Jacob Barnett was diagnosed with moderate to severe autism when he was just 2 years old. However, the diagnosis didn't prevent him from achieving amazing feats. The now 15-year-old has an IQ of 170, is working on his master's degree in quantum physics, has given talks at TED conferences and is attempting to create his own theory of relativity. So how did a child with what most would consider a disability become so incredible? The answer is multifaceted, but Jacob did have the benefit of going through homeschool programs.
A brave mom
Jacob's doctors told his parents he would never read or tie his shoes, and they recommended he attend a special education program before going to school. Jacob's parents took the doctors' advice. However, Kristine Barnett, Jacob's mom, noticed a few off-putting things: For starters, Jacob wasn't himself when he was at the program. He was reclusive and quiet, which was not at all like he acted around his family. When Jacob was at home he was curious and inquisitive. He would make puzzles, create maps of places they visited and stargaze.
Jacob even attended a lecture at a planetarium when he was just 3.5 years old. He amazed his parents by asking deep and relevant questions on astrophysics. Because Jacob was clearly smart and the special education program seemed to be doing more harm than good, Barnett decided to homeschool her son for his early education. Despite what the doctors recommended, Barnett felt strongly that it was the right decision.
The boy genius
She ended up being correct. Barnett let Jacob explore the things he loved. From going to museums to listening to music and examining art, Jacob was allowed to enjoy learning. He became more confident during this time and learned far beyond his years. By the age of 8, the young intellectual started auditing college physics courses. At age 11, he was a proper college student. Now, at the age of 15, Jacob is on track to potentially win a Nobel Prize. Physicists note that should Jacob solve the relativity problem, he will likely earn the honor.