Famous People with Learning Disabilities

(Adapted from National Center for Learning Disabilities)

What do football player Tim Tebow, actress Whoopi Goldberg, CEO Richard Branson, and singer Cher have in common?

We know they are famous for their accomplishments. But they also all have dyslexia, a language-based learning disability. They’re defined by their achievements, not by their learning disabilities.

While there was no official documentation for learning disabilities prior to the 1960s, we can imagine that this pattern has held true throughout history. For instance, many experts believe that Leonardo da Vinci had LD. He could write frontwards, backwards and up and down, and his ability to create wildly imaginative drawings of inventions fits with how we perceive many kids today with LD and ADHD.

Director Steven Spielberg has dyslexia. “When I felt like an outsider, movies made me feel inside my own skill set,” he’s said of his LD journey.

Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps has ADHD. So does singer Justin Timberlake, singer Adam Levine and actor Ryan Gosling.

Henry Winkler,  “The Fonz” is dyslexic. “If there was one word that I would pass on to all children, it would be tenacity,” he said.”What your school abilities are, and how you perceive your dreams are two very different things.”

Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad’s creative names for types of furniture partially resulted from his trouble remembering traditional product numbers. Newscaster Anderson Cooper is among America’s most admired television personalities. Designer Tommy Hilfiger has had a tremendous influence on the fashion world. Racecar driver Stan Wattles enjoyed a successful Indy Racing League career. Chef Jamie Oliver has become a television star and a crusader for healthier school foods. Three-time NBA Most Valuable Player Magic Johnson mesmerized fans with his grace on the court. Investor Charles Schwab founded one of the world’s largest and most successful banking companies. This list could continue at length: Actors Alyssa Milano, Liv Tyler, Salma Hayek, Danny Glover, and Keira Knightly, activist Erin Brockovich, and comedian Jay Leno are just a few more of the success stories.