Quotes from Successful People Who Overcame

Learning Disabilities


Researched and Submitted by Mary M. Silgals, MLIS, M.Ed, Trident Academy


The following quotes are from successful people who overcame their learning disabilities to become successful. See if you can guess who they are. Sources found at www.interdys.org, www.sparktop.org (part of the Schwab learning website), and www.ldonline.com.


“I always felt a bit alone and isolated from other people…I did a lot of pretending as a child. It was my way of coping with the fact that I didn’t feel like I fit in.”

Keneau Reeves, actor, dyslexic


From a note signed by this dyslexic and his mother: “If I don’t miss one day of school this year I got $1.00.”

Nelson A. Rockefeller, former VP USA, dyslexic


“When a man does all he can, though it succeeds not well, blame not him that did it.”

George Washington, 1st President of USA, problem with reading and writing


“Failure in school does not mean failure in life.”

Steven J. Cannell, author and Emmy winning TV producer, dyslexic


“”My mom and I used to go to Hollywood and look at all the rich people. I said then that someday I was going to be somebody. I even practiced signing my autograph.

Cher, entertainer, dyslexic


“I firmly believe that deep in their soul everyone has a champion that can overcome obstacles and do great things.”

Bruce Jenner, former Olympic Gold medalist, dyslexic


“The looks, the stares, the giggles…I wanted to show everybody that I could do better and also that I could read.”

Magic Johnson, former NBA star, dyslexic


“My childhood was extremely lonely. I was dyslexic and lots of kids make fun of me. That experience made me tough inside, because you learn to quietly accept ridicule.”

Tom Cruise, actor, dyslexic


He did not speak until the age of three and teachers labeled him mentally slow: “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”

Albert Einstein, scientist


“My diary is a disaster…I can’t spell at all…I’ll spell the same word completely differently in the same sentence.”

Liv Tyler, actress, writing disability (dysgraphia)


“Life is full of challenges. How you handle these challenges is what builds character. Never be afraid to be who you are.”

Erin Brockovich, activist, dyslexic


In reference to his being the class clown: “I didn’t want anyone to know that I didn’t get it.

Tommy Hilfiger, designer, dyslexic


“I used to love reading when I was little, and then it became difficult and I didn’t understand why. I thought, what a bummer, my passion all drained out of me. So when I found out I had dyslexia, it was like, oh, that’s what it was.”

Jewel, singer, dyslexic


“My learning disabilities pushed me to discover talents that I wasn’t aware of having. It has also led me to develop products to help others who struggled through school as I did.”

Reyn Geyer, inventor of Nerf balls & Twister, dyslexic


“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

Agatha Christie, author, dysgraphic (dictated her work)


“My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me and I felt I had someone to live for, someone I must not disappoint.”

Thomas Edison, inventor, struggled with math, did not read until 12 years old, teachers told him he wasn’t smart


“If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Walt Disney, struggled with reading


“I get stubborn and dig in when people tell me I can’t do something and I think I can. It goes back to my childhood when I had problems in school because I have a learning disability. I never wanted to be perceived as handicapped or limited in any way.”

Ann Bancroft, polar explorer, dyslexic


“Your brain is much better than you think; just use it!”

Leonardo Da Vinci, artist, scientist, inventor, trouble with spelling, had so many ideas and inventions he had trouble staying on track


“Many times I can see a solution to something differently and quicker than other people. I see the end zone and say ‘This is where I want to go.’”

Charles Schwab, business man, dyslexic, read classic comic’s versions of literature to keep up with reading assignments


“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, actress, dyslexic


“One thing about mildly dyslexic people – they’re good at setting everything else aside to pursue one goal.”

Jay Leno, entertainer, dyslexic


“I felt like an alien. I always felt like I never belonged to any group that I wanted to belong to.”

Steven Spielberg, movie maker, dyslexic, struggled with math, dropped out of high school


“It is not easy to compete when you have LD, but it is possible.”

Henry Winkler, actor, dyslexic




Million dollar question: Are dyslexics more or less likely to become millionaires?




(See Sunday Times article at ldonline.com for BBC commissioned study results.)