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Kid With IQ Higher Than Einstein Blows Autism Myths Out of the Water

Posted by on May. 31, 2013 at 9:49 AM
  • 13 Replies
4 moms liked this

Kid With IQ Higher Than Einstein Blows Autism Myths Out of the Water

by Jeanne Sager

Genius with autism Jacob BarnettWhen you hear there's a 14-year-old working on his master's degree, expecting to eventually earn a PhD in quantum physics, what words come to mind? Genius? Wunderkind?

How about non-starter? Hopeless? No?

That's what people said about Jacob Barnett when he was a little boy. When the now 14-year-old was first diagnosed with autism, his mom was told he'd never amount to anything, that he might not be able to tie his shoes, that he might not be able to read.

I think it's safe to say that's no longer an issue. What is still an issue? The stigma of autism.

Because it's still so misunderstood, the very word "autism" tends to carry with it a lot of baggage. There are myths. Misconceptions. And plain old bad information.

Diagnosis terrifies parents.

It shouldn't have to be that way.

Can having a kid on the autism spectrum be a challenge? Of course.

But when Autism Awareness Month rolled around, I noticed another movement afoot on the web. Parents of kids on the spectrum have been trying to have the month-long celebration re-titled as Autism Acceptance Month. Because to them, autism isn't something to be scared of; it's something about their kids that they celebrate.

One of the most striking comments I saw amidst the flurry of blogging about acceptance came from DeannaMC, blogger behind TravelingMonkeys.org, who was guest posting over at Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. Written two months after a child psychologist confirmed that her daughter, Madeline, was on the spectrum, DeannaMC wrote:

My daughter is autistic, and she is happy. And are we, her family, happy? Incredibly. I have written much about fear and uncertainty here and about panicking over the future. But we see now what incredible shades of privilege and ignorance we had over our eyes: that our neurotypical ideas of happiness were the only standard, and that all else would measure up and be found lacking. That she had to conform to the world to be accepted. These attitudes are not only inappropriate -- they are ableist and wrong.

When I read about Jacob's story -- it's out thanks to his mom's new book, The Spark: a Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius -- those words came flooding back to me. Here's a kid with an IQ higher than Einstein, and people were writing him off because he had autism, because he didn't fit into the cookie cutter mold.

When we have kids, we expect them to be "normal." Whatever that means.

You can't really blame a parent for thinking that way. There are so many possibilities for our kids that to anticipate them all would drive us nuts. So we tend to think inside the box, of boy meets girl, of college, of a little house with a picket fence.

And then things come along. Maybe it's a learning disorder. Or a heart murmur. Or an uncanny ability to bend the ball like Beckham. Or a brain that can rattle off the first 200-some digits of pi (Jacob Barnett can).

Or autism.

Their life might not be the one you pictured from the beginning, but that doesn't mean it will be any less exciting and wonderful. It doesn't mean you let people write your kid off.

You never know what could happen next. That's the beautiful part of being a parent.

Did the autism diagnosis make you afraid? Were people telling you that your kid would never go anywhere with his or her life?

by on May. 31, 2013 at 9:49 AM
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norahsmommy
by on May. 31, 2013 at 10:02 AM
2 moms liked this
I think autism scares the crap out of alot of people and the diagnosis is a killer of potential for a lot of kids because their parents don't push them to succeed in ways that they can. There are many autistic people who can blow anyone around them away with their intelligence.

My brother is most likely autistic. He was never diagnosed as a child in the 70's but has many symptoms that are hard to ignore. My parents dubbed him eccentric and very smart. They pushed him to success in the things he was good at. He is now a very prominent scientist in his feild and works for the government. He travels all over talking about his projects. The military told him they wanted a machine for use in field that could identify 3 variables by the end of the weekend. He programmed it to identify 30,000. Now it's up to several million.

I have no doubt that he is mildly autistic but if he had been diagnosed as a child I doubt he would be where he is now. That's something that really bothers me about the diagnosis. It seems to hold kids back.
MomOfOneCoolKid
by Gold Member on May. 31, 2013 at 1:38 PM

i've seen him before on TV. Cute kid. He's awesome :)

Macphee
by Silver Member on May. 31, 2013 at 2:16 PM
1 mom liked this
Diagnosis was a relief. It made me realize, he's not doing it on purpose. It helped me enter his world to joins our world.
It made me realize that his kaleidoscope is different from mine.
No one said he wouldn't go anywhere. They said if we never gave up, he'd cope. He's thriving now, socially, emotionally, sensory and speech wise.

