Leading on from previous post about dyslexia, this week I’d like to discuss the phenomenon of hyperlexia and autism.
So first things first, what is hyperlexia?
Hyperlexia is a phenomenon where a child begins to read at a surprisingly early age beyond their expected ability compared with their peers. Onset is usually before 5 years of age, and the child tends to develop the skill without any training or prompting. It’s often described as a “splinter skill”- unique, but not very useful. It’s estimated that approximately 84% of those diagnosed with hyperlexia are on the autistic spectrum equating to between 6-14% of the overall autistic community.
There are 3 different types of hyperlexia:
- Hyperlexia I– occurs in the neurotypical population where children learn to read at a very early age. This is usually considered temporary as their peers will eventually learn to read and catch up to hyperlexic children
- Hyperlexia II– this is the form of hyperlexia that is most associated with autists. Beginning in infancy, hyperlexic autists are often obsessed with letters and numbers, tending to show a preference for books instead of other toys. Autistic hyperlexics also tend to have excellent recall for important numbers like phone numbers, dates and licence plates
- Hyperlexia III– is quite similar to hyperlexia II, but the symptoms tend to decrease with time and disappear. Type III hyperlexics may have delays in verbal language and development like autists, but they tend to have remarkable skills for reading comprehension and excellent memory recall. However, unlike autists, these children generally have no issues with social interaction and anxiety
In my own experience, I’d say I probably had some mild hyperlexic tendencies as a child. I loved books- my mother couldn’t buy me enough to keep me entertained! As I’m sure I’ve told you in previous posts, my reading skills were so advanced at 6 years old in senior infants, my teacher from the previous year invited me to come and read to her junior infant class (4/5 year olds)!😂 I’ve always had an excellent memory and am pretty good at remembering dates, but as the experts say this skill isn’t the most exciting or useful- no point in donning a cape and calling myself a superhero 😛
Hope you enjoyed this post dear Earthlings!
Have a lovely weekend 🙂