Autistic Boy Was Once Told He'd Never Speak, Now Has His Sights Set on a Nobel Prize
byKaitlin StanfordMar 26, 2014
In many ways, Jacob Barnett has been defying the odds since he was 2 years old. That's when doctors first sat his mother down and told her the news: Her son had autism, and he would never be able to speak.
For any parent just hearing that news, the emotional sucker punch it brings with it must be unbearable. But for Kristine Barnett, she simply refused to believe it. She also refused to believe it when teachers later told her that there was no hope for Jacob despite all of the special education programs she enrolled him in and therapy sessions she brought him to.
So she decided to flip the script, and go her own way. If their methods didn't work, hers would.
“A lot of people thought that I had lost my mind,” she recalls.
The devoted mom decided to ignore all of Jacob's so-called limitations, and instead focus on his strengths and interests. And let's just say, those were some pretty spot-on instincts.
Today, 15-year-old Jacob is a student at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario, has an IQ higher than Einstein's, and is well on his way to win a Nobel Prize for his work in Theoretical Physics. Oh, and by the way, it turns out he has no trouble speaking what-so-ever.
Kristine drew upon insights she picked up as an in-home day care worker, concentrating on nurturing Jacob's "spark" as she calls it, and then using play to help him learn and grow in other ways.
“He liked repetitive behaviors," she recently told The Mother List. "He would play with a glass and look at the light, twisting it for hours on end. Instead of taking it away, I would give him 50 glasses, fill them with water at different levels and let him explore. I surrounded him with whatever he loved.”
So the two kept at it, until finally, Jacob spoke. “It was like music" Kristine said. "Because everybody had said it was an impossible thing. I would tuck him in every night and say, ‘Goodnight, baby Jacob, you’re my baby angel, and I love you very much.’ One night he looked me straight in the eyes and said, ‘Night-night baby bagel.’ All along he must have thought I had been calling him a bagel!”