When Justin Chapman scored 298 on an IQ test at age 6, he seemed to be more than just a genius.
The IQ test score was among the highest ever recorded and already the young boy had astonished experts with what seemed like a superhuman intellect. His score on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale test at just 3 years old went way off the scale.
At 5 years old, he was taking online high school courses. Then, after managing a perfect 800 score on the math section of the SAT, Justin enrolled in the University of Rochester at age 6. While most kids his age were trying to keep up with Sesame Street, he was playing chess and learning the violin.
But recently Justin, now 8, has developed some psychological problems, and his mother, Elizabeth Chapman, is acknowledging that she rigged the results of various intelligence tests so that her son would be spotlighted as a boy genius.
Justin's maternal grandparents, George and Jane Chapman of Henrietta, N.Y., said they never really believed their grandson was a genius. They questioned the test scores, but said the experts ignored them and paid attention only to his mother.
"We were being fooled like everybody else," George Chapman said on ABCNEWS' Good Morning America.
Concerned about his welfare, his grandparents want custody of the boy, who moved to Broomfield, Colo., with his mother last summer.
"We'd like to see him start a life of normalcy now that the experts started to weigh in on these issues," said George Chapman.
Looking at Ability, Not Age
When word of Justin's test scores spread, he became a poster boy for gifted children all over the world. He was featured in a BBC documentary on child prodigies, spotlighted in news stories, and participated in various speaking engagements on the topic of gifted children.
Two years ago, as his mother looked on, Justin grilled New York Gov. George Pataki during a campaign against age discrimination.
"Why do they look at birthdates, not ability?" Chapman asked.
"Well, that's a good question," Pataki responded. "And what we should always look at is ability."
Justin's own abilities came under scrutiny last fall, when the boy began developing psychological problems. After he was hospitalized, Broomfield County authorities placed him in foster care and filed neglect charges against his mother. Reporters started asking new questions about the child and his supposed genius.
Elizabeth Chapman admitted that she falsified Justin's SAT results and helped him to memorize answers to the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale in an interview with the New York Times, after investigative reports in the Rocky Mountain News raised questions about her son's accomplishments.
A family court trial on the neglect charges has been set for March 18.
Elizabeth Chapman still says her son is brilliant and that she only cheated to open doors for him.