Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Dear Hyperlexia

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Catch my session on hyperlexia at Educate & Rejuvenate 2024

Dear Hyperlexia - a mother's open letter about hyperlexia from And Next Comes L

Dear Hyperlexia,

We've been friends for five years now, but only knowingly close friends for about 6 months because up until then, I did not know that you even existed. So I think it's time I tell you a few things.

First, I wish you were better understood. I wish there was more awareness so that parents like myself wouldn't have to fumble for years, trying to figure out what is going on with their child. And where are the resources for parents? I honestly feel like I was pushed out of the door with a message of "good luck and see you in a few years" after my son's diagnosis. It left me even more confused. I guess I was eagerly awaiting some random pamphlet like "so your child has hyperlexia...now what?" I even pictured myself being handed one of those ridiculous pamphlets like you see in the TV show Glee. I think any basic pamphlet would have been better than simply seeing your name written on a single piece of paper and then kicked out of the room.

I also wish you were a stand alone diagnosis. I do believe you could be one. Dyslexia is the opposite end and it is its own diagnosis, so why can't you be? After spending the past few months immersed in reading everything I can about you, which I must admit, isn't much to begin with, I feel like you deserve to be free from other diagnoses. Besides, I have even seen the autistic like symptoms in my son "disappear," so does the autism diagnosis really fit him? I feel like it was slapped on him simply because he fit the description of hyperlexia to a T (pun intended) and because hyperlexia often diagnosed alongside autism.

I find you isolating, hyperlexia. I really do. There seems to be no local community for me to join. No hyperlexia support, except for a few small online groups. I feel like I have to advocate ten million times more for you than I do for autism, simply because the educators and support people I do encounter have never even heard of you!

But you know what, hyperlexia? I am completely fascinated by you.

The gifts that you have given my son (and that I see glimmers of in my younger son) are really astonishing. To see a small child decode written words like he does, makes me pause and wonder. It makes me realize how special he really is. You alone make me realize how different he sees the world than I do and I think that's really awesome. I appreciate his literal view of the world. I appreciate his honesty. His rawness.

I love how things like math and spelling just come so naturally to him because of you. Sure I have to teach him other things like social skills and how to talk in first person, but he will never struggle with math, spelling, or learning to read like most kids his age will. And that is fascinating.

You may frustrate me many times per day, like when my son is rattling math question after math question and I am tired of answering them, but you also make me appreciate letters as an art form. Swirly fonts, chunky fonts, bubble letters, and more. He writes in them all. He mimics the fonts he encounters in the books that he reads. Clearly, he sees each and every single letter as a mini work of art because of you. Before you came along, I just thought all letters and words were merely just a means of communicating. But you have shown me that there is beauty in appreciating little things like fonts.

You have also taught me to slow down, observe, and appreciate.

And most importantly, you have taught me how to best connect with my son and I am forever grateful for that.


Bubble D, swirly Y, bold A, and chunky font N