Believe it or not, but one thing Albert Einstein, Magic Johnson, Woodrow Wilson, Walt Disney, and Whoopi Goldberg all had in common was a learning disability. And yet these famous scientists, presidents, athletes, actors, and businessmen became the successful heroes that Americans admire for their intelligence, charisma, and self-discipline. There are many household names who struggled with learning, but they each found a way to succeed. For children who have learning differences, it can be encouraging to read the biography or talk about a favorite hero who has struggled through similar obstacles to education.
Many famous athletes today once dealt with learning differences. Michael Phelps, the world-famous Olympic gold medal swimmer, was diagnosed with AD/HD when he was 9 years old. He did not take to reading like a fish to water, but with the support of his family and by seeking treatment, Phelps was able to overcome his attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. His love of swimming gave him the structured schedule and discipline that he needed to focus in school. Sports can be a great way for kids to funnel their energy in a positive way.
Not every child with a learning difference will grow up to become a famous athlete, a successful businessman, or the President of the United States. But as education and research on learning differences continues to grow, perhaps more children will be able to find treatment and support for coping with their learning differences, so that the number of success stories like that of Michael Phelps will rise.
Plenty of historical heroes may have suffered from learning differences, but it is only because of the latest research of the past few decades that scientists have been able to diagnose children as AD/HD, dyslexic, autistic, or any number of similar learning differences. Perhaps in future generations, there will be many more success stories for young children to look up to.