Learning disabilities are a problem for a large percentage of society. People are forced to overcome various types of obstacles in order to find success. These issues are often diagnosed when youngsters are children and they are forced into special education programs in an attempt of beating their disability. However, sometimes, children find themselves suffering through these disabilities without any diagnosis or help. This leads to them getting made fun of and having a very difficult time with their schoolwork. This can be an extremely difficult, frustrating and trying time for a child growing up. The disabilities can greatly retard any growth they hope to achieve and make them susceptible to a lot of other issues. Learning disabilities can range from simple attention deficit disorder all the way to autism. The grip of a learning disability can be overwhelming and is a lot for a child to overcome.
Celebrities are no different from any regular person. Many of them have had to overcome similar situations and disabilities to that of any normal everyday Joe. The extraordinary part of the celebrity journey is that in beating the odds and their disability, they have been able to find great success in the face of great obstacles. It’s not easy when you have to deal with dyslexia or overcome social anxieties. The celebrities on this list not only found extraordinary success, they did in spite of the disabilities that made their childhoods much more difficult. Some of the disabilities actually contributed to these people’s successes.
These are 10 Celebrities Who Overcame A Learning Disability.
10. Tim Burton – Asperger’s Syndrome
If you have ever seen a Tim Burton movie then you know he is one of the most creative minds in Hollywood. The man who gave us Beetlejuice and over half of Johnny Depp‘s career films has been working as one of the greatest minds around. His carefully constructed Nightmare Before Christmas is a classic film that’ll go down in history as one of the greatest creative achievements of all time. Edward Scissorhands is another creative triumph for the very interesting director. His wife Helen Bonham Carter noticed that her husband has numerous symptoms and similarities to Asperger’s Syndrome. Burton has since come through the realization that he has Asperger’s and is on the autism spectrum. We are happy that the disability never slowed this creative genius down.
9. Justin Timberlake – ADHD
Justin Timberlake is a huge star. From music to movies, Justin Timberlake has put his stamp on the entertainment industry. For JT it began at a young age as a Disney Mouseketeer. He was always talented but needed an outlet for his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Suffering from ADHD can cause a lot of kids to be distracted and a whole mountain of issues. But Timberlake was able to channel his energy and overcome his disability by focusing and being driven. He started to go on auditions to sing and dance. His parents were very supportive of the creative outlet which allowed Timberlake the ability to bypass some of his learning challenges. Clearly JT has not looked back for his career continues to soar and his disability is a thing of the past.
8. Anderson Cooper – Dyslexia
Anderson Cooper is one of the four most respected newsmen in the business. He regularly anchors coverage on CNN from a variety of shows including one that carries his namesake. Anderson Cooper is not only extremely bright and talented but he has carried with him the disability of dyslexia all his life. The fact that he’s been such a successful news anchor is extraordinary in light of his learning disability. Considering you need to read teleprompters and go through thousands upon thousands of pages of news and books to be at the level Anderson Cooper has risen to shows just how strong the man truly is. He never let his learning disability get him down. Bravo Anderson.
7. Whoopie Goldberg – Dyslexia
From films like Jumpin’ Jack Flash to later blockbusters like Sister Act, Whoopie Goldberg has been a very successful female comedian/actress in Hollywood. She has found success as a woman in an industry and at a time when it was tough to break the gender gap when it comes to comedy. She and her pals Billy Crystal and Robin Williams (sadly now passed on) used to host the wildly successful Comic Relief which was a who’s-who of celebrities who performed for the wonderful cause of helping those in need. Whoopie herself is someone who has had to overcome personal obstacles in her life. She was diagnosed with dyslexia. Whoopie wasn’t diagnosed at a young age and kids used to call her dumb in school. She felt “retarded” in a way. But despite being made fun of for struggling with this childhood ailment, Whoopie has had the last laugh. She is one of only 10 people to win an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and the Tony Award. Well done, Whoopie.
