Wednesday, January 09, 2019

What is Hyperlexia?

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Catch my session on hyperlexia at Educate & Rejuvenate 2024

All about the hyperlexia diagnosis. Below you will learn: What is hyperlexia? What are the signs of hyperlexia? What are the proposed hyperlexia types?

What is hyperlexia?

Well, that is a question that I first asked myself back in November when my son was first diagnosed with it. 

Since that time, I have been busy trying to learn as much about hyperlexia as I can. When I first wrote about my son's hyperlexia, I didn't feel like I had an adequate grasp on the concept. 

Sure, I knew what it looked like. But I really did not feel confident in my ability to define it. 

I'm definitely still learning about hyperlexia and will continue to do so, but as I share more and more photos on Instagram, it has become evident that other people are fascinated by hyperlexia and would like to learn more too.

Most people aren't aware of what hyperlexia is, let alone that there are three proposed types of hyperlexia. Gee, I didn't know myself until November of 2014. 

So I will describe hyperlexia in detail, including the signs of hyperlexia and the proposed three types of hyperlexia. I've included two free printables on hyperlexia as well.

What is hyperlexia? Learn more about the hyperlexia diagnosis and the three proposed hyperlexia types

What is Hyperlexia? The Hyperlexia Diagnosis Defined

Hyperlexia can be defined as:

"A precocious, self-taught ability to read words which appears before age 5, and/or an intense fascination with letters, numbers, logos...[accompanied with] significant difficulty in understanding and developing oral language." - Source: Hyperlexia Pamphlet on

Simply put, hyperlexia is the self-taught ability to read before the age of five that's paired with difficulties in understanding and using verbal language, as well as difficulties in social interactions.

It is important to note that hyperlexia is currently not a stand-alone diagnosis. Instead, it is considered a practical label. You can read more about the specifics of the hyperlexia diagnosis here.

The Signs of Hyperlexia & Other Special Characteristics

The key signs of hyperlexia are:

  • The precocious, self-taught ability to read words well above their age level, which appears before age 5
  • A significant difficulty understanding  and using verbal language
  • Significant difficulties with social interactions

There are plenty of additional signs of hyperlexia, as you can see in the image below, many of which overlap with other diagnoses such as autism.

To get a copy of this printable list of signs, click the link below:

>> Click here to download the free printable list of signs

What are the signs of hyperlexia? from And Next Comes L

By following some of the Facebook groups on hyperlexia (see the resources here for more information), I have discovered that there is one other unique sign that doesn't seem to be listed anywhere. I refer to it as "air writing." 

My son loves to use his fingers to draw letters and write words in the air, on the table, and even on my leg. It looks like imaginary writing, but when I catch him doing it, I always ask, "What are you writing?" And he always gives me a specific word, number, or math question that he was writing. 

If you watch closely enough, then you can actually see him writing the shapes of those letters. 

Perhaps that's why I love this quote so much. It fits with my son's hyperlexia perfectly.

Quote from And Next Comes L

To get a better understanding of what hyperlexia looks like, you can read our personal account here and watch our hyperlexia video.

3 Proposed Types of Hyperlexia

Three types of hyperlexia have been proposed by Dr. Treffert.

  • Hyperlexia Type I is the bright, neurotypical children who learn to read early. 
  • Hyperlexia Type II refers to the children with autism who seem to have hyperlexia as "a splinter skill."
  • Hyperlexia Type III includes children who read early, do not fall on the autism spectrum, and show autistic-like symptoms that they eventually outgrow. For further information on the three types of hyperlexia, I suggest reading this thorough article.

When I first began researching hyperlexia, I was surprised to learn about the possibility of three types of hyperlexia.

Now personally, I do not put a lot of weight on subcategorizing hyperlexia. To me, my son is hyperlexic and that's all that matters. The types of strategies that I implement for him would not be dependent on him being one type of hyperlexia or the other.

I know, however, that many parents find the classification helpful, which is why I have chosen to include the information here for you.

To get a copy of the printable list of types, click the link below:

>> Click here to download the free printable list of subtypes

What is hyperlexia? The 3 types of hyperlexia from And Next Comes L

What is hyperlexia? Learn more about the hyperlexia diagnosis and the three proposed hyperlexia types