• Sun, Feb 16 - 10:36 am ET

This 3-Year-Old Genius Will Make You Feel Like A Caveman

3 year old genius

Alexis Martin in 40 years… (lauren_pressley)

I’m a relatively intelligent person. And by relatively I mean “I can balance my checkbook and do basic math.” So 3-year-old Alexis Martin would probably get bored with me pretty quickly. Why? Because she has an IQ higher than 160 and just became the youngest person in Arizona to be accepted into Mensa, the superhero genius organization for super smarty pants people.

The craziest thing about this story is that Alexis did SO well on the various intelligence tests she was given that doctors couldn’t even calculate her IQ levels exactly. That’s some Einstein-level smart-iness right there (smart-iness is a word, right?).

To give you some perspective, the average IQ score is around 100 and the highest possible rating on the test is 160, which means Alexis basically scored the same as mega geniuses like Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking, and yes, Albert Einstein, or at least in a similar range. That is pretty damn cool, if you ask me.

Alexis’ parents say that she seemed exceptional from early on, doing things like remembering her bedtime stories verbatim and even teaching herself Spanish off of an iPad. Obviously they were very proud of their daughter’s smarts, but they worry about her fitting in and having friends. Though with her brains, she could probably engineer an army of super friends by the time she’s in middle school.

Seriously though, doctors warned her parents that she will probably never be able to go to a regular school and that kids with her level of intelligence often suffer from high anxiety unless they’re around people who understand them (aka other gifted kids). Honestly, I don’t know if I would want to be super smart if it meant I had to deal with anxiety and social issues, but I hope they figure out a happy medium so Alexis can have the stimulation she needs as well as a normal life.

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  • chickadee

    So basically, those parents and their child had better get the hell out of Arizona…

    • Rene

      I just have to say that, yes, Arizona has made some very bad decisions and has earned a horrible reputation. However, as someone who lives here who does not fall under the things that gave Arizona such a horrible reputation, I do hate the assumption that all people in Arizona fit that bill. But I know it is easy to lump any given group of people into a pigeonhole category, to make things easier for some people.

    • chickadee

      It IS easier to pigeonhole people! You nailed me!

      I also know that if you are looking for programs for extraordinarily gifted children, Arizona is not the best place to be. Sorry I insulted your state.

  • candyvines

    Maybe her parents could give her a more normal childhood by keeping her name and IQ off of the internet.

    • chickadee

      Oh no…a parent’s FIRST obligation, upon finding that his or her child is outstanding, is to announce it to any and all available news outlets. Send these parents a copy of Little Man Tate.

    • Smishsmash

      Yeah, my overwhelming emotional response here is to feel sorry for this little girl. This is a LOT of pressure and attention to put on a three year old for no benefit. What advantage is she getting out of being put through standardized IQ testing at three that she wouldn’t get if they did it when she enters school? These people already bought her an Ipad with a Spanish language program on it, it’s not like they were just standing around waiting to be told she was a genius before educating her. This just screams of parents wanting attention.

  • RealEngineer2

    Interesting story.

    I had a “government-certified” I.Q. of 148 at the age of seven, and “bureaucracy”,
    as it was in those days, didn’t allow “skipping grades”, but did request I attend a “special school for geniuses”. My parents had acute suspicions, thought I would be “experimented with”, and didn’t allow it. (LOL)

    I did go on to get multiple undergrad degrees in Engineering and the Social Sciences, and grad degrees in Computer Science on full scholarship.

    Going to a “regular school” didn’t do me any harm, nor did I “suffer from high anxiety”, and I absolutely never saw myself as an “elite”, needing to be “understood” only by “other gifted kids”. Socially, I “blended in” pretty well.

    In fact, I think that I learned more by helping other students who had issues with their subjects.

    • Kevin Miskel

      Wow, you’re like, awesome. Can I be like you? Nothing shows high self esteem like bragging on a comment thread

    • Alfreda Wells Morrissey

      I don’t actually think she is bragging, just stating some facts which she experienced. It is useful information to hear from somebody who experienced being gifted in regular school.

      My daughter had difficulty in kindergarten due to boredom. They tested her to see if she could skip and she had the levels in everything but French. There she was on par with her peers. She managed to make it through kindergarten and by grade 1 the rest of the class had caught up with her and now she is integrated just fine. I am so happy they did not skip her because she would have had to leave her best friend. Plus, I find she is no longer ahead of the class, so maybe she would have struggled if she had skipped. Now she is acing everything but still interested because it is new material.

  • Katherine Handcock

    I’ve always heard that it’s better for advanced students to stay integrated with their peer groups if at all possible (with appropriately challenging material to do in class, so they don’t get bored.) I find it surprising that doctors are making recommendations to avoid “regular” school before she’s even entered school.

    IQ tests generally compare results to people of an equivalent age. It was originally intended to be a diagnostic tool for learning deficiencies; it was never meant to measure of raw intelligence. (For one thing, no matter how hard they try, most IQ tests rely heavily on knowledge as much as intelligence. A classic example are tests from the 1940s where one of the tasks was to draw a bat in a baseball player’s hands – if you were an immigrant to the US and had never seen a baseball game, you would fail that element.)

