Ep 93: Learning Outside the Lines in College with Neurodivergent Advocates Ryan Neale & Jonathan Mooney

Ep 93: Learning Outside the Lines in College with Neurodivergent Advocates Ryan Neale & Jonathan Mooney

I’m honored to bring you this special part two with dyslexic writer, award winning author, entrepreneur and activist Jonathan Mooney, this time interviewed by my neurodivergent college freshman son, Ryan Neale.

If you haven’t yet listened to part one for a full exploration of Jonathan’s E.P.I.C. life journey, I encourage you to go to that episode next. This episode, inspired by part one, was Ryan’s opportunity, just before he left for college, to ask Jonathan for wisdom and guidance about how to flourish at a university while being neurodivergent. What unfolded was that and so much more.

In this episode, I passed the microphone completely to Ryan, sat back and listened to him and Jonathan uncover how we can all learn and live outside the lines and stop faking normal. I invite you to listen to this conversation with the same sense of curiosity and trust. I hope you will arrive at the end as Ryan, Jonathan and I all did, personally transformed by the experience.  

About Jonathan Mooney:

Jonathan Mooney is a dyslexic writer and activist who did not learn to read until he was 12 years old.

He is a graduate of Brown University and holds an honors degree in English Literature. At Brown, he became the co-founder of Project Eye-To-Eye, a widely duplicated mentoring program for disabled students. He is also a winner of the prestigious Truman Scholarship for graduate studies in creative writing and education and was a national finalist for the Rhodes scholarship.

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.

Connect with Jonathan:

Jonathan’s Books Mentioned in this Episode:

About Ryan Neale:

Ryan Neale is a neurodivergent UCLA Freshman from San Mateo, California. His parents discovered he was differently wired when he was 18 months old but he has been in mainstream education for his academic career, with most people around him not knowing about some of the struggles that he faces.

His experiences masking his neuro differences have given him a unique perspective on many of the struggles neurodiverse people face, such as public stigma, internalized ableism, and the ever-present desire to fit in. As he has begun advocating more for his needs, he has high hopes to use his perspective and communication skills to increase public understanding of neurodiversity, and hopefully create a more inclusive society for everyone.

In his free time, he enjoys playing basketball, coaching youth sports, roughhousing with his little brother, and diving headfirst into his many fantasy special interests. He is thrilled to have participated in the 2022 Stanford Neurodiversity Summit on a K-12 student panel. You can listen to the panel here.

Read Ryan’s journey to “I got in!” – This Magic Moment – New UCLA Students Journeys to Acceptance

Connect with Ryan: 

Topics Discussed in this Episode:

  • How Ryan got introduced to Jonathan and his book Normal Sucks 
  • Jonathan’s invitation to Ryan to lean into his “badassness” 
  • How Jonathan transcended the obstacles in his path as a neurodivergent young adult with ADHD and dyslexia on his way to Brown College
  • The biggest barrier for Jonathan on his path: the internalized messages that he was stupid, lazy, crazy
  • The key question Jonathan says we should be asking instead of “how smart are you?”
  • How and why an F on an English final became an inflection point for Jonathan in his advocacy journey  
  • How neurodiverse students can survive and thrive in a flawed system   
  • The importance of meta-cognition
  • Why we should reframe our language from “diagnosis” to “assessment” that identifies both the challenges and strengths of being neurodiverse.
  • The importance of seeking out people in your life that can help you build self-knowledge and find the good in you
  • What Ryan and Jonathan think Batman has to teach neurodiverse students
  • The negative impact of trying to pass or mask as “normal” and what helped Jonathan move from shame to pride in his own journey   
  • Jonathan’s message to “find your crew” and do something to contribute and make the world better
  • The commitment Ryan is making as he embarks on his college journey

Resources and Topics Mentioned:

www.thrively.com 

Related Podcast Episodes: Listen to these Next

This Episode’s Challenge: 

Jonathan challenges us to not ask yourself, “are you going to be successful?” but instead,  to hold yourself accountable to be successful in the right way. 

He wants us to stop hiding and be out and proud of our differences that make us special. This way, we can give to the community with purpose, pride, and passion.

