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This Mother Tore Off Labels And Nurtured Her Son’s Hidden Genius

By Stephanie Cook Broadhurst/The Mother List

Here’s an incredible story about a mother who totally disregarded what experts said about her son and threw off the label that was slapped on him as a toddler. Instead, she followed her own instincts – with astounding results.

Kristine Barnett’s son Jacob was diagnosed with autism when he was 2, and doctors said he would never speak. She tried special education programs and therapies aimed at addressing his limitations. When teachers told her there was no hope, she rebelled and took her own path.

“A lot of people thought that I had lost my mind, ” she recalls.

Instead of focusing on Jacob’s limitations, Kristine nurtured his interests. After years of persistence and never giving up, her 15-year-old son is now on track to win a Nobel Prize for his work in theoretical physics.

Relying on the insights she developed at her in-home daycare, Kristine resolved to follow Jacob’s “spark” — his passionate interests. Why concentrate on what he couldn’t do? Why not focus on what he could? This philosophy, along with her belief in the power of childhood play, helped her son grow in incredible ways.

“He liked repetitive behaviors. 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, ” she says. “I surrounded him with whatever he loved.”

The more she did that, the more it worked. Then one night, as he was being tucked in, Jacob spoke. “It was like music … because everybody had said it was an impossible thing, ” Kristine recalls.”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!”

Jacob is now a student of theoretical physics at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario, with an IQ measured to be higher than Einstein’s.

Kristine chronicles her son’s incredible journey and breakthrough in her book “The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing, Genius, and Autism.”

When she talks to other moms who have children on the spectrum, ADHD, learning disorders, or other disabilities, she tells them: “It’s really important that when you have a label, you don’t let that label define you. What are your children good at? Let that define them. Create motivations that are self-driven. Let them pursue what they love.”

“As parents, we know in our hearts what our kids need, ” she says, “and we need to trust that a little more. Even if that goes against what others are saying.”

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  1. Debra Darvick
    March 13, 2014 @ 11:14 am

    Spark is an incredible account of a valiant and victorious journey.


  2. Rebecca
    March 13, 2014 @ 2:04 pm

    Wonderful story, such a logical, beautiful way to work with children who have Autism.
    Would really love people to refer to children having a disability and remember they are children first….Jacob has autism, rather than Jacob is autistic.


    • scooter
      March 19, 2014 @ 2:20 am

      pedanticism is part of the spectrum, don’t let being a pedant define you rebecca since i expect one day we will all look back and think “disability” is as nasty a word as “retarded” was. in fact some of us already do cringe. Jacob is/was autistic is really little different to has/had autism although i am patently aware this is as important to some people as men being a problem leaving the toilet seat up, something i don’t care about since why shouldn’t women put it up for men then when they exit the toilet? share and share alike. there’s seriously more to be concerned about sometimes.


      • kaili
        March 21, 2014 @ 4:11 pm

        A word-soup troll accusing someone else of being pedantic? Irony.


      • Matt
        March 21, 2014 @ 5:30 pm

        Because toilet lids exist to prevent water spraying out of the toilet and around the entire room when the toilet flushes 😉


    • Debi
      March 19, 2014 @ 6:16 pm

      My son, who IS autistic, does not like it when people say he HAS autism. That makes it sound like a disease, something that needs to be cured or that could be taken away. Being autistic is a central component of his personality. If he was not autistic, he would be a completely different person than he is. We always think of him as a person first, a person who IS autistic.


      • Tina
        March 20, 2014 @ 7:09 am

        I agree with you Debi, and so does my son who is on the spectrum. 🙂 Thank you for saying that.


      • Rose
        March 20, 2014 @ 7:18 am

        Debi, I love the way you put this.


      • Michelle
        March 21, 2014 @ 5:55 am

        That’s interesting Debi because teachers are taught that the politically correct way to describe it is to say that the child HAS autism rather than IS autistic. The concept bring that we are putting the child first and autism second. But it’s great to hear what works from the other side! Gives me plenty to think about 🙂


      • Aaron
        March 21, 2014 @ 8:10 am

        Well duh, but then I could say I wouldn’t be the same person if I HAD autism… so what’s your point? It’s obviously a condition and acting like it’s not is a bullshit lie.


      • Cassandra Powell
        March 23, 2014 @ 10:37 am

        Its definitely not a disability. We used yhis same concept with my son. At the urging of his therapist snd he had blosdomed amazingly. But it is not and never was s fisability. It just made him different.


      • Anne
        March 26, 2014 @ 12:49 pm

        Autistic advocates–adult autistics, not well-meaning parents and teachers–reject person-first terminology, insisting autism is an integral part of themselves.

        But kudos to this mom!!!


      • nate
        April 8, 2014 @ 2:09 am

        When I met my wife she had a nearly 2 year old girl that had gone through a serious accident and Dr.’s had told her that she would never talk or play, and were forcing her into therapy, and actually telling her and her grandmother to keep her at home away from people.
        This made me angry.
        I immediately started taking the child to the park to play, and played with toys with her.
        Treated her like a regular kid, and today she is ahead of her class at kindergarten (4 1/2 yrs old) is a very bright and articulate kid.


        • steph
          April 25, 2014 @ 9:31 pm

          Good for you Nate! I am really happy to hear that you saw the damage that would do to that. Child and took the steps necessary to prevent the damage. Some people wouldnt be so bold as to step up and do that with a child that isnt even theirs. Good job. 🙂


        • Sarah
          March 20, 2018 @ 9:37 am

          Awesome. 💖
          This makes me so happy.
          Good job Dad.


    • Suzanne
      March 20, 2014 @ 11:30 am

      It was several years ago when one of my friend’s first told me about their kinesthetic learning child. I was fascinated, but not surprised by the concept of some people having various learning strengths in different areas. What has been surprising is how wholly unsuited public schools (and most parents) are to nurturing these various learning styles. In the past year alone, in casual conversation with women I meet, I have met five mothers whose children were kinesthetic learners, but had never heard of it. Instead, they were in a confusing nightmare of misdiagnosis and expensive therapy to get their child to conform to something the public schools (and parents- let’s be honest) could control easier. Instead of an exercise ball for their wiggly feet, they were getting hypnosis. Rather than heavy metal detox and omega fatty acids, they were getting anti-psychotic pharmaceuticals. Overcrowded special Ed classes instead of a hearing aid, etc.
      Have we as parents allowed ourselves to be put in the backseat regarding our children’s education so long that we have collectively turned off our intuition? Are we so desperate to get some relief from our “difficult” children that we are willing to accept the fist “professional” prognosis that comes along in hopes that they will make our child good enough to plug back into the kiddy penitentiary we call public school?
      It’s time for us as parents to step back up to the plate, both emotionally, and professionally. WE are the authority. Our instincts are not to be dismissed just because they are inconvenient to us or others. There will be more geniuses in this generation than in any other in the history of the world, and we as custodians need to be willing to make the sacrifices of our time and attention to cultivate them properly.
      Don’t let your child’s spark be ignored or mismanaged- we don’t need a generation of super villains who were misunderstood as children. And we certainly do not need all the heartache that we have been heaping upon ourselves and our children for not fitting into the non-existent “average” profile that some bureaucratic statistician came up with. Let’s lift each other by sharing the good news that people are different- and it is good!


