Kristine Barnett

Long before her son became a national celebrity for his precocious mathematical abilities, author Kristine Barnett knew the autistic boy had a gift. The challenge was to bring it out. "You have to get out of their way," she says. "We never pushed Jacob to study math or science. All we did was let him revel in the things he most enjoyed doing." In an excerpt from her memoir, The Spark, she takes us back to the moment Jacob first revealed that gift to the world. Barnett lives in Hamilton County, where she runs Jacob's Place, a nonprofit dedicated to nurturing autistic children.