Gwen Stefani learned she has dyslexia when her sons struggled to read

Props to Zane Lowe at Apple Music, because he’s become one of the industry journalists/interviews to get some of the best exclusives these days. Lowe did a new interview with Gwen Stefani as she’s promoting her upcoming new album (which hasn’t been given a name?) and her first single from that album, “Let Me Reintroduce Myself.” In recent years, the Blake Shelton Years, Gwen has mostly avoided the pop music which made her famous. Her last album, in 2017, was a Christmas album, and all of her recent hits have been country duets with Blake. This upcoming album is supposed to be Gwen going back to her pop-rock-ska roots. Anyway, Gwen talked to Zane Lowe about everything – music, her sons, Blake, old No Doubt gossip, past relationship drama, and more. Some highlights:

Gwen “discovered” she has dyslexia when her sons started having trouble reading. “One thing that I’ve discovered through having kids is that I have dyslexia — 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… But now they get all these benefits. 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?”

She “failed at school”: “I was a good girl. I didn’t do any bad stuff. 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. But it works in different ways that are probably a gift that other people can’t do.”

The early years of No Doubt: “At that time 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. And then I’m still in the band with Tony [Kanal] 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.”

She adores Blake: “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. It’s just been such a different chapter… He’s my best friend. We tell each other everything. I don’t want to do anything without him. He’s my homie. And he’s just a very generous, generous guy. He’s full of love and generosity… I’ve never met someone that’s just so interesting. And it’s weird because over the years — because now it’s been five years I’ve known him — he is an artist. He’s a Gemini. … He has a lot of different sides to him. But I think the fact that he really could walk away from anything at any moment. And his true love is just of nature and of just being at that ranch… He’s just always been the same. He’s the same guy no matter where he goes, you know what I’m saying? You feel so proud … There’s just something great about someone that’s so genuine and then super talented, because then you watch him sing and you’re just like, ‘My God, your voice.’ He’s really good.”

More quality time with Blake & the kids this year: “The one thing that I feel like we try to do in quarantine is just really be like, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re going to look back at this three months, these 100 days in lockdown together, homeschooling the kids and cooking and eating tons of carbs’… And having to do our own laundry, having to cook. And I mean all this stuff, clean toilets. And it was a lot, it was a lot of boys, a lot of dirt. But I know that I’m going to look back at it and I already look back at it like it was an amazing thing. It’s just trying to find the beauty in the moment and the good things that are coming out of it.”

[From People]

Yeah, I still enjoy all of this. The California rocker chick, the pop princess, falling for the country music dude-bro with a big ranch in Oklahoma. The rocker chick goes out to the ranch and she finds that she loves that life. I think a lot of it is that Blake has made it easy for her – he clearly adores her too, and he loves helping her raise those three boys, and he supports her career completely. They are great partners for each other. I honestly didn’t know that Gwen is dyslexic, and I like what she says about just thinking about it as a different way to learn, a different kind of education.

Pics courtesy of Gwen’s Instagram.

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28 Responses to “Gwen Stefani learned she has dyslexia when her sons struggled to read”

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  1. ThEHufflepuffLizLemon says:

    I thought this was a faux-mance at first but they clearly adore each other, and after Gavin and Miranda… I’m happy for them.

    • Appalachian says:

      I like how he’s a little bit country and she’s a little bit rock and roll, lol. I think they’ve been good for each other.

  2. FancyPants says:

    Awww this makes me sad for her, that nobody in her school years recognized it and helped her with it. She has done very well for herself despite it, but many people who miss a diagnosis are not so fortunate. The thought of her and Blake (and probably lots of other celebrities) having to figure out how to do routine housework makes me giggle.

    • SamC says:

      I always wonder when I hear comments like that from celebs, did they never have to do chores as kids? Most of them didn’t grow up wealthy. But truth be told, I would be ecstatic if I never had to wash another dish or clean another toilet, and I’m single, lol!

  3. Mle428 says:

    My husband (43) has dyslexia. When they first discovered it, he was in 1st grade. His mom asked what she could do to help him academically, and his teacher said: Well, some people have to grow up to dig ditches.

    Thank God we’ve come a long way since then!

  4. whatever says:

    I think this kind of situation is more common than people realize. So many neurological differences are much better understood now than when we were kids, and they went undiagnosed frequently for us. Plus, frankly, they just weren’t really considered as diagnoses for girls the same way they were for boys. My own daughters have some processing issues, and in going through the lengthy diagnostic process with them I discovered that I actually probably fall on the autism spectrum, too. Their pediatrician told me that autism, along with many learning differences, can look different in girls than in boys, so it frequently goes undiagnosed. We need to do a better job as a society in considering these conditions for young girls so they can get the assistance they need, too.