Recently, autism is more hopeful than hopeless
Macphee
by Silver Member on May. 31, 2013 at 2:17 PM
P.s. I saw him on 2020 and cried.
DS is so similar. He sees the world in algorithms.
KatyTylersMom
by on May. 31, 2013 at 3:25 PM
14 moms liked this

I want to like stories like this.  But I don't.  Because they try to highlight the best and most successful autistic kids and then say "SEE THERE'S NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT".  Well I'm sorry but there is A LOT to worry about with autism.  And god knows I do.  Because 99.9% of our ASD kids are NOT that kid.  Hell 99.9% of NT kids are NOT THAT KID. And while I am so happy that he's doing well and that a positive face can be put on Autism for once in the media, that kid is NOT representative of the majority of the autistic population. 

Our kids are struggling with normal age-appropriate school not finishing their masters degree at the age of 14.  They are struggling to speak and communicate.  They are struggling to understand when spoken to.  They are STRUGGLING and so are their families.  And some article that wants to say "oh look it's not always such a bad thing, don't be scared of autism" is glossing over all the different strains that autism can place on the child and their family.  Strains I see every mom on this forum talking about.  Finances?  Marriages? Jobs?  Therapies?  IEPs? SSI/Medicaid?  Siblings? You name it and autism is going to affect it - sometimes positively, sometimes not. 

What I want is an article on a completely non-remarkable autistic child and their family where the real deal is laid out for all to see.  Is Autism a death sentence?  No, far from it.  But it is a LOT of work and a LOT of struggle and many families will work harder and longer than this genius 14 year old's family ever could and achieve far less for and with their autistic children.  And I would hate for those families to feel that they had somehow just "done it wrong" because here they have a child who may not be potty trained, may not be able to communicate, may not be able to hold a job or attend college, may not ever leave home or have a single friend.  Because THAT is the reality of autism just as much as this brilliant 14 year old.  And THAT is something that scares the shit out of me because while society will rush to accept this genius autistic child, it will just as quickly rush to avoid and forget the children on the opposite end of the spectrum. 

And THAT is the part of "autism acceptance" that this article and it's author so clearly just DOESN'T GET.  They interviewed the parents, they got the right message, but they DON'T GET IT.  Autism acceptance is not just for the useful, bright, nearly-normal autistics who can make great contributions to our NT society.  It is for ALL autistics, particuarly the ones who cannot advocate for it themselves.   

SAMI_JO
by on May. 31, 2013 at 4:41 PM
Thank you, KatyTylersMom,for saying things that I have felt for years, but never had the guts to say it.God Bess you for telling the"true" side of Autism.

Sharbear42371
by on May. 31, 2013 at 5:04 PM


Amen!  

Quoting KatyTylersMom:

I want to like stories like this.  But I don't.  Because they try to highlight the best and most successful autistic kids and then say "SEE THERE'S NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT".  Well I'm sorry but there is A LOT to worry about with autism.  And god knows I do.  Because 99.9% of our ASD kids are NOT that kid.  Hell 99.9% of NT kids are NOT THAT KID. And while I am so happy that he's doing well and that a positive face can be put on Autism for once in the media, that kid is NOT representative of the majority of the autistic population. 

Our kids are struggling with normal age-appropriate school not finishing their masters degree at the age of 14.  They are struggling to speak and communicate.  They are struggling to understand when spoken to.  They are STRUGGLING and so are their families.  And some article that wants to say "oh look it's not always such a bad thing, don't be scared of autism" is glossing over all the different strains that autism can place on the child and their family.  Strains I see every mom on this forum talking about.  Finances?  Marriages? Jobs?  Therapies?  IEPs? SSI/Medicaid?  Siblings? You name it and autism is going to affect it - sometimes positively, sometimes not. 

