HOPEFUL stories deserve to stand out more than the ones rocking Hope’s potential. Here’s my highlight this week:
Every Sunday I make time to watch my favorite show, 60 Minutes. I don’t think I’ve ever watched an episode without seeing at least one heart-felt story in their line-up. This week was no different; it was the story of a young boy named Jake Barnett that touched my heart with hope (reported by Morley Safer).
Just before the age of 2, Jake was diagnosed with Autism, as he began drawing inward and stopped talking. Yet, his parents noticed something extraordinary; he was happiest when he was doing what he loved. The striking part was that his love was for math and science. The more Jake absorbed the more he relaxed, and he began speaking again. By the time he entered kindergarten, even though his language was delayed, he couldn’t be satiated with normal tasks in the classroom; he wanted to learn Algebra!
The iPad has proven to be an invaluable tool in helping autistic children learn to communicate; Jake brings another level to that phenomenon, it seems he is the iPad! His ability to memorize, regurgitate, and take math and science to a new level surpasses some computer programs. “He taught himself all of high school math in just two weeks. He was 10 years old. Not only that, he finished the entire state of Indiana curriculum for grades 6-12 in a little over a year.”
His story explodes the stereotype of “autism.” It’s long been said that there is a spectrum for the disorder, and no two children are alike along that spectrum. Jake is a prodigy with autism, which sounds like an oxymoron. Yet, Jake’s story challenges our view of opposites, and perhaps more than our view of autism.
Are we seeing the outcomes we expect, or the ones that are actually possible. To me, that thinking applies to more than autism…what about cancer, Alzheimer’s and other puzzling conditions. Jake’s genius-ability is as rare as Albert Einstein, yet his story of hopeful outcomes should encourage all of us to think outside the box from time to time.