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Portrait of a Hero - 4 Famous People Who Overcame Childhood Challenges

 This article was written by GS Lacdao.     

He is a freelance writer for a website called spedpac ( which is a community for parents with special kids...
Our society has always given importance on skills as a prerequisite to becoming successful in life. Many people are easily overwhelmed with problems or limitations that they never come to know and reach their full potential. It is especially hard for parents of special children who are suffering from disabilities that make it hard for them to grow as normal children. What is inspiring is that there successful people who have encountered physical, mental or intellectual challenges during their childhood. Many of them still do, but with their fame, achievements and success, we can never imagine that they have experienced such huge hurdles in their life.

1.       Helen Keller was deaf and blind
This is a known fact to everyone who knows Helen Keller. She was not born as such; she contracted meningitis when she was 19 months old after which she lost her sight and hearing. One can only imagine the difficulty of being both deaf and blind, but for young Helen, life does not end there. With the help of Anne Sullivan, her teacher and companion, she was able to communicate effectively with the rest of the world. She was also the first deaf and blind person to earn a degree in Bachelor of Arts. Despite being handicapped, Helen became world-famous through her writings and lectures, and most specially her great triumph over her disabling condition.

2.       Tom Cruise is dyslexic
Famous movie star and producer Tom Cruise was diagnosed with dyslexia when he was only 7 years old. Dyslexia refers to a learning disability characterized by an impaired ability in reading, writing and spelling. As a student, Tom had difficulty in learning. He calls himself a “functional illiterate” because of his inability to perform well in class. Even with his auditions, he had to improvise to get the character that he wanted. Because he has difficulty reading and memorizing the scripts, he compensated with adlibbing his lines. Now he is one of the most successful film stars and is now producing movies of his own.

3.       Rowan Atkinson had speech problems
Rowan Atkinson is an English actor who is famous for his character Mr. Bean. During his childhood, Rowan had speech problems. He had a stutter and had difficulty saying the letter B. He compensated by over-articulating it. He soon used it in his comedy performance. He is now one of the most acclaimed comedy acts in Britain.

4.       Donna Williams has been diagnosed with autism
Donna Williams, an Australian author, singer, songwriter, artist, sculptor and screenwriter, had a rather difficult childhood. Besides her problematic family, she experienced extreme difficulties in the form of immune deficiencies, food allergies, nutrient deficiencies, high-dose antibiotic medications, communication ineffectiveness and other conditions that made her become labeled as disturbed and psychotic. It was only during her 20s that she was formally diagnosed with autism. She became world-renowned when she published her book Nobody Nowhere describing her experiences as a child. She has authored other books on autism, released two music albums, finished sculptures and paintings, and is now a teacher and consultant on autism.
There is no obstacle, big or small, to a person who is determined to reach what they have dreamed of. Whether handicapped or not, the thing that greatly determines a person’s likelihood in achieving success is his or her determination to get it.

G.S. Lacdao is a freelancer who writes for Special Education Parents Action Community where you can find information about education for children with special needs and disabilities, and share stories with other members via the online forum.


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