6. Daniel Radcliffe – Dyspraxia
Harry Potter can seemingly do almost anything. His wizardry is unfathomable, and Daniel Radcliffe brought the amazing character to life in the movie series sharing the same name. But Radcliffe, with all the talent he has and the amazing things we’ve seen on camera, suffers from a neurological disorder called dyspraxia. The disorder causes Radcliffe to sometimes have difficulty with the basic task of tying his shoes. It also makes him appear “klutzy” at times. Dyspraxia can also effect any or all areas of development, including and not limited to: intellectual, physical and language. It can even possibly impair someone’s normal learning process. Despite this challenge, Radcliffe was able to win favor as he was the perfect unassuming character to play the perfectly unassuming Harry Potter.
5. Stephen Spielberg – Dyslexia
Steven Spielberg is one of the greatest directors to ever walk the face of the earth. He has created such masterpieces as Jaws, Jurassic Park, E.T. and has won many awards along the way while doing it. Spielberg has been successful all his life despite dealing with dyslexia as a child. As a child, he used to get bullied, in large part, because of his disability. Spielberg was a full two years behind everyone in school in reading. He wouldn’t find out until later in life what his disability was, but with supportive parents, he said it helped guide him. “Movies saved me,” Spielberg has stated. He was able to throw his creativity right into films which helped him find a positive outlet. He is proof that suffering from a learning disability did not stop his creative aspirations as he rose to the top of his field and is one of the greatest directors of all time.
4. Henry Winkler – Dyslexia
Henry Winkler, better known as Arthur Fonzarelli or “The Fonz” to many fans, has lived with dyslexia all his life. The successful actor, producer and director has had a phenomenal career in the entertainment industry. Being an actor requires you to read and memorize many, many lines. Winkler had a lot of trouble in school during his younger years. “I didn’t read a book myself until I was 31,” Winkler stated. He now has written books about dyslexia and tours the country in support of educating parents and kids about learning disabilities. “My parents thought I was lazy. They called me lazy. People called me stupid.” Winkler had a difficult childhood and an undiagnosed learning disability. Being an actor not only allows you to memorize dialogue, it gives room to improvise. That is where Winkler excelled and it allowed him to find a great deal of success.
3. Keira Knightly – Dyslexia
Keira Knightly is known by many as a beautiful British actress who has appeared in such successful films Pirates of the Caribbean and a string of successful independent films. She has a taste for the dramatic. But growing up, Knightly was forced to overcome a different kind of drama, the inability to read and write correctly. She suffered from dyslexia. Her parents worked tirelessly to try and help their daughter overcome the learning disability they never knew she had. At the same time, Knightly enjoyed acting because she got to memorize lines. Knightly has said since one of the main reasons she enjoyed acting so much was her difficulty in school and with reading. Although dyslexia can be a terrible learning disability for some, it drove Knightly right into acting and she hasn’t looked back since.
2. Daryl Hannah – Asperger’s Syndrome
Actress Daryl Hannah is best known for playing a beautiful sexy mermaid in the Tom Hanks’ hit Splash. But there’s one thing people never realized about Hannah. She suffers from Asperger’s syndrome. Asperger’s is a very difficult disability that can cause a variety of issues including social awkwardness and anxiety. Hannah has been quoted as saying she struggled greatly with trying to go to public events like the Academy Awards and other functions which made her nearly come to tears. Hannah seemed to burst onto the scene with such success but then quickly faded away. One big cause of this is probably social anxiety, which is a symptom of her Asperger.
1. Dan Aykroyd – Asperger’s Syndrome
Funny man Dan Aykroyd is a comedy legend who has teamed up with some of the best funny minds in Hollywood to create some memorable movies. From co-starring with John Candy in the Great Outdoors to Bill Murray in the Ghostbusters series, Dan Aykroyd has had a tremendous impact on our lives through film. But Aykroyd’s success was not easy. He often shows some nervous ticks that display his hidden disability. He also has an analytical mind that is showcased in many of his film roles. These behaviors are no coincidence as Aykroyd is on the autism spectrum. Suffering from Asperger’s, Aykroyd has dealt with his disability all his life and is another proven success story.