    • Leigh says:

      Same here! In the autism groups I’m a part of, there are SO many adults that learn about their autism this way.

    • ab says:

      My daughter has autism, but the way it presents in her is stealthy. She has hardly any of the typical behaviors or markers, and we are constantly getting rude comments of disbelief like “oh she doesnt seem autistic” or “I would never have known!” One of her therapists early on when she was a toddler warned us that we would have to really advocate for her, because she is so social and verbal will look at you and smile her giant grin and he said people will assume she understands everything when she is completely lost. We have to make sure she isn’t looked over in the classroom in favor of other kids who are more obviously in need of help.

      • whatever says:

        I’m so sorry. I totally sympathize, though. I could write volumes and volumes about the rude comments we’ve gotten. And my daughters are also identical triplets, which comes with it’s own additional several volumes of dumb and rude comments. People are just so incredibly thoughtless sometimes.

    • Noodle says:

      We have really come so far in better identifying students who are struggling, and finding supports for those kids. When I was a teacher coach, I did a lot of assessments with students who weren’t reading at grade level, usually in the early years. The hope was that by identifying deficiencies, and then providing support and intervention early, we were able to get kids back on track. Every year the kid struggles is a year they fall further and further behind, and often they don’t ever make it back to grade level. So many kids who were low-SES, culturally and linguistically-diverse, or who didn’t come from families with high education levels were the ones who benefitted the most from assessment and intervention, and it changes a lot of lives. Once the stigma is removed, we saw a lot of kids who didn’t have the obstacles in their way of achieving the standards, and those kids excelled. It was always really sad to see kids who were labeled “high risk” go on to fulfill that identity because they didn’t get the support and interventions they needed. A lot of kids who don’t read well end up as “troublemakers” because they try to distract from the reading, and don’t want to be teased. We know a lot about reading development and interventions now, to the point that there is no unreachable kid; it really just takes an informed teacher to recognize the signs, and a caring intervention staff to get the supports to the kids who need them.
      On a personal note… while my kids didn’t struggle with reading, one was very non-neuro typical (profoundly gifted, with a brain that more closely resembled that of a child with autism than an “average” kid) and a child with severe speech delays. My gifted daughter didn’t receive services, but since so many of her teachers were trained on working with children with diverse neurological types, she excelled quite well, until middle school when she came across several teachers who didn’t recognize or appreciate her needs. My son has received intensive speech intervention, and come to find out, he’s profoundly gifted as well, we just couldn’t tell because he was so incomprehensible in his speech. My point in sharing this is that many families have struggles and the help is there. Yes, sometimes there is difficulty in admitting your kid needs help, but those helps are legally required for EVERY child in a K14 school, and I would go so far to say morally required in our duties to educate every child. There is no reason for a child to struggle as much as Gwen did, without intervention and support.

      • whatever says:

        There seems to be a systemic problem with doctors and other professionals simply being dismissive of parents’ concerns when the issue isn’t readily apparent. My kids didn’t have reading or speech delays, so our first (male) pediatrician repeatedly insisted that I was overreacting, that there was nothing wrong with the girls that wouldn’t just sort itself out as they got older. But I spent 24 hours a day with those kids and I was positive something else was going on. And I was right. I had to fight really hard for what my kids needed. It was amazing what happened when I switched from a male pediatrician to a female pediatrician. All of a sudden my daughter’s hearing loss was diagnosed and we were getting referred to all the correct people to help us. Sexism plays a HUGE role in kids not getting what they need.

      • Noodle says:

        @whatever, totally agree. Whenever I would speak to our pediatrician about my sons speech delay, he would always put me off and tell me it was just a delay and he would get better sooner than I realized. It wasn’t until I had him tested that we discovered he was in the bottom 2% for articulation, and he needed immediate intervention. He began services at 3.5, rather than at 2yo. If we began earlier, we probably could have saved him the social and emotional toll of not being able to communicate well, the fear of which still plagues him today. I knew better, and I listened to his doctor. I wish I hadn’t.

      • JanetDR says:

        Putting on my preschool speech pathologist hat to say that we all need to advocate for early testing! If a pediatrician says wait, push for an evaluation anyway – there is no harm in the process and often, just the process of testing and discussion with the evaluators makes some magic happen. In NY state, you do not need a doctor’s approval, just call your county health department for a child less than 3, and the school district for a child 3-5. (Probably similar in other states, but I don’t know for sure).
        You do need a doctor’s approval for a full developmental evaluation (which you would want before Kindergarten if autism spectrum disorder was a concern) but it is easier to get that referral if there are low scores on standardized tests if the doctor was reluctant. The reason it is nice to have that going on to school age is that it makes it easier to get everything your child needs (Like a 1:1 aide) if you have a diagnosis.

