Four and a half months out of the womb, Avery Yarbro spoke her first sentence.
Yes, reports her mother, her first sentence, not word.
“I said, ‘I love you, I love you, I love you,” Alyssia Yarbro said. “She looked up at me and said, ‘I love you.'”
What Avery’s Olive Branch parents suspected, Mensa affirmed before the girl reached her third birthday.
Avery is a very smart little girl.
Mensa, an international society for bright people, welcomed Avery into their membership after she was tested. The only qualification is a high IQ, or Intelligence Quotient. IQs must be in the top 2 percent of the population for membership.
Avery is at least among Mensa’s youngest members. The Yarbros were told by a representative that she was, at about 21/2 years old when she was tested, the youngest member.
“I believe that is correct,” said Mensa representative Trisha Nelson. “That was my understanding.”
Avery’s parents had her tested after noticing their youngest daughter was developing faster than other children her age.
“The interesting part of it is what she would do so early,” said Alyssia Yarbro, a stay-at-home mom and part-time model who was in advanced classes in high school. “It was uncharacteristic for her age.”
Avery knew her colors by the time she was 1 year old. She used correct plurals — mice instead of mices — and she used possessives properly — your toes, my toes, our toes. She read words she’d never seen.
She could look at a set of objects and know how many there were automatically, without counting them one by one.
“She acts more like a 5-year-old now,” said Avery’s father, Erik Yarbro, a general contractor with a master’s degree in accounting.
Avery, tested in November and admitted to Mensa membership in February, turned 3 in May. She happily eats organic food but asked for big cake and candy-filled pinata for the party.
Just like a lot of little girls, Avery is not limiting herself to one dream.
“I want to be a ballerina. I want to be a princess. I want to be a doctor, to take care of people,” she said.
Avery added a fourth profession, astronaut, because she wants to “fly up in outer space.”
Given a map of the solar system, she pointed to the third planet from the sun.
“We live on Earth,” she said.
The tests she took for intelligence were similar. Her vocabulary and memory were tested. She was asked to put together a puzzle by shape alone, no picture.
She told the test administrators what image did not belong in a set, identified the Earth as a globe and called fingers by their formal name, phalanges.
While Avery may be genetically gifted, her upbringing likely helped. For instance, her parents prefer Avery and her 12-year-old sister, Kayla, watch educational television programs.
Avery’s favorite programs are WordWorld and Super Why.
“We’re not pushing anything on her,” Erik Yarbro said. “We find things she takes an interest in and we try to develop that.”
“Another important thing is staying home with your children. I think that active parenting is just so key,” said Yarbro, who reads poetry to his daughter at bedtime and coaches his older daughter’s soccer team, “We try to stay involved. We don’t let the media teach our kids.”
Avery’s head isn’t just filled with information to spit out. She is just like any other little girl. She has a healthy imagination — enhanced by her smarts.
Mounting the upper floor of a plastic playhouse in the corner of the Yarbro living room, Avery proclaimed one morning this summer: “We’re going to Antarctica.”
Her parents and a reporter were her audience.
“What are you going to do in Antarctica?” her mother asked.
“Skate,” she proclaimed.
“It’s really hot in Antarctica, isn’t it?” said her father, testing her.
She corrected him. No, it is cold.
The subject turned to Egypt, where Avery said camels live.
“And those little lobsters,” she added.
That would be scorpions.
Even a smart kid can sometimes be at a loss for words.
By Toni Lepeska (Contact), Memphis Commercial Appeal
Saturday, July 12, 2008