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ADHD success stories!

As a parent of two children with ADHD, I do worry for their futures.  I take a check on myself though and stop myself fretting.  I mean, we worry about all our children, right?  But in a society where so much emphasis is placed on academic achievement, it is only natural to worry when your child is not as academic. 

I am not saying all children with ADHD are not academic.  Far from it.  My youngest is quite the little genius, if only he would sit still long enough to hear an entire lesson.  My daughter has ADHD and dyslexia and dyscalculia.  Imagine how frustrated she was in the classroom before dyslexia was diagnosed!  She is very practically minded though and can work out situations to a tee!  So unbelievably empathetic, more than any adult I have ever met.  Oh, and her skills for finding things due to her hyper-vigilance, have helped me out to no end!

You see, with ADHD, it is not about them being or not being academic, it is more about how ADHD places obstacles in their way in a mainstream classroom.  If some of the obstacles were removed, the everyday classroom could become an ADHD-friendly place.  Bet you more children with ADHD would succeed academically then.  (For my blog post on ADHD classroom suggestions click HERE).  Sometimes people with ADHD can be perceived as having low intelligence.  Many individuals with ADHD are in fact highly intelligent in the right environment.  They just need to channel their creativity.

My point here is not deliberate negatives, but positives.  To discuss the ADHD success stories, and not just academic success stories.  Life success stories of well-known people with ADHD.  I think sometimes it’s good for us to read them!

Famous ADHD Success Stories

Adam Levine ADHD
Adam Levine, swoon

Adam Levine – Yes, the hot, multi-talented, lead singer from Maroon 5.  Diagnosed as a child, he says he had great difficulty sitting still and focusing.  He praises his parents for their patience with him.  He realised as an adult it was still very much part of his life.  Only one in three people grow out of ADHD.  However, he has learned to work with it and passionately believes it is not a bad thing.

The human fish!

Michael Phelps – Olympic Gold Medallist!  Michael Phelps mother was so grateful for swimming, not that she imagined the success he would make of it!  She just wanted somewhere for him to release all his energy.  In his book ‘Beneath the Surface: My Story’, he claims he spoke too fast and could not make eye contact with people when they spoke.  He was unable to focus on one thing in class and was often in trouble.  It was only when his sisters took him to the pool that he found his love, and focus, for swimming.

Actress, model and activist

Emma Watson – Yes!  The star of Harry Potter films, and more, was diagnosed and medicated throughout the entire filming of Harry Potter.  She is a grade-A student and has an English Literature Degree from Oxford University.  She has also been a Good Will Ambassador at the United Nations.  A true success story.

Richard Branson ADHD
Like a Virgin

Richard Branson – Entrepreneur Richard Branson, owner of Virgin Group, started his first magazine at 16.  He believes that the risk-taking side of ADHD made him try and achieve things that were deemed impossible.  He certainly seems to have done that, now owning 400 companies including Virgin Records and Virgin Atlantic. He was even knighted at Buckingham Palace in 2000.


Woody Harrelson  –  For me, he will always be Woody from Cheers.  Absolutely loved that show and loved the dim, but oh-so-sweet, Woody!  However, as an actor he has gone from strength to strength since then, playing such a variety of roles, he really is a versatile actor.  Diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia, he had a hard start to life with his father serving a life sentence.  Acting was not served to him on a plate and yet look at what he has achieved.


Simone Biles – The most decorated US gymnast, this amazing world champion was diagnosed as a child and is incredibly open about taking medication for ADHD.  She believes that ADHD does not need to hold you back if you approach it correctly.  She clearly is someone who has succeeded despite her diagnosis.  Very inspirational.

Bill Gates ADHD
Can you lend us a fiver?

Bill Gates – The creator of Microsoft apparently struggled in school and could not wait to leave and set up his vision.  It appears that whilst ADHD can make life hard in the classroom when set free to focus on something they want to focus on, they can truly achieve.  Now he is now worth an estimated $ 92 billion (come on kids, no pressure!  Mama wants to retire!)