      • Des
        March 20, 2014 @ 8:24 pm

        Wow. I can understand if parents aren’t familiar with the different learning styles, but your teachers should definitely be. Most schools/teachers I work with give inventories to learn the styles of their students from class to class. Weekly lesson plans state which styles are being addressed from day to day so that administrators can see that teachers are giving diverse instruction to meet the needs of as many students as possible. These ARE public schools! Learning styles/differentiation is being taught in the local universities and has been for years. I am just really surprised because I just assumed that as much as differentiation is preached at educators here that it was pretty much the norm everywhere now.


        • Amber
          March 21, 2014 @ 7:35 am

          I had the IEP committee at my son’s school tell me the learning styles don’t exist. I have an elementary ed degree and was taught this in school. When I brought it up to the teachers that maybe they weren’t hitting on his learning style, they told me the whole idea was a myth. I was shocked! Yet another reason why I homeschool…


          • Recent PhD graduate in Ed.
            March 21, 2014 @ 3:11 pm

            It’s true, “learning styles” are a thing of the past. Current research does not support this notion. Many things change as research progresses and what we learn in the past does change.

          • Todd
            March 22, 2014 @ 11:04 am

            People may have learning styles, but doing “modality-matching”, which is having auditory learner a only listen to content, or visual read, etc, has not been supported for about 15-20 years. Teaching to multiple modalities, and in multiple ways has been supported. I cringe when teachers want to “VAK “(visual, auditory, kin esthetic) their lessons to match to the child. I am one of those weird, research driven interventionists/psychologists. 😉

          • Jacinda
            March 26, 2014 @ 2:10 pm

            I find it interesting that ‘education research’ would say that there are no ‘learning styles’ or that they are a myth… as a parent & as a student, I have seen & experienced how learning in one way vs another can be either more or less effective…

            My teen daughter is very auditory (can remember almost anything heard), but remembers very little from reading or writing it… I, on the other hand, grew up a very visual learner (could remember pretty much anything that I had read), but couldn’t (& still can’t) remember things heard for the life of me… I’ve found after going back to school that my learning style has evolved into more of a visual/kinesthetic style (due to realizing that I remembered so much more if I wrote out the info that I needed to remember than if I just read it)… I’ve always tested well, so it was interesting to realize that the techniques that I needed to use to do my best had changed to some degree… (lots of hand cramps … lol)

            I’m wondering if the people doing this ‘research’ are also some of the people who think that ‘Common Core’ is a good idea? :/

      • Laurie
        March 21, 2014 @ 5:47 pm

        I am a special ed teacher and I believe I was taught not to refer to the fact that there is a disability first…for example, not saying ‘the boy with autism is Ralph’, rather to say ‘this is Ralph and he is autistic’


        • Mara
          March 22, 2014 @ 9:06 am

          I am currently studying elementary education, and particularly educational psychology. We recently looked at the issues of learning styles. Current research does not support “different learning styles” per se, but many people still see it occur, or think they do. Regardless, research DOES support teaching students in different ways. It DOES support differentiating instruction and different means of representation, expression, and engagement, and that includes trying to show kids the same things in different ways because different kids learn in different ways. I, for one, think hands-on activities are absolutely pointless because I do not learn by making projects, and this is especially the case when it’s a group project. MANY other people, though, learn best with hands-on activities. I love to read, and when I read something it usually sticks, so if I read my textbooks like I’m supposed to, I’ll learn pretty well. I don’t usually read the assigned readings, though, so I rely on the lectures, and I take notes during them and I learn just as well that way. Most other people studying with me say that they can’t learn by just reading a textbook or listening to a lecture. I personally think it’s for lack of discipline that they don’t, because it IS boring to sit and read whole chapters of material that doesn’t necessarily interest us and to have to sit in a lecture and listen to someone go on and on about a subject that he/she is surely passionate about but that we are not necessarily fond of, let alone passionate. But that’s where differentiating instruction comes in, regardless of whether of not students don’t learn in a particular way because of lack of discipline or because it’s just not their “learning style.” It never hurts to differentiate instruction. It is essential to some, beneficial to many, but detrimental to none.


          • Robin
            March 23, 2014 @ 3:04 pm

            Your argument is contradictory. You might want to question what you are being taught. I have a degree in ECE and I can tell you from experience that children DO have different learning styles.

      • Rebecca
        March 22, 2014 @ 2:05 pm

        Very interesting to hear another side of the argument. I have a son who has Autism. I don’t like saying “he’s Autistic” because it’s not who he is. We wouldn’t say someone who has Down Syndrome “is Down Syndrome” we would say they “have Down Syndrome”.
        Just another way to look at it.


        • Dee Dee
          March 29, 2014 @ 5:32 pm

          My sister taught at Lab School of Washington (in DC) for years and is a big advocate of really supporting different learning styles and embracing children’s strengths. I completely agree that traditional public schools are NOT the place for children with different learning styles..they try to put everyone in one box, and these amazing kids (often brilliant) are never encouraged to thrive (do okay sure, adequate, sure, but not thrive!). This story is an example of how children are all unique and have unique talents we are tasked as parents (and educators, of which I am one at the college level) to all them to discover in whatever way makes sense for them.


      • Jamie
        March 23, 2014 @ 8:09 am

        And colleges all across America are teaching new teachers to ONLY use “people first” language, and to correct others when they use the antiquated phrase…” Is autistic”. People first language was introduced by people who HAVE disabilities and do NOT want to be addressed by the label first. If you pay close attention, it is usually the older generation who continue to use the label first and challenge the use of people first language. The younger generations will learn from their teachers at school, and through their peers how to properly address people with disabilities, because that’s how we are taught as future teachers.


      • Jan
        March 24, 2014 @ 11:02 am

        I agree – it’s not something they have, it’s something they are. That is how I describe it to my family so they also accept it!


      • Peg Budny
        April 2, 2014 @ 8:16 am

        Well said, Suzanne.


    • nobody
      March 20, 2014 @ 4:37 pm

      Many autistics strongly dislike formulations like “person with autism,” and emphatically prefer “autistic.” Here is a good assessment of person-first language, with links to discussions of the issue from various perspectives:



    • Kathleen Kinsolving
      March 20, 2014 @ 5:04 pm

      “Remember they are children first”….Rebecca, do you mean they are “innocent” children who are unfortunate to have this disability called autism, like it’s a tragic appendage? You can’t say “I’m a person with heterosexuality,” you say, “I’m heterosexual”…the same goes for autism — autistic people are victims of bigotry — I’ve put up with it, when I take my son out in public — we’re treated like 2nd class citizens. It’s sickening. We’re like the black family in the white racist neighborhood. Let’s stop the prejudice now, and fight for the rights of autistic people.


