À l'âge de deux ans, Jacob Barnett est diagnostiqué autiste. Très vite, les visites médicales et les thérapies s'enchaînent afin de donner les meilleures chances de développement à l'enfant. Il est placé l'année suivante dans une école maternelle spécialisée, mais semble perdre tout ce qu'il avait pu acquérir jusqu'alors.
En s'opposant à l'avis de tous et même à celui de son mari, Kristine Barnett décide de retirer son fils du système des institutions spécialisées et de faire elle-même son éducation avec l'aide d'une spécialiste. Elle encourage Jacob dans tout ce qui semble éveiller son intérêt comme les jeux de lumière, les chiffres ou le ciel. Et petit à petit, il progresse. Encouragé par sa mère, Jacob se passionne littéralement pour les mathématiques et l'astronomie.
Véritable prodige, il entre à l'université d'Indiana à l'âge de dix ans pour étudier l'astronomie et à douze ans, il y obtient un poste de chercheur en physique quantique où il poursuit la théorie de la relativité d'Einstein.
Kristine Barnetts son Jacob has an IQ higher than Einsteins, a photographic memory, and he taught himself calculus in two weeks. At nine he started working on an original theory in astrophysics that experts believe may someday put him in line for a Nobel Prize, and at age twelve he became a paid researcher in quantum physics. But the story of Kristines journey with Jake is all the more remarkable because his extraordinary mind was almost lost to autism. At age two, when Jake was diagnosed, Kristine was told he might never be able to tie his own shoes.
The Spark is a remarkable memoir of mother and son. Surrounded by experts at home and in special ed who tried to focus on Jakes most basic skills and curtail his distracting interests--moving shadows on the wall, stars, plaid patterns on sofa fabric--Jake made no progress, withdrew more and more into his own world, and eventually stopped talking completely. Kristine knew in her heart that she had to make a change. Against the advice of her husband, Michael, and the developmental specialists, Kristine followed her instincts, pulled Jake out of special ed, and began preparing him for mainstream kindergarten on her own.
Relying on the insights she developed at the daycare center she runs out of the garage in her home, Kristine resolved to follow Jacobs spark--his passionate interests. Why concentrate on what he couldnt do? Why not focus on what he could? This basic philosophy, along with her belief in the power of ordinary childhood experiences (softball, picnics, smores around the campfire) and the importance of play, helped Kristine overcome huge odds.
The Barnetts were not wealthy people, and in addition to financial hardship, Kristine herself faced serious health issues. But through hard work and determination on behalf of Jake and his two younger brothers, as well as an undying faith in their community, friends, and family, Kristine and Michael prevailed. The results were beyond anything anyone could have imagined.
Dramatic, inspiring, and transformative, The Spark is about the power of love and courage in the face of overwhelming obstacles, and the dazzling possibilities that can occur when we learn how to tap the true potential that lies within every child, and in all of us.
Praise for The Spark [An] amazing memoir . . . compulsive reading.--The Washington Post The Spark is about the transformative power of unconditional love. If you have a child whos different--and who doesnt?--you wont be able to put it down.--Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind Love, illness, faith, tragedy and triumph--its all here. . . . Jake Barnetts story contains wisdom for every parent.--Newsday This eloquent memoir about an extraordinary boy and a resilient and remarkable mother will be of interest to every parent and/or educator hoping to nurture a childs authentic spark.--Publishers Weekly Compelling . . . Jake is unusual, but so is his superhuman mom.--Booklist The Spark describes in glowing terms the profound intensity with which a mother can love her child.--Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon and Far from the Tree Every parent and teacher should read this fabulous book!--Temple Grandin, author of Thinking in Pictures and co-author of The Autistic Brain From the Hardcover edition.