Leonardo da Vinci

15 April 1452 – 2 May 1519

Inventor, Painter, Designer, Musician -"Renaissance Man"

Leonardo da Vinci was an inventor, painter, and sculptor whose broad interests also included architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history, and cartography.

Art historian Helen Gardner wrote that the scope and depth of his interests were without precedent in recorded history, and “his mind and personality seem to us superhuman”.

One remarkable indication that Leonardo was likely dyslexic is in his handwriting. Leonardo was constantly sketching out his ideas for inventions. Most of the time, he wrote his notes in reverse, mirror image:

Leonardo mirror writing sample

Although unusual, this is a trait sometimes shared by other left-handed dyslexic adults. Most of the time, dyslexic writers are not even consciously aware that they are writing this way; it is simply an easier and more natural way for them to write.

Leonardo’s spelling is also considered erratic and quite strange. He also started many more projects then he ever finished – a characteristic now often associated with attention deficit disorder (ADHD).

However, when it came to his drawing and artwork, Leonardo’s work is detailed and precise.

Leonardo sketch of helicopterLeonardo was intrigued with the concept of human flight, and spent many years toying with various ideas for flying machines. When he drew his flying machine, he wrote (backwards, of course): “A small model can be made of paper with a spring like metal shaft that after having been released, after having been twisted, causes the screw to spin up into the air.”


His extraordinary art work and inventive genius are proof that he truly possessed the gift of dyslexia.


  • Mona Lisa
  • The Last Supper
  • Virgin of the Rocks
  • St.John the Baptist
  • The Virgin and Child with St. Anne

Inventive Designs:

  • Leonardo’s Robot (mechanical knight)
  • Helicopter (Aerial Screw)
  • Parachute
  • Ornithopter
  • Mechanical Adding Machine
  • Diving Suit
  • Steam Cannon
  • Machine Gun
  • Armored Tank


  • Lid

    I thought he wrote his notes this way so that others could not steal his ideas and the catholic church could not accuse him…

  • Luciana


    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      There is no way to know for sure whether Leonardo was dyslexic — all we can know is that he had many traits that are consistent with dyslexia.

  • viva

    Oh my Leonardo is awesome, learning about him is the best thing ever, always seeing the great Mona Lisa never imagined he did that painting…I so much love his last supper

  • Beth

    I teach ART:) to 500+ students each school year and love sharing this with my class…The students think it is so KOOL!!! like he is writing in secret code and try to duplicate his style.They quickly see how difficult this really is.

    Hopefully, this is EMPOWERING to my students who struggle with this challenge daily…

  • park j

    ahhhh chincha!!! this man is extremely talented but he made my homework hard!

  • I don’t know why I love this man .I love to be like him and Albert Einstein

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