      • Christina
        March 23, 2014 @ 9:25 am

        Can’t we just say he’s a boy? Why does he have to be an autistic boy or a boy with autism? Why the need for labels? I understand if you’re going through the IEP or talking with medical professionals that it’s needed. But I don’t believe it’s needed in a classroom. Are neurotypical children labeled with personality aspects like that? “shy Sean” or “bossy Billy” or “Emily with impatience” or “Alice with chattiness”? I think that is what is meant by seeing them as children first. All kids have quirks, some worse than others. My son hasn’t been diagnosed as being ont he spectrum, but he has a lot of characteristics that ASD kids have. Especially the sensory stuff and narrow focus on certain interests. What keeps him from getting a DX is no speech delay and no social delay (though at the low end). Personally I think that he’s at the high end of the spectrum but I haven’t pushed for that label because of exactly this sort of thing. Once he has it, he will be treated and thought of differently. And there is nothing I would do differently than what I’m doing. The only possible benefit would be that I might be able to get his OT covered more easily. But I’m absolutely terrified that if he was labelled that he would be written off as unable to do more.


        • Jamie
          August 11, 2014 @ 2:33 pm

          My son is very similar, and we feel the same way. He gets his OR with or without a DR so why label him. I love that his friends don’t care how he is and except him. I find that experienced inclusion teachers now how to handle him without all the xterm fuss of a full IEP, so why tie him down to a disorder when he’s just got a different way. I love how smart and funny and quirky he is and wouldn’t have it any other way!


    • Karel Minor
      March 21, 2014 @ 10:52 am

      Yes, Rebecca, and always remember that no well meaning, sympathetic comment will ever go unpunished in vast disproportion to the actual offense.


    • Angela
      March 28, 2014 @ 9:32 pm

      Well Said Rebecca,
      We have to advocate to the world that we are all human before we are and medical diagnosis.


  3. Ariah
    March 15, 2014 @ 2:39 pm

    Hi there,
    this was inspiring and I have a similar story with my son, although i decided to not get him diagnosed.
    I believe that children like my son and Kristine’s could point the way to working with children with autism, and even with any child and each other. thank you!


    • Carolyn
      March 20, 2014 @ 1:41 pm

      Get him diagnosed. My brother-in-law was never diagnosed and was mainstreamed into the school system. He is unable to keep up his appearance/hygiene, unable to keep any kind of regular employment and hasn’t worked in years. When his mother got sick the home fell into decline. After she passed he was left the house and car. The car filled with mold, and the house filled with trash. He plays video games, eats junk food and stopped bathing altogether. We tried to help him for a while, but could not get him on disability because he was never diagnosed with anything. Most recently he invited a homeless man to live with him. His new friend has cleaned up the house and cleaned him up, but soon he will run out of the money his mother left him. If he’d been diagnosed at some point in childhood, he could be getting some disability.


    • Jess
      March 20, 2014 @ 8:12 pm

      To all those wondering what to call an autistic person… If you get the chance why not just politely ask them or their family/friends/caregivers what they prefer? 🙂


      • Kristen
        March 21, 2014 @ 11:01 am

        Wow, Jess. Thank you. I was just thinking the same thing. I have a child with autism. Though I am not offended if someone says that he is autistic. He is….


      • Alan
        March 25, 2014 @ 3:27 pm

        The child’s first name is usually a good choice.


  4. Michelle
    March 16, 2014 @ 9:33 am

    Bravo Kristine Barnett in absolute agreement that we must break some rules to truly support what our children are most interested in at a early age they show us their true talents. Labels are just that a word given for the lack of a better word to describe and organize in our human minds. Let us be gentle with ourselves and our fellow beings and see where it will take us.


  5. Angela
    March 17, 2014 @ 4:54 pm

    My son is 5 and his preschool told me he has high functioning autism or ADHD – because they’re qualified to make such statements.

    We took researched and researched and sure he had some of the symptoms like sensitivities and wouldn’t pay attention or join in group activity at preschool. Others like imagination, role play, empathy, reading emotions, reciprocal play, varied interests, sense of humour were all there and then we found asynchronous development aka giftedness.

    We had an appointment with a psychologist and had the Stanford Bennett 5 test administered and he is able to join Mensa. This did nothing to change how he was perceived when he started kindergarten. His intensities and over excitabilities at school had them wanting to get him diagnosed with ODD and wanting to put him in special ed, despite all the information passed on to them about highly gifted kids and what they look like.

    We are homeschooling him now and there are no More labels being thrown around about our beautiful son. He is free to be himself and explore his passions deeply, at at length because the boy who didn’t want to join the group or pay attention at preschool had already mastered what they were teaching before he was 2, and he was bored and couldn’t connect with the children his age simply because it was merely his physical body that was the same, cognitively my son is about 12, emotionally he is about 3. He is many ages at once, he is many things, but most of all he is not a label he is a child wanting to be accepted and understood, so that’s what we’re doing.


    • Tara
      March 19, 2014 @ 12:27 pm


      I am considering homeschooling my 4 year old for some of the same reasons you mentioned. Private school won’t accept him and I’m afraid he will get lost or misdiagnosed in public school. Any advice for curriculum for a mom who never dreamed she would homeschool her children? Where did you start?



      • Kris Costello
        March 19, 2014 @ 7:44 pm

        We have home schooled our now 5th grade son since Kindergarten. I am so glad that we did. It has allowed him to develop his strengths and a great sense of self confidence and focus. We had lots of ‘trail and error’. ( I was a former school owner/director so tried a traditional, ‘I’m the teacher here’s your work’, approach which didn’t work well for him at all. I finally learned to allow him to follow his interests and it’s been much better for all of us. Things that helped us a lot, Homeschool Blogs and Internet Resources. Kahn Academy. Our local Homeschool Playgroups and talking with other Homeschooling parents. (Reading about different philosophies of Homeschooling, lots of it!) Eventually finding a Charter Homeschool that met two times a week and provided educational enrichment. I also do a lot of talking with my son about what he would like to be learning/doing. The longer we Homeschool the less concerned we are about the ‘are we doing this right’ question and the more comfortable we become with, ‘Our son is discovering and practicing what he love to do/learn and developing a great sense of self and adventure along the way. I hope things go well for you is you decide to Homeschool. It’s not always easy, but it is rewarding! ( And sometimes even a lot of fun!)


      • sam
        March 19, 2014 @ 8:17 pm

        Special education does NOT mean your child isn’t smart. It means he gets an IEP where the teachers are required to help him learn his way. It means your child gets the best. You get to tell them what needs to go on the IEP or change what they think should be on there. Nowadays, special ed tends to be within a regular classroom whenever possible. It sounds like your homeschooling is working very well for you. Personally, I would never home school my 5 year-old because that would mean missing out on all the specialists and peer models. In public school, my daughter has made miraculous growth and now they say she might not even qualify for special education anymore. I wish every public school had the awesome programs that my daughter’s has.


