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Meet Jonathan Mooney

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Meet Jonathan Mooney

Meet Jonathan Mooney, prolific author, sought-after national speaker, and a young man with significant learning disabilities.

  • Duration: 3 minutes
  • Date Posted: 3/11/2015
  • Topics: Learning Disability, Supportive Adults, Celebrating Differences

Funding for this series was provided in part by the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation.


So my name is Jonathan Mooney, and I'm originally from Los Angeles, California.

And you know I had a very tumultuous and painful school experience as somebody who learned differently.

I was the kid who spent most of the day hiding out in the hallway with the janitor.

I was the kid who grew up on a first name basis with Shirley the receptionist in the principal's office.

You know I was the kid who spent most of the day hiding in the bathroom to escape reading out loud.

I didn't learn to read until I was 12.

Was diagnosed with dyslexia and ADD or attention deficit disorder when I was in fourth grade.

And I actually dropped out of school for two years in sixth grade.

And that year I had a plan for suicide.

So I had a lot of low expectations that surrounded me in my life.

I was told that I would flip burgers for a living.

I was told that I would be a high school dropout.

I'd be incarcerated.

And eventually I ended up kind of beating those odds and going to college and being a writer and being an advocate for people with cognitive and physical differences.

So while school started as a difficult experience, it's something that I managed to change and reimagine in my own life.

And I have to say, coming to an understanding of myself as person with a learning difference or disability what was an important moment.

Before I was diagnosed, I really thought of myself as the stupid, crazy, lazy kid.

Those were messages I was getting from teachers, from peers, from my own father.

And being able to understand myself differently, know that the reason I struggled with reading and writing wasn't because I was dumb but because my brain was different.

That was important.

Or understanding the reason that I had a hard time sitting still wasn't because I was you know, bad or trying to be disruptive, but because my brain was different.

That was an important moment for me.

That moment happened around fourth and fifth grade.

It happened because of a wonderful teacher in my life.

I'll never forget him.

His name was Mr.


He invited me and my mom into his office one day, and he said hey Jonathan, you remind me a lot of my daughter.

And my daughter went off to college, and my daughter is dyslexic.

And I told that story because it's really important that I understood that having a learning difference isn't anything to be ashamed of.

That dyslexia and ADD aren't deficiencies but differences in the truest sense of the word.

And Mr.

Rosenbaum had that belief.

And I encourage others when they think about themselves or when they engage with young people with differences to celebrate these difference as opposed to make folks feel ashamed of them.

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