Conversation with Jonathan Mooney

February 6, 2008 by admin  
Filed under blog, growing up LD

Jonathan Mooney is the author of two great books, Learning Outside the Lines, and a new book, The Short Bus. Both books tell of Jon’s journey from being a child who couldn’t read at age 12, to graduating from one of the top colleges in the Country, Brown University. Jonathan is CEO of Project Eye to Eye, a non-profit foundation that helps find mentors for students struggling with LD in elementary and middle school school. Jon speaks extensively across the Country, both to help people realize kids can be both smart and learning disabled, and in the hopes that we can remake education to concentrate less on labels and more on what kids can accomplish.

From Jon’s Website:

When his teachers decided Jon needed special ed because he couldn’t follow directions, sit still, or read well, he feared he’d lost his chance to be a regular kid. Suddenly he was “not normal.” Suddenly he was a short-bus rider destined to travel a harder road, a distinction that screamed out his “difference” to a hostile world. Along with other kids facing similar challenges, he was denigrated daily. He almost lost hope. Yet ultimately, Jon shocked the skeptics, graduating from Brown University (with honors). But he could never shake the voice that insisted he would always be “less than.”

Jon’s first book, Learning Outside the Lines, also contains great strategies geared towards college students, to help them succeed in school- strategies you may be able to adapt to help your younger child figure out the game of school.

Today’s show features Part one of my conversation with Jonathan Mooney, and a bit about a wonderful educational conference I recently attended, Educon 2.0. Jon and I talk about Project Eye to Eye, what it was like growing up with LD, and how we can change education to be more compassionate to people who learn differently.

Click Here to listen to Part One of our Conversation with Jonathan Mooney

LD Podcast#65: What are you waiting for? Tell them Now!

September 13, 2007 by admin  
Filed under ADHD, blog, dyslexia, special education

We’re back after our Podcamp Philly induced hiatus.

There’s lots of exciting things in store for the LD Podcast in the upcoming weeks. Today’s show features some of the latest news in the LD world, including a study that reports 8.7% of kids may have ADHD, but that many kids, especially those from lower socio-economic families may be under-diagnosed. We discuss a school for kids with LD in the Philly-area, and more evidence that shows appropriate reading instruction can actually reverse the neurological differences in the brains of kids with dyslexia, so that they read and process language closer to that of their non-dyslexic peers.

This summer, I heard a moving episode of This American Life, a great show produced by WBEZ , Chicago Public radiom and distributed by Public Radio International. The show is entitled Special Ed, and has three moving stories of people with developmental disabilities. The whole show is simply amazing, and each story spoke to me. I really wanted to share some of it with you, and wrote the producers to ask if that was at all possible.

Seth Lind, Production manager from This American Life, got back to me and TAL generously agreed to let me play up to 5 minutes of the show on air, with credit. I decided to use the introduction to the show, because it talks about how sometimes, kids seem to be the last to know that they are different, special, and not always in a good way. As Ira Glass talks to several kids, we see how hurt they are to find out they’re different.

I see parents all the time who are embarrassed by their child’s learning disabilities. They try to couch taking meds as merely taking vitamins, or otherwise disguise the disability. Merely covering up an LD doesn’t make it go away, though. It’s part of a child’s neurology, their make-up, who they are. And we have to get comfortable with it, and let them be comfortable with it, in order to figure out ways to deal with it.

Just imagine if you tried to give someone chemotherapy without ever telling them they had cancer. If you don;t acknowledge the problem, big or small, you can’t being to deal with it or solve it. And your child should not be the last one to know they have an issue.

If there’s one message I can impart it’s this: Learning disabilities are not fatal. They are as natural as having brown hair, or blue eyes. It’s a part of who a person is, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about.

The song today is Lend me Your Love by Slackstring- It’s available both through iTunes and the Podsafe Music network.

Click here to download Show #65, What Are You Waiting For? Tell Them Now!

(This American Life is also available as a podcast, and it’s one of my favorites. I strongly recommend this episode as well as every show, and would encourage you also to support your local public radio station.)

The Most Imporant Interview Ever- James Hoffman

August 8, 2007 by admin  
Filed under ADHD, blog, james

Today’s guest is my son, James. For over a year now, I have spoken about both of my children, James and John, and used them as examples. Examples about when certain things have worked, and when some things have not. I thought it was time to let you hear James talk about having a learnign disability, having ADHD, and what it’s been like for him. I ask James what we do well as parents, and what we do wrong- what works for him, and what does not. I was impressed by how relaxed and honest he was in his answers, and I hope you will be, too.

James is going into 7th grade in the fall; he has a great perspective, and hopefully it will help other middle school aged kids with similar issues.

