May 10, 2013

"Diagnosed with moderate to severe autism at the age of 2, Jacob spent years in the clutches of a special education system..."

"... that didn’t understand what he needed. His teachers at school would try to dissuade Kristine from hoping to teach Jacob any more than the most basic skills."
One day, his mom took him stargazing. A few months later, they visited a planetarium where a professor was giving a lecture. Whenever the teacher asked questions, Jacob’s little hand shot up and he began to answer questions — easily understanding complicated theories about physics and the movement of planets.
Here's the mother's book, "The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius."


bagoh20 said...

I know what you're thinking. Wow, that reminds me of Bagoh20. He's rocking that genius thing.

Aw shucks, guys.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

We had a cousin who was a genuine genius. The school took him out of regular class and put him in a special ed class because he "couldn't do the work"

He left school when he was 15 and somehow started college that fall. The college got him a scholarship to a university in Europe to be a composer of symphonys. I guess he was destined for great things but he died of a brain tumor when he was 19.

I don't know the point I'm making, but I always feel a sense of sadness at what could have been.

SteveR said...

Mothers know things

Petunia said...

Wow! Good job, Mom!

PoNyman said...

It's amazing what vaccines can do.

Freeman Hunt said...

"It's amazing what vaccines can do."

Heh. That's got to be a thread winner.

EMD said...

Life is hard to believe.

Roux said...

Don't ever give up on your children.

John Lynch said...

This doesn't happen very often.

Autism is a disability. Some autistic people are geniuses, but a lot of "normal" people are, too, and they don't have a problem with clothing tags or an obsession with train schedules.

I'm keeping my (apraxic)kid out of special ed just because he'll learn bad habits from the other special kids. It's not because he's a genius. If he is, he's hiding it really well. He keeps up with grade level and that's good enough.

So what? He's my son.

This sort of article is a way to sell books, not a serious way to look at the world. Most autistic kids are just kids with a disability. It sucks. Life is dealing with suck.

dhagood said...

we put our son in the special education program. the special education program sucked so bad it still makes me angry to think of it 25 years later. i once went to observe one of his special education sessions and they had him playing jacks. i asked them why he couldn't play with jacks at home, and why they weren't teaching him something remotely useful, you know, like reading or something. i was told that they were "education professionals" and they didn't deign to answer my questions.

so, in a very small way, my wife and i helped to start littleton academy, a colorado charter school. we had to go round and round with the charter school to get our son the help he needed, but they eventually came around. thereafter, my son did quite well.

high school was another matter, and we ended up home schooling both of our children. our son because of educational issues, and our daughter for behavioral issues (the high school kicked her out, and i fully agree they should have).

"educational professionals". what utter contemptible useless idiots.

Almost Ali said...

I'll never forget watching the light going on in his little head, not just once like a great awakening, but barely, dimly, a little at a time, as if the light itself was feeling its way. He didn't have autism, but Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a "mental" disorder aka neurobehavioral disorder. The fact was, “I” didn't believe he had ADHD, but once the psychologists line up with the teachers, well, the kids don't have much of a chance. I thought that if he "had" anything, maybe it was a touch of ADD. Mainly because he never stop asking questions. He wanted to know e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g (except the stuff they were slow-teaching him in school).

He was eight, and first off he wanted to know how houses are built. Instead of watching cartoons, he watched Bob Vila ("This Old House"), his face nearly against the screen. One day at Home Depot, he explained what a "reciprocating saw" was. And a lot of other tools that were mysteries to me. By then he was 10-years-old.

His mother was worried sick because he was [only] a C-student. While his slightly older sister was already an academic star – straight A’s (she once got a B+, they put her on suicide watch – and I’m only half joking). I told Evan (that’s his name) not to worry about his grades too much. He didn’t. Anyway. He worried about how things worked. Gadgets, and VCR’s, and Windows, and drive-trains, and electricity. Mainly electricity, something he understood intuitively – don’t ask me how, it certainly wasn’t me or Bob Vila.

When a family friend had a house built down the street, Evan unintentionally took on the job of building inspector. By now he’s twelve, and every day or two he’d ride his bike down to the construction site. From the start he noticed the shortcuts, the mistakes, things that even a seasoned builder might not notice. It didn’t take the actual builder long to realize this was one job that had to be done right.

