Celebrities With Dyslexia and Other LDs
Pop quiz: What do football player Tim Tebow, actress Whoopi Goldberg, CEO Richard Branson and singer Cher have in common?
If you said they’ve all accomplished incredible things, you’re right. 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. Rather than limit himself, da Vinci used his strengths to forge an indelible legacy. Dr. Sheldon Horowitz of NCLD puts it this way: “Based on what we know of [da Vinci], he—like so many people with LD—stood out as different from his peers but was able to structure his life around his strengths and unique capabilities. He had an extraordinary sense of visual-spatial planning, which we have come to appreciate as a characteristic of many people with dyslexia. He could write frontwards, backwards and up and down, and his ability to create wildly imaginative drawings of inventions maps onto how we perceive some many of our kids with LD and ADHD today.”
Famous People With Dyslexia is the most common LD, and many casual observers might not know just how many famous men and women are among those affected by it.
For example, 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. Harry Belafonte is best known for bringing tunes like “Day-O” into the world, but he, too, has dyslexia.
And those worried that they or their children may be ostracized for their learning disabilities should take heart: Henry Winkler, none other than the Fonz himself (young people reading this: if you haven’t heard of him, ask your parents), also has the condition. That’s right: the coolest person in the world has dyslexia. Aaay!
Other well-known individuals with dyslexia come from all fields and walks of life: Olympian Bruce Jenner won a gold medal in the decathlon. 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.
Celebrities With Other Learning Disabilities and Related Disorders Many eminent figures have struggled with conditions other than dyslexia. Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), while not a learning disability, frequently appears in combination with various learning disabilities and is a common condition. In fact, roughly one-third of people with LD also have ADHD.
Versatile actor Jim Carrey dealt with both ADHD and dyslexia as a young man, but that didn’t stop him from exceling in a profession that involves reading and memorizing long scripts. And singer Florence Welch of the band Florence and the Machine is best known for hits like “The Dog Days are Over”—you remember it from the previews of Eat Pray Love—but has dealt with both dyslexia and dyspraxia, a neurological disorder that affects movement and coordination, from a young age.
That’s not to mention historical figures who overcame LD before “LD” was officially documented. Many experts contend Agatha Christie may have had from dysgraphia, a disorder often associated with dyslexia that affects writing, spelling, and organizing numbers, letters, and words on a page. Despite her notoriously messy penmanship, she became one of the world’s best-known mystery writers.
If there’s one lesson to take from all of these inspiring figures, it’s that learning disabilities do not mean a lack of ability. No matter what LD challenges you or your loved ones are facing, there is no limit to the heights your child can reach with your encouragement, hard work, a positive attitude and the right services and supports.
Dyslexia at MIT
Y is a third-year undergraduate student at MIT, a math major and one of only five current MIT undergraduate students from the United Kingdom. To have gotten to MIT she had to face not only the 3.7% international admit rate, but also dyslexia, a learning disorder that prevents her from reading and writing as quickly and effectively as most of her peers.
Third Grade Emerges as Key to Student Success
SALT LAKE CITY — By the third grade, students are expected to be reading to learn, not learning to read.
But with a troubling number of students failing to meet that expectation, the third grade has emerged as ground zero for educational reform and student improvement.
In Utah, third-grade scores are a key component of the state’s educational goals, and nationally, states have passed legislation geared toward third-grade proficiency and more and more are looking toward the controversial option of holding back students who underperform.