I’d love to hear your comments on this show in particular at

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Show #62 Summer Updates with Melody

July 11, 2007 by admin  
Filed under asperger's, blog, disability

I got a chance to sit down with Melody at her home, and talk about a variety of things including:

  • How to find great summer camps
  • Summer schedules
  • A Wonderful video- Different and Normal by Richard Colosi-
  • Changing labels over time along the spectrum
  • involving your child in their IEP’s andtalking to them about their issues

We also feature a song “Odd Bird” by the Lacivious biddies from the Podsafe Music Network

Enjoy, and we’ll be back full force after a week off for conference and vacation!

And…. we’ve been successful at Handwriting Without Tears for both kids, the last 6 out of 8 days at home!

Also side note- The Apple retail stores are doing a series of summer camps in July- my kids went today, and it was fantastic. Camps are free to attend, and kids got some neat stuff as well as an opportunity to learn something new in a short period of time- I highly recommend this to every parent!

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

This is the URL for Different & Normal:

Show # 55 Conversation with Anne Ford and John Richard Thompson Part II- Helicopter Parenting, Families and Siblings

In this show, I continue my conversation with Anne Ford and John Richard Thompson. Their new book, On Their Own: Creating an Independent Futrue for Your Adult Child with Learning Disabilities and ADHD has just been published by New Market Press. We talk about how hard it is to let your child succeed or fail on their own accord, and how our involvement with our children with disabilities effects other members of the family as well.

Congratualtions to our winners so far – Kim Mansk, Tracey Bowes, Sue Penicka and Shelly Head! Your books on on their way!

We still have a few books to give away- Please send an email to or leave a voicemail at (206) 666-2343 to win!

I have also recently added a chapter from my book-in-progress, in PDF format, if you are interested. If you click on this link, or the home page link to your left, you’ll see it listed as How Learning Works- It’s about the basics of brain and cognitive development in kids, presented in a “Bill Nye The Science Guy” way for parents. For me at least, it always has been helpful to know what part of a child’s issues might be developmental (They’ll get better over time as they get older) and which parts are hard-wired (this is something in their basic makeup and unlikely to change much). I am eager to hear what you think- if you do read it, please send you feedback to me at Any and all feedback, positive, negative, indifferent- it’s all very helpful to me- think of yourselves as editors!

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Show #54- Anne Ford and John Thompson- On Their Own

May 16, 2007 by admin  
Filed under ADD, ADHD, LD, blog, learning disabilities

Anne Ford and John Richard Thompson have collaborated on a second book, On Their Own- Creating an Independent Future for your Adult Child with Learning Disabilities and ADHD. Anne has a daughter with severe learning disabilities, has been a leading LD activist and is the former Chairman of the National Center for Learning Disabilities. John, her co-author, has helped Anne in lobbying Congress, and has spoken to parents across the Country about their children with LD.

I spoke with Anne and John about this terrific book. I was riveted by the book, because it addresses the problems that occur as kids with LD and ADHD have not only now, but as they get older, and how to gradually prepare them, so you can gradually let go and let them live their own lives. (Not always an easy job for parents.) It covers issues ranging from how siblings react to having a brother or sister with LD, to dating, transitioning from high school to college to the job force, as well as estate planning for you to help provide any support that might be necessary for your child with disabilities. The bottom line is that if we don’t prepare our kids to be self-sufficient when they’re young (whther they have LD or not) how can we reasonably expect them to care for themselves when they go to college or leave the nest? Is it any wonder so many kids come home and don’t want to leave??

Anne, John and I spoke for over an hour; I have split the interview into three parts, released over the next few days in sequence. Part I talks about Anne’s experience with her daughter, Allegra and why she and John wrote On Their Own.

Part II addresses dealing with problems ranging from what to call “it” to having both parents on the same page, to how siblings react; part III addresses the job and employment issues that may look like disorganized lockers or desks for school age children, but remain part of an LD person’s profile. There is no statute of limitation on LD.

I have five copies of this wonderful book to give out- the first five listeners who send emails to, or voicemail (206) 666-2343 or comments here on the blog/website will win. I’ll notify you and then I’ll send the books out to you.

I know you’ll enjoy both the interview and this terrific book from people who have been there themselves- and remember, kids need to be able to be On Their Own.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Show #48 Conversation with Sally Smith Part II

March 25, 2007 by admin  
Filed under ADHD, blog

This week’s show is a continuation of my conversation with Sally Smith, Founder and Director of the Lab School. We talk about teaching children with learning disabilities, early identification, and how important it is to have parental support. Sally even answers Kristen’s question about Orton Gillingham vs. Linda Mood Bell reading, and why she favors training teachers in both methods, so they can use whatever method works best for the child, rather than assuming one method will teach all.

