From the first week the McNabbs brought their daughter Isla home from the hospital, her father, Jason McNabb, suspected that there might be something different about her.
“She just had this strange focus,” he said. “Her attention would be on something for a longer time than usual.”
By the time she was just over a year old, Isla “really loved the alphabet,” said mother Amanda McNabb.
When she was about 18 months old, she knew the individual sounds letters make and started writing letters with the sidewalk chalk they gave her to scribble with in the driveway.
Now 2 years old, Isla, who lives with her family in Crestwood, reads books independently and is the youngest member of mensa in the United States.
The Oldham County toddler has been getting national and even international media attention since the news of her membership broke. Hair parents told the Washington Post that Isla can also count forwards and backwards and make simple calculations.
Mensa allows for membership those who score in the top 2% of the population on an intelligence test. Family documents show Isla scored in the 99th percentile in May when she was tested by a Lexington psychologist.
Charles Brown, director of marketing and communications for Mensa, said that while the organization has more than one 2-year-old on its roster, Isla is currently the youngest.
“It’s not very common,” he said. “Children that young are not often tested.”
Isla’s family also includes two older sisters and a big brother who is her best friend.
Amanda McNabb said they first discovered Isla could read words around her second birthday, when her father wrote the word “red” on an LCD tablet she had received as a gift, and she read it, then continued. reading each of the other words. “color” words he wrote.
In the beginning, Amanda McNabb said, they started keeping a list of all the words she knew. But when the list reached 500, she said, “We stopped counting, because she can only read now.”
Now she is starting to write words on her own. Recently, Amanda McNabb said, she found the word “Mom” scribbled in chalk on a cardboard box she’d given to Isla to play with.
The McNabbs said they decided to join Mensa, Isla, who turns 3 in November, because they wanted to network with other families with gifted children and take advantage of the organization’s resources.
“There aren’t many local community resources,” said Jason McNabb, who said he is a member of the organization himself.
Raising a child as precocious as Isla comes with its own challenges, the couple said.
Jason McNabb said she “goes through huge changes in what she does from week to week.”
They are already thinking ahead to her school years and wondering what it takes to keep her engaged.
“She will definitely need a modified education plan,” Jason McNabb said.
But in other ways, they said, she’s still a typical 2-year-old.
She likes to help in the vegetable garden, ride her tricycle and play in her tree house. Ice cream and blueberries are her favorite foods.
She loves going to preschool for a few half days a week.
And they said she likes to play with her cat, Booger.
“She named the cat,” her parents said.