Monday, August 6, 2012

All ABC's, Silly for Signs, and Nuts About Numbers...That's Hyperlexia!

I have learned two things about Hyperlexia.  I have learned (1) a basic understanding enough to realize Trey is definitely Type 2 Hyperlexic.. and (2) there is not much out there about Hyperlexia to learn.  Not a lot of information comes up when you "google" it...but from what is documented it seems, like Autism, to be quite a mystery as to why it happens.

I was recently asked if I wanted to join the "Hyperlexia Parent's Network on Facebook" group.. boy, am I glad I did!!  This is an entire group of 243+ people who have Hyperlexic children (most with Autism/Aspergers as well) that amaze me too!!  I have learned a lot about Hyperlexia from this group.. and from the stories of their children.  I think you learn more about something from others who are living it first hand.  I just HAD to share some of them!

You know your child has Hyperlexia when...
T:   We get lots of strange looks when we take him out, because he reads every thing- signs, goods, peoples T-shirts lol. He looks just like a typical 3 year old. I think people think I'm one of those really in your face parents that force their preschoolers to read early, but I have never taught him.  He also does not know what to do socially, when my parents visit he jumps up and down in front of them and then grabs them by the hand and gets them to stand in a certain way to make "letters" out of them lol. He tried to paint a picture for them, I said paint grandpa so he painted the word "grandpa" not a face.

Q:  My son is 3.5. He seemed pretty normal until about 15 months when he simultaneously became very difficult to deal with and extremely fascinated with numbers and letters. He taught himself all of the upper and lower case letters, the sounds they make, and how to write them (repeatedly on my walls).

A:   My son writes words constantly with his pictures that are up to 3 syllables. Recently he has began occasionally writing words in mirror image where the letters are all backwards and the sentence backwards so if you look in the mirror they look normal. He constantly does this thing where he makes a fist with his index finger out and waves it up and down in front of his face. Some times he does the same with a toy or other objects (like french fries) He stares at it intently while he's doing this and usually spins in a circle and wanders around staring at it intently.

M:  My son likes stops signs and the word stop, but man, EXIT signs make him giddy.  A few weeks ago, while driving around I heard my son say, "yeeeeeeled" and I was puzzled asking him to repeat it until I figured out he had read a "yield" sign. It was so cute. But I haven't heard much more than that. EXITS are still his preference.  At restaurants when he'd been unruly, I've resorted to looking for youtube videos, and wouldn't you know, there are actually several-minute-long clips of people showing off EXIT sign collections.

K:   My son liked STOP signs when he was younger.  I tried to take it as an opportunity to show him other signs, including safety ones, but he wasn't interested if they don't have words. Then he moved to other things... now he is into street names.

P:   My son never fails to notice a subway station and what trains are listed as stopping there. "There's a subway station! The N train and the Q train!" He'll be navigating around NYC by the time he's 4 I think.
Trey's favorite sign too... "S-T-O-P!"
L:   My son got fixated on car logos, you know the silver icons on the backs of cars -- he knew them all and what they stood for and he would traipse longingly through a parking lot just examining each one. That Christmas I figured out I could get them relatively cheaply on eBay -- he nearly FAINTED when he pulled some out of his stocking. It was so worth it.

B:   My son has had a fascination to signs generally since he was a toddler. He liked EXIT, STOP signs, even traffic lights and directory center maps. We always had to stop for a minute so he could memorize the diagram or structure of the map figure then he would later draft them at home and showed us (read) repeatedly what places/stores etc we had visited. At times it was store slogans, so if we drove by Walmart or any other store he would say: "mom: save money, live better at Walmart" and so on... lol. Even now that he is nine years old his fascination (more moderate though) is for commercial transit carriers. So imagine if it's a FedEx carrier for example he still prompts me "Mom look it's a FedEx truck" and then goes on to find the guy and asks him all sorts of questions about the number of routes, packages, distances in miles, time but all having to do with numbers and points of reference. Everything he does is mesmerizing to us. :)

L:   My son also has always loved signs of any kind. He's been quite the backseat driver for years (he's 7). Lately, he's been drawing pictures of traffic lights and placing them strategically around the house and then trying to be the traffic enforcer. I just let him draw as many traffic lights as he wants. This, like everything else, will pass and he'll be on to the next thing.

B:  My 5 year old, who will be starting kindergarten in 2 weeks just said, "11, 22, 33,  44, 55, 66, 77, 88, 99, 100, that's how you count by equals". Wow!

M: Once my son wrote "50,100,150,200,250, engine power" - we realized a few days later he had been doing a car speedometer.

A:   We were at a birthday party on the weekend, and while every other kid at the table was gearing up to sing Happy Birthday, my 4 yr old was loudly and excitedly counting in multiples of 5. He got to 105 before the singing started. We told him this morning that we were going to a fete (festival). His response (excited): "And there will be numbers there!" As long as he finds numbers...and there are ALWAYS numbers...he is happy.

T:  At age 11 the individual numbers and letters persist !! So much so that he tells us what number and letter each day is brought to us by (Sesame Street style) first thing in the morning and last thing at night. The school encouraged him in woodwork by letting him cut and paint his own wooden letters and numbers. He pulls them out and shows us in conjunction with the spiel "Today is brought to you by the letter _ and the number _." Every morning and every night !!!

P:   My son is currently into counting in French, flower names and watching classic episodes of Electric Company. He'll break out singing "Easy Reader" and '"Silent E" at all hours. For a while, he was really into jazz musicians ... really, it's whatever book has caught his fancy, and usually books that catch his fancy involve some aspect of categorization.

C:   My son mainly obsesses about learning how to spell people's names he comes into contact with. When he was 3 he knew how to spell all of his classmates names and alphabetize them. Three years later he still does this but now he wants to know it in a foreign language and write it in cursive.

The toilet story makes me laugh!
L:   The way we got my son potty trained was to introduce him to different styles of toilets and how the plumbing and mechanics worked. So, the electric eye toilet, the urinal, the low water flush toilet -- he used to fill pages with toilet schematics and he became very interested in flushing -- of course he could only flush when he went to the bathroom in one. Of course he became obsessed with seeking out new toilets wherever we went, and any time we went into a store or restaurant he had to go check out the toilet immediately. I remember we were out at a restaurant and there was one of those old "water closet" style toilets with a chain you pull and a reservoir near the ceiling -- it blew his mind! 

My "Mr. Spanky McNuggets" has his own obsessions.  He has loved the A,B,C's since before he was 2 years old.  Even though he has branched out to spelling words now, he still loves his letters!!  For the past couple months, he has been crazy about this alphabet canvas picture that we bought him in June.  He literally carries it around with him everywhere in and out of the house.  He says the letters over and over.  I made the mistake once of trying to hang it up on the wall where he could still see the letters.. but that caused a BIG meltdown.  He wants to hold it, sit on it, carry it, read it..

One day in June at Target, he didn't want a toy.. he wanted this picture!

When I went out to get the newspaper this morning, Trey came too.. with his picture.
 **If you have a child/grandchild that you believe may be Hyperlexic and would like to join the Hyperlexia Parent's Network on Facebook, please feel free to send me a message on my Facebook fan page at **

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