The Spark: How to Nurture Your Child’s Hidden Talent (Author Kristine Barnett)

I wrote this article in Japanese and translated it into English using ChatGPT. I also used ChatGPT to create the English article title. I did my best to correct any translation mistakes, but please let me know if you find any errors. By the way, I did not use ChatGPT when writing the Japanese article. The entire article was written from scratch by me, Saikawa Goto.



Movies and books covered in this article

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I will write an article about this movie/book

What I want to convey in this article

I feel this is a lesson that can be applied to all parenting, not just for autistic children.

Saikawa Goto

The mother’s unconventional approach that went against the common sense of experts would be necessary education for the times to come.

Three takeaways from this article

  1. A severely autistic child who was told he wouldn’t grow up to be literate.
  2. A discomfort with the methods of experts who focus on what cannot be done.
  3. A stunning program that has saved not only the author’s son but many other autistic children.
Saikawa Goto

It’s a light reading that feels like a powerful mother’s struggle for her child’s happiness.

Self-introduction article


Please refer to the self-introduction article above to learn about the person writing this article. Be sure to check out the Kindle book linked below as well.

Published Kindle books(Free on Kindle Unlimited)

“The genius Einstein: An easy-to-understand book about interesting science advances that is not too simple based on his life and discoveries: Theory of Relativity, Cosmology and Quantum Theory”

“Why is “lack of imagination” called “communication skills”?: Japanese-specific”negative” communication”

The quotes in the article were translated using ChatGPT from Japanese books, and are not direct quotes from the foreign language original books, even if they exist.

A Story that Applies to Parenting in General

This work is the story of a mother raising an autistic child. If you know the fact, you may lose interest because you think it doesn’t apply to your own child who is not autistic.

However, I think this book is a story that applies to parenting in general. I myself have no experience raising children, so I may not be convincing, but the transformation of a child who was told “can’t even tie their shoes” into someone who entered university at the age of 9 and studied the Theory of Relativity was thanks to the mother’s observation and one practice that persistence has borne fruit. And I believe that this practice is useful not only for autistic children, but for others as well.

The author herself writes the following in the afterword:

I wrote this book because I believe Jake’s story applies to all children.


At any rate, he’s a super genius, isn’t he.

Saikawa Goto

I wish I were born a genius too.

Focusing on What You Love is Important

Jake’s Genius and Autism

In this book, Jake, an autistic child, is an extremely gifted person. At the age of 12, he even had his research paper published in a professional journal.

Jake worked as a physics researcher at a university during his summer vacation when he was 12 years old. In his third week on the job, he solved an unsolved problem in lattice theory. Later, this solution was published in a top-notch professional journal.

It is said that his IQ was measured at 189, but there is a possibility that it was even higher. Due to something called the “ceiling effect,” his actual IQ could not be measured accurately.

Furthermore, it is said that winning a Nobel Prize is not a dream for Jake.

Following Jake’s request, I contacted a certain physicist. The physicist was happy to look at Jake’s unfinished formula and confirmed that it was undoubtedly his own theory. He also said that if it is completed, Jake could potentially become a candidate for the Nobel Prize.

He can even play a piece on the piano he’s never heard before without any lessons, and he can memorize all the major highways in the United States just by looking at a map and accurately navigate for his mother while she’s driving. It’s almost unbelievable.

Saikawa Goto

He’s like a genius from a painting, isn’t he?


And being unable to measure his IQ, that’s pretty cool.

However, no one could have foreseen what Jake’s future would hold. Because his mother received a diagnosis as follow from an expert when Jake was three years old.

If he can tie his shoes by the time he turns sixteen, it’ll be lucky.

Jake was diagnosed with severe autism, and no one thought he would ever be able to read. Knowing this fact, the impact of “enrolled in college at age 9” will be even stronger.

Questioning the Autistic Program in America

In America, there are programs available for children with autism. Of course, these programs would have been created based on the research and experience of experts and through various considerations. There seems to be a research result that states, “The way they interact with autistic children until the age of 5 can greatly affect their future,” so parents of autistic children desperately try to cram the programs created by experts into their children’s daily routines and give them as much training as possible.


Well, I guess if the experts say so, it must be right.

Saikawa Goto

I wonder if it is.

This program, to borrow the author’s words, is “focused on what they can’t do.”

For example, some autistic children have difficulty “sitting still.” It means that in that case, the program involves training to maintain a “sitting still” posture while undergoing various exercises.