        • Patricia Huegi
          March 20, 2014 @ 4:56 am

          Disagree. Public school teacher for 10 years, now homeschooling my daughter. No one fosters a childs needs better than people who love them. Based on this story, it seems to me that Autism needs to be looked at as an incredible gift, not a disability. Special ed could never accomplish what this mother did.


          • Kara Kelso
            October 17, 2014 @ 4:47 pm

            Absolutely right, Patricia. I had many battles with the public school and their so-called “IEP”. Sadly these are not individualized as they claim, but instead either “behavior problem” or “learning problem”. Excuse me, but what special education kid fits perfectly into either of those boxes? NONE! Certainty not autistic kids. Then you have these “specialist” who step in to write the IEP without ever meeting the kid. Once one told me “well this technique worked for 67% of special education kids….”. Please. My kid isn’t a statistic, he’s an individual. We do homeschooling, but through K12 where I can be sure he’s getting the required topics for his education without the stifling special education boxes they try to put him into at a regular school (and yes, even though he’s still technically enrolled in a public school, we simply refused special education services… BEST decision EVER). Personally, I will NEVER put my kid back into a regular classroom so he can be labeled as a “behavior problem” and given a minimum wage baby sitter called an “aid” that has zero special ed training, does nothing but get in his personal space, and drags him off to a locked room when he gets frustrated. Not to mention they spent more time trying to “correct behavior” and actually LOCKING HIM UP instead of actually teaching. Left alone, this kid learns more than a public school will EVER teach him and at 14 years old he KNOWS IT. He also has ZERO meltdowns at home where the school would see multiples a week. Why? Because I’m his mother and know when he’s getting to that meltdown point, so I will stop the lesson and ask what part is confusing him. The public school never did that. They waited until he was so lost and felt so hopeless that he would meltdown, only to be thrown in a room alone. I will NEVER put my kid back in public school. EVER.

      • Rose
        March 20, 2014 @ 7:39 am

        I can highly recommend homeschooling. We homeschooled our autistic son and I am convinced he would not be where he is today if we had forced him into public school. He is now 16 and currently attends Community College where he is taking calculus 2 and finishing up the requirements for a certificate in a photoshop. He plays MtG in the lunch room with other college students. He is learning to embrace his strengths and overcome his challenges. I am with him every step of the way, facilitating communication with his teachers when the semester begins, helping get used to handling situations which are still challenging for him but even more, taking some of the pressure off those things so he can concentrate on the things he’s good at. As far as curriculum when he was younger, he did well with structure. We used Teacher Created Resources workbooks and Spectrum workbooks. We did a lot of hands on science and participated in a lot of living history activities. We usually started out our mornings with educational DVD’s. We spent a lot of time at museums and other educational destinations. We used the Time4Learning online program which was very helpful to him for math because he could fly ahead at his own pace. I used the “what works” method. You are the expert on your child and only you can determine what will work for our child.


        • Lynne
          March 22, 2014 @ 3:52 pm

          My son was put into special ED in the 1st grade due to “learning disabilities”. I took him out in the 2nd grade because he was thrown in with severely mentally and emotionally challenged children, and was not learning any better. I had to tell the school I was joining a private school in a near city, just so they wouldn’t have convulsions over my decision to home school.
          I started from scratch using “hooked on phonics” then an Amish curiculum with life stories and built in phonics. During lunch we ether read out loud, or listened to audio books. (always “boy” stories). They used to beg – “Just one more chapter, Mom”!
          I later used the G.A. Henty historical novel series for social studies, history, and writing. We did MUCH adaptive and creative learning, lots of hands on and field trips with projects, etc. His older, literary gifted brother used the same, I just assigned different projects: one had to build a “yert”, the other had to write a journey log, etc… Perhaps I should have done more switching, but I let them perform to their strengths.
          The ONLY do over would be to tie in to some resources before my youngest became an adult. He is now in community college, and connecting w the CA Dept of Rehab – but there were some difficult years after leaving the nest where he really had no resources for help with navigating his path. I should have helped him connect with some resources while he was younger.
          He is waiting test results about a “label” – but I see it as a help – just so he knows where he can go for help, and how to approach various challenges. I have found that sometimes you have to use language that others can identify with, just so you can see the same goal.
          BTW – we used all kinds of curriculum, all have strengths and weaknesses. Elementary was totally different than high school. My independant learner flourished with Bob Jones algebra 2 and chemistry CDs (computer graded), while the younger needed abekka workbooks (step by step). I really liked Spectrum also, for him, and programs that require mastery before you advance.
          I let him use the multiplication tables for however long he needed until one day he didn’t need it anymore. Oh yes – Calculadders!!!
          Great math – basic math function drills. I set up lots of charts and used lots of calendars!!
          Lots of work, but I loved it, and am very proud of my sons!


      • Becky
        March 20, 2014 @ 8:20 pm

        Speaking from my experience as a homeschool student rather than a teacher, I would recommend either Abeka book or Bob Jones for a curriculum. But I know there are many good ones out there and the important thing is to find one that works for you and your 4yr old.


      • Angela
        March 24, 2014 @ 6:20 pm

        I think what to think of before thinking of what curriculum to use, is what method of homeschooling do you believe in. This will be like your foundation off of which you base all your other homeschooling decisions & so is very helpful to know when you go looking for “curriculum”. I use the Charlotte Mason method of home schooling, because I think it makes sense, it treats the children as valuable people first (who don’t need to be written/spoken down to), who can do amazing things when using methods that are natural to them.


      • Violette
        March 26, 2014 @ 10:33 am

        I would resist homeschooling only because it does not allow for the child to have adequate social interactions and fosters their natural levels of difference to levels that are unsustainable once they get a job etc. I was super reluctant to send my son into the mainstream because I was horrendously bullied throughout my schooling and I am not saying school is easy. We had a hard time till about year four but it is worth persisting for the outcome.My son is like the kid in the article. Similar prognosis and whilst he is not achieving at this level, he left primary school as the captain and dux having been top of his year for his entire stint there. At fifteen any difference he has are not barely perceptible.


        • andrea
          March 27, 2014 @ 7:44 pm

          violette, do you really know what you are talking about? i homeschool my kids and there are so many chances for them the socialize every single day i can’t involve them in everything. this morning my daughter went to reading class. this afternoon they went to fitness classes at the local JCC, this evening my son and two of his friends went with myself and another adult to a local “makerspace.” that was just today. tomorrow is two play dates and art class. never ever believe for one moment that throwing a child in with 25 or 30 other kids all the same age is “socializing.” it’s not. socializing is when kids are presented with many opportunities to be with children of all different ages, kids their own age, adults, one on one interactions, extended time with family and alone time. my children are not only well adjusted, they are constantly commented on as being socially aware, compassionate, kind, caring, able to get along with kids of all ages and interact well with adults too (whom they see as their allies, not enemies). my children are incredibly close and care deeply for each other too. (despite the differences in their ages and personal styles) you shouldn’t condemn homeschooling unless you really know what is up with it.


