WHAT IS HYPERLEXIA ?
Hyperlexia has many characteristics similar to autism and some consider it to be an autism spectrum disorder. Because of its close association with autism, hyperlexia is often misdiagnosed.
The main characteristics of hyperlexia are an above normal ability to read coupled with a below normal ability to understand spoken language. Many of the social difficulties seen in hyperlexic individuals are similar to those found in autism. Often, hyperlexic children will learn to speak only by
rote memory and heavy repetition. They may also have difficulty learning the rules of language from examples or from trial and error.
Some people assert that hyperlexia is autism, whereas others assert hyperlexia is a completely different condition.
The severity, frequency, and grouping of the following symptoms will determine an actual diagnosis
• 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 socializing 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)
• Memorization 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”