A four-year-old girl from Winchester, Hampshire, has been accepted into Mensa after achieving a score of 159 on an IQ test, just one point below Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.

Heidi Hankins was spotted as being of a “genius level” of intelligence after she taught herself to read, add and subtract, count to 40, draw pictures of people, recite poems and read books meant for seven-year-olds at the age of two.

Four-year-old Heidi Hankins has an IQ of 159, just one point below Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein

Her father, Dr Matthew Hankins, 47, from Winchester, Hampshire, who works as a lecturer at the University of Southampton, said she had shown signs of high development from a very early age.

Dr Hankins said: ‘Heidi has really flourished quicker than other children – academically, artistically and physically.

‘We don’t push Heidi at all. She has taken up everything herself and teaches herself.

‘She is not precocious, she is just a little girl who likes her Barbies and Lego but then you will find her sitting down and reading a book.’

‘We always thought Heidi was pretty bright because she was reading early,’ said her father, Matthew, 46.

‘I happen to specialise in measuring IQs in children and I was curious about her, and the results were off the scale.’

‘I got her the complete set of the Oxford Reading Tree books when she was two and she read through the whole set of 30 in about an hour. It’s what you would expect a seven-year-old to do. She was making noises and trying to talk literally since she was born and by age one her vocabulary was quite good. She was using full sentences almost as soon as she started to speak.’

Hankins said Heidi was drawing princesses and animals aged 14 months – an age when most children can only mark the page.

And at 18 months the family found her using the computer to teach herself to read.

Dr Hankins and wife Sophy, 43, gave Heidi a Wechsler IQ test, which uses puzzles to measure a child’s intellectual potential, and sent the results to Mensa after nursery staff struggled to find tasks to stretch her.

According to Mensa, the average adult IQ score is 100 while a ‘gifted’ score is 130.  According to Mensa, the signs of a gifted child include an unusual memory, reading at an early age, intolerance of other children and an awareness of world events. A gifted child will also ask questions all of the time.

In order to qualify to join Mensa, individuals have to attain a score within the upper 2% of the general population. The youngest ever member is recorded as being two-year-old Elise Tan Roberts from Edmonton, North London, who joined the society in 2009.

Elise Tan-Roberts

Heidi has now become one of only 90 children under 10 in the UK to join Mensa – the society for individuals with unusually high IQs.

John Stevenage, chief executive of British Mensa, said: “Heidi’s parents correctly identified that she shows great potential.

“We wish them well, and are pleased that they have chosen to join the Mensa network for support, where we aim to provide a positive environment for younger members to develop.”

Heidi is a head taller than her classmates, and at 3ft 10in is closer to an average six year old. She has a nine-year-old brother Isaac, who is a chorister at Winchester Cathedral.

Heidi & brother Isaac

Heidi, who still enjoys playing with her Barbie dolls, now joins the likes of Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein  and Carol Vorderman – although the child genius’ IQ beats the Countdown presenter’s by five points.