Different Isn’t Deficient

Jonathan Mooney, as a kid, had every label under the sun: the bad kid, the dumb kid, the at-risk kid, the special-Ed kid. He was told he would be a high school dropout or might end up incarcerated, but he beat those odds. He graduated from Brown University with an honors degree in English literature. How did he do it? Jonathan explores three ideas that changed his life and that early educators can adopt to support vulnerable and at-risk learners. He provides concrete strategies to support early educators in building positive nurturing relationships with young learners, identifying young learners’ strengths, and explores the power of adult-child interactions and relationships.  And through all of this, Jonathan celebrates the importance of neurodiversity, the power of early educators as change agents, and early education as a foundational tool for personal development and community growth.


Jonathan Mooney is an award winning writer, entrepreneur and activist who 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.

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 his book,  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 (published in 2007) received outstanding reviews in The New York Times Book Review, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune and many other national publications. Both books are considered foundational texts in the disability rights movement, the inclusive education movement, and the learning revolution and are used in undergraduate and graduate program at universities and colleges across the country, including Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and Teachers College, Columbia University.