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Six-year-old boy living with autism joins intellectual organization Mensa

Elias Williams, of Howard County, tested into the intellectual organization after being identified as a gifted 'Twice-Exceptional' student with autism.

HOWARD COUNTY, Md. — A young Maryland boy recently received an invitation to join one of the world’s most exclusive intellectual organizations.

Elias Williams, 6, of Howard County, joined Mensa in January. Members selected to participate in that group have scored in the top two percent on a standardized intelligence test.

American Mensa spokesperson Charles Brown says Williams is now a part of a “pretty select” company.

Mensa has roughly 50,000 members in the United States who belong to its American Mensa division. Only 237 of them are age six or younger, according to Brown.

“We’re incredibly proud to have Elias as a member,” Brown said. “He represents such promise.”

Williams’ parents, Zaminah and Fred, said they noticed a few years ago that their son had a special gift.

“It started with him rattling the alphabet backward,” she said. “He had a fascination with the alphabet. And, I noticed that it just sounded like gibberish and then I made out EDCBA. And, I said, ‘he's saying his alphabets backwards’.”

Williams, a first-grader at Waverly Elementary School, in Ellicott City, could perform a wide array of tasks other toddlers could not do either.

The Williams said he mastered his multiplication chart, read analog clocks, and could count money all before the age of six, as well.

“The problems he was able to solve, we even had to get a calculator, at times, to figure out if he was actually correct,” said Fred Williams. “It was amazing just to see this young man and what he was capable of.”

So, the Williams took Elias to see a neuropsychologist to start the process of moving him up a grade in school. They said it was there where they learned he was eligible to do more than skip Kindergarten for the First Grade.

“That’s when he was identified as twice-exceptional,” Zaminah Williams said.

According to the National Association for Gifted Children, twice-exceptional students are students who are gifted and live with a disability. The Williams said Elias was officially diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder two years ago.

He receives applied behavioral, speech, and occupational therapies.

“When COVID started, he had a significant speech delay, and we were worried, at that time, that he would have trouble speaking,” Fred Williams said. “So, we didn't understand, at that time, the gift that we have been given. But, since that time, he's developed tremendously and the more he started to speak, the more we started to learn just what he was capable of.”

The Williams said shortly after his identification as a twice-exceptional student, Elias tested into Mensa.

“I remember hearing about Mensa as a young girl and it seemed so unattainable,” Zaminah Williams said. “It seemed like a secret society and to actually have a child that's an active member now, that will be participating, it's amazing.”

Elias’ father, Fred, said he is proud of his son too.

“This is kind of a story of a child that has excelled in spite of a label of autism,” he said. “A mother who's worked tirelessly advocating on behalf of her son and a school system and a principal and a superintendent who created an environment to support a child like Elias.”

Elias has not let the accomplishment get to his head. Like many other children his age, he tries to have fun whenever he can. The six-year-old enjoys the Mickey Mouse Club, playing with friends at Recess, and building structures in the video game Minecraft.

“I do the tutorials,” he said.

As a young Mensan, Elias now has access to multiple book clubs, interest groups, and possibly even scholarships provided by the organization.

Waverly Elementary School principal Dr. Rachel Edoho-Eket said the school is proud of Elias' accomplishment.

"Eli is a very inquisitive student who loves to learn," she said. "He always has a bright smile on his face and enjoys his teachers and friends. We are very excited that he has been inducted into Mensa!"

Believe it or not, Elias is not the only student in his school to join Mensa. Edoho-Eket says Aayush Sen, an 8-year-old second grade student at Waverly, was also inducted into Mensa when he was five.

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