Wondering what kind of job or career you could have in the future? Check out these career examples of people with learning and thinking differences, like
, and more. Confronted with challenges at an early age, each found a unique path to success in their field.
didn’t finish reading his first book until he was 38. He got his start as a pastry chef, and went on to become a bestselling cookbook author and celebrity chef.
The man who invented the Segway could never get along with teachers. Though Dean Kamen’s mind processes information slowly, it also churned out over 400 brilliant inventions.
His parents wanted him to go to college, but
realized that wasn’t his path. This industry-leading jeweler was good with his hands, and got his first job as a metalworker.
After focusing on electronics at a technical college and getting an associate’s degree,
Elias Martinez Jr.
became chief engineer at KGBT in Harlingen, Texas. He has dyslexia.
was 24, this welder with dyslexia was profiled in the Wall Street Journal because he made $140,000 a year.
He started with a two-year degree from a technical college.
From a young age, it was clear that
had ADHD. He
has competed as a professional race car driver, and is also manager of operations at a race track.
He’s best known for spending a year in space. But as a kid,
was easily distracted in school. He started his career in the military looking for the discipline he needed for life.
Growing up, reading and spelling were a challenge for
(they still are), and she struggled to pay attention. Then she found her passion and talent: track and field.
made his first longboard as a high school sophomore in an applied technology class, then turned it into a business, 907Boards. He
is passionate about dyslexia awareness.
He wrote the bestselling book World War Z and The Zombie Survival Guide.
also struggled with dyslexia and its stigma.
Stuttering and learning disabilities were two big challenges for
growing up. Drawing on her personal life, she’s working on carving out a career making people laugh.
She was told she was “just a daydreamer.”
found out she had ADHD, and she didn’t let it stop her from starting a freelance writing career.
This ABC News anchor didn’t learn to read until he was 12.
got his first gig as an intern for a small station in Durham, North Carolina.
In 2014, while reporting on the rise of ADHD, she was diagnosed with it herself. Looking back,
believes her lifelong challenges with ADHD helped shape her successful media career.
has a litany of differences—ADHD is just one of them. But “the different wiring isn’t faulty, it makes me who I am.”
Before starring in movies like The Help and Hidden Figures,
was struggling with dyslexia and auditory processing.
Struggling with ADHD and dyslexia as a child,
turned to drawing.
He’s the author of Captain Underpants, among other series.
Nike’s chief designer
always loved to draw. He calls it his first real language—something he attributes to having dyslexia.
As a child,
couldn’t read and thought he was stupid. He loved comics and graphic novels. In his 20s, he started creating comics to help kids learn school subjects like math.
This fashion icon never went to college.
says that a big part of why he’s done well is the way he thinks, and he thinks differently because of dyslexia.
wasn’t diagnosed with dyslexia until his 20s. He did “very badly at school and failed everything except for gym and music.”
The frontwoman of Florence and the Machine has dyspraxia and dyslexia.
was diagnosed at a young age and supports causes for kids with these learning differences.
TV writer, producer, and director
is a writer, producer, and director best known for his work on the hit show Glee. He has severe dyslexia, but he’s making it as a Hollywood writer.
Can you be a poet if you have speech and auditory processing challenges? The nation’s first Youth Poet Laureate,
, is living proof that you can.
The founder and face of the YouTube channel How to ADHD has inspired millions. Through her own story and tips about ADHD,
has made a video career in her own way.
Business and entrepreneurship
runs a company that builds computers for scientific research. He struggled in school with dyslexia but had other strengths. He started his first business, shoveling snow, when he was 11.
has dyslexia and struggled with math at an early age. She began as an associate economist at 22, and proved that the teachers who called her “lazy” were wrong.
You may know him from the hit show Shark Tank, but
first started making clothes in his kitchen. He has dyslexia.
She built a billion-dollar real estate empire. But
started her business with a $1,000 loan. She says dyslexia made her “more creative, more social, and more competitive.”
grew up with dyslexia. As a kid, he struggled to read and was often teased. But the lessons he learned then have helped him thrive in business.
She can trace ADHD symptoms in her family to before the Revolutionary War.
has made it her business to help others who are facing challenges with ADHD.
The first Black woman elected to the U.S. Senate felt the stigma of growing up with dyslexia.
Carol Moseley Braun
also served as an ambassador and has worked to change our education system for the better.
Her school classmates teased her for having dyslexia.
got her start as a file clerk for a law firm on a landmark case against a power company that was polluting water.
Mentoring organization founder
He was told to “just try harder.” But
realized that with ADHD and dyslexia, he needed to try smarter. He founded Eye to Eye, a mentoring organization for youth who learn differently.
Mentor, poet, speaker, and activist
In school, he was labeled and placed in separate classes.
turned his experiences into a career as a poet and speaker, and he now works with schools.
As a kid, the governor of California sat in the back of the class, praying not to be called on. Still nervous about reading out loud,
memorizes his speeches so he doesn’t have to.
didn’t know he had ADHD, dyslexia, and other learning challenges. As an adult, he decided to found a school based on personalized learning.
Special education teacher
thrives in a classroom because her “brain handles chaos pretty well.” As someone with ADHD and dyslexia, she can relate to kids who are struggling in school.
She dropped out of high school when she was 15. However, with the help of a mentor,
returned to school and went to college. Now, she works with young people.
Science, technology, engineering, and math
Maggie Aderin-Pocock was diagnosed with dyslexia at 8. She hated school, but with support from her father and a love of hands-on learning, Maggie discovered a passion for telescopes.
She studies neuroscience and learning.
says that a career in science is great for people with learning differences because there’s a lot of built-in support.
This associate professor is an expert in bridge design and earthquake engineering.
also has ADHD and is trying to help more kids with ADHD become engineers.
His biggest struggle was overcoming the feeling that he was an imposter.
finally realized that he could become a scientist even if he had a learning disability.
She won a Nobel Prize. But as a kid, Carol Greider thought she was “stupid” because she needed special classes to learn to spell and sound out words.
Jack Horner found the first dinosaur eggs in the Western Hemisphere. Reading and writing are still hard for him. He had fun helping make the film Jurassic Park.
Because of his learning disability, teachers told his family Peter would never go to college. However,
used his strength with numbers to become a statistician.