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You can succeed even with a learning disability.

Famous in spite of their learning disability: Celebrities who got their dyslexia under control

Kateřina Ostrejšová
03.Dec 2020
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4 minutes to read
Jennifer Aniston

The lives of celebrities often look totally perfect from the outside. Red carpets, luxury houses, expensive cars... But some have to work extra hard to achieve all this. There are actors who face a huge obstacle when reading screenplays or learning their texts: dyslexia. This reading disabiliy can affect anyone, including Hollywood stars. We'd like to present you six celebrities who didn't let dyslexia prevent them from building the career of their dreams.

How does dyslexia manifest itself?

Dyslexia is considered a specific learning disability. Like in other disorders, its symptoms are very individual, and it can manifest itself a little differently in each person. Most often, however, the sufferers experience difficulties with reading or the language. According to studies, people with dyslexia usually have lower brain plasticity (development of changes in the brain). They quickly forget about recent events and their brains are unable to adequately adapt to repeated reading or listening. The first symptoms of dyslexia can vary: the child begins to speak late, has difficulty expressing himself/herself, has a small vocabulary or is unable to clap out syllables. It is estimated that in the Czech Republic, 1 to 2% of children suffer from serious reading difficulties. About 13-14% of the world's school population is dependent on special education. Current studies show that half of this group is made up of students with learning disabilities. In addition, children with learning disabilities are often the target of bullying by classmates.

"At the time when the disease is diagnosed, the children have usually experienced about three years, during which their peers kept telling them they were stupid and their parents considered them lazy. That lowered their self-confidence,"

says doctor Nadine Gaab.

Despite all the limitations, it is possible to start a stellar career even with dyslexia. These stars are proof of that.

Keira Knightley

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Keira Knightley
Keira KnightleySource: Profimedia

The talented actress was diagnosed with the disorder at the age of 6. However, Keira excelled in her class. How is that possible? She, in fact, wasn't reading, but reciting the books she had heard at home and memorized. Only when she received a book she hadn't seen before did her teachers and mother realize that she couldn't read at all. Like many children with dyslexia or other learning disabilities, she saw herself as different. From first in his class, she gradually turned into a pupil with low grades. The actress herself admitted that she her classmates had often laughed at her.

However, her love of acting prevailed and it became her main motivation to improve. One of the first challenges was to read the screenplay for the novel Sense and Sensibility. Her reward was the promise of acting classes during the summer holidays, and Knightley eventually managed to obtain it. Although her beginnings hadn't been easy at all, the girl who had been laughing stock for her classmates grew up to become the only non-American actress on the list of best-paid actresses.

Jennifer Aniston

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Jennifer Aniston
Jennifer AnistonSource: Profimedia

Actress Jennifer Aniston is famous for her wit and the ability to make a joke out of most things. However, she wasn't as successful at school as she is on screen. She felt very insecure about learning - it took her a long time and she was fast to forget the material. In the end, she concluded that she simply wasn't smart. She struggled with this presumption until the age of twenty, when she was explained that she might have been wrong all this time during an ophthalmic test. She was diagnosed with dyslexia.

"Now I had this great discovery. I felt like all of my childhood trauma-dies, tragedies, dramas were explained,"

Aniston spoke about her disorder. Thanks to an eye test, she was able to change the way she saw her life.

Jamie Oliver

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Jamie Oliver
Jamie OliverSource: Profimedia

Dyslexia didn't prevent one of the world's most famous chefs from realizing his dream. The well-known chef had known about his disorder since he was a child. In regular classes, he struggled a lot, and so his parents placed him in a special needs class for five years.

He was acutely aware of the fact that he wasn't the best student, which is why he started working in restaurants at a young age - and excelled there. During his career, he received the Order of the British Empire (2005) from Queen Elizabeth II of England, the British Book Awards (2006) and in 2010, he even won the TED Prize (Technology, Entertainment, Design). Among other things, he managed to publish a plethora of books. The latest was released this year, and it's called "7 Ways: Easy Ideas for Every Day of the Week".

Prodej luxusního bytu, Praha 1 - Nové Město
Prodej luxusního bytu, Praha 1 - Nové Město, Praha 1


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Zpěvačka Cher
Zpěvačka CherSource: Michael Germana/Everett Collection/Profimedia

International pop star, acclaimed actress, fashion icon and author. She's been basking in the limelight for more than 50 years, during which she has won dozens of awards. When you say "Cher", everyone around the world will recognize the singer's first name (Cherilyn Sarkisian).

The multi-talented superstar lived in the public eye already as a teenager. Her fans have been following her on her successful journey for many years, but they may not have been aware of the challenges she had to face as a teenager. At school, Cher struggled with reading and understanding numbers.

"My mind raced ahead of my hand, how I’d skip letters in the middle of a word. I told them how I kept transposing numbers, and that I’d get so cranky trying to dial long-distance calls that someone would finally have to take the phone and dial the number for me,"

Cher thought back to the difficult time of her life. But her differences didn't prevent her from turning her dreams into reality. Her own experience motivated her to become the biggest advocate for children with differences in learning and thinking.

Steven Spielberg

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Steven Spielberg
Steven SpielbergSource: Profimedia

Director Steven Spielberg wasn't good at either school or sports. That made him an easy target for bullying. Spielberg himself admitted that he was bullied even for being from a Jewish family in a very non-Jewish neighborhood.

He was disagnosed with dyslexia very late - only five years ago! He described it as "the last piece of the puzzle." Ever since childhood, his greatest passion was the film industry. He started making films as a scout at the age of 12. After being offered an internship at the Universal Studios, he left school. In an interview with Friends of Quinn, he admitted that it takes him almost three hours to read what most people can do in an hour.

Tom Cruise

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Tom Cruise
Tom CruiseSource: Profimedia

The life of the famous actor wasn't easy at all. Due to his father's unstable job, his family was forced to move frequently. As a result, Cruise attended 15 different schools over 12 years. Each time, he had to adapt to a new environment, teachers and new friends. But one thing never changed - his dyslexia, due to which he wasn't doing very well at school.

He tried to get involved in as many extracurricular activities as possible to avoid going home. He played football, hockey, baseball and other sports. However, during his school years he discovered that he didn't actually like sports and wished to pursue acting. He therefore decided to move to New York, where it all began! His first major role was in Endless Love (1981), but his stellar career started with the 1986 film Top Gun. Today he is one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood.

No road is without obstacles. But these celebrities prove that even seemingly impossible things can be achieved...

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