All parents are ecstatic when their child says their first word, takes their first step, or learns to count to ten. But what if your child says their first word and then a month later can speak in full sentences, or does not speak at all and then correctly answers a question about Mars’s moons at age four? These are some of the things that have occurred in the lives of some of the world’s brightest young people. Some of them showed mind-boggling cognitive abilities before they even went to school and others were initially deemed mentally incapable of basic tasks due to illness, such as autism. However, one way or another, their gifts became more and more evident until it was clear that they were different from everybody else; that they were in a position of intellectual ability that could be classified as “genius”.
There have been several people identified throughout history that would qualify as geniuses. Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, and Bill Gates have all been classified as such. Though many would consider genius-level intelligence a gift, it can be difficult to tell what the outcome of such mental capabilities will be, especially if you are deemed an intellect at a very young age, like the children and teenagers included on this list. They may struggle socially or burn out quickly. However, they have already accomplished some awe-inducing things and hopefully, with a little guidance and minimal pressure, there will be more great things to come.
7 Alexis Martin, 3 years old
Alexis Martin is Mensa’s most newsworthy new member. At only three years old, she has been accepted to the exclusive intellectual club and is the youngest person in her home state of Arizona to do so. Some of her accomplishments include learning to read at age two, tackling Spanish as a second language on her own, and reciting her bedtime stories verbatim from her car seat. Her parents recognised her aptitude for learning early on, but remain puzzled about how to best raise her so that she is both intellectually stimulated and socially integrated. Her IQ is estimated to be approximately 160, adjusted accordingly for her age.
6 Sherwyn Sarabi, 4 years old
Four year-old Sherwyn Sarabi is said to rival both Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking in the IQ department. Measuring on the scale at 160, the highest score one can achieve on the Whechsler Scale, Sarabi was accepted to Mensa at the age of three. He learned to read at 10 months old, began school two years early, and is comfortably working on material aimed at students aged eight to nine. Even more curiously, he has superior social skills, something that is certainly atypical of academically gifted children. Even his psychologist, who is a specialist in child education, remarked how unusual Sherwyn Sarabi is due to his high test scores across the board.
5 Adam Kirby, 2 years old
Technically, Adam Kirby is four points short of the Genius level in IQ testing, but he still beat the required score of 132 to join Mensa. As Britain’s youngest male to join Mensa as of 2013, Kirby is renowned for his ability to spell more than 100 words, his familiarity with maps and the solar system, his ability to count to 1000 in several languages, and even potty training himself at the age of one. Kirby’s parents are optimistic about his future since he is showing such promise at the moment, however they are resolute that he will always be able to learn at his own pace and pursue what he is truly passionate about.
4 Elise Tan-Roberts, 7 years old
Elise Tan-Roberts is the youngest person in Britain to have been admitted to Mensa at just 2 years and 4 months old in 2009. She developed mentally and physically early, saying her first words at 5 months old and learning to walk at 8 months old. Her parents noticed early on that she seemed to be very observant, as if she were trying to soak up as much as she could. Following several stand-out situations, one involving little Tan-Roberts correcting a parent at a play group on the species of one of the stuffed animals, her parents were encouraged to have her assessed and they discovered that she has an IQ of 156.
3 Shrinidhi Prakash, 12 years old
Britain has recently begun producing a show entitled Child Genius, and Shrinidhi Prakash was crowned the winner of the 7-11 year-old division. There were 21 finalists in her category and they competed in front of the cameras in categories such as Debating, Logic, Mental Arithmetic, Spelling and General Knowledge. For the Under-12 World Scrabble Champion, the spelling was undoubtedly not a problem, but neither were any of the other categories for Prakash, who remained calm and almost naively unaware throughout the entire process. Many of the other children froze during competitions and others were reduced to tears after encountering “failure”, wanting to go home. Perhaps this was due to the fact that most parents of these children were so fixated on winning that they became atrocious success-mongers, stopping at nothing to win, even ignoring their children’s tears and pleas. But not the parents of Shrinidhi Prakash. They are certainly encouraging but are never pushy, and they even candidly acknowledge that even though their daughter is naturally gifted in many ways, she is behind in some other areas. Apparently Prakash is known to bring home other students’ backpacks from school and can sometimes be stumped when faced with tying her shoes. Regardless, her parents are content to leave her alone for the most part, as they find that is when she’s happiest.
2 Colin J. Carlson, 17
His Twitter bio claims that he’s not much of a humanitarian, but Colin Carlson will most likely be contributing to the betterment of society at some point in his life. A current Ph.D. candidate at the University of California at Berkeley, Carlson is studying ecology and his research focuses on how protecting ecosystems does not have to be at the expense of societal needs. Prior to his doctorate, Carlson acquired his master’s degree in 2013 and two bachelor’s degrees in 2012 when he was 15 years old. He is also known for having filed an age discrimination complaint against his undergraduate university, the University of Connecticut, for not allowing him to pursue a field study in South Africa, something that he deemed crucial to a well-rounded education ecology and environmental sciences.
1 Jacob L. Barnett, 15
There was a time in Jacob Barnett’s life where specialists were skeptical that he would ever know his ABCs. His mother was told not to bother with flash cards or any other alternative methods of instruction because Barnett’s learning would be stunted due to his Autism. At the time, Barnett did not even speak so it seemed that these specialists could have been right. Fortunately, his mother didn’t think so and embarked on a unique journey to bring out the best in her son, whatever that may be. As it turns out, it meant that he enrolled as an undergraduate student at age 11 and started work on his master’s degree at age 15 at one of the premier physics schools in the world, the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. Barnett is expected to complete his master’s in physics this year, which is an incredible feat for anyone, let alone someone who was never thought to be able to master their ABCs.