The Spark: A Mother's Story Of Nurturing, Genius, And Autism

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The Spark: A Mother's Story Of Nurturing, Genius, And Autism

by Kristine Barnett
Read by Kathe Mazur

Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group | April 9, 2013 | Audio Book (CD)

The Spark: A Mother's Story Of Nurturing, Genius, And Autism is rated 4.6154 out of 5 by 13.
Kristine Barnett’s son Jacob has an IQ higher than Einstein’s, a photographic memory, and he taught himself calculus in two weeks. At nine he started working on an original theory in astrophysics that experts believe may someday put him in line for a Nobel Prize, and at age twelve he became a paid researcher in quantum physics. But the story of Kristine’s journey with Jake is all the more remarkable because his extraordinary mind was almost lost to autism. At age two, when Jake was diagnosed, Kristine was told he might never be able to tie his own shoes.
 
The Spark is a remarkable memoir of mother and son. Surrounded by “experts” at home and in special ed who tried to focus on Jake’s most basic skills and curtail his distracting interests—moving shadows on the wall, stars, plaid patterns on sofa fabric—Jake made no progress, withdrew more and more into his own world, and eventually stopped talking completely. Kristine knew in her heart that she had to make a change. Against the advice of her husband, Michael, and the developmental specialists, Kristine followed her instincts, pulled Jake out of special ed, and began preparing him for mainstream kindergarten on her own.
 
Relying on the insights she developed at the daycare center she runs out of the garage in her home, 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 basic philosophy, along with her belief in the power of ordinary childhood experiences (softball, picnics, s’mores around the campfire) and the importance of play, helped Kristine overcome huge odds.
 
The Barnetts were not wealthy people, and in addition to financial hardship, Kristine herself faced serious health issues. But through hard work and determination on behalf of Jake and his two younger brothers, as well as an undying faith in their community, friends, and family, Kristine and Michael prevailed. The results were beyond anything anyone could have imagined.
 
Dramatic, inspiring, and transformative, The Spark is about the power of love and courage in the face of overwhelming obstacles, and the dazzling possibilities that can occur when we learn how to tap the true potential that lies within every child, and in all of us.

Format: Audio Book (CD)

Dimensions: 5.9 × 5.08 × 1.1 in

Published: April 9, 2013

Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0449009629

ISBN - 13: 9780449009628

Found in: Biography and Memoir
Every mother teaches her children they shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but few mothers have had to live that lesson like Kristine Barnett. When, at the age of two, her son Jake received diagnoses that progressed from Asperger’s to autism, doctors, teachers and therapists saw only the autism. Not Kristine. She saw a beautiful little boy and she simply could not accept the bleak life of limitations being projected for Jake. The Spark is a moving, terrifying and inspirational story of her courageous journey with Jake, a journey that is a testament to the ferocity of a mother’s love. Where others saw bizarre behaviour and emotional withdrawal, Barnett saw a spark in her son, an intelligence that just didn’t know how to talk to the world. Over the course of ten years she nurtured that spark with unwavering faith and a tenacity, that is, in the truest sense of the word, awesome. And the child, who therapists said shouldn't bother trying to learn the alphabet or tie his shoes, is now researching quantum physics at Indiana University, giving engaging interviews on TV and inspiring students to stop learning and start thinking. He is just 14. But this beautiful, joyful book is so much more than the story of an exceptional mother and her genius son. In a voice that could be your neighbour, your sister, or your best friend, Barnett shows us how to see children, whether those with autism or their non-spectrum friends, as she does – as unique people with infinite potential. She shows us that every child has a spark waiting to be discovered. If you are a mother, or have a child in your life, The Spark is simply the most compelling book you will read this year.