At the end of the interview, Sally asked me about podcasting, and I decided to leave this part of our conversation in, largely because Sally then spoke about her motivation to write No Easy Answers, her wonderful book about parenting children with learning disabilities. This is one of the best books for parents, as it covers everything from understanding how your child learns, to the very real and emotional rollercoaster parents go through while trying to help thier children.

I’d love to hear your feedback on shows!

I’ll be at Podcamp NYC on April 7th- if you’re there, please come say hi! Please note that the venue for Podcamp NYC has changed, and will now be held at the New Yorker Hotel – please consult the Podcamp NYC blog and wiki for the most up to date information.

Because of travel, spring break, and the like, shows may be bi-weekly for the next few weeks. As a parent, it’s hard sometimes juggling work, family and podcasting. Thank you for your patience! We should be back on track soon.

Click here to listen to Conversation with Sally Smith Part II

Show #47 Conversation with Sally Smith, Founder of the Lab School

March 16, 2007 by admin  
Filed under blog, learning disabilities

Sally Smith started the Lab School in Washington, DC, in 1967, based on her need to find a school for her own son who had severe learning disabilities. Like most moms on a mission, she gathered her friends and turned an old house into a school. Now, 40 years later, the Lab School serves children from age 5 1/2 to age 19, provides support of college students and adults with learning disabilities, and provides in depth multidisciplinary testing. There are now Lab Schools in Baltimore, MD and Manayunk, PA. Sallycontinues in her role as Director of the Lab School, as well as servign as Head of the Graduate Program in Special Education:Learning Disabilities at American University. She has written a wonderful book, which continues to be updated, entitled “No Easy Answers: The Learning Disabled Child at Home and At School“.

My conversation with Sally took place at the Lab School in Washington. When you enter the grounds of the Lab School, you are immediately struck by the art work and creativity that permeates the whole school. Sally’s office is filled with art, pictures, mementos from travels around the world, and a sense of warmth and home. I’ve split the conversation into two parts. In Part I, we discuss how Sally founded the Lab School as a way to help her own child, and how it’s grown exponentially over the years. We discuss the state of LD education now, and what has changed over the years. In Part II, we discuss early intervention, the deficits many kids with LD share, and how we can help them succeed. We also discuss the importance of parental support, reading methods, including Orton Gillingham and Linda Mood Bell, and why it may be best to have all tools at your disposal rather than just one.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Dale Brown, Part II

January 14, 2007 by admin  
Filed under ADHD, Kids, blog, children, dyslexia, learning disabilities, parents

In the second part of my conversation with Dale Brown from LD Online, we talk about using professional coaches for ADHD and other learning disabilities, when positive reinforcement works best, and the latest goings on at LD Online.
Dale knows from personal experience what it was like growing up with learning disabilities, and how hard it is to get the help you need. As parents, we need to know how to help our kids learn these self-advocacy skills, because they need to take charge of their learning issues. And there’s no one better to learn from than Dale, who has not only advocated for herself, but has been instrumental in helping others learn to advocate for themselves in the workplace.

Click here to listen to Show #39: Conversation with Dale Brown, Part II

LD Online’s Dale S. Brown

January 12, 2007 by admin  
Filed under ADHD, IEP, blog, learning disabilities

LD Online
is one of the best reference sites for learning disabilities on the internet- and one that has been around the longest. Dale Brown is Senior Manager of LD Online, as well as an author of 5 books on learning disabilties and one of the initial organizers of the self-help movement for the disability community . She worked in public service for over 25 years, including positions at the US Department of Labor, where she helped ensure the Jobs Corps program was accessible to students with disabilities. She is the “go to” expert for information on employment and accomodations for people with learning disabilities.

In this 2 part conversation, Dale and I talk about what it was like for her growing up with Learning Disabilities, before the IDEA and laws that require schools to make accommodations for students with different educational needs. We talk about the importance of teaching children self-advocacy, positive reinforcement, and being realistic with them about their capabilities. In part II, we discuss Coaching, allowing kids to make mistakes and accept challenges, and identifying their strengths. We also discuss LD Online, the resources available, and what’s coming in the near future. I know you’ll get alot out of these conversations.

While Dale’s learning disabilities include ADD, I’ve placed these interviews in our ADHD month series, to help parents realize how many successful people have learning disabilities, and what we can do to try to make sure our kids are part of this success story.

Listen for the announcement of the upcoming contest where we give away copies of Dr. Mel Levine’s wonderful book, A Mind at a Time!

Please email us at; voicemail (206)666-2343

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.