      • Dee Dee
        March 29, 2014 @ 5:34 pm

        Tara, not sure where you live, but look at the website for Lab School of Washington (in DC) and I believe there is one in Baltimore as well. Look at the philosophy and perhaps there is something like that near you. Amazing stuff. My sister was writing college recommendations for kids who the public system wrote off!


    • Laurence A. Becker, PhD
      March 19, 2014 @ 12:36 pm

      Amanda, You might want to check out the Rethinking Everything (formerly Rethinking Education–originally for home schoolers and non-schoolers) that happens in late August this year in Little Rock, Arkansas. It had formerly been in the Dallas area. It brings together from all over the US to network and share information, experience, and in sights. Past presenters have included Daniel Quinn, Joseph Chilton Pearce, Michael Mendozza, Rupert Issacson (author of HORSE BOY), and John Taylor Gatto. I have attended and presented a number of times. I work with some of the world’s most amazing autistic savant artists and produced an international, award-winning documentary film, WITH EYES WIDE OPEN, about one of the savant artists, Richard Wawro.
      Concerning diagnoses: I have said for many years that “a diagnosis should be a ladder, not a lid.” It should be a starting point and has nothing to say about the ending point. Two books that you might want to see: KIDS BEYOND LIMITS by Anat Baniel and THE CALL TO BRILLIANCE by Resa Steindel Brown. Both are on a list I have put together that I would be happy to send to you by email. The list is “Books and Films on Autism & Education.” Thanks for sharing.


      • Brandi
        March 19, 2014 @ 1:37 pm

        Dr. Becker, I would love the list of books also. I have gone thru some diagnosis processes with my 12 year old son and Aspergers ticks, Autism and Savant have all come up.

        Many thanks,


      • Jaya
        March 20, 2014 @ 10:27 pm

        Dr. Becker,

        I would like to get in touch with you regarding your work with autistic savants. Can you please send me an email at sanrithu@yahoo.com?



      • Teryr
        March 21, 2014 @ 1:12 am

        So my son saw a clinicial phycologist for 9 mths. He has not changed much, expect he is not doing drugs and drinking for over two years now. He has not left his room at all for a year,sits in the dark, (we live in s california) plays exbox all night sleeps all day. Has issues with kitchen being clean, his clothes, being in the kitchen with me. Going outside,socializing, wants me to leave him alone. He is 22 and thinks that his world is normal, there is nothing wrong with this. He is just fine. As his mom, I have tried to encourage him to go see a Phd and get help, but he is argumentive. He is explosive at times,holes in wall, slams doors, when I try to get him to be respectful. I am lost on what to do and right now all I can do is keep a roof over his head and food on the table. Please any suggestions, tell me.


    • Tamara
      March 19, 2014 @ 2:21 pm

      I sat reading your worda while tears ran down my cheeks. I have such high hopes for my 3year old son who has autism. He tries to speak and the trying is where my confidence of he will speak comes. Your story of commitment,love,respect and honor fpr your angel is absolutely beautifully delivered. Thanking you for sharing


      • Diana
        March 22, 2014 @ 6:20 pm

        Tamara, I love your heart and I applaud your hopes and dreams for your son. For so long we had hoped our son would not only talk, but care about us and those around him. We have chosen to go a much different route to help our son and we enrolled him in the Early Childhood Autism Program at the University of Nevada. I can’t even tell you the progress he has made! This afternoon he looked at me as I walked down the stairs and exclaimed, “I have such a cute mom!” Email me at Diana@clevelandcru.com if you would like to hear more about the work they are doing at UNR.


    • Marlo
      March 20, 2014 @ 8:22 am

      Please have a look at http://www.thehomeeducator.net. The new issue will be out next week and there is a feature on homeschooling children with ASD.


  6. Amanda
    March 18, 2014 @ 9:02 am

    I have a new hero. What an inspiring story! Thanks, TVO, Kristine, and Jacob, for sharing it.
    I agree whole-heartedly with Kristine’s philosophy and intuition. I would like to know more about Jacob’s schooling; it seems he has been (and is being) home-schooled. We took our son out of his first grade classroom mid-year, after a horrible semester there, and began homeschooling (something we’d never planned on). He is surely ADHD, although we don’t have an official diagnosis; he is also very bright (testing on nearly a 5th-grade level in general knowledge of the humanities, science and social studies). He has some Asperger’s-like qualities, too, like utter obsessions (which we — and his brilliant kindergarten teacher — viewed as Kristine has, as strengths and windows for learning), and he can be very loud sometimes. But he is sociable to the nth degree. He is now obsessed with German, and learning it largely on his own. (All his interests are utterly his, and things neither my husband nor I would’ve been interested in.) I have been stressing about the future, diagnoses, etc., but this has helped ease my mind and give me some much-needed inspiration and hope. Many thanks, again!


    • Nerida
      March 19, 2014 @ 4:31 pm


      Didnt you just label your child – “gifted”.

      Tricky huh, just because it is a much easier label for you to accept does not make it any less a label. The ‘gifted’ label can be just as difficult for your child to live with as any other you will find others however, will accept all the other labels easier than they will the ‘gifted’ label. For some bizarre reason the general population dont want to know about your ‘gifted’ child, unless of course he is gifted at football or music or sings like an angel. Academically ‘gifted’ is not so popular.

      Good luck with the home schooling I hope you special little boy flies.


    • Lynne
      March 22, 2014 @ 4:01 pm

      Amanda –
      Please read my earlier post. Two years after I started home schooling my youngest son, I brought his older brother home. Didn’t get into the gifted program because he wrote the answers without doing the math and was in trouble socially all the time. Didn’t follow instructions, etc.. He was extremely bright – easy to homeschool, hard to raise, ADHD, always in trouble!! The younger one was quiet, very compliant, rarely in trouble! BUT had the most trouble adapting to adult life.
      My oldest self-diagnosed with asperger’s, and it makes sense! He didn’t get social cues – hence the being in trouble all the time. He is now an ambulance driver in L. A. married to a lovely young lady who helps him stay focused and on track!


  7. Megan B
    March 18, 2014 @ 2:55 pm

    I love this so much.


  8. usha ramakrishnan
    March 18, 2014 @ 9:44 pm

    Totally subscribe to this point of view
    At Vidya Sagar Chennai India (working with persons with special needs including autism and learning disabilities) we focus on and view potential though the lens of multiple intelligences which says “Its not How smart you are …it is how You are Smart .We have seen/are seeing amazing results
    Congratulations to Kristine and Jacob!


  9. brian
    March 19, 2014 @ 9:52 am

    Wow, that is really awesome! My son has ADD, hates the sound of a motor(vacuum cleaner) and has a slight speech problem. He loves Lego’s and what boy doesn’t. But he builds some very unique things and even though when he plays I see clutter on the floor, everything is in its place and he knows if I took a piece. Good for you for loving your son enough to not cast him off as most schools do!


  10. Judie
    March 19, 2014 @ 11:02 am

    For more stories about parents raising children who are different from themselves and the norm, read Andrew Solomon’s multi-award winning book, FAR FROM THE TREE.