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Inspirational! I hadn't heard much about this book before reading it and found it really inspiring. As a fellow mother, I can appreciate how busy life can be but this book really shows that anything is possible. It illustrates how true a mother's instinct/gut feeling is and as a teacher I can truly appreciate the effort put forth by the mom to help her children be all they could be. The book is about the journey so the end isn't really the end - keep that in mind while reading - and make sure to have some Kleenex handy as there are some very powerful and proud moments :)
Date published: 2014-05-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing book! This was an amazing book, informative and a wonderful window into a world so few understand or appreciate. I will be buying more to give away.
Date published: 2014-01-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very enlightening and an enjoyable easy read Enjoyed this book and found it hard to put down. This is a story of parents who refuse to just follow through with what was the "normal" path to follow for an autistic child. It was a mothers "gut" feeling on what was the right treatment style for her child and eventually finding out it was right for many autistic children.
Date published: 2013-12-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Read!! Story Description: Random House of Canada|April 9, 2013|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-0-30-36279-7 Every mother teaches her children they shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but few mothers have had to live that lesson like Kristine Barnett. When, at the age of two, her son Jake received diagnoses that progressed from Asperger’s to autism, doctors, teachers, and therapists saw only the autism. Not Kristine. She saw a beautiful little boy and she simply could not accept the bleak life of limitations being projected for Jake. The Spark is a moving, terrifying and inspirational story of her courageous journey with Jake, a journey that is a testament to the ferocity of a mother’s love. Where others saw bizarre behaviour and emotional withdrawal, Barnett saw a spark in her son, an intelligence that just didn’t know how to talk to the world. Over the course of ten years she nurtured that spark with unwavering faith and a tenacity that is, in the truest sense of the word, awesome. And the child, who therapists said shouldn’t bother trying to learn the alphabet or tie his shoes, is now researching quantum physics at Indiana University, giving engaging interviews on TV and inspiring students to stop learning and start thinking. He is just 14. But this beautiful joyful book is so much more than the story of an exceptional mother and her genius son. In a voice that could be your neighbour, your sister, or your best friend, Barnett shows us how to see children, whether those with autisim or their non-spectrum friends, as she does – as unique people with infinite potential. She shows us that every child has a spark waiting to be discovered. If you are a mother, or have a child in your life, The Spark is simply the most compelling book you will read this year. My Review: The Spark was the most compelling and profound memoir I’ve read in a long while. Kristine Barnett is not only a genius in my opinion, but a superwoman with herculean stamina and an unbelievably powerful advocacy quotient to her personality. After being told that her 2-year-old son, Jake had autism and would likely never talk or read or even tie his own shoelaces by the age of 16, Kristine refused to believe that. After allowing herself to grieve over the news she jumped on the bandwagon to get Jake the help he needed and hasn’t stopped to this very day. Kristine ran a home daycare and had worked with children of various ages and various learning disabilities so she wasn’t totally blind coming out of the gate. After a great deal of reading and research about autism, Kristine and her husband, Michael engaged, Jake in every type of therapy available to them. Jake’s therapy schedule was so full that she would literally fall into bed each night totally exhausted. With careful observation of Jake and what he did activity wise between therapy sessions gave her ideas on how to best help and advocate for her son. She figured out that most of the therapy focused on what Jake could “NOT” do, not on what he “COULD” do. This just didn’t make sense to Kristine and she soon found herself creating her own activities out of things she either made herself or bought. This set Jake up for a lot of successes and encouraged him to keep learning. Although, Jake had stopped talking, Kristine was still able to communicate with him through the activities they shared together. Jake’s IQ was higher than Einstein’s had been and he had a photographic memory, and “taught himself calculus in two weeks!” At age 9, little Jake “started working on an original theory in astrophysics that