Last week, I featured 51-year-old Peter Titlebaum of Dayton, Ohio, who has dyslexia and has had lifelong difficulties writing, spelling, and reading. Other students often picked on him as a child for his inability to read and spell well. He even spent third to fifth grade at a “special school” mixed in with children with physical and intellectual disabilities. Throughout high school, he took remedial classes.
What or who changed his life? First, his mother, who realized he was highly intelligent and fought hard for him. Second, his natural athletic ability in track, which won him high school acclaim and entrance into college. Through track, he learned solid life lessons such as hard work, determination, and goal setting.
And lastly, “It may take me longer to write and read, and you may find someone smarter than me, but you can’t find anyone who can outwork me,” said Titlebaum in a telephone interview. “I am relentless and persistent.” As examples, he cited receiving his doctor of education degree from Temple University in 1993 in sport management and leisure studies and being a department of health science professor at the University of Dayton since 1996.
“I still don’t spell well and thank God for spell check,” he laughed. “One thing I’ve learned is that asking for help is a strength, not a weakness. Writing is most challenging for me. Being a college professor, you want to be published in peer-referred journals. This wasn’t something I thought about before getting into this field.”
His chosen field involves researching everything about luxury suites (sky boxes) in arenas and stadiums. No one knows more about them. He is director of research for the Association of Luxury Suite Directors and has extensively researched luxury suites in professional football, basketball, and ice hockey, among other sports.
To parents of a child with dyslexia, he advised: “Whatever your child has interest in, help them become expert in that area, because once your child becomes an expert and people recognize it, that will build self-confidence.”
For adults with dyslexia, he said, “I’ve written an article about the ‘dyslexic advantage.’ I look at having a learning disability as God giving me something (good) through it. I have perseverance and I look at things differently because of dyslexia. He doesn’t take away without giving something in return. To me, having dyslexia is an advantage.”