You would be surprised by how many well-known celebrities have struggled with speech and language, sensory, motor and mental health disorders. Despite the challenges they have faced, they persevered and have become successful, inspirational individuals. We are all unique. In fact, being unique is beautiful. If you put your mind to it, you can be whatever you want to be. Having a disability does not define who you are. Here are 10 celebrities who have proven that to be true.
WE ARE ALL UNIQUE- HERE’S HOW
1. President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden has struggled with a stutter throughout his life. As President of the United States, he is required to speak in front of millions of people during public events, more often that most people do. Growing up attending Catholic school, President Biden did not receive speech-language services, but rather learned from nuns who taught him to put a cadence into his speaking. Additionally, President Biden credited his mother when it came to not letting his stutter define him as a person. However, despite practicing to improve his speech fluency through reciting poetry in front of a mirror, he stated in a letter to the Stuttering Foundation of America that his stutter embarrassed him and made him question himself and his abilities daily. In his letter written in May, 2015, President Biden wrote “If I could share one piece of advice with all of those struggling with a stutter, it would be this: When you commit yourself to a goal and when you persevere in the face of struggle, you will discover new strengths and skills to help you overcome not only this challenge, but future life challenges as well. I promise you- you have nothing to be ashamed of, and you have every reason to be proud.”
2. Barbara Walters
Famed TV journalist Barbara Walters is best known as the 11-year star of the ‘Today” show. You may also know her as the first woman to co-anchor a network news program on the ABC news show, 20/20. When Barbara first began working for NBC, she worked with a speech therapist to improve her speech patterns and correct her lisp. However, Walters decided that speech therapy was making her less confident in her speech, and she decided to pursue her career without it. To this day, you can hear a slight lisp when Walters speaks. Nevertheless, this did not stop her from persevering and remaining successful throughout her career.
3. Dan Aykroyd
Academy Award Nominated actor Dan Aykroyd has been part of the film industry since the late 1970’s. He was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in the early 80’s when his wife encouraged him to see a doctor and publicly shared his autism diagnosis in 2004. He stated in an interview with the Daily Mail that he had an obsession with ghosts and law enforcement, which inspired his idea for the film Ghostbusters.
4. Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps is an American swimmer who is known for earning 28 Olympic medals over the course of his swimming career. He was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder at the age of 9. For young Phelps, the swimming pool was a place for him burn off excess energy. Phelps is an inspiration for many individuals, especially fellow Olympians with ADHD who thought they wouldn’t be able to succeed.
5. Daniel Radcliffe
Actor Daniel Radcliffe is well-known for his role as Harry Potter. He has lived with mild dyspraxia, a neurological disorder that affects motor skill development his entire life. Radcliffe, the star of one of the largest franchises in movie history admits that he has trouble with simple tasks such as tying his shoelaces or writing a thank you note.
6. Anderson Cooper
Journalist and CNN TV personality Anderson Cooper has struggled with dyslexia from an early age. His family, who was passionate about reading, hired a reading instructor for cooper to help him. He persevered by finding books that he himself was incredibly passionate about.
7. Hannah Gadsby
Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby reveals her experience as a woman with autism in her comedy sketches. Gadsby was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in 2016. She is an official ambassador for Yellow Ladybugs, an Australian organization who improves support for women and girls with autism. Gadsby’s breakout comedy special, Nanette, started a broader conversation about comedy and drama. She shares her experience living as a queer woman in the “Bible Belt of Australia.” In her newest Netflix comedy special, Douglas, Gadsby grapples with her success in America and shares her experience with autism. She shared that when she was diagnosed with autism, it gave her permission to be kinder to herself, to not always take responsibility for being a bit clumsy around other people.
8. Demi Lovato
Performer Demi Lovato came forward with her story of bullying, addiction, eating disorder and depression at the age of 18. During treatment for addiction and eating disorders, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Lovato is the celebrity spokesperson for Be Vocal: Speak up for Mental Health campaign.
9. Whoopi Goldberg
Actress, comedian, radio host, television personality, author and UNICEF International Goodwill Ambassador (talk about achieving goals) Whoopi Goldberg was diagnosed with dyslexia as an adult. Like many other individuals with dyslexia, Whoopi grew up under a number of false labels. Due to her struggles, she dropped out of school at age 17. With the help of a caring teacher/tutor, and paradoxically, those who criticized her, Whoopi developed the skills and confidence to thrive. Whoopi credits those who criticized her in giving her the motivation to succeed. She says that they “went into making me the sum total of what I became, and what I’ve become.”
10. Temple Grandin
Temple Grandin is an autism advocate and author of several books about autism and animal behavior. She is also known for her 2010 HBO film on her life titled ‘Temple Grandin’, which follows Grandin’s perseverance and determination while struggling with the isolating challenges of autism at a time when it was still unknown. Temple Grandin speaks across the country about her life growing up as a woman with autism and is a professor of Animal Science at Colorado University.
In conclusion, we are all unique. Having a disability does not limit your ability to succeed. Through perseverance, support and with the right mindset, you can be anything you want to be.
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Hi, I am a Speech-Language Pathologist at South Shore Therapies. I am passionate about planning and delivering creative, individualized treatment designed to meet the unique needs of each of my clients. Our mission with SST’s social media platform is to empower, educate and inspire families to take on life’s challenges while promoting an optimistic outlook and a brighter future.