Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can be a significant hurdle for kids and adults. It makes it difficult to focus on tasks, increases the risk of impulsive behaviors, and makes getting work done a very difficult prospect. That doesn’t mean that people with ADHD can’t succeed, however. With the right treatment, especially early on in life, many ADHD sufferers can go on to do great things. Here are some famous people with ADHD who have learned to excel despite their condition.
Michael Phelps – This Olympic swimmer was diagnosed at the age of nine and received the standard stimulant-based therapy. With the help of his mother and swimming practice, however, he was able to give up his medication. The star athlete compensates for his attention and hyperactivity problems by working out regularly.
David Neeleman – The man behind JetBlue Airways made big changes in how we fly, despite his difficulties with mundane day to day tasks. Neeleman copes with his ADHD by surrounding himself with detail-oriented people who help him stay on track. He also attributes some of his success to his unusual brain chemistry: he has a knack for finding simple solutions to extremely complicated situations.
Katherine Ellison – This Pulitzer Prize-winning author didn’t receive her diagnosis until the age of 49, after her son was identified as an ADHD sufferer. Ellison wrote about her family’s challenges relating to the condition in the book: “Buzz: A Year of Paying Attention.”
Jamie Oliver – Childhood ADHD caused significant problems for Oliver, who believes that many common junk foods may aggravate the disorder. The chef now manages his symptoms via healthy eating and lifestyle choices. He is working to help improve childhood nutrition in order to help other kids avoid the symptoms of attention disorders.
Will Smith – This actor was known for his difficulty with paying attention as a child, but he was never formally diagnosed with ADHD. He says he had trouble reading and difficulty staying on task. Now, he uses books on tape to help with the reading trouble, and other techniques to manage attention.
Mary-Kate Olsen – This actress and fashion designer is known for her unique look, but she and her twin also have ADHD, which they treat with medication. Like other people with this disorder, Olsen has a higher risk for mental and emotional disorders, and has suffered from anorexia nervosa in the past.
Jim Carrey – Carrey’s zany comedy may be a direct result of his ADHD tendencies. This actor says he coped as a child by being the class clown, a choice that eventually made him a comedy star.
Paris Hilton – Known primarily as an heiress and reality TV star, Hilton also suffers from ADHD. Initially diagnosed at the age of 12, she takes Adderall to help her manage the impulsiveness and focus problems caused by her condition.
Early treatment and parental support play a big role in the success of famous people with ADHD. Providing your child with this kind of care is an important part of helping him or her fight the disorder.