Many children and adults newly diagnosed with dyslexia may find themselves feeling alone or isolated. Often times, having an official diagnosis of a learning disability such as dyslexia can make people feel, in some ways, that their struggles have been validated, but that their potential for achievement may be limited.
However, a number of well-known celebrities have demonstrated that success and impact are not necessarily limited by dyslexia.
Recently, Jennifer Aniston revealed to the public that she has had a longstanding struggle with dyslexia. Undiagnosed until she was in her 20s, Aniston spent most of her life fearing that she was stupid. Once she discovered that she was not responsible for her childhood struggles, Aniston was able to make peace with her past and move forward with a newfound confidence that boosted her acting career.
Jennifer Aniston is joined in her struggle by Orlando Bloom, Jim Carrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Keanu Reeves, Vince Vaughn, Kiera Knightly, and many others.
But they’re not the only public figures who have overcome their struggle with dyslexia. Anderson Cooper and Steven Spielberg have also lived remarkable lives with their dyslexia.
Spielberg was not diagnosed with dyslexia until he was 60 years old. He has revealed in interviews that he spent years bullied for his delayed learning. Though his struggles as an outcast in childhood were difficult, he was able to turn his negative experiences into motivation and inspiration with such iconic films as “Jaws”, “The Goonies”, and “Schindler’s List”.
Even though Spielberg has had a successful career that resulted in some of the most iconic movies of all time, he has noted that his career has not been without difficulty. He struggles daily with script and book readings, but his slow and thoughtful reading has obviously kept him from passing over masterpieces.
Anderson Cooper came from a wealthy family in which reading and writing were extremely important pastimes. Unfortunately, he had dyslexia and struggled to read letters. He began working with a reading coach who encouraged him to find books he was passionate about. This method of dealing with his dyslexia led him to his interest in stories of survival. He became a CNN anchor and war correspondent who has been a national hero on several occasions.
In addition to the remarkable people that have already been listed, history has been filled with important inventors, scientists, and political figures who have achieved incredible things while living with dyslexia, or exhibiting patterns of learning consistent with dyslexia’s modern day diagnosis.
Among those are Alexander Graham Bell (the inventor of the telephone and founder of the journal Science), Thomas Edison (the inventor of the light bulb, phonograph, and motion picture camera), George Washington (a war hero and the first President of the United States), Carol Greider (a molecular biologist who was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine), and Fred Epstein (a neurosurgeon known for his innovative methods for removing brainstem tumors).
Clearly, dyslexia does not have to limit anyone's achievement. On the contrary, dyslexia should be seen as something special. Despite the unique challenges it presents, it can actually compel an individual to work harder toward overcoming obstacles and achieving success.
Dyslexics don't all develop the same gifts, but they do have certain mental functions in common. They are more inclined to think with pictures instead of words, and are able to perceive multi-dimensionally. They are highly intuitive and insightful, and may have more vivid imaginations than their peers. These abilities, if not invalidated or destroyed by parents or the educational system, can result in higher than normal intelligence and extraordinary creative abilities.
In many of the celebrity cases listed, dyslexia served as an intrinsic motivator that resulted in remarkable levels of achievement. Anytime you have doubts about a dyslexic’s ability to achieve arises, pick up a book by one of your favorite dyslexic authors (e.g. Agatha Christie, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hans Christian Anderson) and remember that they managed to achieve everything they wanted.