Jonathan Mooney

Dyslexic writer & activist

Jonathan Mooney is an award winning writer, entrepreneur, and activist who did not learn to read until he was twelve years old. He holds an honors degree from Brown University, is a Harry S. Truman Scholar for Public Service (California, 1999), and was a finalist for a Rhodes scholarship. With the publication of Learning Outside The Lines (now in its 28th printing) when he was 23, Jonathan has established himself as one of the foremost leaders in the neurodiversity and the learning revolution. His second book, The Short Bus: A Journey Beyond Normal was published in the spring of 2007. Both books are considered foundational texts in the disability rights movement, the inclusive education movement, and the learning revolution and are used in under-graduate and graduate program at universities and colleges across the country.

In 2008 Jonathan’s social impact work was recognized by the Lab School of Washington where he shared the stage
with the then Vice President of the United States, Joseph Biden.

Jonathan’s work has been featured in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, USA Today, HBO, NPR, ABC News, New York Magazine, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe, and he continues to speak across the nation about neurological and physical diversity, inspiring those who live with differences and advocating for change.

Jonathan been a professional public speaker for over 15 years and have spoken in 49 states and five countries. Over the years he has spoken to kids in kindergarten, corporate execs, high school students, Ivy League professors, social workers, librarians, inmates, designers, parents, teachers, and everyone in-between about re-imaging education for the 21th century, inclusion, neurodiversity, the myth of normalcy, youth empowerment and much more. While he tailors each presentation to his clients needs, all of Jonathan’s presentations are delivered without notes or power point slides with humor, heart, and passion.

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NORMAL SUCKSHow to Live, Learn, and Thrive, Outside the Lines
St. Martin's Griffin

Confessional and often hilarious, in Normal Sucks a neuro-diverse writer, advocate, and father offers a radical message of acceptance and empowerment.

THE SHORT BUSA Journey Beyond Normal
Henry Holt and Co.

The Short Bus is Mooney's irreverent and poignant record of that odyssey, meeting thirteen people in thirteen states who taught Mooney that there's no such thing as normal—and that to really live, every person must find their own special way of keeping on.

Those Kids Jonathan explores three ideas that changed his life and that all educators can adopt to support vulnerable and at risk learners. He provides concrete strategies to support teachers in building a positive learning identity when many students like him self believe they are “stupid, crazy, and lazy”; he outlines a strengths based approached the gives teacher concrete idea on how to scale students strengths and build contextualized learning pathways; and he explores the power of student teachers connections and relationships as the foundation of transformative learning environments.
The End of School and The Future of Learning Jonathan Mooney new talk, Dispatches from the Front lines of the Learning Revolution, brings to life, and makes sense out of, the disruptive learning innovations that are rearing their heads everywhere. Classrooms are being “flipped” where teachers use technology to deliver content and invest their time in active learning; learning network coops are exploding; communities are being turned into classrooms; and college is being challenged as the sole gatekeeper to a successful adult life. Funny, real, and forward thinking, this presentations will inspire parents, teachers, not to reform schools but to reimagine what education can be, to dare its potential, from the ground up
School Can Suck. After School Shouldn’t. In this personal, humorous, and researched based talk, Jonathan explores the foundational principles of transformative out of school time experiences that change kids lives. Far from arguing that after school programs should “align” with the school day, Jonathan celebrates the unique pedagogy and values of the after school programs and raises the provocative challenge that the traditional school day should be more like the best after school programs.
The Only Normal People Are People You Don’t Know Very Well This presentation draws on the best practices of inclusion to affirm and celebrate and challenge the audience to recommit to inclusive education and communities. In this presentation Jonathan looks at how inclusive leaning environments and communities believe that individuals don’t have disabilities but experience disabilities as about as a result of environmental constraints, have a deep commitment to disability as a form of human diversity and have taken steps to include disability within a larger diversity and social justice and civil rights paradigm, and lastly have a strength-based human centered design approach to engaging and empowering opposed to pathologizing people with cognitive and physical differences. This presentation draws on cutting edge research in inclusion and neuro-diversity concrete examples of best practices from communities around the world and ultimately affirms and celebrates the inclusive movement as a fight for every human beings right to be different.
Don’t Eat The Marshmallow In this new talk Jonathan beings to life this revolution and explores the concrete ways parents, professionals and educators can build non-cognitive skills like resiliency perseverance hope and mindset.

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- George Stephanopoulos, ABC News

“I brought Jonathan to Louisiana to speak to every principle in the state because he has an important message, expertly delivered, that every educator should hear. Hands down he is one of the best speakers I’ve worked with!”
- Cecil J. Picard former Louisiana state superintendent of education. Member of both houses of the Louisiana State Legislature.

“Jonathan Mooney is a rare speaker - passionate, informed and interesting. His perspective on learning differences helps parents, educators and clinicians gain a new understanding of a child or teenager’s experiences. His suggestions, strategies and viewpoint can help schools become more useful and friendly for students with learning differences. Jonathan Mooney is a great friend to kids with learning differences.
– Harold S. Koplewicz, M.D. Director, Child Mind Institute

“Jonathan Mooney is a true, one-of-a-kind gem! He has graced the BOOST Conference stage twice and is a crowd favorite every single time. He is a topnotch speaker, entertaining, brilliant, and without a doubt, captures the voice of today’s youth. He has the rare ability to make the audience laugh, cry, think and feel deeply, and puts it all in perspective because everyone has a Jonathan Mooney in their classroom or program.”
- Tia Quinn, CEO & Founder BOOST Collaborative

THE SHORT BUS “Jonathan Mooney is an uplifting, rebellious voice who will strike a chord with anyone who has ever had a hard time marching in step in a culture of conformity. His book is not just about how Jon found personal success after growing up with severe learning differences (dyslexia and ADHD), it's the story of his journey to accept himself by finding others labeled "disabled" or "not normal" who have survived and even triumphed. In person, in his amazing speeches around the country, Jonathan speaks with heart, spirit and energy, helping audiences re-imagine their lives. He does this same thing in his remarkable, magical book. Get on the short bus and fasten your seat belts. No matter who you are, you won't be the same at the end of this ride.”
— Edward M. Hallowell M.D., author of Delivered from Distraction: Getting the Most Out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder and other books

“Curious and compassionate, clearheaded and self-questioning, enlightened and illuminating, Jonathan Mooney takes us on a modern yet timeless odyssey. In his drive across America, he steers us past his own painful memories, through the history of disabilities, and into the lives of people who refuse to be oppressed. A long overdue tribute to our brothers and sisters on the short bus, and a desperately needed battle cry against the tyranny of normalcy.”
—Rachel Simon, author of Riding the Bus with My Sister

“Hop on board The Short Bus with Jonathan Mooney to experience a one of a kind ride. Purposefully taking readers far beyond the limits of 'normalcy,' he drives deep into the heart of human existence--asking us where do we truly stand in our acceptance of diversity? As the informative, insightful, and irreverent guide of the tour, Mooney bares his soul and his ass in equal measure. Passing through the unpredictable landscape, we encounter the often disarming beauty of human difference embodied in the everyday lives of (extra)ordinary people who--by their very existence--shatter the ideals of "mainstream" America. Ultimately, The Short Bus is a true celebration of survival and diversity.”
—Dr. David J. Connor, Co-author of Reading Resistance