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Famous people with LD and AD/HD

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By GreatSchools Staff

Explorers and adventurers

Legal and political figures

  • David Boies, a runner-up in 2000 for Time's Man of the Year, is a prestigious lawyer involved in high-profile cases.
  • James Carville is one of the most famous U.S. political consultants. According to E. Clarke Ross, CEO of Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), "Mr. Carville is perhaps one of the best-known people in Washington, and he lives with AD/HD." Carville is also an author, restaurateur, and cohost of radio and television shows. Today he concentrates on international political and corporate consulting.
  • Gavin Newsom is the youngest mayor of San Francisco in 100 years and has dyslexia.
  • Nelson Rockefeller served as governor of New York for 12 years and as vice president of the United States under Gerald Ford.
  • Peter Wright is an attorney and advocate who represents children with special educational needs.

Medical professionals

  • Harvey Cushing, M.D., (1869-1939) a world renowned neurosurgeon, had dyslexia.
  • Helen Taussig, M.D. (1898-1986), was a successful cardiologist who struggled with dyslexia, which made school difficult for her. Even so, she graduated from Johns Hopkins Medical School.
  • Delos Cosgrove, M.D., is a cardiothoracic surgeon, inventor of several medical devices, and CEO of the Cleveland Clinic. He says, "I didn't know I was dyslexic until I was 33 years old. I went all the way through medical school without knowing it."


  • Harry Belafonte is a famous singer, actor, entertainer, and political activist who, even into his seventies, uses his position as a celebrity to promote human rights worldwide.
  • Jon Finn is active in the music business as a musician, songwriter, and engineer/producer.
  • Stephan Jenkins is a former University of California at Berkeley valedictorian and the singer-songwriter for Third Eye Blind, a rock group with two platinum albums to its credit.
  • Jewel is a young pop-music sensation who recently wrote an autobiography of her life growing up in Alaska.
  • Phillip Manuel, one of the country's leading jazz vocalists, was diagnosed with AD/HD in 2000 and says only then did his life journey begin to make sense to him.
  • Bob Weir, a guitarist and vocalist, formerly with the Grateful Dead, is now bandleader of RatDog.

Scientists, engineers, and technology experts

  • Engineer and inventor William "Bill" Hewlett (1913-2001) co-founded with David Packard the Hewlett-Packard Company in 1939, which became the second-largest computer company in the world.
  • Dr. John (Jack) Horner is a famous paleontologist, or dinosaur expert, who advised Steven Spielberg on films such as Jurassic Park and The Lost World.
  • Don Johnston, CEO of Don Johnston, Inc. His mission is to support diverse learners with proven instructional models, effective literacy strategies, and innovative technologies to help them reach grade-level performance.
  • John Roberts, CEO and co-founder of SugarCRM, is seen as a pioneer in commercial open-source software applications that businesses use for tasks such as managing sales and keeping track of customers.
  • Richard Rogers, one of Britain's most-admired architects, is known for his many stunning buildings and his pioneering views on sustainable cities.
  • Bill Wilson, a fire investigator with a "seventh sense," has a reputation for solving the unsolvable in car crash mysteries.

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"