experts believe may someday put him in line for a Nobel Prize. By the time, Jake was 12, he had become a “paid” researcher in quantum physics. Without Kristine, Jake would have stagnated. She had earned that all the basic knowledge a child needed had to be acquired by the age of 5, so this gave Kristine 3 years to pull off a miracle. After observing his boredom and further withdrawal from the world with the various therapists coming to their home each day, Kristine made a decision against the advice of the therapists and even her husband, Michael. She pulled him out of therapy and began preparing him on her own for full mainstream kindergarten. A feat no one believed ever possible. Thus begins, Kristine’s journey to “follow Jacob’s spark – his passionate interests.” Through hard work, long hours, determination and commitment, Kristine along with her husband, Michael, friends and others in their community prevailed. Kristine Barnett is an intelligent, tireless, superwoman. THE SPARK is dramatic, inspiring and transformative. This is a woman who faced overwhelming obstacles but through sheer determination, stamina, and an overwhelming love for her son, changed not only his life and his future but also the lives and futures of many other children. THE SPARK is a memoir that should be read by every parent, every teacher, and a copy should be in every school and public library.
Date published: 2013-11-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Book for parents As a parent I am so, so, grateful that I did not have to address the same problems that the author had to deal with. But with that said I think any parent can learn a lot from this story. It is a heartwarming tale that can inspire anyone to be a better person.
Date published: 2013-11-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Triumph of the Human Spirit This book was an extremely emotional experience for me, even as a mother with seemingly "normal" children. After reading this book, I think it is safe to say that "normal" is truly all relative. Every child is unique and must be guided along the path they carve out for themselves. I am completely in awe of this amazing woman, and I do believe I have found the perfect role model for myself as a mother. There are so many reviews that criticize her "self-righteous" attitude, and quite frankly I'm surprised at this assessment of her character. I think perhaps it is easier to say that another person is "self-righteous" when you are faced with another person who is clearly so much more capable than yourself. I think more than anything, those who say that she is, are, in all honesty, humbled by her abilities, her positive, nourishing, happy spirit, and feel perhaps, just a wee bit (if not more) of resentment towards her. I don't think she is self righteous at all. I think she is writing as she is discovering herself, and just what she is truly made of, and it is surprising her as well, just how much she has accomplished.
Date published: 2013-10-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Inspiring Read In More Ways Than Expected... This book was absolutely engaging to read from beginning to end. Not only was it amazing to see the beautiful mind that emerged when Kristine Barnett decided to support her child's strengths, not just his challenges, it is also astounding how much one family can go through and still come out on top. I was somewhat hesitant to purchase this book after reading a couple of reviews suggesting that the author was 'whiny' or 'self-righteous', but after reading the book, it is difficult for me to understand where these reviews were coming from. The Barnett family has faced many significant life challenges besides their son's autism, and it is inspiring to see the ways they stayed optimistic and supported one another. This would be an incredible work of fiction, but it is astounding because it is a true story. It made me laugh and cry many times, and is among the best books I've read in a long time.
Date published: 2013-07-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Awesome and Inspiring This book was so inspiring both as an educator and a parent. It goes to show that the parent is the 1st teacher of a child and that educating should always be a joint effort!
Date published: 2013-06-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Slow, boring, difficult to he through I had high expectations for this novel, and unfortunately they fell flat. The story of the boy genius is an interesting one but I was disappointed with how much the book is actually about him. She writes too much about herself and how difficult her life is for her. Her voice seems to come off whiny and self absorbed. After finishing the book, I was so dissatisfied about how much they actually discussed the boy that I spent a lot of time googling and researching him afterwards.
