Famous people with dyslexia(A comprehensive overview)
This blog post will talk about famous people with dyslexia but before that get into the depths of what dyslexia is, its causes, symptoms, effects, and what research says about it.
What is dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a disability of neurological origin. According to an article on WebMD, ‘It’s a learning disorder that affects your ability to read, spell, write and speak.’ People who have dyslexia can’t process graphic symbols and sounds of words and have difficulty matching letters they see to sounds they hear.
People sometimes associate dyslexia with a lack of intelligence in a person however, medical experts have confirmed that dyslexia stems from the parts of the brain that process language so it has no relation to the intelligence or upbringing of a person. A dyslexic person may be highly intelligent and creative but still have trouble with basic literacy skills.
What causes dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a neurological condition that is linked to genes that are in most cases hereditary. Many genes are linked to reading and language processing issues and they play different roles. Some have an effect on brain development while some impact how the brain communicates. Research has shown that over 40 genes are linked to dyslexia in one way or another.
A person has a higher chance of having dyslexia if someone else in the family has had it or still has it. If your child is having trouble reading or writing and you’ve had a family history of dyslexia or have faced it yourself, you might want to get your child tested for dyslexia or other reading/learning disorders.
Some environmental risk factors can also cause dyslexia in some cases like premature birth or exposure to alcohol, drugs, nicotine, or an infection during pregnancy that may have an impact on brain development in the fetus.
How to identify if someone is dyslexic?
Identifying dyslexia at a young age is very crucial for someone to cope with it and to access accommodations that can help them overcome it. Dyslexia can be identified in children by either their teachers at school or parents at home.
Teachers have a huge role in identifying whether a child is dyslexic or just a slow learner. When a child at school shows the difficulty in reading and writing despite having the capability to learn and showing creativity in other activities, chances are they’re dyslexic and need help from their peers and caretakers.
Parents should always be attentive towards the work their child does as homework and classwork as well. Keeping track of their notebooks and identifying a redundant behavior of spelling mistakes or a pattern in making mistakes is very important. If a parent is suspicious of their child being dyslexic, they should immediately contact their teacher and gather more information about the child’s behavior at school.
There can be a few prominent symptoms to identify if someone is dyslexic:
- Reaching development milestones late
- Taking longer to learn to read, write and speak
- Facing difficulty processing sounds
- Trouble remembering basic sets of data like days of the week
- Finding it hard to concentrate and coordinate
- Expressing an illogical sequence of ideas
- More prone to developing autoimmune conditions like asthma, eczema, and allergies
Dyslexia can be hard to identify at a young age because there are so many types of it that a child’s condition might go unnoticed because of them depicting different symptoms than usual. If you’re a parent or teacher or nanny even, it’s important to educate yourself on different types of dyslexia.
What are the different types of Dyslexia?
According to a blog post on a site dedicated to dyslexia called ‘the reading well’, different variations of dyslexia can be defined as follows
It involves difficulty in processing sounds of letters or groups of letters. Multiple sounds may be combined as a single sound. E.g., the word ‘cat’ will be heard as a single sound instead of ‘c-a-t.’ Single syllable words are very hard to understand in auditory dyslexia.
It involves difficulty in reading and learning resulting from vision-related problems.
Attentional dyslexia involves children identifying letters correctly but the letters jump between words This migration of letters between words has nothing to do with an inability to identify letters or convert them to sounds.
It is a reading disability caused by a phonological impairment, meaning the inability to manipulate basic language sounds. Individual linguistic sounds become ‘sticky,’ unable to be easily pulled apart and manipulated.
It is what generally people refer to when they say dyslexia. It alludes to a reading disability that occurs in children and people who otherwise have the intelligence, motivation, and education required for accurate and proficient reading. This term. ‘Developmental Dyslexia’ is used to differentiate it from other types of dyslexia.
It is a form of dyslexia that is not genetic or hereditary. It results from an injury or trauma to the part of the brain that controls writing and reading. It can be the result of a stroke or tumor.
It is a type of acquired dyslexia (not resulting from genetic or hereditary causes) in which a person’s spelling-to-sound relationship is overly reliant, resulting in difficulty reading irregularly spelled words.
It is also a type of acquired dyslexia in which when a person reads a single word, they may substitute semantically comparable but not visually similar words.
It is more of a symptom of dyslexia rather than type but it is distinguished by left-right confusion or a tendency to become lost or disoriented. It also initiates confusion with letters where there is confusion over the direction of letters such as b and d.
What are the difficulties faced by people with dyslexia?
Dyslexic people are faced with various difficulties in academic and private life. Some of them are discussed briefly as follows:
Reading and Spelling
They have trouble reading or pronouncing words out loud along with having bad spelling accuracy.