This Episode is dedicated by Cindy McCormick:

Some people are lucky enough to have a career doing EXACTLY what they were born to do – Cindy is one of them. She loves running Cindy McCormick College Advising (CMCA,) but more importantly, she thrives on guiding high school students along their paths to college. She received her B.A., teaching credential, and Masters in Education from UCLA; instructional writing certification from UC Santa Barbara; and college counseling certificate from UC San Diego. With the highest standards in education, training, and ethics, she believes in getting to know her students thoroughly while relentlessly researching schools to ultimately guide kids to their best fit college homes.

Before college advising, Cindy taught school in both Westchester County, NY and Southern California, and then specialized as a college application and essay writing instructor. She also served as a PTA President and a team manager of a global top-ranked STEM student team for ten years.  

As a mother of five children, Gifted And Talented educator, autism specialist, and Spanish bilingual instructor, Cindy embraces diverse abilities, perspectives and backgrounds. Her wide variety of experiences allow her to bond with all kinds of teenage personalities and interests; she delights in getting to know each student, motivating and coaching them, and ultimately customizing their unique college plans.

In her downtime, she loves spending time with her family of 6 men, running marathons in beautiful places, and cuddling her Goldendoodle, Ollie.

Connect with Cindy: 

Announcements:

Our Fall Virtual Milestone Hike Is Here!

Ready to press pause and set YOUR course for an intentional new school year?

Our kids have had new beginnings… now it’s time for us!

Sign up today for the fall Mother’s Quest Virtual Milestone Hike and a powerful interactive experience like none other.

Intrigued? Check out the links below for more info and to register for one of two upcoming dates: 

Tuesday Sept 27 – https://mailchi.mp/mothersquest/septvirtualhike22 

Saturday Oct. 1st – https://mailchi.mp/mothersquest/octvirtualhike22 

It’s Pay from the Heart to make it accessible to anyone who wants to come. Hope to see you there!

P.S. Have a friend who would like to join? Invite them along. Always better to hike with a friend

Mother’s Quest Circle: Next Chapter Edition

Registration is now open for the Mother’s Quest Virtual Circle!

I’m facilitating a Mother’s Quest Virtual Circle in November for moms like me who have children going off to their next chapter (whether that is college, trade school, travel or the workforce) 

Our children’s next chapter is a window of opportunity for us to invest in ourselves in new ways. Doing it in community with like-minded mothers is always powerful.

Click here to register https://mothersquest.com/virtualcircle-nextchapter/

Much appreciation,

Mother’s Quest is a podcast for moms who are ready to live a truly E.P.I.C. life.

Join in for intimate conversations with a diverse group of inspiring mothers as they share how they are living an E.P.I.C. life, Engaging mindfully with their children (E), Passionately and Purposefully making a difference beyond their family (P), Investing in themselves (I), and Connecting to a strong support network (C).

Join our community of mothers to light the way and sustain you on your quest at https://www.facebook.com/groups/mothersquest/

Episode #5: Live your E.P.I.C. Life to Help Your Children Thrive
Throwback Thursday: Talking about Boys and Sex with Peggy Orenstein

Throwback Thursday: Talking about Boys and Sex with Peggy Orenstein

This month in the Mother’s Quest Facebook Group, we’re focused on the big transitions under way for our children and ourselves during this back to school season. To join the group and the conversation, visit www.mothersquest.com/community.

This topic feels especially important for me this year, because in just one week, we pack up our car to drive our son Ryan to LA to start his college freshman experience. 

As the day gets closer, we find ourselves savoring the moments, creating extra quality family time, and making space for conversations about all the things that matter.

I found myself returning to the messages and inspiration of this conversation with best-selling author of Boys and Sex, Peggy Orenstein and thought you might need it too. Whether you have a boy just entering adolescence or off to college, I hope this episode provides perspective and support to open, and continue having honest conversations, to help your boys navigate the terrain of young male sexuality in today’s world.  

 

Much appreciation,

Full Episode Show Notes

Check out the full show notes from the original episode here: Ep 71: Talking about Boys and Sex with Peggy Orenstein

 

Mother’s Quest is a podcast for moms who are ready to live a truly E.P.I.C. life.

Join in for intimate conversations with a diverse group of inspiring mothers as they share how they are living an E.P.I.C. life, Engaging mindfully with their children (E), Passionately and Purposefully making a difference beyond their family (P), Investing in themselves (I), and Connecting to a strong support network (C).

