Sunday, July 1, 2012

Is it Hyperlexia?

Trey showing Megan his words
(Trey is 2 years and 9 months old)

The boy started taking his love for the alphabet magnets to a whole new level this week...spelling words!  One night he spelled ROPE at first.  He lined the letters up in a neat row on the fridge.  I wasn't sure if he knew he had actually spelled a word.  Then he spelled STOP... ok so this is real I thought.  Trey knows words!  I freak out, yell for Megan and David, grab my phone, and begin recording...

It was exciting to watch!  He has moments nearly every day when he goes to the fridge to spell.  I have noticed most of the words he has learned from watching Alpha Pig on the "Super Why" show that he loves.  That pig has taught Trey so much! (Daddy and I really take no credit on this.. really.  It's all about the pig)

Tonight he did a new word... (He got really silly at the end of this.. for some reason he kept trying to kiss my phone.  It was so funny!)

We also did the alphabet.  He absolutely loves when I write out the alphabet and he says them.  Most letters he can say clearly.. some are more difficult like C, N, and W.

Saturday we went to Target to do some shopping.  He was probably the only little one there not asking for a toy.. but HAD to have this alphabet picture! He held it reciting the letters throughout the store and all the way home.  It was so cute! I think he would have taken it to bed with him if we would have let him.

Here he is enjoying some one-on-one time with his new "toy"...

So this all leads me to question.. how is he able to do this?  How can he be 2 and 1/2 and go from learning his ABC's just a couple months ago to now spelling words?!?  Yes, he is Autistic... he is severely delayed in many developmental areas such as speech and communication.  Then why is he so advanced in this area?

I did some research... I believe it's the phenomenon called Hyperlexia. This is a syndrome characterized by an intense fascination with letters or numbers and an advanced reading ability. Hyperlexic children, more commonly Autistic ones, read at levels far beyond those of their age mates and often begin reading at very young ages, sometimes at age two.

  Hyperlexia Symptoms

• 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

Additional Symptoms:
• 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

I think Trey has nearly all of these symptoms.  The question still debated is if Hyperlexia is just form of Autism.. like a Autistic Savant?  Or if it is a stand-alone disorder.  That answer isn't too important to me at this point.  What is important is our awareness that Hyperlexia needs to be considered when we Trey is receiving his therapy services for the Autism.

Hmmm... maybe in a few months Trey can help proofread my blog for spelling and grammar errors. :)


  1. Thanks for sharing these wonderful videos! How exciting that Trey loves letters! I hope he will love using those letters when he learns to read and makes reading part of his life. One of my favorite moments in the videos was when he was trying to decide between the "T" and the "N" to finish the word. It looks like it didn't bother him much that the vowels were red and the consonants were white. That would have caused a huge tantrum back in the day with James.

    1. Thank you Sarah!! :) I hope he will love to read too! I love that part of the video as well... you can see his concentration lol That is interesting that the different colors would have affected little James!