Moment In Time: 6 Incredible People With Disabilities

30 April, 2021

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Vincent Van Gogh 1853-1890 Disability: Mental illness

One of the most famous and well recognized artist of all time, Vincent Van Gogh was a post-impressionist painter whose revolutionary work has marked the 20th century with several masterpieces that still resonate with us today. What might not come to mind is that Van Gogh had a condition called “Temporal Lobe Epilepsy” where he suffered from seizures. The drug he was prescribed had a side effect that was said to have caused a person to see yellow dots. Van Gogh also suffered from bipolar disorder which caused him to have frequent manic episodes. He would become overly enthusiastic with certain subjects and ideas. Perhaps this contributed to his fascinating art.

Helen Keller 1880- 1968 Disability: Deaf and Blind

Helen Keller, author, lecturer, feminist, and political activist, is one of the most well known advocates for people who are blind and deaf. Helen was born with both her hearing and sight until she contracted an illness, thought to be meningitis. Nevertheless, she had changed how society viewed the capabilities of those living with disabilities. She was also the first deafblind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree!

Albert Einstein 1879-1955 Disability: Asperger’s

According to research, if physicist, Albert Einstein, lived today, he would most likely be diagnosed with Asperger's, a mild form of autism. It was reported by his family that he had delayed speech, difficulty reading, and was more or less unsociable. This did not stop him from changing the face of modern physics through his proposition of the theory of relativity as well as the mass energy equivalence formula. After all, he did once said “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Thomas Edison 1837- 1931: Disability: Partially deaf with a learning disability (most likely ADHD)

Inventor of the light bulb, power utilities, sound recording, and motion pictures, Thomas Edison, was said to be hyperactive as a child, which was linked to his learning disability. He was not able to read until he was 12 years old. Furthermore, Edison was also slightly deaf after contracting scarlet fever at the age of 14. His writing skills remained ‘poor’ throughout his life.

Beethoven 1770-1827 Disability: Deaf

Ludwig van Beethoven is known as one of the greatest composers and pianist of all time. He began to show talent as a musician at a young age, composing 100’s of concertos, symphonies and piano sonatas. Around 1795, Beethoven began to lose some of his hearing. By the end of his life, he was almost completely deaf. At this time, he no longer played in public but continued to compose beautiful melodies that we still listen to today.

Frida Kahlo 1907- 1954 Disability: Polio

Frida Khalo was a mexican painter who is best recognized through her self portraits. Her art is proudly celebrated in Mexico as a national and indigenous tradition. She was also an important figure in feminism for her strong depiction of the female form and experience. While Frida was a talented and quite famous artist, she contracted polio, a viral illness that left her with one leg thinner than the other. Despite this, she still participated in various sports such as boxing and wrestling.