2 April 2017 is #worldautismday and over the past week I have seen and read some really heartwarming ‘victory over adversity’ stories and loved reading the wonderful work schools and charities are doing to raise awareness.
What I haven’t read about is Hyperlexia and it’s not surprising. Hyperlexia research is conflicted. There is also an overlap in hyperlexia between autistic and gifted children which often results in a misdiagnosis in both areas.
I want to use this platform and this special day to highlight the three types of hyperlexia and raise awareness generally.
types of hyperlexia
There are three specific types of Hyperlexia:
Type I: Neurotypical child that is just an early reader.
Type II: Children on the autism spectrum that demonstrate early reading as a splinter skill.
Type III: Very early readers who are not on the autism spectrum though there are some “autistic-like” traits and behaviors which gradually fade as the child gets older.
signs of hyperlexia
- A precocious ability to read words far above what would be expected at a child’s age
- Child may appear gifted in some areas and extremely deficient in others
- Significant difficulty in understanding verbal language
- Difficulty in socialising and interacting appropriately with people
- Abnormal and awkward social skills
- Specific or unusual fears
- Fixation with letters or numbers
- Echolalia (Repetition or echoing of a word or phrase just spoken by another person)
- Memorisation of sentence structures without understanding the meaning
- An intense need to keep routines, difficulty with transitions, ritualistic behavior
- Normal development until 18-24 months, then regression
- Listens selectively / appears to be deaf
- Strong auditory and visual memory
- Self-stimulatory behavior (hand flapping, rocking, jumping up and down)
- Think in concrete and literal terms, difficulty with abstract concepts
- Auditory, olfactory and / or tactile sensitivity
- Difficulty answering “Wh–” questions, such as “what,” “where,” “who,” and “why”
my child may have hyperlexia what do I do?
Firstly, read read and read some more! Gather as much information as you can find on the subject. Yes, you will realise very quickly that information on hyperlexia very sparse, so here are a list of books and web links that have helped me on our journey so far:
Hyperlexia Overview: Judy & David http://judyanddavid.com/cha/strategies.pdf
I would start with this one. This is where everything really clicked for us. The generic strategies we were then using for autism were very hit and miss. Some traits related to Neiva when others didn’t and it felt like we were looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. The day we started these specific strategies for hyperlexia was the day we saw real results, right from the start.
And Next Comes L: Dyan Robson www.andnextcomesl.com
Dyan is a real trail blazer for hyperlexia. When her son received a hyperlexia and hypernumeracy diagnosis in 2014 she knew nothing of the subject and had to study and research everything herself. Her website has really been a lifesaver in terms of information, strategies and practical help to improve communication between parent and child. I visit her website almost daily and it has really been a source of real encouragement for me. Dyan also has a support group on Facebook which again has been a huge help and, despite the time difference between here in the U.K. and Dyan in Canada, she responds to any questions we may have.
Books on Hyperlexia
- Reading Too Soon – Susan M Miller
- When Babies Read – Audra Jensen
- The Anti Romantic Child – Priscilla Gilman
- The Einstein Syndrome – Thomas Sowell
Complete List of Online Reading/Groups
- Judy & David Hyperlexia Overview
- And Next Comes L: Dyan Robson
- And Next Comes L Support (Facebook)
- Hyperlexia Network Group (Facebook)
- Hyperlexia U.K.
- Autism Key: What is Hyperlexia
- SEN: Hyperlexia
Raise Your Concerns With Your GP: You may be one of the lucky ones that walks into the GP’s office and he is familiar with the term Hyperlexia. However, most likely, prepare for the realisation that the first time your GP hears the word will be from you. This is ok. It just means that you will have to ensure that you are well read up on the subject. If you can, take copies of the above strategies with you. This applies to any health professional you are currently dealing with. It also applies to school teachers. The more informed care and health professionals are, the more they are able to help.
view hyperlexia as the gift it is
One of my favourite sayings is “when you look at a field of dandelions you either see a field of weeds or a field of wishes”.
True, there are days when a one sided conversation takes its toll, there are days when I repeat myself over and over again only for her to do exactly what I asked her not to do 10 minutes later. There are days when I avoid social situations because I’m not strong enough to protect her from the frowns and looks. There are days where I question my ability to be her champion. There are days when I know I can’t reach her she’s away in her far away place and I have to wait for her to come back. There are days when my patience is tested to the absolute limit only to look into her confused eyes and realise she isn’t understanding my question. There are days when I just go to bed early exhausted from the day wishing it was over, wanting a next day to start a fresh. But….
Then there are the days when I look at my beautiful girl when she gently talks to a ladybird or is beckoning a bee to be her friend. Then there are days when she does get that faraway look and we are suddenly transported away into space, under the ocean, jumping over clouds, on the most amazing train ride with Enid, singing round a campfire, her imagination knows no bounds. Then there are days when I hear her beautiful soft voice mimicking voices she’s heard somewhere only once and stored it away perfectly when she feels like a little humor. Then there are the days when she sings, oh my – her singing…. and my heart melts. Then there are the days when she needs just another story and gently holds my chin to get my attention. Then there are the days where she lets out a relieved sigh and gives me a huge smile when she is in nature, in her happy place away from the noise pollution that hurts her eyes and ears so much. Then there are the days when she reads a book for the first time like she’s read it a thousand. Then there are the days when she recites her two times table with ease or sings the alphabet backwards because she’s bored of singing it forward.
I love that she is gifted in areas far advanced then her peers;
I love that she makes me forget to check my phone;
I love that she counts the stars and instinctively knows where the moon is each night;
I love that she treats everyone the same and has no concept of meanness in the playground;
I love that she sees the beauty in nature, a caterpillar, a leaf, a cloud;
I love that she has made me slow down and notice these things:
I love everything she is and everything she will be. The world is a better place for her being in it.
Neiva, we love you to your beloved moon and back.