I love the happy outcome of the story of now-15-year-old Jacob Barnett. At age 2, Jacob lost the ability to speak and was diagnosed with moderate to severe autism. After awhile, his mom decided that the time he was spending with therapy was taking away from his childhood.
According to the article “Autistic Teen Working on Astrophysics Ph.D.” from ABC News, Jacob’s mother said:
“We were forgetting his childhood. His spirit was being crushed by the opinion that everything was wrong,” …. “I resolved to give it back to him.”
That night, Barnett took Jacob out after dark, turned on fog lights of her car, put on some Louis Armstrong, laid on hood of the car with him and looked at the stars.
“Little did I know it would be those stars that would bring him back into our world,” she said.
From then on, Jacob’s mother followed his interests. Following Jacob’s interests led to Jacob regaining his ability to speak and teaching himself to read by 3½. He’s now working on his Ph.D. in Astrophysics. What an perfect example of naturally using the basic Montessori principle of following the child! (See “Top 10 Montessori Principles for Natural Learning.”)
Tests have shown that Jacob has a higher IQ than Albert Einstein. You can see Jacob giving a TedxTeen Talk at age 13. His advice is to “stop learning and start thinking.”
Isn’t that awesome?!