But the big day, the real break-out came just after he turned fourteen. We were playing chess, a game he had never beaten me at before. But on that day and by his 23rd move, I was checkmated. I mean, I was nailed. I sat there with my mouth open, I’m a good player, I once beat the regional champion at the State Fair (he was taking on all comers). In the olden days I even held my own against some of the best chess hustlers in NYC (Washington Square). Didn’t matter, Evan had me by the 23rd move. Toast. Around the same time, maybe a bit later, some of his grades started going through the roof. Mainly math, but also science. Next thing I know he’s trying to explain calculus to me. And how easy it is to rewire just about anything. And add a second alternator to the Chevy so folks in the next town can hear the music. Not to mention a system of colorful fluorescent lights illuminating the underside of his first car. Next thing I know he’s in college. Today he’s an electrical engineer. Big job. All the way up from “ADHD.”

madAsHell said...

But when he started to speak, he was able to communicate in four different languages.

What a crock-o-shit!!

David said...

Do not trust the "experts."

TMink said...

My youngest daughter has ADHD and she has it good! She is also struggling in math. We spend extra time with her on it, and she works hard, but it is so difficult for her.

We got her tested at school, and their suggestion was to reduce her homework and giver her extra time on tests. Really? I suggested that they, you know, spend some extra time teaching her math.

One of the teachers actually scratched her head and said something like "Well, we could try that."

The point of identifying a learning difficulty is to address and remediate it, not accomodate it.


TMink said...

Almost Ali, ADHD is not a learning disorder, it is mildly associated with a slightly higher than average IQ.

ADHD is a strong neurological bias for interesting thoughts and a strong bias against boring, repetitive thoughts. Well, that and some hyperactivity. 8)

The point as I see it is to get your child through the boring parts of academia, roughly the second year of college, then watch as they dominate learning about things that actually interest them. Those of us with ADD and ADHD really, really need to get a job we are interested in. Once we do, we are more than able to compete.

But ADHD is an actual difference, check out for the SPECT scans. You have to look for them, but they are easy to understand and powerful.


lemondog said...

I’m convinced the public schools cookie-cutter-lockstep approach to education inhibits/destroys individual genius.

I don’t know if Michelangelo, Picasso, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs were geniuses but they had a genius.

Public schools undermine creativity.

Achilles said...

Thank you for another example in a long line of reasons why public education is a grotesque failure.

Almost Ali said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Almost Ali said...


I'm not sure if this applies, but Evan also struggled with math early on, aside from struggling with [public] school in general. But during his very early teens he broke out. Something clicked on in his brain, which took him from C- to genius or near-genius level (mathematically). I watched it happen, it was an amazing transformation.

Whether this happens for your daughter or not (mathematically), it still sounds like you're on exactly the right path.

The lesson for me was that we can't force a person's destiny. Evan, for example, was born to be an engineer. All I did was add some mental stimulation, and maybe the confidence that he was born to be an engineer.

Believe it or not, some of his confidence came from a simple business card, which read: Evan, Technical Consultant. He was ten at the time, and I had a retail business that involved a lot of wide-ranging technical aspects - all of which he had a natural affinity for. And seriously, if a customer wanted to know how a thing worked, I often handed them over to Evan. Certainly not to patronize anyone, because that kid knew what he was doing.

Evan was lucky. He saw his destiny from a very early age. Others have to struggle, with or without things like ADHD. I'm a perfect example - a senior citizen who just now has figured out what he wants to do.

All the best, the very best, to you and your daughter.


Emmster said...

I recommend reading the book. It's quite an amazing story. But it's definitely not for everyone. My husband couldn't finish it. You need to approach it without comparing Jacob to your own child, whether or not he/she is neurotypical.
If even half the book is based on real events, this mom deserves some kind of an award. The things she went through, both with this child (her oldest), her second child and her own health problems would have sidelined most parents. It's quite possible that without a mom who so believed in him, he would have never come out of his shell. Kudos to her.

Sam L. said...

The "experts" are not.