Gateway Gazette

From My Bookshelf: Kristine Barnett

By Lynn Willoughby

The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing ~ Kristine Barnett

What an incredible true story of a mother’s love and commitment to her autistic on who was almost lost to the family.

When Jake was diagnosed at about age two – he was already reading, but his parents were told he would never be able to tie his shoes and he would never talk.

Kristine writes, “It’s hard to trust your child to find his or her own path, especially when we’re told every day by professionals that children must fit into rigid boxes.” But Kristine and her husband Michael were so determined to get a peek into Jake’s mind they ignored the professionals and acted instead like parents, …”celebrating your children’s passions…”

In fact, Jake has a higher IQ than Einstein’s, worked out his own original theory in astrophysics at age nine that may put him in line for the Nobel Prize. At twelve, he became a paid researcher in quantum physics!

Although we are given very personal glimpses of Jake and his family, this is also the story of Kristine and Michael and their family of three boys. Softball, frisbee, car shows, ice cream, roller coasters and s’mores were very important childhood experiences they would not allow Jake to miss out on.

They also pioneered a program based on play for other autistic children, then a sports program and a meeting place for the parents who were struggling. It was called “Jacob’s Place – a not for profit learning centre for autistic and special needs children. Kristine often brings in animals to engage the children. One time it was a llama, one time a sheep. …”and currently we are in cats…” Jake deadpans.

They are an amazing family. Jake is a one in a million child prodigy, but Wesley and Ethan were never ignored.

This is truly an extraordinary family with an extraordinary son. Not only do Kristine and Michael buck the system, but they rise above every other obstacle life sends them. This woman warrior deals with all the guilt of motherhood and kicks it to the curb!

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