Gwen Stefani Says She Learned She Has This Disorder Through Her Sons
The singer's three kids opened her eyes to her own dyslexia when they started learning to read.
Looking at things through the eyes of your children can expand your perspective. For Gwen Stefani, her sons helped her understand some issues she struggled with earlier in her own life. In an interview with Zane Lowe for his At Home With series on Apple Music (via People), Gwen Stefani said she found out she has dyslexia after her sons began learning to read.
"One thing that I've discovered through having kids is that I have dyslexia," the singer and The Voice coach revealed. "Everyone has things that happen and mine was that. And I feel like a lot of the problems that I have had or even decisions that I've made for myself stem from that, because now the children—obviously, it's all genetic—they have some of those issues."
According to the Mayo Clinic, dyslexia "is a learning disorder that involves difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words." It affects the part of the brain that processes language. The Mayo Clinic also notes that dyslexia tends to run in families and often goes undiagnosed until adulthood.
Stefani shares three children—14-year-old Kingston, 12-year-old Zuma, and 6-year-old Apollo—with her ex-husband Gavin Rossdale. And she explained in the podcast that, thanks to increased awareness of the disorder, her children are able to get support with their reading in ways that she didn't.
"Now they get all these benefits," the 51-year-old singer said. "They have these incredible teachers and schools and they don't have to have shame about it. They understand that their brain functions in a different way. All of our brains do, you know what I mean?"
Read on to find out how Stefani's undiagnosed dyslexia affected her life, from school to her time as the lead singer of No Doubt. And for more stars who've dealt with this issue, here are 8 Celebrities You Didn't Know Were Dyslexic.
School wasn't easy for her.
"I was a good girl. I didn't do any bad stuff," Stefani explained on the podcast. "It was just really hard for me to function in that square box of school that everybody was supposed to be understanding. And my brain didn't work like that; it still doesn't." She sees the bright side, though: "[My brain] works in different ways that are probably a gift that other people can't do." For famous offspring who really take after their elders, check out 25 Celebrity Kids Who Look Just Like Their Parents.
Her dyslexia affected her confidence.
Stefani spoke about the time surrounding her band No Doubt's 1995 album Tragic Kingdom, which features songs about her breakup with the band's bassist and co-writer Tony Kanal. She was at a low point—and thinks her dyslexia contributed to that—but performing was one thing that made her feel better.
"I had written that whole record not even knowing how to write a song and I had literally laid my entire life out for everyone to hear," she said. "And then I'm still in the band with Tony, who I was so dependent on, because of probably my dyslexia. I didn't know any of this until now. But I think that I didn't have any confidence in myself, at the time, but when I would write a song or I would get on stage, it just felt so right and the only thing that was going right for me."
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She suspected she might have dyslexia years ago.
The subject came up in a 2009 interview Stefani did with Elle, when her oldest child, Kingston, was only three years old. Stefani said at the time, "School was just really hard for me. I didn't want to fail. I wanted to be smart! But I was really dreaming, like drawing my boyfriend's name on my notebooks. It was such a disaster. It's so sad! It makes me sad when I think about it. I still have nightmares about tests." For more second-generation stars, check out 19 Celebrity Kids on Their First Red Carpet.
These days, she's doing better than ever.
For the past five years, Stefani has been in a relationship with her Voice co-star, country singer Blake Shelton. The two got engaged this year, and she attributes some of her current happiness to their love story. "Life's gotten so good right now actually having a best friend who I can be in love with and just share everything with and trust," Stefani told Lowe of Shelton. "It's just been such a different chapter." For more on the musical couple, check out Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton Announce Engagement in the Cutest Way.