Redefining Normal: Creating a World Safe for Difference

Author Jonathan Mooney has a new book—and is touring the country to advocate for students with learning and physical differences.

Wednesday July 11th - 11:43am

Author Jon Mooney published The Short Bus in May 2007. Henry Holt

When his teachers decided Jonathan Mooney needed special ed because he couldn’t follow directions, read, or sit still, he quickly and thoroughly learned what it is to be viewed as “not normal.” He didn’t learn to read until age 12, and a high school guidance counselor told him he’d probably spend his life flipping burgers.

Yet, in 2000, Mooney graduated with honors from Brown University and, with David Cole, wrote Learning Outside the Lines (Fireside), a book that outlines study skills and offers the encouragement students with ADHD and learning differences need to succeed in an educational system he considers broken.

Recalling his days on the short yellow buses that many schools use for transporting special-ed students, Mooney recently embarked on his own nationwide “Short Bus” tour, visiting with other “not normal” people and learning to appreciate the “beautifully original” ways they have learned to live. His chronicle of the tour, The Short Bus (Henry Holt), was published in May. Now Mooney is touring again, this time as a speaker with a message for America: Redefine normal. Focus on fixing the system that boxes people out, rather than the people who live outside the box, he says. Embracing each other’s differences makes us all stronger, and few are as good as Mooney at making the point.

ADDitude Alert

Don’t miss Jonathan Mooney retelling his “Short Bus” adventures and advocating for those with learning and physical differences. Find his speaking schedule and an excerpt from The Short Bus at

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