British boy who taught himself to read aged two joins Mensa | UK news

A boy who taught himself to read and count – including in Mandarin – while playing on his tablet has become the UK’s youngest member of Mensa.

Teddy Hobbs, four, of Portishead, Somerset, has become the youngest member of the high-IQ-score club after his parents asked health visitors to assess him before he starts school.

Teddy taught himself to read while watching television and playing on his tablet at the age of two without his parents even noticing.

Teddy’s mother, Beth, said they initially thought he was just making sounds while playing on his tablet, before they realised he was actually sounding out numerals in the Chinese language.

“He chooses a new topic of something to be interested in every couple of months or so, it seems. Sometimes it’s numbers. It was times tables for a while – that was a very intense period – then countries and maps and learning to count in different languages,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“He was playing on his tablet – we’ve put appropriate games like Thomas the Tank Engine on – and he was sat there … making the sounds I just didn’t recognise and I asked him what it was and it was, ‘Oh mummy, I’m counting in Mandarin’.”

Hobbs said her son’s IQ score, which the Times reported places him in 99.5 percentile for his age, presents particular parenting challenges.

“Well, he doesn’t know, which is quite nice,” she told Today. “And we will keep it that way for as long as we can. He’s starting to figure out now that his friends can’t read and he’s a bit like ‘why?’. But it’s really important for us to keep him grounded. If he can do these things, fine. But he sees it as just ‘OK, well I can read but my friend can run faster than me. We’ve all got our individual talents.’

“And we will be trying to maintain that as long as possible. If he goes to school and decides that’s it, he’s finished his education, fine.”

Mensa only accepts people who score in the top 2% of the general population on a supervised IQ test. While it does not ordinarily assess children, it will offer support for parents, who can have their child tested through an educational psychologist.

Teddy took the hour-long test at the age of three years and seven months old. “I was worried about him being able to sit in front of a laptop for an hour, but he absolutely loved it,” his mother said.

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