Celebrities with Dyslexia Who Will Inspire Students

Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability may affect an individual's ability to read, write, spell, and pronounce words. It is the most common learning disability.

Sometimes, children with learning disabilities can feel lonely and even rejected by their peers; but it may help for them to know they aren’t alone. Our culture is full of individuals who overcame their learning disability to achieve their dreams.

  • Henry Winkler – Best known as ‘the Fonz’ on the TV series Happy Days, Winkler struggled with dyslexia throughout his life. As a child, he was ridiculed for his disability and was even called “Dumb Dog” by his parents. Even during his days as a television actor, his dyslexia kept him from operating the motorcycle that was so iconic to his character. Winkler is a strong advocate of supporting children with dyslexia and has written a series of children’s books starring Hank Zipzer, a 10 year-old with dyslexia.

    “As a child, I was called stupid and lazy. On the SAT I got 159 out of 800 in math. My parents had no idea that I had a learning disability.”

  • Bruce Jenner – Younger generations know of him as Kim Kardashian’s stepfather, but the world once knew Bruce Jenner as a USA Olympic Athlete. In some ways, Jenner attributes his gold medal in the decathlon of the 1976 to his learning disability.

    "If I hadn't been dyslexic, I wouldn't have won the Games because it made me special, being dyslexic," he said in 2004. "If I would have been average like everybody else, I wouldn't have needed sports at a young age. I always tell dyslexic kids, 'You may think of this as a big problem now. But it may be your greatest gift. It makes you special. Now your job is to find out what you're good at and go for it.'"

  • Cher – In addition to struggling with undiagnosed dyslexia, young Cher was temporarily placed in foster care when her mother encountered extreme financial difficulties. Cher dropped out of school at 16 because of her learning disability. It was only at the age of 30, when her own daughter was being tested for learning disabilities, that Cher was diagnosed with dyslexia.

    "I'm a terrible reader," Cher said in 1985. "I don't write letters. Numbers and I have absolutely no relationship. I can dial a phone OK, as long as it's not long-distance. I write the first letter of the word, and my mind races to the last letter. I see words and jumble them together. I see great billboards, billboards no one has ever invented."

  • Orlando Bloom – This actor is best known for his roles in adventure films like Pirates of the Caribbean and The Lord of the Rings, and until a few years ago, his learning disability was a well-kept secret. His mother supported him in confronting his disorder by encouraging him to read.

    “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. If your kids can be given the opportunity to find that way of thinking, what works for them, they will be very happy and successful in whatever field they choose to go into. That I think is what my life has been.” -- Orlando Bloom at the 2010 Adam Katz Memorial Lecture

  • Whoopi Goldberg – Her learning disability was a mystery to the adults in her life, and Goldberg dealt with feeling “stupid” during school. Like so many children, Goldberg wasn’t diagnosed with dyslexia until well after dropping out of school.

    “If you read to me I could tell you everything that was read. They didn’t know what it was. They knew I wasn’t lazy, but what was it?” – Whoopi Goldberg

Thankfully, dyslexia is much more readily diagnosed today than it was in previous decades.

Learn more about the symptoms of dyslexia.

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