The Current

The Spark: A mother's story of nurturing genius

Jacob Barnett's autism was so severe,doctors wondered if he would ever learn to tie his shoes. Now, at age fifteen, he's about to earn his PhD in quantum physics.
Jake Barnett was 10-years-old when he tested mathematically at the level of a PhD student in astrophysics. And 8 years after another test concluded he was autistic with little hope of ever speaking or being able to tie his shoes. Today, we share the story of a boy and his mom. 

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Kristine Barnett is the author of 'The Spark: A mother's story of nurturing genius' about raising her son, Jacob Barnett.
(Random House of Canada)

Kristine and Jacob Barnett

Before he was even a teenager, Jacob Barnett captured the world's attention - the boy with the IQ higher than Einstein's. The university student whose books were heavier than he was.

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When Jacob Barnett signs his mom's book, he
adds an equation. And in Anna Maria's case, 2!

At nine, he began work on an original theory of astrophysics. There are already predictions his ideas will eventually earn him a Nobel prize. But behind the headlines, is another remarkable story - of his mother, Kristine Barnett, who searched for ways to connect with a two-year old Jacob diagnosed with autism.

• Forget What You Know: Jacob Barnett at TEDxTeen — TedX Talks

Jacob is 15 now, and his mother documents his - and his family's journey in a new book, The Spark: A mother's story of nurturing genius.

Kristine and Jacob Barnett were both in our Toronto studio.

This segment was produced by The Current's Josh Bloch.

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Other segments from today's show:

From the archives: The life and legacy of Dr. Henry Morgentaler

Checking-In: Listener Response


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