Date published: 2013-05-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Exciting The Spark is a very exciting read about two very remarkable people: a mother whose relentless efforts to make the best for her son can teach us all to pull out all the stops for every truly whorthwhile endeavor, and an extremely gifted son we'll all no doubt hear lots more about because she did.
Date published: 2013-04-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Inspirational and Honest The Good Stuff Wonderfully honest and truly inspiring Shows the power of a mothers faith and love for her son I wanted to hug this women after reading all of the challenges she faced and how she kept going through it all Strong message of hope and thinking outside of the box when dealing with special needs children Really made me think about how I can help my son more. As many of you know my son has Spina Bifida and his biggest challenge being the ADHD that is so prevalent with children with this kind of disability. Think its time to maybe try to find Jake's Spark instead of trying to mold him into what I (not to mention the school system) think he should be or do It was refreshing to read a hopeful story about autism/Asperger's without the blame on how this happened - Just a this is what happened & how we survive & thrive with it She not only helps her child she helps others - that to be is a definition of a hero Very readable Nice to see the focus on the positive and not the negativity of her situation Also nice to read about the lighter moments Focuses on the importance of play & that is good for every child Also enjoyed the focus on the importance of community and charity The analogy she uses on pg 77 to explain autism are simple yet brilliant The Not so Good Stuff Um - not sure how to say this - but at times she comes across a little too self righteous - but hey if I lived through the same challenges she did -- maybe I would too (Ok and maybe she made me feel like I haven't done enough for my son) Made me miss my friend Joan as she is very similar to Narnie Favorite Quotes/Passages "In the time it took me to try on two dresses, Narnie had found out everything about this woman's upcoming wedding, her fiance, and which of her emotional needs he did or didn't meet." "Indulging the senses isn't a luxury, but a necessity. We have to walk barefoot in the grass. We have to eat clean snow. We have to let warm sand run through our fingers. We have to lie on our backs and feel the sun on our face." "It's one thing to support someone when you agree with him or her, but another thing entirely when you don't." "Autism is a thief. It takes your child away. It takes your hope away, and it robs you of your dreams." Who Should/Shouldn't Read A must read for any parent of a special needs child Obviously one that parents of children with Autistic/Asperger's will get something out of Anyone looking for a hopeful, positive and inspirational story Honestly, every parent should read this and hopefully get the message that every child is different and we need to fight for them and help them find their "spark" 4.5 Dewey's I received this in exchange for an honest review - no money exchanged hands - but damn I wish that would happen because I really want new carpets LOL!
Date published: 2013-04-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Most compelling book you will read this year! Every mother teaches her children they shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but few mothers have had to live that lesson like Kristine Barnett. When, at the age of two, her son Jake received diagnoses that progressed from Asperger’s to autism, doctors, teachers and therapists saw only the autism. Not Kristine. She saw a beautiful little boy and she simply could not accept the bleak life of limitations being projected for Jake. The Spark is a moving, terrifying and inspirational story of her courageous journey with Jake, a journey that is a testament to the ferocity of a mother’s love. Where others saw bizarre behaviour and emotional withdrawal, Barnett saw a spark in her son, an intelligence that just didn’t know how to talk to the world. Over the course of ten years she nurtured that spark with unwavering faith and a tenacity, that is, in the truest sense of the word, awesome. And the child, who therapists said shouldn't bother trying to learn the alphabet or tie his shoes, is now researching quantum physics at Indiana University, giving engaging interviews on TV and inspiring students to stop learning and start thinking. He is just 14. But this beautiful, joyful book is so much more than the story of an exceptional mother and her genius son. In a voice that could be your neighbour, your sister, or your best friend, Barnett shows us how to see children, whether those with autism or their non-spectrum friends, as she does – as unique people with infinite potential. She shows us that every child has a spark waiting to be discovered. If you are a mother, or have a child in your life, The Spark is simply the most compelling book you will read this year.
Date published: 2013-03-16

