May 09, 2018 01:44 AM

Joel McHale reveals that after years of struggling to read, he recently discovered he was dyslexic.

The epiphany came when his son was diagnosed with dyslexia.

“When I started The Soup back in 2004, I was so anxious because I can’t really read, and I had to read teleprompter,” the former The Soup host shared while on pal Dax Shepard‘s podcast, Armchair Expert, this week.

McHale told Shepard – who also has the learning difficulty – that he was forced to “repeated grades” in school but teachers failed to recognize he was dyslexic.

“They literally diagnosed me [as a] slow-starter,” shared McHale, 46, who went on to describe how he eventually got a real medical diagnosis.

“So my sons are also dyslexic,” explained McHale, who shares Isaac, 10, and Edward, 13 with wife Sarah Williams.

Joel McHale with wife Sarah Williams, and their sons Eddie and Isaac in 2012
Michael Buckner/Getty

“One was being diagnosed, and the doctor goes, and she was describing all of the symptoms, and I was like, ‘That’s what I have,'” said the Community alum. “And she goes, ‘Oh I was wondering which one it was because it’s passed down.'”

The actor-comedian revealed that his father also “clearly has dyslexia.” “He would never really admit it for a long time… He can’t remember names just like I can’t,” said McHale, noting that “if it’s just two people I’m fine.”

Joel McHale and Dax Shepard
Slaven Vlasic/Getty; Steve Mack/FilmMagic

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Later on in the podcast, Shepard asked McHale if being “labeled a slow-starter” growing up impacted him as an adult.

“No, I decided not to pursue pop music,” teased McHale before seriously explaining that he “always thought [he] was going to show ’em.”

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“I fought it,” said McHale, who went on to graduate from the University of Washington. “I thought, ‘I know how to get around it.’ So I was always figuring out ways to get around stuff.”

Ultimately, sports gave McHale his “confidence and self-esteem.”

“I mean I knew I was good at sports, and I knew I loved acting and performing, so I really dove into that, and school always became secondary,” explained McHale. “And I knew that I could tell jokes in class, and that always did well.”

He added: “I always excelled in sports, so I knew I had advantages there. That really gave me like confidence and self-esteem.”

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