  11. manali Seth
    March 19, 2014 @ 12:32 pm

    This is truly inspiring! This is exactly what I tell my clients about nurturing the high motivated intelligences more than the others. Children are separate individuals and must be treated like one at par with any intelligent individual. They need you to understand what excites the! It may not be the same thing that excites you as a parent…. But it surely defines their personality. So, take the first step to identify the innate potential of your child using DMIT – dermatoglyphic multiple intelligence testing and nurture the high motivated intelligences only …. Leave the rest to your child and feel the magic and strressfree happines and satisfaction!!


  12. mrs smith
    March 19, 2014 @ 12:53 pm

    Congratulations. You raised Sheldon Cooper.


    • Lori
      March 21, 2014 @ 7:30 am

      No, she raised Jacob. I encourage you to educate yourself on autism a little more and refrain from generalizations. He is a person – not a fictitious television character. He can read this article and all the comments about it. Please think before you speak – especially when you are referring to or speaking to someone who has had an incredibly difficult journey.


    • Jodie
      March 22, 2014 @ 2:26 pm

      Mrs Smith.
      You hide behind a fake name and leave ignorant comments.
      I want to comment more harshly… However if I did, I would stoop to your low.


  13. Carla
    March 19, 2014 @ 12:53 pm

    My son is autistic. He should hate loud noises, confusion, being touched. He excels at hockey, starting centre, plays competitive. We live year round at the hockey arenas and he thrives.


  14. Lilly
    March 19, 2014 @ 1:28 pm

    Another great story about a mother and her son. His artwork is amazing. Instead of stopping him from ripping paper, she allowed him and the stuff he creates is incredible.


  15. Brandi
    March 19, 2014 @ 1:30 pm

    This story makes me cry. My son also at 18 months was not talking and Drs. said he probably has Autism. He does not fit into the square school mold. We call him a circle that cannot fit into a square and that is okay. We homeschool and he is 12 taking high school engineering and art weekly at a local well established art gallery. We know he is going to do something amazing with his adult life. He is passionate about things he studies and has a very high IQ also. We to have surrounded with things he loves and have not pushed him at all to do something he does not want to do. Hurray for you! I sure wish there were more Moms like you who realize not everyone fits in the same box and being outside the box is AWESOME!

    Blessing to you and your beautiful family!


  16. Spencer
    March 19, 2014 @ 1:35 pm

    In the past day or two, it was reported from the South Pole observatory that scientists SAW the quantum gravity signature from Big Bang in the “background” for the first time ever!!!


  17. Candace
    March 19, 2014 @ 3:00 pm

    This can be used for “unlabeled” children too. Figure out your child’s “genius” and nurture it. I homeschooled my son and couldn’t get him to sit still and write anything. Finally, in frustration, I told him to sit on the floor and play with his legos while I read him his math problems. He was doing multiplication and division by the time he was 7. He just graduation from college with a Math degree.


  18. Amy
    March 19, 2014 @ 4:32 pm

    A friend shared this on my Facebook wall. This kid is so much like my 15 year old son, Brandon. He talks about things I don’t understand. When he asks me questions, I tell him to Google it. His interests are Astronomy, Matter, along with other Sciences. He taught himself most of what he knows through books, internet, etc. School is really hard for him because he has no interest in thing like Literature (unless it’s a story about a Scientist or something he can relate to) plus social situation (school holiday parties) are really rough for him. He wants to be a neutron star for Halloween this year and I don’t even know what that is. It’s horrible because he’s brilliant but I don’t know what I can do to help get him in the right environment where he can further explore the things he’s interested in. I guess I’m going to have to read the book 🙂


    • tiffanie
      March 19, 2014 @ 8:49 pm

      Your son might enjoy http://www.worldscienceu.com/ it teaches relativity, quantum mechanics and other things in an online course. Anyone can take it and it is free. It’s done by Brian Greene, a well known theoretical and string physicist 🙂


      • Amy
        March 19, 2014 @ 11:14 pm

        Thank you, Tiffanie. I’ll definitely let him know about this web site. I appreciate you taking the time to share it with me.


  19. Cassie
    March 19, 2014 @ 5:38 pm

    I watched this and amazingly I agree. About 14 mins in the kid talks about schools and learning. I was one of those kids who had a hard time learning in school. Sitting in a class with 15 other kids doing the same stuff day after day… barley passing… now Im a stay at home mom whos a full time college student and making STRAIGHT A’S! My reason is because Im learning at my own pace, my own setting, and not getting pulled behind on an assignment because some other kid doesnt get it, or pushed ahead because I have the Valedictorian in that same class. This mom is a great mother for taking time to realize that her son isnt abnormal… he just learns different, I think more drs and teachers should take this into consideration when it comes to our kids and the way they are taught in schools or diagnosed with learning disabilities. I would love to get my hands on this book!


  20. Anoop Mukundan
    March 20, 2014 @ 3:16 am

    Very Inspiring! Hats off to Kristine.


  21. Ahsan
    March 20, 2014 @ 4:27 am

    Ladies and gentlemen… we have a Sheldon Cooper in the making!


  22. Patricia Huegi
    March 20, 2014 @ 4:49 am

    Amazing and inspirational story for us all to learn from. I do not like the way this man interviewed him. The whole concept of their story went right over his head.


  23. Ayoub M Ayoub
    March 20, 2014 @ 5:56 am

    She is a ‘strong’ woman, sacrificed many things to ‘BUILD’ a man. That’s why we believe the ‘Paradise is at the feet of mothers’.


  24. Lisa Yeh, MD
    March 20, 2014 @ 7:43 am

    Unfortunately, she did not go to an expert. Specialists in Autism Spectrum Disorders and developmental disabilities would never say that a child of two years old would never speak. We have very solid research showing that early intervention is the key to improving prognosis. There is tremendous brain growth from 0-6 years old and therefore predicting prognosis at two years old is an unsound practice. Specialists for Autism have a saying, “Once you have seen one child with Autism, you have seen one child with Autism”. It is important to take every child individually and work with their strengths to improve their weaknesses. For anyone struggling to find true experts in your area, Autism Speaks has a very good resource guide. There are very good specialists available in most areas. There are also many “quacks” trying to scare parents and take their money and convince them to try dangerous and even potentially life threatening treatments. Autism Speaks is a safe place to find true experts. Here is the link to their resource guide: http://www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/resource-guide


  25. Marlo
    March 20, 2014 @ 8:26 am

    The new issue of The Home Educator magazine will be out next week and there will be a feature on homeschooling children with ASD. http://www.thehomeeducator.net This is such an inspiring story. I have been following Jacob’s story for a while. In my 14 years of working with kids with learning differences, I always wonder what leaps an bounds they could make if they were free of the red tape in the system. This is why I switched over to coordinating home programs and homeschooling my own children.