Join our community of mothers to light the way and sustain you on your quest at https://www.facebook.com/groups/mothersquest/

Episode #5: Live your E.P.I.C. Life to Help Your Children Thrive
Throwback Thursday: Living and Loving with Authenticity with Hands Free Mama Rachel Macy Stafford

Throwback Thursday: Living and Loving with Authenticity with Hands Free Mama Rachel Macy Stafford

 

 

This Throwback Thursday episode comes to you while I’m away on vacation at my happy place, UCLA’s Bruin Woods in Lake Arrowhead.

While here for the week, I’ve made it an annual tradition to take off all my social media apps from my phone, truly unplug and be present. The inspiration for this came from this week’s guest, Rachel Macy Stafford, whose personal commitment to putting down her phone and becoming a Hands Free Mama led to a Hands Free Movement, several powerful books, and most recently to a new audio journey called Soul Shift Sessions through a partnership with Sounds True. You can follow the link to explore this for yourself in the show notes.

This episode was originally recorded during a challenging time in our pandemic, March of 2020, while we were sheltering in place and just after the killing of George Floyd. There is no question that we face continued challenges. I hope this episode sparks renewed hope in the power of presence, fulfilling our unique purpose, and authentic connection.

You can purchase Rachel’s new Soul Shift Sessions audio journey here.

This Week’s Challenge:

For this week’s challenge, Rachel encourages us to think about any hurtful comments, criticism, consciously and unconsciously, that we’ve been carrying around that’s holding us back from truly fulfilling our purpose. Reflect on it and slowly turn that pain into purpose.

This Episode is Dedicated by Samantha Arsenault

Samantha Arsenault Livingstone is an Olympic gold medalist, high-performance consultant, mental health educator, speaker, and entrepreneur – and she’s a mother of four and recovering perfectionist. Samantha holds a master’s degree in education and spent six years teaching high school science and coaching swimming. After a near-death experience with her then 12- month old daughter, Samantha knew it was time to pay forward all she’s learned about achievement, emotional resilience, rising from failure, and finding happiness.

In 2016, Samantha founded Livingstone High Performance in response to the mental health crisis impacting adolescents across the globe, specifically those in the athletic arena. LHP provides pillars of support to organizations, teams, and individuals to elevate mental health and improve performance, and build a more empowered village. In addition to private and group coaching, Samantha offers online courses and consults with teams and organizations on athlete wellness initiatives, leadership, strategic planning, rising skills, and developing high-performance cultures. She is a certified instructor of Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement and Mental Health First Aid.

Samantha is an engaging public speaker who has more than 19 years of experience, which includes her TEDx Talk: The Weight of Gold: An Olympian’s Path to Recovery. She’s been featured as a keynote speaker, expert panelist, workshop facilitator, and seminar leader. She’s worked with high-school, collegiate, and professional athletes in a group and 1:1 setting; school districts; athletic departments; coaching organizations; women in business groups; wellness entrepreneurs; and national governing bodies, most notably, USA Swimming.

Samantha and her husband, Rob, live in the Berkshires with their four girls. To learn more about her offerings, go over to www.samanthalivingstone.com.

To learn more about her offerings, go over to www.samanthalivingstone.com. You can join Samantha’s FREE 5-Day I AM CHALLENGE at www.samanthalivingstone.com/i-am-challenge  

  • Facebook @slivingstonewellness
  • Instagram @slivingstn
  • Linkedin @sarsenaultlivingstone

 

Topics Discussed in this Episode:

  • The way Rachel’s mother gave her the gift of “presence” even when she couldn’t be physically present.
  • Rachel’s quest for purpose and the legacy she wants to leave
  • How reflecting on the question “How do I do it all?” on a run one day became the “spark moment” that pushed Rachel to choose herself
  • What Rachel means by her connection to her “dreamer girl”
  • Why facing the truth is really just the beginning
  • What it means when Rachel says to her children “I want to love you by your book.”
  • Hands-Free Mama as a way of being
  • The pressure and insecurity of online life and how screentime distraction becomes the biggest obstacle to living purpose-filled
  • The 3 roles that will allow us to walk beside our kids
  • Finding your place of refuge and helping your kids find theirs
  • How we can “find our people” by doing the things our heart calls us to do
  • The tear-filled pledge I made to Rachel, reading from a promise in her book on p.57

 

Full Episode Show Notes

Check out the full shownotes from the original episode here: Ep 74: Living and Loving with Authenticity with Hands-Free Mama Rachel Macy Stafford

Mother’s Quest is a podcast for moms who are ready to live a truly E.P.I.C. life.

