Perception seems to be changing, but there is a misconception that still holds in parts of society that being diagnosed with ADHD, ADD or an attention disorder somehow makes a person lesser than the norm. It’s as though having attention issues means you can’t be a successful person, and that having attentional difficulties is a big blemish or “problem.” That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Yes, people with ADHD might need to find coping mechanisms or take advantage of some accommodations like extra time. Some choose to take medication or pursue other treatments. In the end, we know that only you can decide how successful you’re going to be by believing in yourself and working towards your goals. Here is a list of some of our favorite celebrities that rose to the height of success either because of or despite an attention disorder.
“Every year, I thought, ‘This is the year I’m going to start paying attention and doing my homework.’”
Kelly a retired American astronaut and retired U.S. Navy Captain admits that he never thought becoming an astronaut was possible because as a kid in school he had a lot of trouble focusing. However, this didn’t stop him from becoming a veteran of four space flights. Being an astronaut is an undeniable accomplishment and and with all the demands of the role, he didn’t let focus issues get in the way of that achievement. Photo: Robert Markowitz – NASA/Flickr
“Having ADHD, and taking medicine for it[. It] is nothing to be ashamed of[,] nothing that I’m afraid to let people know [about.]”
Biles is an Olympic gymnast who competed in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. She won four gold medals and one bronze medal, complete with her own signature move. Biles was diagnosed with ADHD when she was 7 years old. She is very open about her diagnoses and even tweeted that she didn’t think ADHD is anything to be ashamed of. Her dedication and focus to her craft break through the myth of what a person with ADHD can achieve. Photo: Agência Brasil Fotografias/Flickr
“The minute I got diagnosed it was like someone put glasses on.”
Pennington is a television host, artist, and model. He is well known for hosting ABC’s reality TV show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. He didn’t receive his ADHD diagnosis until adulthood but says he wishes he would have been tested sooner because it put his whole life into perspective. Growing up, he had always struggled with focusing and he used art as a way to cope. Once he received the diagnosis, he understood why he had been struggling, but that clearly didn’t keep him from creating amazing work. He encourages others to get tested and research treatment options. Photo: Lloyd Gallman/Flickr
“I feel a little bit of relief because, for so long, I’ve been fighting it and I’ve been so frustrated with this inability to focus.”
Ling is an American journalist and is currently the host of This is Life with Lisa Ling on CNN. She was forty when she received a diagnosis of ADD. She says that she has noticed that she has always had trouble focusing, specifically on things she wasn’t interested in and even recalls that in elementary school teachers would often tell her parents she had issues focusing. Even without a diagnosis, Ling persevered and became a successful journalist. Photo: Greg Hernandez/Flickr
“I’m an Olympic Champion and I have ADHD.”
Phelps is an olympic swimmer and the most decorated Olympic athlete. He was diagnosed with ADHD as a child and admits to he used to be embarrassed of having to take Ritalin. He recalls teachers treating him differently because he had ADHD and even had one teacher tell him he would never succeed at anything. Boy, did he prove that teacher wrong, and is now one of the strongest advocates for kids with ADHD. Photo: Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil