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Celebrities With Dyslexia Or ADHD


The single most important implication of research in dyslexia is not ensuring that we don’t derail the development of a future Leonardo or Edison; it’s making sure that we don’t miss the potential of any child. Not all children with dyslexia have extraordinary talents but everyone of them has a unique potential that all too often goes unrealized because we don’t know how to tap it.


- Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf

Celebrities with Dyslexia and/or ADHD

Whoopi Goldberg

Comedian, Actor, Talk show host

She has won a Grammy, an Academy Award, and Emmy and a Tony Award. She says that thinking differently has been a factor in helping her succeed.

Steven Spielberg

Legendary film director

School administrators thought he was lazy and he was bullied by his classmates. He wasn’t diagnosed with dyslexia until his 60’s and says, “ finding out as an adult that I have dyslexia was like the last puzzle piece to a great mystery that I’ve kept to myself.”

Justin Timberlake

Singer, Songwriter, Actor

He was diagnosed with ADHD as a child and was bullied in school before he became a Mouseketeer and movie star.


Academy award-winning actress and Grammy-winning singer

She struggled in school with undiagnosed learning differences. She didn’t find out about her dyslexia until she took her child to get evaluated.

Octavia Spencer

Won an Academy Award and Golden Globe for her acting

She is also an author of children’s books. She recalls how scared she was as a child when she had to read aloud in class. She stresses that dyslexia shouldn’t prevent kids from pursuing their dreams. “ It doesn’t really  mean that you’re not intelligent – it just means that your brain functions differently,” she has said.

Tim Tebow

Star athlete , Winner of the Heisman Trophy

His father and brother also have dyslexia. He was diagnosed in elementary school and learned to “work around” his reading difficulties. He said, “ It has to do with finding out how you learn.”

Michael Phelps

Swimmer, Olympic gold medal winner

He has ADHD and was hyperactive as a child. “ I was always the kid who was running around. I literally couldn’t sit still.” His mother used his love of swimming to help him focus.

Henry Winkler

Actor, Director, Author

Like some dyslexics, Henry struggles with both math and reading. He has  co-authored  the best -selling Hank Zipzer children’s series whose main character struggles with learning differences but doesn’t let them get in the way of his dreams. Henry also visits school to talk about learning differences.

Keira Knightley


She was diagnosed with dyslexia at age 6. She used her love of acting to help motivate her to read. Keira “struck a deal” with her parents that if she worked on her reading every day, they would agree to hire her an agent. She made good on her half of the bargain, using movie scripts to practice reading. She went on to become one of Hollywood’s highest-earning actresses.

Lisa Ling

Award-winning TV journalist

She struggled in school from the time she was a child all the way through college. While reporting on ADHD, she discovered that her own struggles are because she, too has ADHD. It was a relief and allowed her to look at herself in a new way.

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