The Spark:a mother’s story of nurturing genius by Kristine Barnett

The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing GeniusThe Spark. Finished 8-16-13, 3.5 stars, education/inspiration?, 250 pages, pub. 2013

Jake was never expected to talk or to read, but his mother never believed that.  After his autism diagnosis and standard therapies, she took things into her own hands to reach Jake and bring him out of his autism.  This is her story, and his.

There is a lot to like in this story of a mother’s love and a child’s gift.  Barnett was running a day care out of her home and was pregnant with her second child when Jake was diagnosed at 2.  He started some home therapy through the state and then early intervention preschool,  When a teacher told Barnett that her son would never need his alphabet flashcards that he loved so much, Barnett understood her meaning to be that he would never learn to read, and she pulled him out of school and kept him home with her.  The lengths she went to for her son are staggering as was her creativity and commitment to other kids like Jake.  She had a vision for Jake and for other autistic kids too.  And Jake himself is an inspiration.  This boy who was never expected to read now has an IQ higher than Einstein’s!  The Barnett’s pulled him out of elementary school to go to college at 9 and he’s on track to make great discoveries as an astrophysicist, thanks in large part to his mother who encouraged his love of space at a very age.  Here is the website for Jacob’s Place and more about Jake.

I must say that Barnett seemed to find more hours in her day than most people.  She ran a daycare during the day, a preschool prep class for autistic kids in the evening, raised three young kids and also started weekend sports league for autistic kids. Oh, and somewhere in there she managed to have another child and a stroke.  I am happy if I actually get dinner on the table for my two guys!

There were things that put me off a bit and I hesitate to go into them because it seems like I’d be making a judgment on this hero of a mother and I don’t want to do that because I think she’s amazing.  I’ll just note the one thing that Barnett herself talked about. I was shocked at how cavalier she was with money. Or maybe she was just blasé?  It was something that came up often in the book and it drove me a little nuts.

If you are looking to find a roadmap on how to raise a genius, forget it.  But if you want to be inspired to be better mother then this book will do the trick 🙂

This book was from my personal library.