Have you read The Spark by Kristin Barnett yet? If you haven’t, I would highly recommend it.
It’s the story of a mother who listened deeply to her intuition about what her autistic son needed. And a mother who also fought hard.
“Whenever I meet an autistic kid who has made progress, I know that someone fought hard for that kid. No matter what the accomplishment – whether he’s toilet trained or in secondary school, whether he’s recently talking again or has gotten his first job. I know that someone behind that child believed in him and that they fought for him” (p. 102).
The healing power of nature
Kristine would take her son outside at night out into the country (which wasn’t far from where they lived) and they would gaze up at the stars, and she felt that this time with nature was a turning point for her son. “… in my heart of hearts I credit it with Jake’s emergence from autism” (p. 48).
“That pasture out in the country was where I found my son again. He still wasn’t speaking or making eye contact, but by the end of the summer, I could sometimes here him humming along with the jazz I played, and he’d laugh when I’d swing him around under the bright stars” (p. 52)
Wow — it’s something that we all know, isn’t it — how important our connection with the natural world is. What a great remind how something so simple can be so transformative and healing.
Feeding your child’s passion
Three year old Jacob loved his alphabet flash cards. He brought them with him everywhere, including special ed. One day, his special ed teacher told Kristine that she should adjust her expectations of Jacob, that they were focusing on things like helping him to learn to dress himself someday, and that she shouldn’t worry about the alphabet with Jacob.
“She wasn’t saying that alphabet flash cards were premature. She was saying we wouldn’t ever have to worry about the alphabet with Jake because they didn’t think he’d ever read“.
Kristine responded by pulling him out of special ed to help prepare for mainstream kindergarten on her own. Then she followed Jake’s cues about what he was interested in – like completing complicated puzzles and his alphabet cards. Jake taught himself to read, addition and started memorizing the license plates of all of the cars in his neighbourhood within months of being pulled out of special ed.
“At age three, just a few months after his teacher had told us we wouldn’t ever have to worry about the alphabet with him, Jake could read” (p. 63).
By following her intuition, Kristine truly unlocked her son’s genius. At nine, he started working on an original theory in astrophysics, and at age twelve he became a paid researcher in quantum physics. It’s a remarkable story.
Kristine believes that all children have a genius, a spark within them, and if we nurture that passion, we can unlock that genius and that spark within all of our children.
“I’m not suggesting every autistic child is a prodigy, or every typical child for that matter. But if you fuel a child’s innate spark, it will always point the way to far greater heights than you could ever have imagined” (p. 249).
I believe that this is a story that all parents should read…