I’m so excited to bring you this powerful and gut-punching conversation with Jonathan Mooney, a self-described “do-gooder,” speaker, and writer who didn’t learn to read until he was 12-years-old. Growing up with Dyslexia, Jonathan faced a number of low expectations: he was told he would be a high-school dropout and likely end up in jail. Instead, he earned a degree in English Literature, started his first non-profit organization in his college dorm, and has gone on to write a number of books, including his latest title Normal Sucks (which, side note: should be required reading for everyone). He’s been a champion for neurological and physical diversity for more than two decades, and his award-winning advocacy projects have been featured in major media outlets across the US. 

We cover so much ground in our conversation—all about the implications and prescriptions of “normal”—from the painful messages Jonathan received in his early life, to some of the disturbing research he came across while writing his book. But we also talk about the kind of powerful things that can happen for our kids when we set aside typical conventions, timelines, and expectations, and celebrate their differences. It’s not about just flourishing outside the box, it’s about shattering the box completely.

Frankly, I’m just so grateful there are people like Jonathan in the world doing this critical work, and I was so inspired and motivated by this conversation. I hope you enjoy the episode.


About Jonathan Mooney : Jonathan Mooney’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. A nationally recognized advocate for neurological and physical diversity, he’s been speaking across the nation about neurological and physical diversity for two decades, inspiring those who live with differences and calling for change. He has published three books: The Short Bus, Learning Outside the Lines, and Normal Sucks.



  • The story of how Jonathan came to write Normal Sucks
  • The powerful messages, both positive and negative, Jonathan heard from the adults in his life as a child with dyslexia
  • What is means to pathologize difference, and how even well-meaning organizations participate in this
  • The difficult and disturbing historical outcomes for differently-abled people, including the ideas and legacy of the Eugenics movement. 
  • How the idea of “normal” has evolved since Jonathan started his advocacy work
  • Why Jonathan believes that learning differences are a gift and why this is such an important concept
  • What parents and teachers can do to help children to see their differences as strengths



  • Jonathan Mooney’s website
  • Rich Weinfeld / The Weinfeld Education Group



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Read through the whole episode!





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