NIKI Wickham, 26, says tears pricked her eyes after being told Tyler, five at the time, was in the top 1% of the smartest people in the country.
For months, people had tried to convince her that Tyler’s behaviour was down to ADHD or autism — but an IQ test revealed he was just gifted. Here, she tells their story.
Tears pricked my eyes as the child consultant for Mensa explained that my five-year-old son Tyler was in the top 1% of the smartest people in the country.
For months, people had been trying to convince me that my son’s behaviour was down to ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) or autism, but after this IQ test, I had the real answer – he was gifted.
Tyler was born in September 2013, and my husband Ross and I could tell he was advanced early on.
He was walking at nine months, and unlike other babies who’d just shake toys, Tyler could sort shapes on his first attempt.
By two, he could complete 100-piece jigsaw puzzles and had started to read.
At his first day at nursery, aged three, he was able to pick his own name badge as well as those of all the other children – the teachers were amazed.
On the flip-side, Tyler was easily bored, and his frustration would lead to misbehaviour.
On a bad day he would cry, scream and shove the other kids.
So while he found it easy to make friends, it was difficult for him to maintain friendships.
Other kids might play pretend games with action figures, but Tyler’s style of play was more advanced – he preferred to learn from books and I blamed myself for not teaching him how to play properly.
It was around this time that the nursery teachers started mentioning ADHD and autism.
I spent hours searching the internet and could see the signs in Tyler – he was hyperactive, couldn’t control his emotions and could be distant from his friends. But not everything matched – for example, he was very good at focusing.
Concerned, I spoke to a health visitor, but she assured me he was a regular three year old who was advanced in some ways but this wouldn’t be so noticeable as he got older.
The following year, however, things were no better.
By then I’d had two more children – Maisie and Logan.
They didn’t show the same behaviour as Tyler, and although he was great with his siblings, he still craved lots of one-on-one time to keep him stimulated. Ross and I did our best to take turns, but I was at my wits’ end and would often cry with exhaustion.
In September 2018, Tyler started reception. The nursery made sure the primary school was aware of his behavioural issues.
The teachers would report to me if he’d snapped and started throwing things and crying, which happened most days.
I knew they also thought he had ADHD, but I still wasn’t sure.
In desperation, in January I contacted an old friend whose daughter had shown similar behaviour.
She explained that she’d taken her for an IQ test, which showed that she was gifted. My friend gave me the details of Lyn Kendall, Mensa’s gifted child consultant and an expert on the Child Genius TV series.
Nervous but hopeful, I called Lyn and on April 6 we went to her practice in Coventry.
During the session, which cost £300, Tyler was asked to play games to match pictures and patterns, build with blocks, as well as reading tests, in order to assess his IQ.
Lyn explained he had exceptional concentration for a five year old and that his test score showed he had an IQ of 136 on the Stanford-Binet scale, which puts him in the top 1% for intelligence for his age.
She told me that the next step would be to get him registered with Mensa, who would be able to give me advice and put me in touch with other families of gifted children.
Relieved and proud, I told Tyler’s teachers, who prepared extra activities to keep him stimulated, as well as homework for the evenings and holidays.
He’s working on the Year 2 syllabus for maths and English at home, but will remain with his age group throughout his school life so he will have friends his age.
While Tyler’s behaviour hasn’t completely calmed down yet, we’re applying for government funding for one-on-one teacher support and hope the extra attention will stop him from acting up.
The fact Tyler is a gifted child helps us understand his behaviour.
It can be hard to remember he’s only six, because his vocabulary is so advanced, but we’re doing our best to make sure he still gets to be a kid.
- The youngest child to join British Mensa was two years four months.
- Children under 10 and a half can only join Mensa after being assessed by a psychologist, as the test isn’t suitable for very young kids.
I’ve set up a Facebook blog called Mummy To A Mensa Lad to help others.
As much as I want Tyler to reach his full potential, I don’t want him to take his GCSEs early and I won’t be pushing him to be any sort of child genius. I just want him to be a happy child – which right now, he really is.”