What I want is an article on a completely non-remarkable autistic child and their family where the real deal is laid out for all to see.  Is Autism a death sentence?  No, far from it.  But it is a LOT of work and a LOT of struggle and many families will work harder and longer than this genius 14 year old's family ever could and achieve far less for and with their autistic children.  And I would hate for those families to feel that they had somehow just "done it wrong" because here they have a child who may not be potty trained, may not be able to communicate, may not be able to hold a job or attend college, may not ever leave home or have a single friend.  Because THAT is the reality of autism just as much as this brilliant 14 year old.  And THAT is something that scares the shit out of me because while society will rush to accept this genius autistic child, it will just as quickly rush to avoid and forget the children on the opposite end of the spectrum. 

And THAT is the part of "autism acceptance" that this article and it's author so clearly just DOESN'T GET.  They interviewed the parents, they got the right message, but they DON'T GET IT.  Autism acceptance is not just for the useful, bright, nearly-normal autistics who can make great contributions to our NT society.  It is for ALL autistics, particuarly the ones who cannot advocate for it themselves.   



TheLadyAmalthea
by Bronze Member on May. 31, 2013 at 6:03 PM

Thank you! For every kid out there like this kid, there is another like mine who will most likely never live on his own. My son is going to be 6 soon and can't write his own name, or even say his own name! He still wears diapers! I want to see articles on the reality of autism, not the exception.

Quoting KatyTylersMom:

I want to like stories like this.  But I don't.  Because they try to highlight the best and most successful autistic kids and then say "SEE THERE'S NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT".  Well I'm sorry but there is A LOT to worry about with autism.  And god knows I do.  Because 99.9% of our ASD kids are NOT that kid.  Hell 99.9% of NT kids are NOT THAT KID. And while I am so happy that he's doing well and that a positive face can be put on Autism for once in the media, that kid is NOT representative of the majority of the autistic population. 

Our kids are struggling with normal age-appropriate school not finishing their masters degree at the age of 14.  They are struggling to speak and communicate.  They are struggling to understand when spoken to.  They are STRUGGLING and so are their families.  And some article that wants to say "oh look it's not always such a bad thing, don't be scared of autism" is glossing over all the different strains that autism can place on the child and their family.  Strains I see every mom on this forum talking about.  Finances?  Marriages? Jobs?  Therapies?  IEPs? SSI/Medicaid?  Siblings? You name it and autism is going to affect it - sometimes positively, sometimes not. 

What I want is an article on a completely non-remarkable autistic child and their family where the real deal is laid out for all to see.  Is Autism a death sentence?  No, far from it.  But it is a LOT of work and a LOT of struggle and many families will work harder and longer than this genius 14 year old's family ever could and achieve far less for and with their autistic children.  And I would hate for those families to feel that they had somehow just "done it wrong" because here they have a child who may not be potty trained, may not be able to communicate, may not be able to hold a job or attend college, may not ever leave home or have a single friend.  Because THAT is the reality of autism just as much as this brilliant 14 year old.  And THAT is something that scares the shit out of me because while society will rush to accept this genius autistic child, it will just as quickly rush to avoid and forget the children on the opposite end of the spectrum. 

And THAT is the part of "autism acceptance" that this article and it's author so clearly just DOESN'T GET.  They interviewed the parents, they got the right message, but they DON'T GET IT.  Autism acceptance is not just for the useful, bright, nearly-normal autistics who can make great contributions to our NT society.  It is for ALL autistics, particuarly the ones who cannot advocate for it themselves.   


Nova86
by on Jun. 1, 2013 at 1:46 AM

Thank you, KatyTylersMom. My son will never learn his numbers... There is absolutely a lot to worry about. 

TheJerseyGirl
by on Jun. 1, 2013 at 6:14 AM
2 moms liked this

 I get stupid statements from some like my grandmom who has said "Do you think he'll ever drive?""He'll never marry or have kids...that must make you sad" And my favorite....."Don't you worry about what will happen to him once you die?"

Yup...all from my grandmom. Does it piss me off? You have no idea!!! Well, I'm sure you all do...but I also realize she is so ignorant in the way that she isn't educated on anything autism related and hasn't been around my child enough to know that he is absolutely amazing. He has hopes and dreams like everyone else does and for someone to squash it because they hear he's autistic is ridiculous!

The diagnosis actually made me feel relieved because I needed to hear a name for it and get the ball rolling to help him. It's also opened up a whole new world for both of us...I have met such incredible kids and parents thru it all and it always makes me heart smile to see other kids so similar to him. There's something everyday that happens that just fascinates me when it comes to autism.

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