Jim Livingstone

Inspiring ADHD’ers

Michael Phelps’s

ADHD made schoolwork difficult for Phelps when he was little. He liked to move, acted up in class, and had a hard time getting his work finished. Phelps was diagnosed with ADHD at age 9.

“I [saw] kids who, we were all in the same class, and the teachers treated them differently than they would treat me,” Phelps told People magazine. “I had a teacher tell me that I would never amount to anything and I would never be successful.”

The medication made his symptoms better, but it was in the pool that Phelps found the ability to deal with his disorder. The routine of practice and the soothing effects of the water helped him to cope and excel.

Karina Smirnoff

This “Dancing with the Stars” performer and professional dancer went public with her ADHD diagnosis in 2009.

“As a professional dancer, I’ve become known for my moves and my career accomplishments, but most people don’t know about another part of my life — I’m an adult with ADHD,” Smirnoff told The Saturday Evening Post.

Smirnoff is able to channel much of her energy into her dancing. She’s a five-time U.S. National Champion and a World Trophy Champion.

“Like most adults, my schedule is very busy. My day is filled with 10-hour dance rehearsals for my television show, teaching choreography, dancing in shows, and constant travel,” she says. “With improvement in my ADHD symptoms, I can focus on finishing what I start.”

Howie Mandel

This game show host and stand-up comedian is known for his vivacious personality as well as for his disorders. Mandel has both ADHD and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). He grew up with these disorders during a time when they weren’t officially diagnosed or understood.

“Back in the 1960s, when I was growing up, my symptoms didn’t have a name and you didn’t go to the doctor to find out. So, in my case, they were called ‘Howie Mandel,’” Mandel wrote for Additude magazine.

Today, the “America’s Got Talent” host takes medication and attends therapy to help him deal with his disorders.

“After I impulsively revealed that I have OCD on a talk show, I was devastated. I often do things without thinking. That’s my ADHD talking,” Mandel wrote. “Out in public, after I did the show, people came to me and said, ‘Me, too.’ They were the most comforting words I’ve ever heard. Whatever you’re dealing with in life, know that you’re not alone.”

Ty Pennington

This home improvement guru was always full of energy as a child. Pennington was hyperactive, and he was a distraction to other children in the classroom. Doctors weren’t sure how to treat his behavioral problems at first.

“My mom was studying to be a child psychologist and she went to my elementary school to test the worst kid they had. They were like, ‘Mrs. Pennington, you really don’t want to know who that is,’” Pennington told the Huffington Post.

“They let her observe me through a window and within 20 minutes I stripped naked, wore my desk around, and swung on the blinds. I was just a complete distraction to all the other students.”

Pennington added that doctors gave him antihistamines to make him drowsy. Now, he takes medicine from time to time in small doses, and still sees a psychiatrist. Pennington channels the symptoms of his ADHD into his career and his hobbies.

“Once I figured out I was pretty decent at art and people were interested in hiring me, I realized I had a skill besides injuring myself,” Pennington says. “What’s kind of funny is that I ended up working with power tools to pay my way through art school and still have all my digits.”

Adam Levine

This Maroon 5 frontman and host of “The Voice” has come a long way to his success. He wrote for Additude magazine that as a kid, he struggled with what seemed normal to other kids — sitting still, completing work, focusing.

His parents helped him find treatment, but his problems with attention persisted into adulthood.

“I had trouble sometimes writing songs and recording in the studio. I couldn’t always focus and complete everything I had to. I remember being in the studio once and having 30 ideas in my head, but I couldn’t document any of them,” he wrote.

He went back to the doctor and learned that the ADHD hadn’t gone away as he’d grown up. In fact, he still deals with it daily.

“ADHD isn’t a bad thing, and you shouldn’t feel different from those without ADHD,” he wrote. “Remember that you are not alone. There are others going through the same thing.”

Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake, the multifaceted singer and actor, revealed in an interview with Collider.com that he has both OCD and ADD.

“I have OCD mixed with ADD,” he says. “You try living with that [combination].”

Since that interview, Timberlake hasn’t spoken about either of his conditions or how the two affect his day-to-day life. But the multiple Grammy and Emmy award winner has clearly found a way to manage his symptoms and live a fulfilling, highly successful life.

Paris Hilton

The hotel heiress and socialite Paris Hilton revealed that she was diagnosed with ADD as a child in an interview with Larry King.

“I’ve been on medication since I was a child,” she says. “I have ADD, so I take medication for that.”

Simone Biles

The Olympic gymnast won hearts across the country with her 2016 gymnastic performance. Her powerful tumbles and gravity-defying beam routines set hearts ablaze and earned her the 2016 Olympic individual all-around, vault, and floor gold medals.

