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Thanks, Mom: Quotes From Celebrities With Learning and Attention Issues

By Lexi Walters Wright

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Celebrities often credit their mothers with steering them toward success. For some stars with learning and attention issues, Mom’s support was essential. See what these celebs have to say about their mothers.

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Florence Welch, singer
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Florence Welch

The singer-songwriter credits her mom with introducing her to the arts. “Visually, she’s influenced me really strongly,” says Welch, who has dyslexia and dyspraxia. “Took me to a lot of churches, a lot of art galleries. Really taught me how to appreciate art, and how to describe it, which is very important.”
The Guardian

Daymond John, entrepreneur
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Daymond John

The entrepreneur had trouble in school with reading and spelling. But his mom wouldn’t let those difficulties limit his goals. “My mother always said, ‘It takes the same energy to think small as it does to think big,’” says John, who has dyslexia. “‘So let's dream big and think even bigger.’”

Trudie Styler, actor, filmmaker
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Trudie Styler

When the actor and filmmaker was growing up with dyslexia and ADHD, her mom was a fierce advocate for her in school. But she also taught her daughter the importance of communicating her own needs. “My mother’s advice was always, ‘When you’re lost, always ask a policeman,’” says Styler, who is married to Sting. “And there’s a bigger truth there. To reach out. To communicate. Help is always there.”
Child Mind Institute

Channing Tatum, actor
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Channing Tatum

ADHD and dyslexia made school hard for Tatum. But the actor’s mother encouraged him to learn outside the classroom. “My mom said, ‘Be a sponge.’ And so I’ve learned more from people than I have from school or from books,” he says.
T: The New York Times Style Magazine

Barbara Corcoran, real estate mogul
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Barbara Corcoran

The real estate mogul says her mom found ways to reframe her struggles with reading. “My mother rephrased dyslexia as a gift in my mind early on,” Corcoran says. “She constantly told me when I didn’t do well in school not to worry about it. Her attitude was, ‘You have a wonderful imagination and you’ll fill in the blanks.’” How grateful was Corcoran for that advice? One of her book is titled Use What You’ve Got and Other Business Lessons I Learned From My Mom.
The Corcoran Group

Muhammad Ali, boxing champion
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Muhammad Ali

Growing up, the boxing champ had trouble reading and spelling. He has dyslexia and says he barely graduated from high school. But that didn’t stop his mom from supporting his dreams. “My mother once told me that my confidence in myself made her believe in me. I thought that was funny, because it was her confidence in me that strengthened my belief in myself. I didn’t realize it then, but from the very beginning, my parents were helping me build the foundation for my life.”
The Soul of a Butterfly

Keira Knightley, actress
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Keira Knightley

Even as a young child, Knightley wanted to be an actress. But her dyslexia made it difficult to read and recite lines. To encourage her, Knightley’s playwright mom gave her a copy of the screenplay for Sense and Sensibility, which she’d worked on with actress and screenwriter (and Knightley’s idol) Emma Thompson. Knightley’s mother told her, “If Emma Thompson couldn’t read, she’d make … sure she’d get over it, so you have to start reading, because that’s what Emma Thompson would do.” And it worked!
The Guardian

Ryan Gosling, actor
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Ryan Gosling

As a child, Gosling was diagnosed with ADHD and had trouble reading. He was bullied at school and didn’t have any friends until he was a teenager. Concerned, his mom homeschooled him for a year. Shortly afterward, he began acting. Of his 2006 Oscar nomination, Gosling says, “It meant a lot to me because it meant a lot to the people that I love. Especially my mother … she’s been fighting [for me] since I was born.”
Entertainment Weekly

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Elected Officials With Dyslexia

These elected officials didn’t let reading issues get in the way of their political dreams. In fact, having dyslexia often played a role in their success. Learn more about their challenges and accomplishments.

Game Changers in History Who May Have Had Learning and Attention Issues

Historians speculate that many major figures from the past may have had learning and attention issues. We can’t know for sure whether someone from an earlier century had these issues. And for many—especially women and people of color—there aren’t enough records to let us guess. But here are some accomplished individuals who made a big impact on history—from centuries past to more recent times. They overcame challenges and may inspire your child to do the same.

About the Author

Portrait of Lexi Walters Wright

Lexi Walters Wright

A veteran writer and editor for parenting magazines and websites, Lexi Walters Wright has a master’s degree in library and information science and is proud to serve families at

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