    • Lynne
      March 22, 2014 @ 4:23 pm

      For background -I have 2 posts above. I raised an “ADD” son, an “ADHD” son, and a “Language Disabled” son (the labels are only for reference) – my sons are all “abled” in wonderful and varied ways!
      But, to comment – I will read this article. My youngest is currently applying for CA Dept of Rehab, they sent him to his 1st psychiatric eval for diagnosis (learning disability)
      and he thinks he was told his problems exist because he was home schooled. I am sure hoping that is just his receptive difficulty in action!! Because – if I hear that from them in our meeting when results come back – WATCH OUT!! I can substantiate and verify homeschooling benefits to the nth degree…


  26. Susan Young
    March 20, 2014 @ 8:48 am

    My daughter was diagnosed with Aspergers, Tourette’s, and a Mood Disorder before the age of 7. By the age of nine, ‘they’ were saying an institution might be the best place for her. My Gracie girl will be 15 in 2 weeks. Not only did I not institutionalize her but I didn’t tell her the names of her diagnosis’ until recently. Today, she is mainstreamed in one of the best schools in the state, an honor roll student, and has a group of friends. Sounds pretty normal to me despite ‘them’ telling me she never would be! Don’t get me wrong, every single day is a challenge but we have decided to meet and overcome like so many other parents and children. God bless you all!


    • Terry
      March 21, 2014 @ 1:17 am

      Hi can you email me or talk with me, I have been told my son has asberger’s and I believe a mood disorder, the problem is I cannot get him to go see a phychcarist , please respond.


  27. Sabrina
    March 20, 2014 @ 9:48 am

    I have a ADHD boy who is now 8 years old. He has been rejected in normal kindergarten and attend special class which teacher think him hardly to learn. Due to his ADHD condition, he maybe classified as a slow learner too. Probably 2-3 years behind of his learning age.

    However after 3 years intervention (speech and OT ), finally he break through the challenge.

    He is now doing very well in a small group of homeschool. I will say, he is picking up every single subject including math. He just join the group less than 3 months, but now doing Grade 2 Math which is for me is extremely incredible.

    His great ability is assemble lego pieces by pieces. He has great passion by looking carefully of each manual book and assemble the lego toys.

    To all special kid parents, never ever give up to your kid. They are precious from heaven.

    Treasure and love them as you might not know that they are actually better than us simply they have hidden talent. I will called my boy is a gifted kid.

    Who know one day he will be a great architect? Only God know his plan to us.


  28. Jamie R
    March 20, 2014 @ 11:02 am

    My daughter was born 8 weeks early and was missing the membrane that separates the right/left side of the brain. She was given an ADHD diagnosis, and we were told she might not read. I home schooled her at taught her to read, but she wasn’t reading well until third grade. She is not 16, 4’11” and 80 pounds. She tested in 7th grade POST HIGH SCHOOL for her reading. She has uneven development, but she is going to find her way. The doctors still can’t totally explain how she performs at or above grade level, but I know that God, my daughter, and all of us found a way.


  29. Cameron
    March 20, 2014 @ 11:57 am

    To the interviewers last question: It’s not a matter of being comfortable with sciences of maths. I believe it’s about being confident and if you stick to and listen to the conversation had on this video you will realize that most people spend their time learning and growing up focusing on the things they’re bad at and shouldn’t do and science and math takes so much more understanding to share it with other people than other subjects. America, as a whole, is not confident in science of math. Any other distraction would be better for a typical American than solving a problem they do not know and do not understand. Academically, we are a mentally complacent people who’d rather sit in front of a TV than figure out how the TV works. Rather than correct our mistakes, we learn to cover them up and ignore them and that is the reason so many people do so little.


    • Anonymous
      March 20, 2014 @ 6:51 pm

      Well said !!
      what this Mom and the Kid did is truly Amazing !! Salutes to both of you ! Good luck with the rest of the journey.


  30. christina
    March 20, 2014 @ 4:44 pm

    I find this interviewer patronizing and borderline inappropriate- the jewish joke? Is that really necessary? The way he referred to her ‘other’ children as ‘normal’? He made a lot of assumptions that were out of line, I don’t see how he is on TV with that personality and lack of self-awareness.


  31. M.E.S. Atik
    March 20, 2014 @ 7:37 pm

    I do believe that diagnoses can help simply because they can lead us to address the child’s difficulties. But those difficulties do NOT deserve to be the stars of the show. My son is an ADDer who loves animals, especially undersea creatures. Maybe, when he’s older, he’ll choose to be a marine biologist. Of course we have to focus on our children’s strengths and talents, whether they have autism, ADD, or XYZ.


  32. Efrat
    March 21, 2014 @ 12:16 am

    I totally agree with following your child’s passion…
    Wonderful story
    But I did NOT appreciate the offensive anti-Semitic “bagel/Jewish”joke made by the reporter!


  33. Julie Menefee
    March 21, 2014 @ 3:52 am

    It has been a long beautiful ride and we were fortunate to stay in public school. We also worked with speech, physical, and occupational therapy. My daughter has every label and through IEP’s we received the help, love, and support needed. There are still beautiful publis school teachers out there. This was our road. She is a junior, looking at college, plays clarinet beautifully and has a 3.6. She works hard at everything but I have stuck to my gut. I fought for her every step of the way and now I teach her how to step up and speak for herself. I am proud of her and at 5yo I thought I was living a nightmare. Don’t give up on these brilliant children.


  34. sujith
    March 21, 2014 @ 6:28 am

    Nature has its own ways. So don’t try to disturb the natures laws by treating with medicines or any other methods.when nature takes control everything will have a cure. And well done to this incredible mom and child.


  35. Michelle
    March 21, 2014 @ 10:45 am

    As a parent I very much relate to this story. My son is 18 and there is a program called The Son-Rise Program which uses much of this same type of approach. I researched this program when my son was young and used loosely some of their techniques. I truly believe it made a real difference in him and where he is today. Autism is always teaching us………we truly are the students.


  36. erik
    March 21, 2014 @ 11:49 am

    18:03 – You hit the nail on the head. Best of luck to you and your son.


  37. Jen
    March 21, 2014 @ 1:23 pm

    I love this momma! The best thing I did for my child was to make the decision to break away from the norm and educate him at home. Once I removed him from that classroom setting and let up on all the therapy and gave him time to just explore the world and learn at his own pace, he progressed with leaps and bounds. He was finally able to relax enough to learn. He was able to focus on developing a relationship with us. I think before he was so focused on trying to just keep himself from melting down and keep up as best he could, that he was just starting to shut down and create his own world. He does still have some social awkwardness, just like the rest of us (only we are able to learn the tricks to hide it), and he has tics from Tourette’s as well, but he has developed into such an amusing and fun kid to be around that he is still able to make friends and spread happiness (and plenty of laughter) wherever he goes. I truly believe had he stayed in public school he would not have made the progress he has and would have never developed the self-esteem that he has today.


  38. Carol Abraham Shuey
    March 21, 2014 @ 3:15 pm

    This lady is incredibly fortunate to be able to be home with her son and provide to him what he needed. I have a son with ADHD, grown now, who had to be in the school system and were very unsupportive. He is incredibly intelligent, but school caused him so much insecurity. I tried homeschooling for a year, but I had to work full time besides with 6 children and a non supportive husband. It did not work well. He and I both remember that year fondly though.


