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Famous people with LD and AD/HD

Could you and your child use a little inspiration? Read about famous folks who overcame the challenges of LD and AD/HD.

By GreatSchools Staff

Did you know that many successful and famous people grew up with learning disabilities (LD) and/or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD)? Actor Danny Glover, business leader Charles Schwab, and Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, to name a few, are all inspirations. Talk with your child about some of these successful people whose interests he shares or whose accomplishments he may admire. This will help him understand that he's not alone with his struggles and will foster hope for his future goals.

Note: You may notice that we haven't included some of the people mentioned on other lists of people suspected of having LD and/or AD/HD. While they may have struggled with certain aspects of learning, we can't confirm that they had a specific disability because they lived before these diagnostic categories came into use.

Look for information about successful people with LD and/or AD/HD, in the following categories:

Artists and artisans

  • Chuck Close is one of the nation's most celebrated contemporary artists.
  • Andrew Dornenberg, an award-winning chef, says that cooking "saved" him from his struggle with dyslexia.
  • Sculptor Robert Graham struggled with dyslexia. His wife, actress Anjelica Huston explains, "Robert didn't realize he had a form of dyslexia until his own son was diagnosed. But Robert's artistic gift immeasurably outstripped his difficulty."
  • Tommy Hilfiger is an internationally known fashion designer.
  • Robert Rauschenberg was a multimedia artist who had significant influence in the world of modern art and was even called the "Picasso of the 21st century."
  • Mackenzie Thorpe, a world-famous painter, urges people at an exhibit of his work to "stop looking with your eyes and see with your feelings."
  • Acclaimed artist Robert Toth has had paintings, sculptures, and bronzes on display in museums throughout the world, including the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.
  • Acclaimed artist Willard Wigan is the creator of the smallest works of art on earth. He is emerging as the most celebrated micro-miniaturist of all time.


Comments from readers

"i luve this it tells so much!!! "
"gud list!! "
"this was a very interesting:) "
"Hello... one of the greatest minds this world has ever known was a severe dyslexic - ALBERT EINSTEIN! His dyslexia was so bad that he had to paint his front door bright red so that he could find his house (no joke!). The guy could get lost in a paper bag - but he was by far one of the most amazing scientists and mathematicians the 20th century has ever known. Also, the dearly departed Stephen J. Cannel – novel, TV, and screen writer. "
"My son has a great time reading through this list. He realizes he is not the only one, and said "I could do any of these things!". Thank you so much for compiling this list. "
"@ 03/10/2010: Women with ADHD : Salma Hayek (on this list aswell), Liv Tyler, Karina Smirnoff, Scout Taylor-Compton, Hilary Duff, Madeline Zima, Emma Watson."
"I have a learning disability and it was cool to see that many people who are very successful became successful even though they are living with a learning disability"
"As an ADHD adult Special Ed teacher I LOVE feeling like I belong to a community. I know how my students feel when the meds are missed. My students struggle to belong, as I always did."
"WHERE are the FAMOUS WOMEN with adhd or learning disabilities?????? I am looking for role models for my daughter."
"this whole web site could be done alot better and you need 2 add more people on here that have a learning disablitys u was not @ much help 2 me sorry and ty 4 ur time"
"I'm a retired teacher, but I taught children with dyslexia for several years. I used a program called 'Sounds in Syllables' and the children made grreat progress in reading, writing and spelling. They can learn to read, but it takes time and patience."
"Isnt is sad that so many are disquallified as intelligent because of societies need to punnish illiteracy.All Stars and then some on this List magnificent!"
"I really do love this, I now feel better about myself, and its good to know that even famous people have learing problems too. thanks "
"Henry Winkler (the Fonz or Arthur Fonzarelli) also writes books for children. His 'Hank Zipzer' series is for grades 3 - 5 and deals with a young boy with learning disabilities. Good series, looks like quite a few. They're funny and definitely on the level for that age group. Here's the character's website if anyone's interested: Does state that Henry too dealt with learning issues. "
"I love this this list! But I don't think it is necessary to label children as LD and/or AD/HD. They way I see it, every child has genius, but schools are only concerned with academic success. If a child does not measure up academically, then they are put to shame and given a label. The good news is that academic success and success in the real world are two different things, and anyone is capable of the latter, regardless of how they did in school. Every person on this list is fortunate that they had enough confidence in themselves, despite their failures in school. Many students in similar situations would simply believe what they are told - that they will fail because of their academic lack, and thus not even try. So many more children would be better off if they were appreciated for the genius that they have, rather than put to shame for the genius they don't. -Heather Martinson"
"This is a fabulous list, many thanks for compiling it. "
"its amazing all the knowlege I can find on this page.....I work for kids with disabilities....and help me a lot in my labor.thanks.. by the way I read all the famous people you got here you know Joss Stone (sensation famous british singer) is dislexic? could you add her on your list? thanks a lot"