Thursday, January 11, 2018

What the Hyperlexic Child Needs You to Know

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In order to know how to help a child with hyperlexia, it's important to understand the specific needs of the hyperlexic child.

When it comes to hyperlexic children, there are a variety of concerns and issues that need to be addressed. From language difficulties to social skills issues, your hyperlexic child has a complex list of needs that you, as a parent, can help them with. In particular, I have come up with a list of seven specific needs that hyperlexic children have.

So here's what the hyperlexic child needs you to know.

A look at the specific needs of children with hyperlexia

The Specific Needs of the Hyperlexic Child

1. Your hyperlexic child needs you to learn about and understand what hyperlexia is

One of the most important things you can do for your child is to learn all you can about hyperlexia. The more you know and understand about hyperlexia, the better you can help your child flourish and the better you can advocate for your child.

While I admit there isn't a plethora of information available, I have tried my best to collect and share as much as I can here on my little old blog. Here are some resources I suggest you check out:

2. Your hyperlexic child needs extra time to process verbal requests

Verbal information is hard for these kids, especially if WH questions are involved. So be sure to give your child extra time to process what they have heard. Pause and wait for them to respond on their own time.

Or better yet, make sure you have their attention before you tell them something. It can be something as simple as touching their shoulder to gain their attention or as simple as saying "I need you to listen to my request."

3. Your hyperlexic child needs visual supports and written instructions

When it comes to your hyperlexic child, the golden rule is this: if it isn't written, it may not exist. I particularly love this quote from this hyperlexia pamphlet:

"Children may find it easier to attend to, and grasp language information that they see, better than that which they listen to."

Using things like written scripts or a visual schedule can have a tremendous impact on your child's success at home or at school. Having a whiteboard in your child's bedroom or elsewhere in your house can also be an extremely useful tool! You can write to do lists and checklists for your child on the fly to help them be more successful at accomplishing day-to-day tasks.

The bottom line is to use their strengths to their advantage. If they can read, why not use it to teach them other things?

4. Your hyperlexic child needs help with comprehension, WH questions, and communication

Hyperlexic children have problems processing language, expressing themselves, and comprehending words and emotions of others, just to name a few. Working with a speech pathologist is your best bet to helping you tackle these language issues! But here are a few resources and printables that you might find helpful:

5. Your hyperlexic child needs specific accommodations at home and in the classroom in order to be successful

Many hyperlexic children struggle with transitions, pronoun reversals, social skills, and so much more! They will need specific accommodations in place both at home and in the classroom in order for them to be successful. You can see five examples, along with some strategies to try, for five everyday tasks here.

As for the classroom, you can find a great list of classroom strategies and accommodations here.

6. Your hyperlexic child needs direct social skill teaching

Perhaps you have noticed that your child is slightly awkward when it comes to social situations. Sometimes they are unsure of how to act or respond and that can be due, in part, to their language difficulties. As this hyperlexia pamphlet describes:

"Children with hyperlexia have unusual or different responses and have difficulty developing the essential skills for interacting quickly and appropriately with peers and adults."

As a result, these children need to be taught social skills directly through modeling, role playing, rehearsing scripted exchanges, and so on. Here are some useful resources on teaching social skills:

7. Your hyperlexic child needs you to respect and follow their interests

This one is the most important, in my opinion. Hyperlexic children have intense fascinations with various things, usually letters, and you should use those interests to connect with your child. Do not discourage their interests, unless of course someone or something is being harmed. Otherwise, embrace their interests.

I find that my son's intense fascinations are a way for him to self-regulate. Just something to consider when it comes to these interests of hyperlexic children.

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A look at the specific needs of children with hyperlexia