People with dyslexia have a learning disability which can cause them to have trouble with reading, writing and spelling. It occurs because the brain has difficulties processing what the eyes see. People with this condition may have symptoms such as seeing letters and numbers reversed or difficulties with telling left from right.
While the language processing difficulties experienced by people with dyslexia may sometimes get them labeled as “dumb” or “slow,” people with this condition are far from stupid. They are of normal intelligence; and, even downright brilliant in many cases. In fact, there are probably quite a few famous people who you never knew had it. Here are five of these distinguished individuals:
- Tom Cruise – In an interview that Cruise did with People in 2003, he talked about what it was like growing up with dyslexia. He was, he said, a “functional illiterate” and only learned to read as an adult. Yet, he has gone to have a huge movie career, starring in such films as Top Gun, Rain Man and many others, equally memorable.
- Thomas Edison – That’s right, the inventor of the light bulb was dyslexic. When he attended public school, his teacher labeled him as “addled.” Luckily for us, however, his mother didn’t listen and she proceeded to educate him at home. In addition to the incandescent light bulb, he is also responsible for giving us the phonograph, the alkaline storage battery and an early version of the motion picture projector.
- Leonardo DaVinci – When most people think of Leonardo DaVinci, they think about the enigmatic smile of his famous Mona Lisa hanging in The Louvre, or perhaps his work as a designer and scientist; but, what many don’t know is that he was also probably dyslexic. What gives it away is his odd handwriting. DaVinci wrote his notes backwards, which is something often done by left handed people with dyslexia.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald – While writing might seem like an expected career for a dyslexic, Fitzgerald is widely believed to have had this condition. He was kicked out of school at the age of twelve because he had difficulty focusing and finishing his work. It is also reported that he had a great deal of trouble with spelling. He later went on to write what is considered to be one of the greatest American novels ever written, The Great Gatsby.
- Richard Branson – The field of business also has its share of dyslexics, with Virgin Enterprises founder Richard Branson being one of them. Oddly enough, Branson says that rather being a hindrance in the business world, dyslexia was, in fact, the secret to his success. Because he had difficulty concentrating on his school work, he spent a lot of time dreaming about what he would do after school ended. And, when he was just 16, he started his first business, a newspaper.
These five people, all famous for vastly different reasons, are probably all people that you never knew had dyslexia. Yet, they have done amazing things despite – or some would argue – because of their disability.
Written by: Nancy Schimelpfening