Solange Knowles – This singer, songwriter, and actress went for a second opinion when she was told she had ADHD.  She just thought she had an abundance of energy.  Apparently, people thought she was high when she was sober because she was so heightened!

When I started to look there were so many that I cannot possibly write about them all, but listed below are a few more names I found!

Steven SpielbergJustin Timberlake
Channing TatumKeanu Reeves
Sylvester StalloneWill Smith
Jim CarreyMichael Jordan
Robbie WilliamsBritney Spears

We all worry about ALL our children and their futures.  It is just that with children with ADHD we know the difficulties they face in mainstream classrooms.  Many of them do not thrive.  However, the traits that often are often tied to ADHD can help a child succeed.  The creativity; the risk-taking, the ultra-focus; the innovative ways of thinking. These can become an asset in a person’s life, not a hindrance.  Often after the school days end, the individual can channel their joys into something hugely successful. 

Not everything is about academic achievement.  I remember when school reports would come home.  The one thing that stuck out on each of my kid’s reports would say, ‘kind’.  I was so proud.  You see, I know kind does not get the bills paid these days, but I do know that it does make them employable human beings.  Someone you would like to have around in a workplace.  This, to me, is hugely important.  Of course, I want them to get good grades, but that is not the be-all in their life.  Yes, I encourage them.  Yes, I tell them the importance.  But I do not want to crush their spirit if it is unattainable to them.   

I had a look at jobs that match the criteria for ADHD i.e. passion-fuelled, fast-paced, structured, risk-taking, creative.  And whilst yes, you do need academic grades to start these, there are many that you can start as an apprentice and learn on the job, in training. 

Jobs that can embrace ADHD traits

SEN teacherAuthor
VetSocial Worker
Correctional OfficerFirefighter
Data AnalystLawyer
Racecar driverAirplane Pilot
Fitness TrainerPolice Officer
Sports CoachFactory Line Worker
DancerInterior Decorator
Stock BrokerSoftware Designer

I had the good fortune to work with someone in teacher training who had ADHD.  One of the best teachers, to be, that I have ever met. The kids adored them. Imagine having a SEN teacher or Social Worker that actually ‘got it’.  I would breathe a sigh of relief!

Obviously, this list is just an example of jobs that would utilise the usual ADHD traits.  Just because your child is not thriving in the classroom, does not mean they will not be a success in the outside world.  I genuinely believe, the best thing we as parents can give to them is love, support and self-belief, something many of these children lack.  The belief that they can achieve.  The belief that they are amazing.  The belief that school is not the only thing in this world. 

We are all good at different things in life.  I did very well in school, funnily enough.  I went on to be a dancer and then an air stewardess!  Two years ago, at aged 46 I completed a Psychology Degree with a First and other than the love of learning, have not used it professionally, yet!  I am just trying to say, we are all good at different things.  Everybody on the planet.  Try not to worry if your child with ADHD is not great at Maths or cannot spell for toffee.  Focus on what they can do.  They can still be a great success! And if your child turns out to be the next Bill Gates, remember me 😉

I have started a private support group on Facebook for parents and carers who need support with their child with ADHD. It’s a friendly place to chat with others. Please do click this link ADHDinchildren to join. And for anyone on Instagram, I’m there too ADHD Mum.

Vicki x

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Sandy

    Each of my 5 kids was academically different. Too much stress and attention is emphasized on academics. Not everyone is going to college, nor should they. My one who struggled the most with ADHD is now in college studying to be a PE teacher and is now a budding herbalist looking to calm her mind and body. She used up her energy playing sports throughout HS. My oldest son has ADD (that’s what they called it back in the day) and dyslexia. I had no idea about the dyslexia until after he graduated. He tested poorly in reading and got help but it was for the wrong thing. He still struggles. It sounds like you are a strong, smart momma who is ahead of the game and your kids will be ok because you are on top of it. ❤️💪🏻🙏🏼

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