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Patrick Dempsey, star of the hit TV show Grey’s Anatomy, is known to adoring fans around the world as ‘McDreamy’. He has acted in movie blockbusters, along with excelling at amateur race car driving.

And McDreamy is dyslexic.

He had a normal American family upbringing in Maine, and struggled with his literacy throughout primary school. He was finally diagnosed with dyslexia at age twelve. His road to the diagnosis was a long one, with other incorrect diagnoses being made along the way. Dempsey describes the extreme low self-esteem that accompanied those years, describing feeling convinced that he was stupid and worse than his peers.

In an interview with Barbara Walters, Dempsey admitted that those early trials with dyslexia “made him what I am today. It’s given me a perspective of — you have keep working. I have never given up.”

In his acting life, his dyslexia still plays a role. He has to memorize all of his lines rather than rely on a cue card. One of the problems he’s had with his TV role is that often the scripts come in at the last minute. He has had to find ways to quickly commit lines to memory. Often he asks someone else to read it aloud to him before committing it to memory.

Despite professional coaching and extra help when he was younger, he finally hit upon something in recent years that seems to help: teaching his 4 year old daughter to read. The back-to-the-basics approach has transformed the way he thinks about language!


Sarah Forrest is an Program Coach for the Easyread System, and online phonics course specifically developed to help children with dyslexia, auditory processing disorder and highly visual learning styles who need support for spelling and reading problems. Find out more at or