The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing, Genius, and Autism
I picked up this book at the library almost by accident. I was perusing the special needs and health sections and the title jumped out at me- Genius and Autism in the same sentence? … hmmm, a concept which I believe with such passion in my heart: that these children who are diagnosed with Autism do in fact have genius like qualities (albeit many are trapped within those who are non-verbal, or masked and subdued by physical, medical illness that is labeled as Autism), but I had NEVER read these words in the same sentence since years ago in middle school when I completed a term paper on May’s Boy and Idiot Savants (a term rarely used now, but meaning a person who is considered to be mentally handicapped but displays brilliance in a specific area, especially one involving memory). This amazing book brought me full circle… with the beautiful story told by a mother, Kristine Barnett, as she, like many of us, struggle to help our children reach their full potential.
Simply put this is a book about a nonverbal child, Jake, who at 3 was disconnected from his world and diagnosed with autism. It is about a mother who was a day care owner by day and a warrior mother by night, never giving up on her son. What transpires over the course of this book… is nothing short of amazing, as Jake is discovered to have a genius IQ and unbelievable abilities in math, astrophysics and physics.
So as to not spoil the whole story… I will simply leave you with this (and a few links for future reference): This story struck an accord with me because it embodied the love a mother has for her child and her determination to fight with all her might to bring him back to her world, while never loosing site of the fact that he is a child and should relish in childhood! It also struck me because I feel the lines between autism (or ASD) and Giftedness have been blurred over time, severely limiting many of these children in their potentials to grow because they are labeled very young.
Here are a few links should you want to learn more about this amazing family:
Jake’s Wikipedia entry
Jake giving a TED talk
Jake and family on 60 minutes