Should Genius Kids Know Their IQs?

"At the time, I was just told I beat the minimum score. I wasn't told the extent," said Elens. "They [his parents] just told me, 'Yep, you got enough,' to do what I needed to do."

Elens said that was the same year he was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder.

"There are a couple of other people with scores that high in my family, an uncle, and he also had severe OCD when he was growing up," said Elens.

It was only later that Elens learned his IQ ranged in the mid-150s. He credits his parents for handling his unusual test scores gracefully.

"All they did was try to get me into the best programs, no external pressure," he said. "They also realized that, oftentimes, with the higher the score, the higher the risk for social disorders."

As an adult, Elens worked in video editing. This fall, he will be starting a creative writing master's program at the Florida International University in Miami. He said when he has children, he will likely approach the issue of IQ as his parents did.

"I wouldn't get them tested just to see if they are 'smart' or not. I would never want to pressure a child like that. But if it was a gateway of some sort, I would," he said. "All IQ is a measure of potential. It doesn't mean that they're going to do anything with it."

Raising a 'Genius' Unguided

But not all parents with young Mensa material have another genius in the family to serve as a model.

"I think that's one of the biggest challenges," said Prasad Veera, father of 6-year-old Pranav, whose 176 IQ score ranks with Stephen Hawking and Einstein. "We tried to reach out to some local schools and they weren't very helpful.

Pranav Veera, 6, has an IQ of 176.

"It is what it is, but what can we do to keep him challenged?" asked Veera. "A lot of schools don't have a lot information about this, and neither do they have the funds to manage this."

For now, Pranav is a happy kindergartener. He insisted that he likes all subjects in his kindergarten class at public school.

"I had fun with all the kids in school," said Pranav. "I play badminton and baseball and soccer and basketball -- I like them all."

But the Veerases don't know which school Pranav should go to in the fall. After finding a dearth of information to help his son, Veera now is working to produce an online resource and community for parents of children on either extreme of the IQ bell curve.

"My belief is that everybody is gifted in their own sense, and it really fascinates me how our mind works and the plasticity of our brains," said Veera, who has already secured the domain marvelbrain.com for his project.

Joseph S. Renzulli, director of The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, said using IQ as the sole metric for intelligence was largely abandoned by researchers in the late 1970s.

"A lot of people are reconsidering that the IQ is the be-all or end-all of intelligence," said Renzulli.

Renzulli said from reasons including his work with "three-ring conception of giftedness" and Harvard professor Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences, many in the field are expanding the definition of "smart."

But while Veera works for the best for Pranav in school and for a better understanding of other children's gifts, child development experts who specialize in intelligence research say the family might also look out for some future emotional pitfalls.

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