They tend to swap letters or words and find it hard to write anything at a good pace without making spelling mistakes.
Bullying and Judgement
They face judgment from other kids for being ‘slow’ or ‘dumb’ or ‘being bad at reading and spelling.’ Bullying is also a problem that arises while having dyslexia as kids tend to be meaner in schools and don’t show any mercy to someone who is the odd one out.
They rarely have people who understand their struggles with stuff that seems trivial but is a huge thing for you. People find it hard to believe for someone to have a learning disorder and lack empathy.
By facing difficulty in reading, spelling, and writing, their pace to complete tasks gets slower hence making it difficult to meet deadlines and do time management.
Low Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence
If not treated early on, they can develop low self-esteem and confidence and have more behavioral problems like anxiety, aggression, and panic attacks
Social Skills and Relationships
Dyslexia holds them back from having stable relationships with friends and loved ones and forces them to withdraw from their friendships and relationships.
Famous people with dyslexia
Dyslexia is more common than one would think. Here’s a list of famous people over the decades who have battled dyslexia in either their childhoods or adulthood.
- Albert Einstein: Physicist
One of the most famous figures known to have dyslexia is Albert Einstein. He developed the laws of relativity and won a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921. He believed in the power of imagination and believed that words, as they are written and spoken, play no role in the mechanism of thought.
- Pablo Picasso: Painter
He was one of the most prolific and creative painters of the 20th century. He created paintings with unique perspectives. Despite being labeled ‘reading blind’ to him by his teachers, he excelled in the art world. He used to say that he paints objects as he thinks of them, not as he sees them.
- George Washington: First U.S. President
He was one of the nation’s founding fathers and the first President. He also struggled with dyslexia in his earlier years and developed a sympathetic perspective towards failure through his struggles.
- Leonardo da Vinci: Painter
The famous painter who painted Mona Lisa used to write using mirror writing. His dyslexia is believed to be the fuel that made him an exceptional artist.
- Muhammad Ali: Boxer
The legendary heavyweight boxing champion was able to ‘float like a butterfly and sting like a bee’ but he could barely read. His struggles with dyslexia made him want to be better and he believed that a man who has no imagination has no wings.
- Robin Williams: Comedian
One of modern history’s most iconic comedians, Robin Williams struggled with severe dyslexia throughout his life. When he was a kid, he went trick or trouting instead of trick or treating on Halloween.
- Tom Cruise: Actor
He was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of 7 and had a memory problem. He used to have trouble remembering his lines but adopted unique techniques to remember them and became a multi-award-winning star.
- Keira Knightly: Actress
The British-born academy award nominee struggled with dyslexia as a child and gives her condition the credit for making her the woman she is today.
- Richard Branson: Entrepreneur, Investor, Founder of Virgin Group
Having a hard time coping with dyslexia, the billionaire entrepreneur turned his difficulties into opportunities by thinking outside the box. He wishes for the stigma around dyslexia to end and wants the world to see it as a different way of thinking rather than a disability.
- Jennifer Anniston: Actress
The Friends star didn’t realize she had dyslexia until she was in her 20s. She chose the role of class clown instead of the teacher’s pet since it was so hard to read and write back in school.
How to battle dyslexia (Research-based)
In an article written by Helen Ross, called ‘“It’s a Battle!”: Parenting and Supporting a Child with Dyslexia‘ talks in-depth about how early diagnosis can lead to a better approach in helping a child cope with dyslexia.
She talks about the theoretical framework developed for a clear delineation at each level of who, what, when, and how different interactions support or impede parental involvement and effective support for young people.
The article emphasizes how parents need to have access to robust knowledge of strengths associated with dyslexia and how it accompanies their child’s diagnosis of dyslexia. Various methods to facilitate parental participation for appropriate support for their children include support groups for parents to share experience, therapeutic groups for children and parents, etc.
This blog post gave a comprehensive overview of dyslexia and famous people who have dyslexia. Talked about different types, causes, symptoms, and how to deal with having dyslexia.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can dyslexia be treated with medicines?
No dyslexia cannot be treated with medicine.
Is dyslexia fatal?
Since it is not a disease and more of a disorder, it is not fatal on its own.
What do I do about kids making fun of me in class for having dyslexia?
It is important to be able to tell your teachers and parents and not ignore bullies as they have to be stopped at a young age before they harm anyone.
Is there a permanent cure for dyslexia?
It’s a disorder present at birth and cannot be prevented or cured but can be managed with special instructions and support.
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Shroff, A. MD. (2021, March 22). What is dyslexia? Retrieved From
Ross, H. (2020). ‘”It’s a Battle!”: Parenting and Supporting a Child with Dyslexia