In this way, the autistic child program aims to teach “socially necessary actions and behaviors” that autistic children struggle with.

Jake’s mother naturally enrolled him in this program. However, after observing her son, she began to have doubts. Was this really the right solution? Even though the experts say so, she didn’t feel like this program was helping Jake.

She started to struggle with these conflicting thoughts.

Mother’s Decision

However, she couldn’t take action right away. This was her first time dealing with an autistic child, and the program was created by professionals. Even if she said something, as an amateur, she didn’t think the situation would improve.

Her husband also thought that they should leave it to knowledgeable professionals. I think it was a natural decision. If I were in the same situation, I would say the same thing.

But the mother changed her mind. The reason was the attitude of a certain specialist. The specialist concluded that Jake couldn’t learn how to read. So the mother made the decision to stop relying on the specialist and educate Jake herself.

Of course, it’s not an easy thing to do. She expresses it this way:

It takes the courage to jump off a cliff.


The mother is amazing, but I’m surprised the father agreed.

Saikawa Goto

In the end, the mother’s decision turned everything around, but it’s scary because they don’t know what will happen.

What she did for Jake was the exact opposite of a specialist program: one that focused on what they can do.

This decision seems to go against previous knowledge. It’s like fighting head-on against the existing research that says, “By the age of five, it all depends on how much one trains them to do things they couldn’t do before.” However, it turned out to be the right decision as Jake showed a dramatic improvement.

Moreover, this is not something that only applies to Jake. She has also performed the same program on other autistic children and achieved similar results. Furthermore she did all free of charge.

She wanted Jake to make friends, so she planned to gather a few autistic children and start the original program. However, hundreds of emails came back surprisingly. She knew firsthand the struggles of raising an autistic child, so she decided to accept anyone who was interested and do it for free.

She is an amazing woman, truly.

The “Little Light” Program and its Results Carried Out by the Mother

So, let’s extract what kind of program she implemented.

Once you find out how I spend my time, you’ll be amazed! “I spent six hours at the museum with a child in front of a single painting. I gave a drafting table that I got at a garage sale to another child. I baked hundreds of cookies with one child, wrote alphabets in icing, and learned to read and write.”

There is no specific method to her program. She simply allows each child to pursue their own interests and passions, thoroughly and with dedication.

The results were amazing. Jake, who had been told he might not even be able to tie his shoes at 16, was able to attend a regular elementary school. And not just Jake, but other severely autistic children also were able to enter regular elementary schools after going through the “Little Light” program.

The mother wrote about the reason why the “Little Light” program worked so well.

As long as Jake is given the opportunity to study real astronomy, he can behave properly in school. As you can see by observing the healthy children at the nursery school, the autistic children at “Little Light,” and Jake, children will naturally improve their other skills as long as they are given time to devote to their interests.

This is the exactly core argument of the book, which I feel is applicable not only to raising autistic children, but also to raising children in general.


“If we can do what we love, we can tolerate what we dislike.” It’s obvious, but true.

Saikawa Goto

But there would has always been a belief that “autistic children are different.”

When I was a child, I was never told to “study.” I basically loved studying, so I did it on my own. If I had been told to “study,” I don’t think I would have studied as much as I did as a child. When someone tells you to do something, you immediately lose motivation, don’t you?

Furthermore, considering the changes of the times, I feel that education that encourages students to pursue what they want to do is better.

In the future, I think that AI will be increasingly integrated into society. In such an era, people who have at least one thing they are extremely good at, even if they are not good at most things, will be more in demand in society than people who are moderately good at everything. In that sense, I feel that it is important to not limit the “I want to do it!” feeling in childhood, as it becomes crucial how we can unleash the potential of children.

Saikawa Goto

If I have had the opportunity to raise a child, I would do it.


Well, you probably won’t have that chance.


This book is very insightful on how to raise children, but it also teaches us not to blindly trust even the words of experts.

As someone with a science background, I generally trust science and the knowledge accumulated through research. However, science and experts are not infallible. I don’t mean to say “don’t trust science”, as I believe science is generally reliable. But it’s also important to remember that it’s not always 100% correct and to keep that in mind.

This book would be directly helpful for those raising autistic children, and for others, I think it could provide valuable insights for raising children.

Published Kindle books(Free on Kindle Unlimited)

“The genius Einstein: An easy-to-understand book about interesting science advances that is not too simple based on his life and discoveries: Theory of Relativity, Cosmology and Quantum Theory”

“Why is “lack of imagination” called “communication skills”?: Japanese-specific”negative” communication”

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