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Autistic teenager goes from silent child to potential Nobel Prize winner

At 14, physics graduate student Jacob Barnett is believed to have an IQ above that of Einstein.
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Chiara O. Scuri, May 12, 2013 9:55:23 PM

At age two, experts diagnosed Jacob Barnett with autism. He didn’t speak, but that was the least of it. His mother was told he was unlikely to ever read or even tie his shoes and they suggested she place him in a special ed program.

At age four, Kristine Barnett learned just how wrong those experts had been about her son.

As it turns out, Jacob was actually a genius. Of staggering proportion. At 14, he’s studying for his Master’s degree in condensed matter physics and has already been considered a shoe-in for a future Nobel prize. He’s been a university student since age 11 and is soon to start working on his Ph.D.

Now, a different set of experts are saying that the Indiana boy has an IQ beyond that of the current standard for intelligence, Mr. Albert Einstein.

For years, Kristine adjusted to what she thought would be life with an autistic child. So needless to say she wasn’t exactly prepared when four-year-old Jacob started doing the most astonishing things she’d ever seen.

“[He was] doing therapy working on his lower skills… trying to get him to talk again, but when he wasn’t in therapy he’d be doing ‘spectacular things,’” she told BBC One.

“He’d recreate maps all across our floor using Q-Tips and they’d been maps of places we’d visited and he memorized every street. He could recited the alphabet forwards and backwards and learned to speak four different languages as soon as he started talking again.”

To share his incredible story and to provide support to mothers of autistic children who may be harboring their own little geniuses, Kristine has written The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing Genius.

“With Jacob it was just a matter of finding his gift and tuning in,” she notes.

Though Kristine acknowledges that not every autistic child is a secret Einstein, she encourages every parent to surround their children with the people, places and things they love, whether it’s music, art, science or math.

And above all, never stop believing in what they can achieve.


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Chiara O. Scuri

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