Like many preschoolers, Christopher Salvaggio fires off a seemingly incessant stream of questions.But some of this Houston native’s questions — such as “What happens to food after you eat it?” — are a challenge for his parents to answer in enough detail to satisfy his seemingly endless appetite for knowledge.
The 3-year-old, who now has a working knowledge of the solar system, the cardiac cycle and the work of Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh, was accepted last week into Mensa, a society for those with IQs in the top 2 per cent of population.
Christopher has an IQ of 145 and reasoning and thinking abilities that exceed 99.9 per cent of children his age, according to his evaluation.
“He asks questions all day long,” says his mother, Kate Salvaggio. “He wants to know how things work … He keeps me on my toes. He is 3 years old right now, and I keep thinking ‘What am I in for in the future?'”
Mensa, which was founded in 1946, has more than 110,000 members in 100 countries, ranging in age from 2 to 102. He’s among a handful of toddlers to be accepted in the last few years. And, earlier this year, a Washington, D.C.-area girl made national news for becoming Mensa’s youngest member at 2 years, 11 months. (And then for subsequently announcing she had to use the potty on “Good Morning America.”)
To answer Christopher’s questions about digestion, his mother bought him an human anatomy book. The toddler can now recite its contents and is conversant about the inner workings of the human body.
“My breakfast is probably in my intestine right now,” he sometimes tells his mother in the morning.
Christopher, an only child, was born in Houston on Jan. 22, 2009. The family is in the process of moving to Connecticut, where Christopher is taking online classes through Stanford University’s Education Program for Gifted Youth, which he started Aug. 1.
Kate said because he is her first child, she thought nothing of it when he spoke perfectly at age 1. People who overheard him rattling away in the grocery store would be shocked.
She said when he was about 18 months, he started reading full books.
“It’s completely natural to me,” she said. “He likes to read, but apparently 2-year-olds don’t do that sort of thing.”
Chris’ father, Jack Salvaggio, who owns a Houston construction company, credits his son’s brilliance to his mother, a Honolulu native who hopes to attend Yale University for law school after finishing up her undergraduate work.
She hopes Mensa membership will help support Christopher’s development.
“I hope that all of this finds him happiness in life and hopefully we can find some support to help him,” Kate Salvaggio said. “I don’t want him to be stifled.”
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