Join in for intimate conversations with a diverse group of inspiring mothers as they share how they are living an E.P.I.C. life, Engaging mindfully with their children (E), Passionately and Purposefully making a difference beyond their family (P), Investing in themselves (I), and Connecting to a strong support network (C).

Join our community of mothers to light the way and sustain you on your quest at https://www.facebook.com/groups/mothersquest/ 

Throwback Thursday: Rising Up with Paola Mendoza

Throwback Thursday: Rising Up with Paola Mendoza

 

 

In the wake of the reversal of Roe v Wade, 49 years since women finally received the constitutional right to abortion, women across the country are rising up to have our voices heard. I knew this moment called for bringing back this powerful 2017 conversation with mother, filmmaker, author, and activist Paola Mendoza.

This interview occurred just over five years ago, months after the first Women’s March, which Paola helped create as their Artistic Director, and days before the Day Without a Woman Strike. As this episode reaches you, women are preparing to gather in Washington D.C. again in another mass protest. Whether or not we go to a protest, I hope this conversation reinspires us to get active again, participate and lead the political charge. Because as Paola tells us “we need to remember we have the power to create the world that we want but we all have to be engaged.”

You can listen to Paola’s abortion story here which she tells in a video series from The Meteor, a collective of writers, filmmakers, organizers, and artists who are committed to moving the world forward against injustice.

Just before the 2020 election, I had the honor of interviewing Paola again with the co-author Abby Sher, of her thought-provoking novel Sanctuary. You can listen to that powerful episode next here.

Topics Discussed in this Episode:

  • The profound impact her mother had on Paola’s life, and what it was like to tell her mother’s courageous story as an immigrant to the U.S., in her film Entre Nos
  • Paola’s way of connecting with her son through “Adventure Fridays”
  • The role of art and activism in growing compassion in other people
  • The importance of emphasizing both what you stand for and also what you stand against
  • With privilege comes responsibility, and how Paola hopes to teach her son to sacrifice his privilege to help other people
  • Ultimately, it’s not about falling or failing, it’s about how you rise up and how Paola’s metaphor of “running a relay” sustains her activism
  • Paola’s challenge to us to “participate”…to get involved in a local issue and attend a town hall meeting during the next congressional recess.

Full Episode Show Notes

Check out the full shownotes from the original episode here: Ep 16: Rising Up with Paola Mendoza

Mother’s Quest is a podcast for moms who are ready to live a truly E.P.I.C. life.

Join in for intimate conversations with a diverse group of inspiring mothers as they share how they are living an E.P.I.C. life, Engaging mindfully with their children (E), Passionately and Purposefully making a difference beyond their family (P), Investing in themselves (I), and Connecting to a strong support network (C).

Join our community of mothers to light the way and sustain you on your quest at https://www.facebook.com/groups/mothersquest/ 

Different is not Deficient with Normal Sucks Author Jonathan Mooney

Different is not Deficient with Normal Sucks Author Jonathan Mooney

 

 

Welcome to this year’s special Father’s Day episode with Jonathan Mooney, an amazing father who is also a dyslexic writer, speaker, activist, and self-described “do-gooder.” Jonathan didn’t learn to read until he was 12-years-old, was told he would be a high school dropout, and end up in jail. But, instead, he forged a path to Brown University where he co-founded an organization and co-wrote a book to help neurodivergent students like himself succeed in college, all on the way to graduating with an honors degree in English.

He’s since become 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 including the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, HBO, NPR, Fast company, and many others.

In this episode, Jonathan goes deep and wide about the pervasive impact of institutionalized and cultural ableism and his quest to help himself and others with differences understand they are not deficient. We hear the powerful story of Jonathan’s own mother and how she inspired him to reframe his language and his thinking about his differences. And Jonathan walks us through how systemic change can not only make our world more inclusive for people with differences, but through universal design, make things better for everyone.

You’ll want to listen to this episode with a pen and paper, prepare to rewind and listen again, and then get ready for a part two with Jonathan and my neurodivergent son Ryan. He’s off to college in the fall and eager to learn from Jonathan, not only about how he can thrive but also about how he can use his voice for advocacy and help make his university more inclusive for all.

I hope you enjoy this first of two with Jonathan Mooney and have a wonderful Father’s Day!

