The Sounds of Success

Darren Toh was considered lower than 0.1 percentile for speech and development. When he finally learned to speak, he soared—with an IQ higher than that of Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.

Written by: May Ng, Darren’s Mother

We live in the United Kingdom, in the village of Aughton. Seven years ago, Darren’s performance on the Mensa test was not something we would have foreseen. Darren didn’t speak until he was 5 years old. He has Connexion 26 genetic recessive mutation and is entirely dependent on his hearing aids. Initially, he attended a special needs school because we were told his speech and development was lower than 0.1 percentile and he could not be in a mainstream school. When he was 5 years old, an audiologist encouraged us to let him learn the piano by teaching him directional hearing. Switching to spoken language required extensive listening and spoken language therapy as he was using British Sign Language and visual aids at the time.

By the time he was 7 years old, his teachers said he had exceptional academic abilities. We removed him from the special needs school and placed him in an independent school, but it would only accept him after he passed an assessment exam. We have not looked back since.

He has won the Academic prize every year since he joined his school and developed a love for mathematics. In addition, he gained distinctions every year in all his piano music exams, is talented with the saxophone and loves performing in drama. Darren had always wanted to take the Mensa test as he loves puzzles, challenges and quizzes. He was simply curious to know what his IQ level was. He was so surprised to find out just how high it really was. One day, he hopes to be a pediatrician, like me.

The process has not been easy as a family. Darren has a 12-year-old brother, Brendan, who has severe autism and did not speak until he was about 7. Darren often helps me care for him and has always cared deeply for his brother, even when he was young. If I could give him an award for being the best autism sibling to Brendan, I would. He has also written poetry, some of which is featured in a book I recently wrote about our journey raising his older brother. Darren is also very close with his little sister, Corinne, who is 8.

Darren does not let his hearing loss stop him, and he is a kind and caring brother. We are very proud of him.

(Originally published in Volta Voices, Volume 26, Issue 3, July-September 2019)


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