Thursday, October 01, 2020

What You Need to Know About Hyperlexia & Air Writing

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Air writing with a finger seems to be a common hyperlexia and autism trait, but what exactly is it? Below you'll learn more about hyperlexia air writing and why it can be beneficial for your child.

Have you ever noticed your hyperlexic child writing letters and words in the air with their finger before? 

Well, it seems this air writing is quite common among hyperlexics, which is something that I've discussed before. I've even referred to it as a missing trait of hyperlexia, meaning it's a trait that you won't find on the list of official characteristics or signs of hyperlexia. But it seems so common that I feel like it should be included on the list.

Anyway, someone recently reached out to me to learn more about this air writing and what it means. They wanted to better understand why their child did it and whether or not it was something that should be encouraged or discouraged.

So let's take a closer look at this whole hyperlexia air writing thing and learn more about what it is and the reasons why they do it (and why it's beneficial).

What you need to know about air writing in hyperlexia and autism

So What is Air Writing Exactly?

Basically, imagine you have an invisible pen and are writing in the air with your finger. That's air writing. 

Now, if you watch your hyperlexic child closely, you can actually see them writing letters and/or complete words in the air as if they were writing it down on paper. You might be able to tell what words they are writing (I always could!). And you will discover that this air writing isn't random scribbling or drawing. They are usually writing something specific.

Why Your Hyperlexic Child Could Be Air Writing

Air writing can be used a stim to help with self-regulation. That means, writing letters and words in the air can be calming and soothing for your hyperlexic child. It's essentially a built-in coping strategy they can use when they are feeling overwhelmed or anxious.

Your hyperlexic child might also be using air writing to help them remember things and visualize the words they hear. 

Remember, with hyperlexia, if it isn't written down, it might not exist. 

In that sense, air writing can be used as a tool to help them "write it down" and see the words they are hearing, improving recall and comprehension. 

Perhaps one of the best explanations for air writing I've come across is from the book The Reason I Jump. Naoki writes:

"People with autism often write letters in the air...In my case, I'm writing to confirm what I want to remember. As I write, I'm recalling what I've seen - not as scenes, but as letters, signs and symbols. Letters, symbols and signs are my closest allies because they never change...When I'm writing them out, I can forget everything else." - Naoki Higashida, The Reason I Jump

It's easy to see that air writing is beneficial for your hyperlexic child so keep letting them air write!

Other Hyperlexia Resources You'll Love

What You Need to Know About Your Autistic Child's Stimming

Air Writing: The Missing Trait of Hyperlexia?

Frequently Asked Questions About Hyperlexia

Hyperlexia & air writing: why your child is writing in the air with their finger

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