After the Olympics were over, leaked drug tests from the Olympic committee showed that Biles tested positive for methylphenidate. This drug is also known as Ritalin. It’s prescribed to many individuals with attention disorders, including Biles.

“I have ADHD and I have taken medicine for it since I was a kid,” Biles wrote on her Twitter account. “Please know, I believe in clean sport, have always followed the rules, and will continue to do so as fair play is critical to sport and is very important to me.”

Solange Knowles

When she was first diagnosed with ADHD, singer, songwriter, and artist Solange Knowles didn’t find solace in finally having an answer for her issues. Instead, she visited another doctor for a second opinion.

“I was diagnosed with ADHD twice,” she told BET. “I didn’t believe the first doctor who told me and I had a whole theory that ADHD was just something they invented to make you pay for medicine, but then the second doctor told me I had it.”

Zooey Deschanel

Zooey Deschanel is a famous actress who has demonstrated that living with ADHD may not be that difficult. Although she is not using any ADHD treatment, she is proudly overcoming Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder with her own methods by doing craft projects on Hello Giggles.

Emma Watson

She is best known for her Hermione Granger role in “Harry Potter.” She was diagnosed with ADHD when she was a kid. Although she has never talked about her condition and that she has struggled with ADHD for a long time, many sources like ADDitude Magazine have confirmed that it’s true.

Michelle Rodriguez

She has been one of the most openly famous people with ADHD by willingly sharing the story of her condition in one of the interviews she had with Cosmopolitan Magazine. She didn’t let ADHD move ahead of overtaking her career. In fact, she got to play important roles in famous TV series and movies such as Lost and Fast & Furious.

Woody Harrelson

Another award-winning actor that we would like to mention among famous people with ADHD is Woody Harrelson. Obviously, ADHD symptoms couldn’t beat his passion for becoming a great actor.

Ryan Gosling

He won not only hearts but also a Golden Globe. Ryan Gosling is another example of someone who struggled in school years because of his ADHD, but had the strength to turn it into an award-winning career in Hollywood.

Will Smith

Not only an award-winning actor but also a producer and rapper, Will Smith also claims that he has ADHD. Forbes ranked him among the “most bankable stars” so his success is more than evident despite his condition.

Terry Bradshaw

Focusing and standing still can be challenging for children and adults with ADHD. Terry was also experienced difficulties in school and decided to shift his concentration to sports. Eventually, he became a Super Bowl Champion.

Michael Jordan

He is known as the greatest basketball player of all time. Yet, he was never completely content with what he had achieved and he always tried to discover himself, which is also considered a common symptom of ADHD.

Loyle Carnel

Carnel believes that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder helped him in becoming a successful singer and musician. When he was young, he couldn’t figure out what the problem was, but after he was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia, he turned it into something positive for his life.


You may rogue l remember him as a member of the Black Eyed Peas. William is a great example of someone who can see ADHD’s positive sides. In an interview with the Mirror, he claims that this disorder helped him become successful in his music career by saying “For every obstacle, there’s some type of solution. So if you have ADHD it’s your passion point.”

John Lennon

The singer, songwriter, and peace activist John Lennon is also believed to have had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. He was having so much difficulty in class that he dropped out of school. However, he successfully managed to live with ADHD and became one of the most famous people in the world.

Dav Pilkey

The famous writer and illustrator Dav Pilkey is known for his Captain Underpants book series. He was punished at school several times because of his acting out that was a result of his ADHD. He started creating the famous book series during a detention time at school.

Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie is one of the most famous writers of all time. Her books are translated into 103 different languages and four billion copies are sold in total. She had not been diagnosed with ADHD in her lifetime but it is commonly known that she had difficulties due to dysgraphia.

George Bernard Shaw

The writer of more than 100 plays, Shaw deeply criticized the existing education system of his time. A lot of people believe Shaw had ADHD which prevented him from accepting the education system as it was at the time.

Jules Verne

The father of the science fiction genre and a huge inspiration for the steampunk stream, Verne had a hard time in school He was unable to focus on the school tasks and projects but he was into writing from an early age. Although he was not diagnosed with ADHD, it is commonly accepted today that he probably suffered from this condition.

Walt Disney

Walt Disney, the creator of Mickey Mouse, one of the first and biggest cults of the animation world, is also on the list of those who struggled with ADHD especially due to the difficulties he experienced during his school years.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mozart, the genius of classical music and one of the biggest composers of the 18th century, is among those who struggled with ADHD according to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.

Alexander Graham Bell

Bell, the inventor of the phone, gained his innovative and problem-solving personality thanks to his struggle with ADHD even though he had serious problems during his school years.

Albert Einstein

Einstein is one of the most important physicists of the 20th century. He was known for his carelessness and forgetfulness. But Einstein is another award-winning, famous person to prove that it is possible to be successful and productive with ADHD.

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