Hyperlexia

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What to expect

Hyperlexia

Hyperlexia is a condition where a child will have an average (or above average) IQ and their reading ability will be well above what is expected for their age. Despite this high ability, children with Hyperlexia may have difficulties in other areas of speech and language which can be supported by speech and language therapy.

What is Hyperlexia?

Hyperlexia is characterised by a child having an average (or above average IQ), and an ability to read words well above the expected ability of their age. A child with Hyperlexia may also have a fascination with numbers and letters.

Children with Hyperlexia will often have difficulties in areas of their speech and language including socialising, interacting and understanding spoken language.

What are the symptoms of Hyperlexia?

It is often thought that children with Hyperlexia experience similar symptoms to children with autistic spectrum disorder.

Hyperlexia is often characterised by the following symptoms:

  • A rote way of learning expressive language e.g. learning chunks or particular phrases without knowing the real meaning, this is also known as echolalia.
  • Rarely initiating a conversation.
  • Normal development until about 18-24 months, then loss of skills.
  • Strong visual memory.
  • Difficulty answering wh questions e.g. where, what, why and who.
  • Difficulty understanding abstract ideas e.g. metaphors and sarcasm.
  • Following specific routines, which are often difficult to break.
  • What causes Hyperlexia?

    The exact cause of Hyperlexia is unknown and it is thought to be caused by a combination of factors.

    What problems caused by Hyperlexia can speech and language therapy help with?

    Speech and language therapy can help with the difficulties experienced by children with Hyperlexia. Difficulties in areas of speech and language which children with Hyperlexia might experience are:

    How is Hyperlexia diagnosed?

    Hyperlexia is diagnosed by a number of medical professionals. An initial assessment carried out by a speech and language therapist can help identify if a child has Hyperlexia. An initial assessment will include:

    • A case history of your childs development.
    • A conversation with you about your childs speech and language skills and any concerns you may have.
    • An observation of your childs speech, language and interaction skills.
    • An assessment of your childs speech and language abilities e.g. asking your child to follow verbal instructions.

    How does speech and language therapy help children with Hyperlexia?

    Early identification and intervention is crucial for a child with Hyperlexia. Speech and language therapy is beneficial for a child with Hyperlexia. Speech and language therapy will focus on any speech and language difficulties your child may have. Speech and language therapy will often work on the understanding of spoken language, understanding of more abstract ideas and concepts and also social skills.

    Speech and language therapy will maximise your childs functional communication, this will be done by using your childs areas of strength to help support and work on their areas of weakness.

    What would speech and language therapy treatment for a child with Hyperlexia involve?

    An initial assessment carried out by the speech and language therapist will help to identify any areas of difficulty your child may have with their speech and language abilities, and the severity of these difficulties. An initial assessment will also determine what the best type of treatment will be for your child. After the initial assessment speech and language therapy may include:

    How do I arrange a speech and language therapy assessment for hearing loss?

    To arrange an initial speech and language therapy assessment for your child, please call 0330 0885 643.

    Summary

    Hyperlexia is a condition where a childs reading ability is above what is expected for their age. Despite having a high reading ability and average (or above average IQ), a child with Hyperlexia will experience difficultly in understanding spoken language and also have difficulty socialising and interacting with others. Speech and language therapy will help to support your childs speech and language difficulties and aim to maximise their functional communication. If you feel you and your child may benefit from the above services then please contact us by emailing office@slt.co.uk or calling 0330 0885 643.


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    To speak to a Speech and Language Therapist or to book an appointment, call us on 0161 883 0111 or email office@slt.co.uk

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