Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Not Letting Disability Stand in the Way of Success

If you have a disability, you may feel that you’ll never reach your potential or be as successful as your friends without disabilities. You probably have been frustrated as you see your classmates accomplish tasks and goals more quickly than you do, and wonder if you are destined for a life of failure and disappointment.

However, many people with disabilities have gone on to lead successful, productive lives full of personal and professional accomplishments. Chances are, you’ve even heard of some of them!


Justin Timberlake has OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) as well as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). He first gained fame in the late 1990′s as a member of boy band N’Sync, perhaps best known for their hit song “Bye Bye Bye.” After N’Sync broke up in the early 2000′s, Timberlake went on to become one of the biggest celebrities of the 21st century. In addition to writing, producing, and releasing two solo CD’s of his own, he has also starred in a number of highly successful movies including The Social Network and Friends with Benefits, written and produced songs for other artists, and won multiple awards, including three Emmys and six Grammys. Other celebrities with OCD include actor Leonardo DiCaprio, soccer player David Beckham, and actress Megan Fox.

Michael Phelps was diagnosed with ADHD as a young boy. He had so much trouble sitting still and paying attention in school that his teachers told his mother that he would never be able to focus on anything. He was able to channel his energy into swimming, and went on to become a competitive swimmer.  He proved his teachers wrong by winning 19 gold medals in the Olympics and breaking the Olympic record.  Other celebrities with ADHD include “Dancing With The Stars” finalist Karina Smirnoff, actor and rapper Will Smith, actor and comedian Jim Carrey, and pop superstar Britney Spears.

Samuel L. Jackson had a serious stutter as a child. At the suggestion of his speech therapist, he got involved in acting as a way to improve his speech. He grew up to become an Academy Award-winning actor, starring in movies such as Pulp Fiction and Shaft.  Other celebrities who once had speech impediments include Bruce Willis and Julia Roberts.

John Mellencamp has spina bifida, a disorder of the spinal column. His disability didn’t stop him from becoming one of America’s most beloved rock singers and a member of the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame. His numerous hit songs include “Small Town,” “Little Pink Houses,” “Jack and Diane,” and “Hurts So Good.”  Other celebrities with spina bifida include Grammy-winning folk/country singer Lucinda Williams and pro golfer Sebi Garcia.

The hit television series Glee includes several cast members with disabilities. Jane Lynch, who stars as cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester, is deaf in one ear. Lauren Potter (Becky Jackson) and Robin Trocki (Jean Sylvester) both have Down Syndrome.  Also, The Glee Project, a reality TV show/talent competition in which the winner gets cast on Glee, included three contestants with disabilities this past summer. Ali Strocker has been paralyzed since she was in a car accident as a toddler, and uses a wheelchair. Charlie Lubeck has ADHD and autism. Mario Bonds is blind. Although none of them won the competition, the disability community became more represented on TV as a result of these three finalists.

So, if you have a disability, think of all that these celebrities have accomplished, and say, “bye bye bye” to the notion that you’ll never be successful!
 
- Authored by Becky Rizoli

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