20 Geniuses with Learning Disabilities

There are numerous examples of people with disabilities who go on to achieve greatness. These people apply their best efforts to accomplish greatness despite lacking abilities that others take for granted. So, with that in mind, we selected 20 geniuses with learning disabilities who applied their unusual talents in creativity, athleticism, visualization, and leadership.

How do we know these folks had disabilities — especially when some of them were born before that disability was named?

Biographers look for clues in the writings and letters to see if they can puzzle out and put a name to the disabilities of past geniuses. Some people on this list are in this category even though they not having been professionally diagnosed. But, they did experience challenges that make their achievements even more noteworthy.

1. Charles Darwin

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Charles Darwin is known for having contributed to the foundational science of evolution, stating that all species of life descended over time from a common ancestor. Professor Michael Fitzgerald authored a book called In Autism and Creativity: Is There a Link Between Autism in Men and Exceptional Ability?* He claims that Darwin had Asperger’s syndrome and that the condition explains his poor social skills and obsession with examining and explaining the complex topic of evolution.

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2. Agatha Christie

Photo Credit: Smithsonian

Agatha Christie is one of the most published authors ever having sold over 2 billion copies of her novels and short stories. Her work has been translated into 103 languages. Agatha Christie had both dyslexia and dysgraphia making it difficult for her to write. To overcome her challenges, she would dictate her stories to a typist. 

3. Albert Einstein

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Albert Einstein developed the theory of relativity. He won the Nobel Prize in Physics. There are disagreements about whether or not Einstein had a learning disability. He did struggle in school, particularly with memorization. He also said that he found learning difficult.

Einstein had antisocial habits as a young man and remained socially eccentric. His trademark unkempt hair and perpetually dark wardrobe attest to his lack of concern with his appearance. He also said that he thought nonverbally. He would have to find words to express his ideas after he had breakthroughs. He excelled at spatial reasoning and imagination. People who would try to diagnose Einstein’s challenges fall somewhere between autism and dyslexia. Others like to believe that his difficulties were within the normal range of performance.

4. George Washington

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George Washington, the first President of the United States, is believed to have had dyslexia. He struggled with grammar and spelling throughout his life. But none of that stopped him from becoming the first US President, performing great acts, and being memorialized on the dollar bill and Mount Rushmore.