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Being a parent is the toughest job in the world.  It is also the most worthwhile.  Very often our experiences in childhood shape how we view the world. How many times have you heard someone say “he can do anything he sets his mind to ” The majority of us parents believe our children have the potential to achieve great things once they put their minds to it.  Can you imagine though if you found out that two of your children were highly gifted? and they went on to become the  youngest members of Mensa in Ireland and Uk? That’s what happened to Cathy and Nick Sunshine. I went along to chat to them to see how they were getting on

It has been a hectic time for the sunshine family  in Water ford as the revelation came that two fo their children, Leon (5) and Amberleanne (4) have broken records to become the youngest ever Mensa members in Ireland and the Uk.  Amber Leanne holds the record as the youngest person to join Mensa in the UK the siblings jointly hold the current record as the youngest ever Mensa members in Ireland and little Leon has a similar IQ to theoretical physicist Stephen Hawkins.

As babies both children started talking around three months and were walking by nine months.  “Amberleanne just got up and walked Nick told me.  “No problems with balance or falling over she just got up and off she went. ”

On the recommendation of a psychologist t both children went for psychometric testing a couple of years ago.  Mum Cathy and dad Nick were amazed at the results of the test.  When tested at 3yrs 11 mths Leon had the mental ability of an 8yr 4mth old.  He has an iq of 150 which places him in the same range as Stephen Hawking.  Infact only 1% if the population is as or more intelligent than Leon!! While Amberleanne who was 2yrs 10 mths had the mental ability of a 7yr 4mth old child.  Her IQ is 145.

Amberleanne holds the record as the youngest person to join Mensa in the UK.  Leon and Amberleanne jointly hold the current record as the youngest ever mensa members in Ireland.

Leon and Amberleanne are two happy chatty inquisitive children who are taking all of this in their stride – this can be attributed to mum and dad’s positive and down to earth attitude. They both go to a local school, enjoy horse riding, love painting and enjoy going to museums.

In keeping with the characteristic’s of highly intelligent children they love information, facts and concepts.  Cathy told me: “When Amberleanne was two she asked me why the sea was blue.  I asked her why she thought it was.  She thought for a while and then said that it was the reflection of the sun”

The fact that the children are both in mensa (Mensa Ireland has 970 members in other words 2% of the irish population have an IQ score that makes them eligible to join the club)means that Cathy and nick will now be in touch with other parents of  gifted children.  Mensa have also asked Cathy to come on board and help them in their quest to lobby government to allocate resources for gifted children so that provision is made to help them reach their potential.

Schools are not always equipped to deal with highly gifted children.  Recent studies show that the actual incidence of highly gifted children in the population is higher than statistics would indicate.  As Cathy ponts out the term special needs the term special needs is a very broad one.  “It can be very frustrating for a child who is way beyond their years in terms of academia to sit in on some  lessons with their own age group.  The child who is able to read and understand concepts way beyond their years is a delight to watch.  When they get into an argument over who has the biggest slice of cake it may be tempting to act his age – in actual fact that is what he is doing.  But highly gifted children need tlc as well she points out.

Cathy and Nick hope that the media coverage will help raise public awareness about the challenges that highly gifted children and their families face.  They also hope that the publicity will bring benefit to the children be it through academic funding providing for a private education or funding for an activity that can change their life.  We wish them well.

I should point out that nine month old baby Austin is chatting away.  I wonder when he’ll start walking.