I thought this was a kind of cool article from Understood.org, a website I favor when reading up on learning disabilities: who has them, how to cope with them, and lessons learned from them.

In their own words, Understood says: “Parents want the best for their children.  We do, too.  For the first time ever, 15 nonprofit organizations have joined forces to support parents of the one in five children with learning and attention issues throughout their journey.  With the right support, parents can help children unlock their strengths and reach their full potential.  With state-of-the-art technology, personalized resources, free daily access to experts, a secure online community, practical tips and more, Understood aims to be that support.”

Though I’m not a parent per se, I have found Understood’s articles to be very helpful for my work with Toa and the children we meet who present some of these problems.  This piece takes American celebrities with a variety of learning difficulties and shares quotes from their challenges and triumphs.  It’s a nice reminder that learning difficulties are one of life’s great equalizers and even people who might seemingly have it all have often struggled to reach the point in life where they have achieved success.  Enjoy!


1.) Orlando Bloom, actor

“If you have kids who are struggling with dyslexia, the greatest gift you can give them is the sense that nothing is unattainable.  With dyslexia comes a very great gift, which is the way that your mind can think creatively.”

2.) Will.I.Am, musician

“You’re always moving and thinking about a whole bunch of things.  But those traits work well for me in studios and in meetings about creative ideas.  If you listen to the songs I write, they are the most ADHD songs ever.  They have five hooks in one and it all happens in three minutes.  I figured out a way of working with it.”

3.) Tim Tebow, athlete

“It has nothing to do with how intelligent you are.  You can be extremely bright and still have dyslexia.  You just have to understand how you learn and how you process information.  When you know that, you can overcome a lot of the obstacles that come with dyslexia.  When you figure out how you learn, you can accomplish whatever you want.”

4.) Whoopi Goldberg, actor

“They thought I was lazy so they put me in the slow class.  But my mom was a Head Start teacher, and she told me, ‘You’re not slow, you’re just different.'”

5.) Ty Pennington, TV personality

“That’s the other thing: Even if you’re on medication, you still have to treat your body properly and take care of yourself.  The idea that [ADHD] goes away or you grow out of it isn’t true.”

6.) Henry Winkler, actor

“Somebody asked me if I could go back and start again with a different brain, would I.  Years ago I thought yes, I would, and now I know I wouldn’t.  Because whatever challenges I had in school, I guess they forced me to where I am today.  So I now see them as an asset.”

7.) Richard Branson, businessman

“Perhaps my early problems with dyslexia made me more intuitive: When someone sends me a written proposal, rather than dwelling on detailed facts and figures, I find that my imagination grasps and expands on what I read.”

8.) Salma Hayek, actor

“I’m really a fast learner.  I always was, which is maybe why in high school they didn’t realize I had dyslexia.  I skipped years without studying too much.  [The dyslexia] doesn’t bother me now.  Some people read really fast, but you’ll ask them questions about the script and they’ll forget.  I take a long time to read a script, but I read it only once.”

9.) Michael Phelps, athlete

“When I’m focused, there is not one single thing, person, anything that can stand in the way of my doing something.  There is not.  If I want something bad enough, I feel I’m gonna get there.”