What is Hyperlexia
What is Hyperlexia
AcademicHealth

What Is Hyperlexia? My Splinter Skill Explained

Ever since I can remember I’ve been great with words. What confused everyone, including myself, is how I’ve read less than 100 books in my entire life. It’s only upon starting my journey with this website I realised that I am hyperlexic, a splinter skill that means I’m exceptionally gifted (and fascinated by) my native language and how words are structured.

What is Hyperlexia?

Hyperlexia is a term used to describe children who have extremely advanced reading skills. This might be kids who learn to read without being taught or kids who have a strong preference for letters and books. In addition, hyperlexia often comes with a neurodevelopmental disorder.

The word “hyperlexia” was coined in 1967 by Dr. Albert Galaburda and Dr. Lawrence Diller. They were working together at Harvard Medical School when they came up with the term to describe children with neurodevelopmental disabilities and exceptional reading skills.

There are four main features that define hyperlexia: Advanced reading skills, learning to read without being taught, a strong preference for letters and books, and accompanying neurodevelopmental disorder. It’s important to make the distinction between cognitive abilities and reading capabilities, such that reading strengths are far beyond what would be expected based on cognition alone.

Children who are hyperlexic typically struggle to understand what they are reading, but excel in knowing how to decode written words and comprehend. This makes them quite different from other gifted readers whose comprehension skills are typically on par with their decoding abilities. Hyperlexia is an extreme mental ability that comes from the combination of having a higher-than-average IQ and achieving early literacy skills at an early age.

Hyperlexia and Autism

Many children with hyperlexia also have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), although some have no other developmental delays. In fact, up to 50% of children with ASD are hyperlexic.

They may be able to recite the alphabet backward and forward, know the multiplication table or be able to read large sections of text fluently but not understand what they are reading. They may also have difficulty understanding idiomatic expressions or jokes.

Some experts believe that treating the underlying autism improves hyperlexia symptoms; others feel that intensive reading intervention is most effective.

 

What Are the Types of Hyperlexia?

There are three types of hyperlexia:

1. Phonological hyperlexia: This is where a person can read individual words very quickly, but they have difficulty understanding what the words actually mean.

2. Lexical hyperlexia: This is where a person can read accurately but they have difficulty understanding the meaning of a sentence or paragraph.

3. Global hyperlexia: This is where a person can read accurately and understand the meaning of a sentence or paragraph

There are three main types of hyperlexia: Hyperlexia I, Hyperlexia II, and Hyperlexia III.

Hyperlexia I occurs when a child develops without disabilities and learns to read early and far beyond their expected level. This is the most common type of hyperlexia.

Hyperlexia II is related to autism and is often characterized by obsession with numbers, letters, and birth dates. This type of hyperlexia is less common than Hyperlexia I.

Hyperlexia III is characterized by less intense symptoms and greater verbal language development than the other types of hyperlexia. Children with this type of hyperlexia may make contact easily, but their reading comprehension is still heightened compared to children without it.

Is Hyperlexia Common?

It’s difficult to know how common hyperlexia is, but some facts and statistics include:

– Among children with autism, about 6% to 14% have hyperlexia.

– Not all people with hyperlexia have autism.

– Approximately 84% of children with hyperlexia have autism.

1 in 54 children have autism spectrum disorder .

How Is Hyperlexia Diagnosed?

There is no one test to diagnose hyperlexia. Rather, a diagnosis is made based on a combination of factors including behavior, language skills, and cognitive abilities. Hyperlexia may be diagnosed if a child demonstrates an above-average ability to read words, but struggles with comprehension and social skills.

There are three types of hyperlexia, and each is diagnosed differently.

Hyperlexia I does not need a diagnosis because it is not a disorder. However, children who have Hyperlexia I often show advanced reading skills at an early age as well as other abilities such as memorization and rote learning.

Hyperlexia II is diagnosed by specific behaviors, such as: ability to read far above what’s expected based on a child’s age; obsession with numbers and letters; learning in a rote way, such as by repeating chunks of information; other behavioral problems.

Hyperlexia III can be difficult to diagnose because children often show “autistic-like” traits and behaviors. This type of hyperlexia is usually diagnosed when a child exhibits some but not all of the features associated with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

Children with hyperlexia have remarkable ability to memorize, other advanced abilities, and sensory sensitivity. They often develop phobias or fears due to being sensitive to change or unusual sensations. In addition, these children tend to line and stack things compulsively as well as use pronouns incorrectly (e.g., referring to themselves as he instead of she).

How Is Hyperlexia Treated?

Hyperlexia doesn’t need treating! However, what should be considered is how hyperlexia can be nurtured and implemented in the individuals self-development plan whether a child or an adult. For example, a person with hyperlexia might learn to enjoy playing games that require memorizing lists of items, like crosswords. In turn, by stimulating their splinter skill, this can alleviate the anxiety that comes with many situations that trigger mental health issues in autistic individuals.

Hyperlexia Should Be Nurtured

Hyperlexia is a neurological condition that affects how a person reads, processes information, and communicates. It is not a disease, but rather a part of human nature. Some people with hyperlexia are able to live productive lives, while others struggle with social interactions and communication. The best thing you can do for someone with hyperlexia is to encourage them to use their gift for the greater good.

After all, it’s the reason I’m a writer!

 

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Neurodadversity
30-Something Millennial with ADHD and suspected Autistic and Dyspraxic. Thought leader behind this website. Big visions of a better future for everyone, but forgets where he is half the time.Loves Rugby, his kids, and anything silly. Hates U2 and Marmite.

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