For more than 30 years, John Zickefoose fooled the world.

By most standards, he was very successful. He owned a business with 20 employees under him, he had a home, two cars, a wife and two sons.

And he couldn’t read or write.

He said he made it through school by knowing just enough to get by. It wasn’t that he didn’t care or wasn’t trying — he just couldn’t keep up.

As a child, he was diagnosed with ADHD, dyslexia and dysgraphia, a condition  that makes it difficult to write. He said teachers tried to help him, but there was a lot less help for children like him when he was growing up.

After years of deceiving people, his 7-year-old son pulled back the curtain on his lies. John, then 35, was sitting reading children’s books with his 7- and 4-year-old sons. His oldest was just learning to read himself and kept correcting John’s mistakes. He says his son wasn’t trying to embarrass him, but it shut John down.

He decided it was time to make a change.

John explains his road to literacy and offers tips for anyone struggling to read and write. Plus, he wants you to look around at your friends and family, and make sure you’re doing all you can to support them.

For more resources, visit ProLiteracy.org.