Monday, September 18, 2023

10+ Diagnoses a Hyperlexic Child Might Have (Besides Autism)

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Do I have hyperlexia? Is my child hyperlexic? Take the free online hyperlexia quiz today!

Here are 10+ common diagnoses a hyperlexic child might have (besides autism). They might even receive these diagnoses instead of the label of hyperlexia itself.

Some of the most common questions that I get about the hyperlexia "diagnosis" are regarding its relationship with autism. Questions such as:

  • Is hyperlexia always diagnosed with autism?
  • Can you have hyperlexia and not be autistic?
  • How is hyperlexia different than autism?

While they're fair questions to ask, I'll be honest, I do question the intentions behind some of these questions as it often seems parents are reluctant or even in denial that their child might indeed be autistic. But that's a whole other beast to tackle for another post on another day.

Instead, let's focus on the question of whether or not hyperlexia is always identified or diagnosed with autism and take a look at some other diagnoses a hyperlexic child might have. 

10+ diagnoses a hyperlexic child might have besides autism

10+ Other Diagnoses A Hyperlexic Child Might Have

First things first, since hyperlexia isn't a standalone diagnosis, you can't receive it as an official "diagnosis" on its own.

Instead, it will often be diagnosed (or some might argue misdiagnosed), identified alongside, or lumped in with another diagnosis. 

Hyperlexia isn't a standalone diagnosis

In some cases, a hyperlexic child might receive one of these other diagnoses in place of the label of hyperlexia. 

Here are some of the possible diagnoses that they might receive:

  • Autism (including Asperger's which is now just diagnosed as autism)
  • Specific language impairment or a language disorder such as mixed receptive-expressive language disorder or expressive language disorder
  • Nonverbal learning disability
  • Pervasive developmental disorder
  • Social communication disorder, such as semantic/pragmatic disorder

For most hyperlexic kids, their hyperlexia will be identified alongside an autism diagnosis. It's not surprising that this is the case as there's a strong link between the two. In fact, 84% of hyperlexics are either autistic or have several autistic features (source). 

For most hyperlexic kids, their hyperlexia will be identified alongside autism

84% of individuals who are hyperlexic are either autistic or have several autistic features

In addition to some of the diagnoses above, a hyperlexic child might have other co-occurring conditions such as:

  • ADHD
  • Sensory processing disorder or sensory integration dysfunction
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Seizure disorder
  • Tourette's Syndrome
  • Dyspraxia
  • Anxiety

Now obviously this list isn't exhaustive. There are a lot of other possible diagnoses and conditions that a hyperlexic child might have. These are just some of the more common possibilities.

Other diagnoses a hyperlexic child might have

Regardless of what other conditions or diagnoses a hyperlexic individual has been identified with, it's still important to identify the hyperlexia piece. Their hyperlexia needs to be recognized as it's a key part of who they are and how they learn.

It's important to identify hyperlexia

Adkins et al. write that we need to still "identify children with hyperlexia if they have other diagnoses or conditions" because "these children learn primarily through reading, so the therapeutic and educational programs that we devise for them must take their reading skills into account." (source: Hyperlexia: Therapy that Works manual).

Let me stress that again. 

Identifying their hyperlexia is just as important as identifying their autism or their OCD because it tells you so much about how they learn and how their brain works. 

Identifying a hyperlexic child is just as important as identifying them as autistic or otherwise neurodivergent

That means you might have to keep pushing until their hyperlexia is recognized, especially when so many professionals or specialists are quick to disregard or dismiss your very valid concerns about the possibility of hyperlexia. And yes, this does happen (see #1 on this list).

So to answer the question "is hyperlexia always diagnosed with autism?", the answer is no. As you can see, there are lots of other diagnoses they might be identified with.

To learn more about the "diagnosis" of hyperlexia, you might find this article helpful. You can also learn more about how hyperlexia is identified here.

A list of diagnoses or conditions that hyperlexic kids can also be identified with

Is hyperlexia always diagnosed with autism? Here are 10+ diagnoses a hyperlexic child might have (besides autism)