– More About This Product –

The Spark: A Mother's Story Of Nurturing, Genius, And Autism

by Kristine Barnett
Read by Kathe Mazur

Format: Audio Book (CD)

Dimensions: 5.9 × 5.08 × 1.1 in

Published: April 9, 2013

Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0449009629

ISBN - 13: 9780449009628

Read from the Book

An Inch, or Ten Thousand Miles November 2001 JAKE, AGE THREE "Mrs. Barnett, I''d like to talk to you about the alphabet cards you''ve been sending to school with Jacob." Jake and I were sitting with his special ed teacher in our living room during her monthly, state-mandated visit to our home. He loved those brightly colored flash cards more than anything in the world, as attached to them as other children were to love-worn teddy bears or threadbare security blankets. The cards were sold at the front of the SuperTarget where I did my shopping. Other children snuck boxes of cereal or candy bars into their mothers'' shopping carts, while the only items that ever mysteriously appeared in mine were yet more packs of Jake''s favorite alphabet cards. "Oh, I don''t send the cards; Jake grabs them on his way out the door. I have to pry them out of his hands to get his shirt on. He even takes them to bed with him!" Jake''s teacher shifted uncomfortably on the couch. "I wonder if you might need to adjust your expectations for Jacob, Mrs. Barnett. Ours is a life skills program. We''re focusing on things like helping him learn to get dressed by himself someday." Her voice was gentle, but she was determined to be clear. "Oh, of course, I know that. We''re working on those skills at home, too. But he just loves his cards . . ." "I''m sorry, Mrs. Barnett. What I''m saying is that we don''t think you''re going to need to worry about the alphabet with Jacob." Finally--finally--I understood wh
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From the Publisher

Kristine Barnett’s son Jacob has an IQ higher than Einstein’s, a photographic memory, and he taught himself calculus in two weeks. At nine he started working on an original theory in astrophysics that experts believe may someday put him in line for a Nobel Prize, and at age twelve he became a paid researcher in quantum physics. But the story of Kristine’s journey with Jake is all the more remarkable because his extraordinary mind was almost lost to autism. At age two, when Jake was diagnosed, Kristine was told he might never be able to tie his own shoes.
 
The Spark is a remarkable memoir of mother and son. Surrounded by “experts” at home and in special ed who tried to focus on Jake’s most basic skills and curtail his distracting interests—moving shadows on the wall, stars, plaid patterns on sofa fabric—Jake made no progress, withdrew more and more into his own world, and eventually stopped talking completely. Kristine knew in her heart that she had to make a change. Against the advice of her husband, Michael, and the developmental specialists, Kristine followed her instincts, pulled Jake out of special ed, and began preparing him for mainstream kindergarten on her own.
 
Relying on the insights she developed at the daycare center she runs out of the garage in her home, 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 basic philosophy, along with her belief in the power of ordinary childhood experiences (softball, picnics, s’mores around the campfire) and the importance of play, helped Kristine overcome huge odds.
 
The Barnetts were not wealthy people, and in addition to financial hardship, Kristine herself faced serious health issues. But through hard work and determination on behalf of Jake and his two younger brothers, as well as an undying faith in their community, friends, and family, Kristine and Michael prevailed. The results were beyond anything anyone could have imagined.
 
Dramatic, inspiring, and transformative, The Spark is about the power of love and courage in the face of overwhelming obstacles, and the dazzling possibilities that can occur when we learn how to tap the true potential that lies within every child, and in all of us.

About the Author

KRISTINE BARNETT is the mother of Jacob Barnett and his 3 younger siblings. She runs a daycare that includes both typical and special-needs children. She is also the founder of MyJacobsPlace, a nonprofit organization designed to help children with autism, as well as an award-winning sports league for autistic children.

Editorial Reviews

“[An] amazing memoir . . . compulsive reading.”—The Washington Post
 
“The Spark is about the transformative power of unconditional love. If you have a child who’s ‘different’—and who doesn’t?—you won’t be able to put it down.”—Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind
 
“Love, illness, faith, tragedy and triumph—it’s all here. . . . Jake Barnett’s story contains wisdom for every parent.”—Newsday
 
“This eloquent memoir about an extraordinary boy and a resilient and remarkable mother will be of interest to every parent and/or educator hoping to nurture a child’s authentic ‘spark.’”—Publishers Weekly
 
“Compelling . . . Jake is unusual, but so is his superhuman mom.”—Booklist
 
“The Spark describes in glowing terms the profound intensity with which a mother can love her child.”—Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon and Far from the Tree

“An invigorating, encouraging read.”—Kirkus Reviews
 
“Every parent and teacher should read this fabulous book!”—Temple Grandin, author of Thinking in Pictures and co-author of The Autistic Brain


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