By: Krystle Crossman
When Kristine Barnett’s son was two years old he was diagnosed with autism by his doctors. They told her that Jacob would probably never speak. She brought him to many different therapies and none of them seemed to work. The therapists told her that he would probably never talk as well. The dedicated mother decided to take matters into her own hands.
She took away any labels that Jacob had been given, looked past any limitations that he may have had and used his interests to help him instead. Now at 15 years old, young Jacob is right on track to win a Nobel Prize in theoretical physics. Barnett had run a daycare out of her home and she used this experience to take Jacob’s interests and nurture them. She said that he really loved repetitive behaviors such as taking a glass and looking it over and how the light played against the glass surface. Barnett would surround him with glasses that were filled with water at different levels and let him play and explore for as long as he wanted to.
Using his interests to help him learn definitely was working. One night she tucked him into bed, said goodnight to him, and he said goodnight back to her. She said it was like hearing music when he spoke. At this point in time he is enrolled in the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario studying theoretical physics. Jacob’s IQ is currently measured at a number that is higher than Einstein’s.
Barnett wrote a book titled “The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing, Genius, and Autism.” It tells the story of her struggles with his diagnosis and her success with her method of teaching. She wants everyone to know that it is important to take away labels that your child may have been given such as ADHD or autism and see the child’s true potential and interests.