50 People Who Achieved Greatness Despite Having a Learning Disability

In my research, I often come across names of famous people who had a slow start, or struggled with learning difficulties in their childhoods. The list continues to grow, and I am impressed with how individuals, when given the right support and encouragement, can overcome the odds and achieve greatness. If your child is having difficulties in school or with aspects of learning, be sure to share this list. Let your son or daughter know he or she is not alone, and that early struggles are in no way a prophecy of doom. Maybe he can find a particular name that interests him, and you can do a little research on that person’s story.

Note: Some individuals on this list were not technically diagnosed with a learning disability, because they lived during an era where the specific diagnoses didn’t exist. However, their struggles with education in their early years were clearly documented.


  1. Hans Christian Anderson
  2. Beethoven
  3. Harry Belafonte
  4. Alexander Graham Bell
  5. Orlando Bloom
  6. Richard Branson
  7. Erin Brockovich
  8. Stephen J. Cannell
  9. Cher
  10. Winston Churchill
  11. Bill Cosby
  12. Tom Cruise
  13. Leonardo Da Vinci
  14. Walt Disney
  15. Thomas Edison
  16. Albert Einstein
  17. Dwight D. Eisenhower
  18. Malcom Forbes
  19. Henry Ford
  20. Galileo
  21. Danny Glover
  22. Whoopi Goldberg
  23. Salma Hayek
  24. Tommy Hilfiger
  25. Bruce Jenner
  26. Magic Johnson
  27. John F. Kennedy
  28. Kiera Knightley
  29. John Lennon
  30. Jay Leno
  31. Carl Lewis
  32. Greg Louganis
  33. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  34. Edward James Olmos
  35. Pablo Picasso
  36. Nelson Rockefeller
  37. Pete Rose
  38. Nolan Ryan
  39. Charles Schwab
  40. George C. Scott
  41. George Bernard Shaw
  42. Steven Spielberg
  43. Sylvester Stallone
  44. Jackie Stewart
  45. Quentin Tarantino
  46. Jules Verne
  47. Lindsay Wagner
  48. Henry Winkler
  49. Robin Williams
  50. Woodrow Wilson

Fred Rogers of “Mr. Rogers Neighbhorhood” was not only a friendly face on television for children everywhere, but was also a great advocate for kids with all kinds of challenges. He once said,

“No child is ‘perfectly’ whole in mind, body, spirit, ability… nor can any child meet all of a parent’s hopes and expectations. Yet there is a wholeness of each and every child, a wholeness that is unique and brings with it a unique set of possibilities and limitations, a unique set of opportunities for fulfillment.”

Have high hopes for your child, don’t give up, and allow him or her to be his own unique person.