Michael McBride has had a busy day for a three-year-old.
He started with breakfast of toast with orange jam, then he practised some big sums in his head, (‘67 minus 14 makes 53!’), learnt a new tune on the keyboard he got for Christmas and went off to the library with his granny to find some books on Space, his latest passion.
When they came home they read the books together — Michael helpfully correcting Granny if she mispronounced a word.
He has an IQ of 145 (the UK average is 104), a reading and writing age of eight and a brain the size of Jupiter.
Michael has caused something of a stir by appearing in newspapers and on TV in a spoof of the Mastermind programme, doing complicated sums, reeling off his times tables like an old pro and spelling eight-letter words.
A few months ago, with the help of YouTube videos on an iPad, he taught himself how to count to ten in English, French, Spanish, Russian and Japanese.
While both parents are bright and articulate
, they’re not brain boxes like Michael.
Emma, 39, has nine GCSEs, three A-levels and a degree in English and history but describes herself as ‘more of a word person than a numbers person’. Dad Anthony, 33, dropped out of school early and is a chef in an Italian restaurant.
‘We’re just ordinary working people. Who knows where he got it from?’ says Emma.
But it was clear from an early stage there was something special about Michael.
He was interested in numbers as soon as he could see them, was walking at 11 months (‘He never crawled — he just got up and walked’), has always been obsessed with books and, sadly for Emma and Granny, has never needed a nap.
‘He requires very little sleep,’ says Emma. ‘His brain is constantly whirring. There’s no point in putting him to bed before nine as he’s just not tired out and then the minute he falls asleep his brain starts recharging.’