredibly isolating place,” Cooper said. But a school with understanding teachers changed that for him: “It made all the difference in my life early on. And the good news is that there are great schools out there, able to provide the necessary resources and support.”
If you recently found out that your child has dyslexia, learn which steps to take next. Find answers to common questions about dyslexia. And explore more dyslexia success stories.
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The Understood Team is made up of passionate writers and editors. Many of them have kids who learn and think differently.