  39. Albert Kee Chiun Ee
    March 21, 2014 @ 7:52 pm

    it really make me think again how to take care and nuture my daughter with autism to do what she likes. No need to follow the rest of her peers.


  40. amy
    March 22, 2014 @ 9:07 am

    I didn’t read through every post, so forgive me if I repeat someone else, but as I read through some were they where discussing “This is Jacob who has autism” or “this is Jacob who is autistic”, I thought who introduces someone that way?. Wouldn’t you say “This is Jacob”? Or “This is my son, Jacob.” Or even “This is my student Jacob”. Then, I feel, it is person first. No label necessary!


  41. ghd
    March 22, 2014 @ 4:42 pm

    Sound ? & smart duft asumption by theachers


  42. jenn
    March 22, 2014 @ 7:47 pm

    I’d much rather say “I have Asperger’s” than “I am” something autistic. I think it depends if you’ve gone through special education hearing “they’re autistic” repeatedly (yes it’s constant when you work in the field) rather than a direct comment that would be focused towards a higher functioning person who sees it aside of their whole self, an affliction. It is an affliction. It’s horrible to suffer the feeling of being in an ocean of people that direct extreme emotion instead of sympathy, or better yet have someone laugh in your face because you seem intelligent and “normal” and you just want someone to give you a break because daily life is mentally and physically exhausting like this. I enjoy being around lower functioning autistic people becauseIi get a kind of ease off from the sympathy and assistance given to them. I have Aspergers. I don’t want someone to feel sorry for me at all, just kindness and some slack when things are to much and I’m labelled a bitch instead. Maybe I can have an official pin to wear


  43. Doreen
    March 23, 2014 @ 10:10 pm

    What are we all so afraid of? Are we trying to ignore special needs by using politically correct language? Does that make autism go away? The diagnosis is there in order to clue us in to that individual’s particular needs that may be different from the “norm”. There’s no shame in being different. If he/she is in a setting where the autism label applies and helps people to understand what he/she needs then great – say he’s autistic. The world is where we all live and eventually we all have to be a part of it. If being part of society requires accommodations, then I see a “label” as a logical step in achieving that reality.


  44. Laurel K.
    March 24, 2014 @ 5:49 am

    Discovering this article is timely and inspiring for our family. Our 12-year-old recently had her central gift of music ignited when she started playing guitar, her fourth instrument. She is now driven to play, sing and write songs 20-30 hours a week; her progress is remarkable to her music teachers, as her passion drives her process of becoming a musician–which we have always encouraged. She also has exceptional language skills easily learned French, German, and Spanish. (In 6th grade, our district has them take each one 5 days a week for one quarter, to see which one they like.) Her math and science skills are also quite strong.

    I came across this article just as we began exploring options to customize her education, to allow her to do her core curriculum at home through an accredited online school that allows her to work at her own pace, while still attending our excellent local public school part time, for the more active, hands-on interactive subjects that would be more difficult to do at home, like science, art, foreign language, and band. This would relieve her of a huge burden of homework, and give her more time for her music. This way she could even take more than one foreign language if she wants.

    We’re meeting soon with the principal to see if this would be possible for next year, 7th grade. I know that they make custom arrangements like this for homeschooled kids at the high school in our city; hopefully they’ll be amenable to it at the middle school as well.

    I personally believe that the children either born with or who develop autism are gifts to mankind, heralding a new way of thinking and being, and part of our spiritual and social evolution. I believe that is true as well with all children. They’re here — we are all here– for a reason. Our current Prussian system of education is based on a model developed during the height of the industrial revolution. What the Barnett’s discovered is what Maria Montessori discovered: provide an enriched environment and allow children the freedom to explore, and children will naturally teach themselves, grow, learn, discover their gifts, and become who are they are supposed to be. This is a far superior model to follow. (Our daughter attended a bonafide Montessori school for 3 years before starting 1sr grade in public school.)


  45. Lauren
    March 24, 2014 @ 5:01 pm

    First you are a soul. A perfect divine Soul. As perfect as the next divine soul standing to your right and just as perfect as the divine soul standing to your left.
    Beyond that call yourself what you want human, male, female, young, old, black, white, rich, poor, autistic, normal whatever you want but know that each of these definitions only limit your potential. Better yet just be you, YOU the perfect, unique divine soul that you are.


  46. Matt
    March 26, 2014 @ 1:01 pm

    Sounds like he got a vaccination just prior to losing his speech. Mercury in the vaccines will do this and its causing Autism all over the world, and yet the doctors and brainwashed people still believe that vaccines are safe! How asinine!!


  47. Chandrasekhar
    March 27, 2014 @ 11:13 am

    A wonderful account of what unconditional love can do. Amazing power to be able to go the depths of a person and enable the potential. Kristine described herself as having a stubborn streak in herself. We have witnessed what stubborn, unconditional & motherly love can do. I am a homoeopath & have witnessed similar transformations with homoeopathic medicines. I too believe in the concept that, it is the child that has to remain as the main focus. His ability or inability can be looked at later. Kristine has shown a new light of life for the children with this inability. Wonderful new worlds can be created through this endeavour.


  48. JIMMY
    March 27, 2014 @ 6:48 pm

    Nothing short of incedable. God Bless this Mother & Child. Peace & Love Out. To the World. JIMMY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  49. Maria
    April 1, 2014 @ 8:59 pm

    I love that he’s a savant in quantum physics. Often the autistic mind harbours intense brilliance on one area, which is the irony behind the ‘affliction’. Many blessings in the austistic mind…so much we don’t know! But it’s so amazing what you focus ON is what you can become.


  50. Tracy
    April 22, 2014 @ 10:04 am

    Fascinating, and one of the most beautiful stories about parenting I’ve ever heard. What a lovely family.


  51. Michele walfred
    May 9, 2014 @ 8:20 am

    This makes me wonder if not all along, Autism, which is feard and misunderstood by so many, isn’t some type of evolutionary leap for humankind- and it will be Autistic children who will grow up to cure cancer, and solve mysteries. Maybe it should be embraced and nutured. Instead of controlling autism, and making our ADD and AHDH kids try to conform to a societal norm, like the Barnetts, celebrate their true nature – that oddball spark. Not really odd at all! Run with it. How often are we taught not to buck the tide? To consider our experts and institutions as the reasons we may not be progressing is very frightening.


  52. Michael Paul Goldenberg
    May 12, 2014 @ 12:04 pm

    We could send this story to E. D. Hirsch and his band of Core Knowledge faithful, but I’m afraid it would be dismissed as aberrant rather than exemplary. After all, there’s no guarantee that, left to his/her own devices, any given child would kowtow to Hirsch & Company’s prescribed list of “essential knowledge.” Quelle domage.


  53. Alison O'Connell
    January 4, 2024 @ 12:50 pm

    Considering the manner in which she has been accused of abusing her adopted daughter, perhaps you should consider updating this post about Kristine Barnett.



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