About Jonathan:

Jonathan Mooney is a dyslexic writer and activist who did not learn to read until he was 12 years old. He is a graduate of Brown University and holds an honors degree in English Literature. At Brown, he became the co-founder of Project Eye-To-Eye, a widely duplicated mentoring program for disabled students. He is also a winner of the prestigious Truman Scholarship for graduate studies in creative writing and education and was a national finalist for the Rhodes scholarship.

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.

Connect with Jonathan:

 

Topics Discussed in this Episode:

  • Gratitude for past podcast guest Julie Lythcott-Haims who introduced me and my neurodivergent son Ryan to Jonathan’s latest book and inspired this episode. 
  • Jonathan’s mission to help youth who are different not to feel deficient.
  • How a response from Jonathan’s mother the day he was diagnosed inspired his book’s title Normal Sucks.
  • Jonathan’s square peg in a round hole experience as a child, struggling with dyslexia and ADD, and how he changed his paradigm.
  • The question Jonathan asks himself every day that helps him challenge the myth of human sameness as he parents his three boys.
  • The heroic work of trying to extricate ourselves from our society’s embedded institutionalized and cultural ableism.
  • The problem with accommodation for some models and the power of accommodations for all approaches through universal design.
  • Moving the onus of change from the individual to the system around us
  • A story about Dave Cole, a fellow transfer student at Brown University, who taught Jonathan the power of being authentic. 
  • Jonathan’s commitment to building community pride for people who are neurodivergent and the organization Eye to Eye he co-created with Dave Cole in college with this mission.
  • The letter Jonathan writes to his boys in his book that had me in tears as we closed the episode

Stay tuned for a special Part Two conversation with Jonathan and Ryan, who is headed to university in the fall, about how to support neurodivergent students in college.

 

Resources Mentioned

 

This Episode’s Challenge:

​​The judges of normality are present everywhere Jonathan says. Jonathan’s journey of thriving came because somebody, Dave Cole, wouldn’t fake being normal. Jonathan’s challenge to us is to stop faking normal. Celebrate every day and in every person the power of different.

This Episode is dedicated by: Briar Harvey

As a storyteller and systems witch for more than a decade, Briar has helped so many people figure out what their next step is, and how to take life as it comes. With her first book underway, she still continues to write about business, productivity, feminism, trauma, and mental health in her own little corner of the internet.

Connect with Briar:

 

Mother’s Quest is a podcast for moms who are ready to live a truly E.P.I.C. life.

Join in for intimate conversations with a diverse group of inspiring mothers as they share how they are living an E.P.I.C. life, Engaging mindfully with their children (E), Passionately and Purposefully making a difference beyond their family (P), Investing in themselves (I), and Connecting to a strong support network (C).

Join our community of mothers to light the way and sustain you on your quest at https://www.facebook.com/groups/mothersquest/ 

Throwback Thursday:  YOLO (You Only Live Once) and other Milestone Reflections with Ryan Neale

Throwback Thursday: YOLO (You Only Live Once) and other Milestone Reflections with Ryan Neale

 

Welcome back to another Throwback Thursday episode!

Until now, I still can’t believe that my eldest son Ryan is graduating from High School! So for this Thursday, I really wanted to bring back this episode I did with him. We previously recorded this on his 13th birthday— another milestone we were celebrating back then.

This revisited version also includes the speech Ryan wrote at his middle school graduation; where we spoke so openly about his challenges with feelings of depression and anxiety during that time in his life. I hope that Ryan being so open about how he was feeling also inspires you or anyone you may share this with to speak up this mental health awareness month, as we continue to break the stigma around getting help.

So join me today as we honor Ryan in celebrating his graduation and moving on to the next chapter of his life in college!

 

Topics Discussed in this Episode:

 

Full Episode Show Notes

Check out the full shownotes from the original episode here: Ep 18: YOLO (You Only Live Once) and other Milestone Reflections with Ryan Neale

 

Mother’s Quest is a podcast for moms who are ready to live a truly E.P.I.C. life.

Join in for intimate conversations with a diverse group of inspiring mothers as they share how they are living an E.P.I.C. life, Engaging mindfully with their children (E), Passionately and Purposefully making a difference beyond their family (P), Investing in themselves (I), and Connecting to a strong support network (C).

Join our community of mothers to light the way and sustain you on your quest at https://www.facebook.com/groups/mothersquest/