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
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.