ABC Afterschool Specials (1972–1997)
8 user

Backwards: The Riddle of Dyslexia 

13-year-old boy has problems reading, which his teachers attribute to laziness. It is later discovered that he has Dyslexia.


Alexander Grasshoff (as Alex Grashoff)


Arthur Heinemann (teleplay by), Franklin Thompson (story by)




Episode cast overview:
Madge Sinclair ... Miss Tomas
River Phoenix ... Brian Ellsworth
Judy Farrell Judy Farrell ... Barbara Ellsworth
Joaquin Phoenix ... Robby Ellsworth (as Leaf Phoenix)
Stephanie Evans Stephanie Evans ... Kim
Sharon Anderson Sharon Anderson
Charles Theodore Bates III Charles Theodore Bates III
Daniel Davies Daniel Davies
Bo Kaprall Bo Kaprall ... Walter Ellsworth
Peter Moore
Shirley Venard ... (as Shirley Venard-Diercks)
Jack Walsh Jack Walsh


13-year-old boy has problems reading, which his teachers attribute to laziness. It is later discovered that he has Dyslexia.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

7 March 1984 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Dynamic between Kim Stone and River Phoenix
16 April 2001 | by rioSee all my reviews

I am a student of West Montana College and ran across this TV-movie at the library. I consider myself a huge river phoenix fan and was shocked there was a part of his filmography that I had not seen.

Although, just an after-school special, his talent was obvious at even that tender age. The performances by all the young stars in the film were impressive. Leaf (Joaquin) was easily convincing as his brother (ha ha) and the performance by Stephanie Evans as his tutor, Kim Stoner, was terrific as well. The dynamic between Stephanie and River was central to the serious message conveyed by this "masterpiece." Does anyone know what happened to this young actress? She's probably on tour with Nsync somewhere!!

Anyway, this piece is a must-have for any River, Leaf or Stephanie fan.

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