October is both Learning Disabilities Awareness Month and an ADHD Awareness Month. According to Statistics Canada, more than half (59.8%) of all the children with disabilities in this country have a learning disability, 3.2% of all Canadian children have a learning disability – that’s roughly one child in every class. Many a time kids with Learning Disability or ADHD are discounted by the teachers and educators, and not much is expected of them. That’s why i decided to put together this list of disabled individuals who were absolutely extraordinary.
- Terry Fox: A true Canadian icon, Winnipeg native Terry Fox is synonymous with determination and courage. After having lost a leg to cancer, he set out on a cross-country marathon to raise awareness and funds for cancer research. He was forced to quit 143 days into his run, and soon after lost his battle, he stands today as a pillar of hope and determination that all Canadians can look up to.
- Helen Keller: Though blind and deaf, Helen Keller went on to become an activist, author and lecturer, due in no small part to the efforts of her teacher, Annie Sullivan. Ms. Sullivan taught her how to communicate during a time when such profound disabilities were seen to be insurmountable. She founded the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) in 1920, and traveled to over thirty-nine countries during her life, making friends with such notables as Charlie Chaplin, Graham Bell and Mark Twain.
- Stephen Hawking: a British Theoretical Physicist, Stephen Hawking developed a form of ALS, motor neuron disease, at the age of twenty one. Doctors gave him a prognosis of two to three years, but he has gone on to marry twice, father three children, write a bestselling book (A Brief History of Time), and has won several awards. He is recognized as one of the most intelligent men on the planet, even though as of 2009 he is completely paralyzed.
Ludwig Van Beethoven: It is common knowledge that Beethoven was hearing impaired. In his day, this alone would have been enough to discredit his work, but he went on to become one of the most revered and respected composers in all of He began losing his hearing in his twenties, but composed some of his greatest works when he was for all intents and purposes, completely deaf.
- Vincent Van Gogh: The Dutch Painter suffered from severe mental illness and depression, which worsened over time. His story did not unfold nor end well; though he was a prolific artist and painter, and some of his paintings are the most valuable in the art world today, one selling for $82.5 million. He sold no more than two works (out of more than nine hundred to his credit) prior to his death, spent some time in a psychiatric hospital, and at the age of thirty-seven he shot himself in the chest.
- Frida Kahlo: Afflicted by polio when she was just a child, Frida also suffered with spinal bifida, which likely affected her spine and leg development. She became a renowned Mexican painter, many of her works self-portraits that depicted her pain and suffering. The polio had left one of her legs greatly weakened and atrophied, which she hid with long skirts. She was prone to long bouts of extreme pain that would leave her unable to walk for months at a time, yet she continued to produce works that are world-renowned and instantly recognizable for her style and use of vibrant colour.