When he was two years old, the doctors of Jacob Barnett declared his childhood to be “very difficult.” They also said that the boy might not be able to know how to tie his own shoes. Today, Jacob is considered a genius – a physics prodigy who surpasses the intelligence quotient (IQ) of the revolutionary physicist Albert Einstein. Jacob was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a condition within the autism spectrum. Yet, the 14-year old is currently working his way to a master’s degree in quantum physics and is on a path that might lead him to win the Noble Prize.
A mother’s love
Jacob’s mother, Kristine Barnett saw firsthand how difficult it was for her son to spend his early years on an educational system that did not address the needs of her boy. Perceiving Jacob’s condition as a big hindrance to his development, his teachers would try to discourage Kristine. They told her not to hope for anything beyond her child learning about the basics.
With Asperger’s, Jacob struggled in the many different kinds of school activities. He was often solitary and refused to interact with anyone else. Nevertheless, with hope, determination and a “never say die” attitude, Kristine finally found the key that helped Jacob pass through the hurdles that life had in store. Kristine discovered that letting Jacob be himself was the ultimate answer. She helped Jacob focus on doing the things he could do rather than those he could not do.
Jacob’s new-found hope
Kristine noticed that her son could do stunning things whenever he was not in therapy. In an interview, Kristine told the media that Jacob could create exact copies of maps using Q-tips. Jacob got every detail correct, even the littlest streets he only saw once. Jacob also found physics and the movements of planets very interesting. This started when they visited a planetarium where a professor asked questions and Jacob had the answer even to the most complicated ones.
Losing faith in the system, Kristine took on the task of providing Jacob the proper education that his condition required. She realized that her son needed something more specific, unlike the curriculum that a special education could provide. When Jacob was three-and-a-half years old, Kristine made a promise to herself and her son that she would take care of his needs herself. In Kristine’s memoir named, “The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing Genius,” she admitted that it was terrifying to go against professional opinion. However, she knew in her heart that her son would surely slip away if he stayed in the special education curriculum.
With the enduring and patient love of his mother, Jacob thrived and became the person he is today. His mother made sure that he lives a regular life and that he enjoys everyday things that everyone else around him experiences.
College at 11
When Jacob turned 11, he became eligible to enter college. Currently, he is at the Indiana University-Purdue in Indianapolis where physics is his chosen field. Jacob’s IQ of 170 surpassed even that of the great Albert Einstein’s. Following in the footsteps of the theoretical physicist who changed man’s understanding of the universe forever, Jacob is now working on his own version of the theory of relativity. His promising research and love of science greatly impressed the professors at Princeton Institute for Advance Study.
Photo Credit: Jacob Barnett from his Facebook page