23 Stars Who Have Struggled with Learning Disabilities
by Effie Orfanides
Sure, famous people appear to be living on easy street now, but it hasn’t always been that simple for some of them. Plenty of stars suffer or have suffered from learning disabilities just like many other people. Whether they struggle with ADHD, dyslexia, or another disorder, these celebrities all know what it’s like to struggle with a basic learning skill at some point or another.
The “SexyBack” singer has admitted to suffering from a combination of ADD and OCD. While it doesn’t seem to have slowed down his music or his acting career, he does feel the need to keep things lined up in a certain way.
Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe was diagnosed with dyspraxia at age 19 and has suffered from the neurological disorder for much of his life. Sometimes called a “motor learning disability,” dyspraxia affects motor skills, preventing Radcliffe from tying his shoes with ease. The disorder is often accompanied by more traditional learning disorders: ADHD, ADD, or dyslexia.
The Pirates of the Caribbean star also knows what it’s like to struggle with dyslexia. When she was younger, her mom had her spend extra time reading, and she was able to do better in school because of the practice.
Funny man Howie Mandel suffers from both ADHD and OCD. Although he has struggled with both conditions his whole life, he wasn’t able to really adapt until he was in his forties. He says he prefers to do shows where he can move around to help cope with the ADHD and is well known for the “fist bump,” which helps his fear of germs.
Vince Vaughn is one of many stars diagnosed with ADD and dyslexia. The actor struggled in school, but his dad refused to medicate him. Vaughn says that he was forced to work harder in his classes and career to overcome these challenges.
Former Tonight Show host Jay Leno is dyslexic but doesn’t mind working hard to overcome it. “Everybody has something,” he says. “My mother would always say to me, ‘You’re just going to have to work a little harder than the other kids to get exactly the same thing.’ And that’s an approach that I’ve always used in my life.”
The Matrix star Keanu Reeves is also dyslexic. He often moved around as a kid and had trouble reading, which made school very difficult: “I wasn’t a good student,” Reeves told Handbag magazine. “I didn’t finish high school. I did a lot of pretending as a child. It was my way of coping with the fact that I didn’t really feel like I fit in.”
Handyman Ty Pennington had ADHD when he was a kid. He has spoken openly about his former struggle but says he was able to achieve excellence in school with the help of medication.
The Brady Bunch star wasn’t diagnosed with ADHD until he was 39 years old. He has gotten treatment and has turned his diagnosis into a way to help others. He did so by joining the National Consumer League‘s ADHD campaign.
Diagnosed with dyslexia when he was 7 years old, Bloom has struggled with reading his entire life. He doesn’t let it get in the way of his acting, however. “The gift of dyslexia,” Bloom said, “was that I learned everything forward and backward, inside out, so I was fully prepared. I had to learn everything so that I wouldn’t have stage fright or the lines wouldn’t fall out of my mind.”
In 2013, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver claimed to never have read a book because of his dyslexia. He did, however, overcome the obstacle as an adult and read his very first book cover to cover. It was The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
The View host knows what it’s like to have difficulty reading as she has suffered from dyslexia since childhood. Whoopi Goldberg says that she was called “dumb” when she was younger but that she knew better than to believe that.
The famed filmmaker was bullied in school because of his dyslexia. Although he wasn’t formally diagnosed until he was 60, he has found comfort in knowing that he’s not alone in the struggle.
He might be a master of the pool—he has 22 Olympic medals, 18 of them gold—but USA swimming champion Michael Phelps actually used swimming to help curb the symptoms of ADHD.
Famed football quarterback Tim Tebow suffers from dyslexia. As you can imagine, reading a play book can be difficult for someone with this disorder. Tebow says he often makes flashcards to help him learn.
The superstar singer also suffers from dyslexia. She admits that she learned a lot by listening. Her dyslexia still plagues her today, but it doesn’t stop her from keeping up an active Twitter presence. “ITS TRUE IM DYSLEXIC & some of u have a problem following me !” Cher tweeted. “I am who i am! Dyslexia is no joke! If i had Some1 twt 4 me whats the point”
Actor Sylvester Stallone also suffers from dyslexia, but he overcame his disability to write and star in beloved classics like Rocky and Rambo and become one of the most-highest-paid actors of all time.
The late great actor and comedian suffered from ADHD, which was diagnosed at a young age. But he was able to use his sense of humor to persevere.
The CNN journalist got help for his dyslexia when he was just a boy. He says that he chose to read books that he really liked, which helped him develop a love for reading and kept him dedicated to overcoming the challenges he faced.
Another star diagnosed with dyslexia (though at an older age), actor Henry Winkler has put his struggle to good use. Since reading his first book in his thirties, Winkler has written books about kids suffering from the disorder.
The Beatles member is one of the biggest stars to suffer from dyslexia. Although Lennon became frustrated in school, his love of music and the arts got him through.
The athlete-turned-sports analyst has suffered from ADHD his whole life. He has been able to keep the disorder in check, though, and has had a very successful career as a result.
Danny Glover is among the stars diagnosed with dyslexia. He worked hard to become an actor and was able to do so because of his dedication to overcoming this obstacle.