“The only normal people are the people you don’t know very well.” — Jonathan Mooney
Today we have Jonathan Mooney on the podcast. Jonathan is a dyslexic writer and speaker who did not learn to read until 12 years old. He faced a number of low expectations growing up— was told he would flip burgers, be a high school drop out and end up in jail. Needless to say these prophecies didn’t come to pass. Today, he speaks across the nation about neurological and physical diversity, inspiring those who live with differences and advocating for change. Mooney’s work has been featured in outlets such as The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, HBO, NPR, and ABC News, and his books include The Short Bus, Learning Outside the Lines, and most recently, Normal Sucks: How to Live, Learn, and Thrive Outside the Lines.
In this episode we discuss:
- What is normal?
- How the creation of special ed was originally an act of inclusion
- The unintended complications of creating a special education program
- Jonathan’s story growing up in special ed
- The twice-exceptional (2e) movement
- How giftedness comes with a “complicated brew” of assets and challenges
- The importance of recognizing the 2e within ourselves and sharing that with the world
- The importance of not hiding the things that make us different, but celebrating those things
- How Jonathan once took on many personas to hide his differences
- How the average got conflated with the impossible ideal in society
- The value judgement that is placed on IQ from a cultural perspective
- Going from “How smart are you?” to “How are you smart”?
- Jonathan feeling deficient because he was different
- How Jonathan went on a journey driving a school bus across the United States and listened to people with atypical brains and bodies
- The value of human fallibility
- The Eye to Eye mentoring program
- How the private sector corporate diversity policies can make difference by including atypical brains and bodies as part of diversity initiatives