    So we can’t really compare her to adults’ IQ scores – especially not to Einstein, who as far as I know was never actually tested with an IQ test, but had an assumed IQ created for him based on his accomplishments. She’ll always be very smart, obviously, but other kids will likely close the gap over time.

    Honestly, I have no idea why you would give a child this age an IQ test. She does NOT need to be in Mensa. She needs to be learning the same skills that any child does, like getting along socially with others and personal independence (getting dressed on her own, etc.). Her parents already knew she was intelligent, so they would be ready to speak to teachers, etc., about how to ensure that she was challenged in her classes (when she gets there.)

    Sorry for the rant, but IQ is such a horribly understood and badly applied thing. I really wish people would stop using it altogether. For a great overview of why IQ is so problematic, I highly recommend Stephen Jay Gould’s book “The Mismeasure of Man”.

    • Jallun-Keatres

      Dat closing remarks! My sister taught me that there is sooooo much more to a person than an IQ and that it has nothing to do with being smart, willing, and able to learn. She is mentally challenged and always will be but just because her IQ happens to be lower than 70 it doesn’t define her limits much at all.

    • Katherine Handcock

      Thank you! And I’m so glad to hear that your sister has never let anyone convince her that some number determines her. There is so much more to everyone than a number on a test, and the best parts of any person aren’t things you can test for, ever.

    • zeisel

      You would enjoy reading “Nurture Shock”.. good read, regarding the age that a child with “gifted” abilities come ‘full circle’….

    • Katherine Handcock

      I’ll have to check it out! Sounds like a particularly interesting one…

    • Kevin Miskel

      Why test the kid’s IQ? Well, she taught herself a second language, for one.
      I’m sure her parents will teach her how to dress herself before sending her off to school. Also, unless she is the only student in the entire school, she will be interacting and socializing with other kids. You say she could go to a regular school, as long as the parents tell the teacher ahead of time how gifted she is. I’m sure teachers nowadays are inundated with parents insisting that their child is special, and that the teachers must cater to the kid’s personal “learning style”. I say send the kid to the Vulcan School for Mega-Geniuses, she can play 3 level chess with the other braniacs, tell jokes in Latin, build her own zero emissions car, and have a happy, really smart childhood. Don’t be so jealous.

    • Miriam

      It’s unclear what it means for her to have taught herself Spanish off her iPad. Does it mean she can hold conversations? Or does it mean she played some Spanish learning games and can do things like count to 20 or name the colors? It really is hard, at such a young age, to know how meaningful any of this is. I was well above grade level at first grade because I read early (age 3) and was taught basic math concepts by my parents, but I was fine in a run-of-the-mill public school gifted and talented program and am completely unexceptional now as an adult. It’s just too hard to know what early accomplishments will really translate to as an adult. Marilyn vos Savant, for example, seems to have a great life but hasn’t exactly rocked the world with her insights.

      Sure, it’s likely that this girl will always be very smart, but will she go onto genius level accomplishments? Who knows. Best not to put too much pressure and labeling on her now, so that she doesn’t feel like a failure if she’s simply ordinary smart as an adult instead of the next Einstein.

  • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

    When did they change the highest possible rating of IQ to 160? Marilyn vos Savant, who’s considered to have the world’s highest, was calculated at 228. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marilyn_vos_Savant (Other searches besides wikipedia will confirm). There are other famous geniuses rated higher as well.

    http://www.superscholar.org/smartest-people/ others

    • personal

      160 was the highest score possible on the particular test she took.

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    School isn’t just for academic knowledge, it’s also for socialization and developing peer relationships. You need to be able to relate to the rest of the population, no matter how smart you are. Gifted programs at a normal school would be good, with extracurriculars she’s interested in.

  • Elisianna

    My dad took an IQ test when he was eight and scored 187. Sure, he was always a bit shy and he was super nerdy, but in general people still liked him and thought he was cool. (He electrocuted his sisters’ male party guests who ended up hanging out with him instead). Of course if he hadn’t been “able” to go to public school or hang around regular people he very well could have had social anxiety.
    He ended up marrying a bit of a party girl (my mom) and is now not even really shy. People love him. He uses his intelligence to his advantage when dealing with people.

  • Julia Holcomb

    What on earth makes you think a gifted child can’t have a normal life (whatever that means)? If by normal you mean, have friends, be reasonably happy, go to school and college and so on, marry, or be happily single, enjoy family life, do a job that she finds fulfilling, contribute to her community, retire in security, be remembered with love when she dies by others who knew her, of course she can. Why not?
    She will do better, of course, if she is not burdened with that silly “genius” label, but rather her parents do the necessary research to find programs designed to meet her needs, and to meet other parents of gifted children, so that they can share ideas and suggestions. She needs to know other children who are gifted, as well as other children who are not.

    • JustAGuest

      Thank you! I didn’t go to high school (I went straight to college at 14) and it was definitely the right choice for me. And yet, somehow, as an adult I have friends, a husband, a fulfilling career, hobbies…all those “normal” things that people here seem to think won’t happen if parents opt for what is intellectually challenging for their child.

      It depends a lot on the child, of course; there are children who need more time to develop socially than others. But I would have been MISERABLE in a normal school. I am so grateful to my parents for making the choices they did with their education.

  • Crusty Socks

    Feel sorry for the life she is likely to live

    Hopefully her parents are exceptional and will be able to teach her to flourish with her gift/curse