      • Noodle says:

        @janetdr, I totally agree and I should have pursued it earlier. I work in tandem with a lot of SLPs, and teach some aspects of phonetic articulation in my college courses. I am not an expert in speech pathology, but I know a lot about it. I should have ignored my Drs advice and had him assessed earlier. I know that now, and it breaks my heart that he suffered for two years before he was able to get the services he needed. I was of the mindset, encouraged by his pediatrician, that he was just going to have the little light go on and start speaking intelligibly one day. It happens so often, where parents are so eager that they judge their kids and seek services when their kid is just a little behind. I didn’t want to be the pushy parent for a kid who’s just a little behind.l and will catch up any day. In my mind, I told myself there’s a range of normal and he’s just on the bottom slope right now, but he’s probably normal. He wasn’t. It wasn’t until he was assessed and his comprehension was at 90% and his articulation was in the bottom 2% that I realized there was a problem. Thankfully, his therapy is working and he’s 98% intelligible now. His teachers understand him, other kids understand him, and he is a normal 6yo for all intents and purposes. I just hate that he suffered for a couple of years and was the “dumb kid” in preschool and was outcasted because the kids couldn’t understand him. It was so sad to watch his little heart break when he would try to speak and other kids ignored him or walked away mid-sentence because he was unintelligible.

      • JanetDR says:

        @Noodle I am so sorry that your concerns weren’t addressed for so long. Doctors can be such good advocates when they are clued in, but that “wait and see” loses precious time as you know. I am glad that you came to a good outcome in the end.

  5. Leigh says:

    This is how a lot of neurodivergent parents are learning of their neurodiversity. I, myself, learned about my autism at the age of 33 when my child was diagnosed with autism. I always had struggles, and the diagnosis made my life make so much more sense. I’m happy for Gwen that she was able to find an answer too and that her sons are getting the support to help them with their dyslexia.

    • Noodle says:

      @leigh, I know several adults who didn’t know they were on the spectrum until adulthood. What was once considered “quirky” or “difficult” in a student, now has a different name, and I appreciate that it doesn’t carry the same stigma. Every time I talk to them about it, they each seem to reflect the idea “it explains so much.”

  6. JillyBean says:

    Kids in school anytime before the mid nineties were basically never diagnosed. I have a slew of friends who have only become aware of their adhd , autism , dyslexia only because of seeing what is being identified with their children in school now. It’s truly amazing— and happily the kids and parents are getting the help they need

  7. FHMom says:

    I’m happy for her. I hope she and Blake last forever. I love her quote about a lot of boys being a lot to clean up after. So true.

  8. Jkely says:

    My sons on a long waiting list to be evaluated for dyslexia and other issues. I see so many of his struggles in myself. I just wonder how my life would have been different/easier if I was able to receive the help he now gets. I’m so happy he’s getting what he needs so that he can thrive.

  9. Juniper says:

    I believe this. Gwen is a little older than me, and I think that unless you were the obvious Dyslexic type they knew about in the 70-80s, you fell through the cracks. Mine wasn’t discovered until I was a junior in college by a TA who was studying it as part of his PhD work. He just happened to be teaching my math class.

  10. Carol says:

    She will fondly look back at cleaning toilets and doing laundry…..must be nice lol

  11. Annaloo. says:

    Hey hey for the people who are not neurotypical! May we see all the colors out there.


  12. Wiglet Watcher says:

    She spoke of this before. She was still married to her ex or they were in early separation. That her brain functioned differently and she was dyslexic.

    Look forward to hear her new stuff. I miss no doubt music.

  13. Ksweet says:

    Just want to say there is a lot of knowledge and compassion for kids in this thread, and it makes me feel more hopeful for humanity. (Need I add, in the age of the Orange Menace and his throngs of hateful minions.) Sending love out to all whose kids are still struggling. I also had two kids who weren’t neurotypical and who were gifted and are now adults and doing great!

  14. Natasha says:

    I’m almost Gwen’s age- I remember the first time I heard “dyslexic” was with Donna on Beverly Hills 90210.
    I have dyslexia, back then schools and parents didn’t know how to help us. I was scolded to study harder. So I developed OCD habits of checking things again and again and again, especially numbers, to make sure theyre right (like when reading my calculator and writing that number on paper lol that should be easy but I mix numbers up)– and that takes so long and slows me down in life. I got good grades eventually but I spent until midnight every night just doing homework.
    I’m glad kids today have school specialists and programs to help them!