Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Spark | Kristine Barnett

I must say, I was a bit sceptical when I picked up this book. Every mother thinks her kids are EXTRA-ordinary and when a mother writes a book about it...well, we've all been there. BUT. WOW.
I couldn't put this book down and will give it to my kids to read. This is an extraordinary story about a family living with autism and genius in their son Jacob.
Kristine is very candid, has an easy way of talking to the reader and showing the reader the journey that has been their life since 1998 when their son Jake was born. At two he was diagnosed with profound autism. Then their second son Wes was born with a rare neurological disorder. Kristine has been diagnosed with Lupus... But this is a good news story!

The basis for the family's success with Jake and other children with autism has been to concentrate on what the kids could do instead of what they couldn't. They started a training programme for the kids where they could learn about challenges ahead such as starting kindergarten in mainstream schools. As many autistic children are excluded from sporting clubs and activities the Barnetts started a rec centre called Jacob's Place for the children to experience sport, being part of a team, having a 'club house' to hang out in.

The tag line is "a mother's story of nurturing a genius" and this really is the underlying story. Jacob is a genius way beyond what has been previously measured. At 9 he was out of elementary school and at a post-grad college programme. He was developing original theories and theses in the fields of maths, astrophysics and astrology. His genius is apparent in a myriad of fields, which makes him incredibly unique.

After reading the book I googled him and watched him deliver a TedTalk. Knowing that at two years of age the experts said he would not talk and possibly not tie his shoelaces, I realised just how amazing this family's story is and how inspiring to all parents and teachers alike. In each child, there is a spark.

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