Famous People With ADD/ADHD and Learning Disabilities

Let this list of celebrities, athletes, entrepreneurs, and other famous people diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and learning disabilities — and their challenges and triumphs — inspire you to make the most of your symptoms.

ADD/ADHD Celebrities, Entertainers

Comedian, actor, and game show host Howie Mandel, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), publicly revealed his diagnoses to the world on an impulse. An admission he regretted immediately afterward (sound familiar?) — until he realized just how many other people suffered from a combination of ADD/ADHD, OCD, and other comorbid conditions. Today, Mandel is not only a well-known entertainer, he’s also a well-respected advocate for mental health awareness. His autobiography, Here’s The Deal: Don’t Touch Me, is a humorous look at his life with OCD, ADD/ADHD, and mysophobia, the fear of germs.

Dancing With The Stars’ Karina Smirnoff has lived with ADD/ADHD her whole life, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that she was properly diagnosed. After working with her doctor to find the best treatment for her inattention and impulsivity, she told ABC News, “[Vyvanse] helps me control my symptoms.” In a way, the professional dancer is lucky; she can channel her energy into her work — literally. 

Formally diagnosed with ADD/ADHD as a teenager, Roxy Olin, of MTV’s The Hills and The City fame, told ADDitude magazine, “I’ve learned, at this point in my life, that [ADHD] is a part of who I am. You don’t have to keep your ADHD a secret.” After struggling to fight distractions in school, Olin takes Adderall, sees a therapist, and uses organization and time-management strategies to keep her symptoms in check.

Even though he struggled academically, chef Alexis Hernandez, former contestant on the reality show The Next Food Network Star, told ADDitudeMag.com he has had success in every one of his professional ventures. Having seen the upsides and downsides to ADD/ADHD, he insists ADD/ADHD isn’t a curse: “When adults with ADHD realize they’re blessed and gifted, they’re going to be unstoppable.”

Yvonne Pennington, mom to Ty Pennington, admitted to ADDitude that her son has always been a rambunctious handful. Her bright if unfocused son had always shown an interest in building and design, but after he dropped out of college, she finally took Ty to a doctor who prescribed stimulants. Today, as the exuberant host of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Pennington focuses his excess energy and enthusiasm on giving families in need the homes of their dreams.

Those of you who’ve dealt with a loved one’s (or your own) denial of ADD/ADHD will appreciate singer Solange Knowles’ story of diagnosis. According to Health.com, she had to be diagnosed twice before she believed she had ADD/ADHD. “I didn’t believe the first doctor who told me,” Knowles said. “I guess I was in denial.” 

Being diagnosed with dyslexia as a teen didn’t stop Mexican-born actress Salma Hayek from learning English and breaking into Hollywood as an adult. She admits to reading scripts very slowly but told WebMD, “I’m really a fast learner. I always was.” 

He walks up walls in his videos, so maybe it shouldn’t come as a surprise that superstar recording artist and actor Justin Timberlake has OCD and ADD/ADHD. While he doesn’t often speak publicly about his comorbid conditions, he shared his frustration with his diagnoses with Collider.com in an interview, saying, “You try living with that [combination].”

Comedy and acting have filled ADDer Patrick McKenna’s need for spontaneity and professional creativity. Though he was chastised for doing poorly in school, McKenna toldADDitude he considers himself one of the lucky ones. “I have a very happy, successful life … I always craved something new and exciting, and all the scripts, characters I played, and bright lights fulfilled that desire.”

Academy Award-winning actress, author, and comedian Whoopi Goldberg may be known for cracking jokes, but she doesn’t think learning disabilities are a laughing matter.Diagnosed with dyslexia as an adult, she has likened the public’s misunderstanding of dyslexia to the ways menstrual cramps were once shrugged off as a problem that only existed in women’s heads. In an interview with the Academy of Achievement, she explained, “It’s like in the early days when little girls complained about having cramps. It took … years for people to understand that menstrual cramps are a real thing, that PMS is a real chemical change in the body.”

ADD/ADHD adult Phillip Manuel, a New Orleans jazz musician, has never been one for a 9-to-5 desk job, but his creative spirit ended up being a professional and personal blessing. “He was always hands-on with [our] kids,” his wife Janice told the Washington Post. “He went on field trips, helped with homework and class projects. All the teachers knew him.” Always a bit impulsive, Manuel eventually started taking ADD/ADHD medication, something that has made the couple’s relationship even smoother.

CONTINUE READING this article by Brittany Shoot at ADDitudeMag.com


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