When a youngster has hyperlexia, their reading ability is exceptionally beyond what is normal for their age. Lexia refers to reading or language, whereas “hyper” denotes better than. A youngster with hyperlexia may learn to sound out or decode words very rapidly, but they may struggle to comprehend or understand most of their reading.
A child with hyperlexia will have communication or speaking skills that are far beyond their age level, unlike a child who is a talented reader. Even though they have poor communication skills, some children even develop hyperlexia in multiple languages.
While not always, hyperlexia frequently coexists with autism spectrum condition (ASD). It is regarded as a “splinter skill,” a special ability with limited practical use. However, therapists can frequently use the hyperlexic abilities of a youngster as a tool in their counselling and treatment.
What are the different types of hyperlexia?
Hyperlexia I: Children who are developing normally may have hyperlexia I. They learn to read early and well above their expected level. This state is transient/temporary since other kids ultimately pick up reading and catch up.
Hyperlexia II: Children with autism are more likely to have hyperlexia II when compared to healthy children. Children with Hyperlexia II are obsessed with numbers or letters and in most cases, reading books is no different from playing with toys. Additionally, they frequently recall vital data like birth dates and car plate numbers. These kids exhibit more classic autistic symptoms, such as sensitivity to sensory stimuli and avoidance of eye contact and affection.
Hyperlexia III: Similar to hyperlexia II, but with gradually lessening and eventual symptom disappearance. Although children with hyperlexia III often have exceptional reading and comprehension, there is a chance that their spoken language development will lag. However, they have sharp memory as well. In addition, children with hyperlexia III are sociable, affectionate, and readily make eye contact, in contrast to children with autism.
Symptoms of Hyperlexia
– Developmental disorder symptoms: Emergence of symptoms such as difficulty speaking or interacting with others their age are the telltale signs of hyperlexia. Additionally, they could display behavioural issues.
– Lower-than-average comprehension: Children with hyperlexia have extremely strong reading skills but below-average comprehension and learning abilities. Other tasks, like assembling puzzles and understanding toys and games, could be a little challenging for them.
– Rapid learning capacity: Without much instruction, they will pick up reading quickly, and occasionally they will even teach themselves. A youngster may accomplish this by repeatedly saying words they see or hear.
– Inclination towards books: Children with hyperlexia will choose reading items such as books above other toys and games. Some children also find numbers fascinating, in addition to words and letters and may draw them in air using their fingers.
Method of diagnosis
The method of diagnosis differs as per the type of hyperlexia one has. Hyperlexia I is not considered a disorder, and hence there are no devised methods of diagnosis for it.
The symptoms taken into consideration while diagnosing Hyperlexia type II are
– Child’s Ability to Reading comprehension is well above what is reasonable for a youngster of that age
– A deep fascination with letters and numbers
– Learning via cramming and having no idea of the underlying meaning
– Additional behavioural issues
Diagnosing Hyperlexia type III is a little tricky as it is difficult to distinguish between children who are actually intelligent and who are portraying traits of autism. However, the following habits are monitored in diagnosing Hyperlexia III
– A remarkable memory power
– Highly developed skills
– Heightened sensory activities
– Strong opposition to change
– Fears and phobias
– Stacking and lining techniques
– Reversing pronouns and addressing themselves as you, he, or she instead of by their own name
Method of treatment
As Hyperlexia type I is not considered to be a considerable hindrance, it’s not diagnosed and hence requires no treatment. The following therapies prove to be beneficial for individuals suffering from both Hyperlexia type II and III
Speech / Language Therapy: Children with hyperlexia can benefit from speech and language therapy by developing their language and social abilities. Their advanced reading skills are put to use to assist them in developing and strengthening their shortcomings, which could include social skills and comprehension. Every child has a unique treatment strategy that is centred on meeting their needs, which includes focusing on improving their
– Social abilities
– Superior language proficiency
– Comprehension of spoken language
– Speaking and writing
Occupational therapy: Each person receives customised occupational therapy; however, the occupational therapist always focuses on the most problematic areas, which may include.
– Exercise self-care
– Taking part in educational activities
– Taking part in social interactions
– Correctly reacting to the sensory stimulus
The key distinction between the method for children with hyperlexia II and those with hyperlexia IIt. Classrooms for special education will be beneficial for kids with hyperlexia II. However, they could find regular classrooms to be too stimulating, and they might learn more effectively in a one-on-one setting.
Being in a conventional school atmosphere will aid children with hyperlexia III. They will have more opportunities for appropriate social connection with their age peers.