21 People Who Succeeded Despite a Learning Disability

21 People Who Succeeded Despite a Learning Disability

Encourage your child by sharing the stories of famous personalities who’ve succeeded despite a Learning Disability or ADHD. For kids with learning disabilities (LD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), school can be cause for anxiety.

“In the course of childhood and adolescence, school experiences play an important role in the development of self-perceptions and can have powerful and long-term effects on a child’s self-esteem,” say experts Batya Elbaum, Ph.D. and Sharon Vaughn, Ph.D.

“Individuals with learning disabilities (LD),” they point out, “are especially vulnerable to low self-concept … and it is clear that students with LD often experience academic challenges that can drain self-esteem.”

Hans Christian Anderson

Is known around the world for his many fairy tales, including “The Ugly Duckling,” “The Red Shoes” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” He struggled with math because of dyscalculia. Yet he had a talent for writing fairy tales that was extraordinary.

Ann Bancroft

Earned national recognition for exploring the Arctic and Antarctic. Despite struggles with a learning disability and ADHD in her youth, she became the first woman to successfully complete these incredible expeditions, resulting in several awards, including inductee into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Ludwig van Beethoven

Is one of the world’s greatest musicians of all time. In addition to becoming deaf, it’s believed that he had both ADHD and dyslexia. During his life, he wrote major orchestral pieces, piano sonatas, symphonies and even an opera.

Agatha Christie

Had a phenomenal writing career. Despite having dyslexia, she wrote many romance novels under a pseudonym and 66 detective novels under her real name. More than 100,000,000 of her books have been sold throughout the world in more languages than the works of Shakespeare.

Tom Cruise

His outstanding success as an actor has made him one of the biggest names in Hollywood. Today, he is unable to read because of severe dyslexia. Still, he successfully memorizes his lines with the assistance of a coach. Some of his numerous box office hits include “Rain Man” and “Mission: Impossible.”

Charles Darwin

Is highly regarded for his two books on natural selection, known as the theory of evolution. He was completely disinterested in school as a child, received poor grades and was often absorbed in his thoughts, and therefore, he is suspected of having had ADHD. His travels around the globe collecting and studying plant and animal species led to his discoveries.

Thomas Edison

Is perhaps the most famous inventor of all time. When he was young, his curiosity and practical jokes frequently got him into trouble. Today, he would likely be diagnosed with ADHD. His many inventions include a telephone, the phonograph, an alkaline battery and the light bulb. In total, he had over 1,000 patents for inventions.

Albert Einstein

Was a mathematical genius. He didn’t learn to talk until he was three, and it is suggested by some that he struggled with dyscalculia, dysgraphia, dyslexia and word finding. Einstein won the Nobel Prize for his quantum theory and is most renowned for his theory of relativity. As a humanitarian, he also worked toward justice and peace.

Danny Glover

Is an actor, producer and box office success, as well as a humanitarian and activist. He was unable to read or write when he graduated from high school because of dyslexia, which went unrecognized until adulthood. “Lethal Weapon” and “The Color Purple” are a couple of major hits Glover starred in. He also has received an honorary doctorate from San Francisco State University.

Tracey Gold

Is known to many as Carol Seaver from the 1980s TV series “Growing Pains.” She has starred in many films, including “All Hallows’ Eve.” Gold struggled in school with attention problems and processing information and was eventually diagnosed with ADHD. In 1995, she was awarded the part of a woman with ADHD in the movie “Sleep, Baby, Sleep.”

Whoopie Goldberg

Became an instant star when she debuted in “The Color Purple.” Her high energy, stemming from ADHD, led her to begin performing on stage at the age of 8. She has won the Golden Globe for best actress and was even nominated for an Oscar. She lives by her advice, “No matter what you do … just give it your best shot!”

Earvin “Magic” Johnson

And his remarkable talent helped the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team to win five championships. His difficulties with reading and ADHD didn’t keep him from making a name for himself. He won seven MVP awards during his career, among many other achievements.

Greg Louganis

Is considered by many “the greatest diver of all time.” He struggled with reading in school and was unaware he had dyslexia until college. He has achieved several Olympic gold medals, 47 national championship titles and numerous other recognitions, including that of five-time world champion.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Is one of the greatest composers of all time. His intense focus is likely to have been caused by ADHD. He composed numerous symphonies, including operas, piano concertos, violin sonatas, string quartets and symphonies totaling over 600 works.

Isaac Newton

Became a famous mathematician and natural philosopher. As a boy, he daydreamed and did poorly on his schoolwork. Still, his single-mindedness soared him to the top of his class when he strove to academically surpass the school bully. He is most remembered for his work in the area of gravitation.

Louis Pasteur

Is known as one of the world’s greatest scientists. Regardless of having dysgraphia and dyslexia, he made important contributions by discovering how germs cause disease, as well as discovering vaccines. A center for the study of disease, the Pasteur Institute, was founded in his name.

Charles Schwab

Founded Charles Schwab & Company, a discount brokerage that is a leader in online trading. He has dyslexia and still finds reading unbearable, but has excelled through the assistance of computers and dictation. He and his wife, Helen, founded the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, which invests in educational and other services for students with learning and attention difficulties.

Mark Twain

Is perhaps America’s best-known satirist. As a boy, his adventurous ways, believed to have been caused by ADHD, frequently got him into trouble and even danger. His way with words led him into journalism. He eventually authored the American classics, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

Werner Von Braun

Developed the Saturn rocket and pioneered the space shuttle concept. He struggled in math and, having ADHD, often daydreamed in class of someday flying to other planets. His daydreams came close to reality when Von Braun later became a rocket engineer. He led the team that sent the first U.S. artificial satellite into orbit.

George Washington

Is known as “the Father of Our Country” because of his strong character and leadership qualities. He always struggled with spelling and his use of grammar. However, it didn’t keep him from leading the Continental Army in the American Revolution – or from becoming the first president of the United States.

Robin Williams

Was one of America’s best-loved comedians and actors. His hyperactivity, resulting from ADHD, worked to his advantage, leading to parts in 27 movies during the 1990s alone. “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Jumanji” are a couple of his major hits.


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