Tuesday, February 09, 2021

40 Language Skills that Hyperlexic Kids Might Need Support With

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Hyperlexia and language development: a closer look at 40 language skills that hyperlexic kids might need some extra support with.

Hyperlexic kids learn language differently, learning via gestalt processing of language (that is, learning language in chunks) and relying heavily on echolalia to communicate and express themselves.

It can actually be "helpful to think of [a hyperlexic individual] as being like an English Language Learner in his or her native language" (Iland, 2011) since the language challenges that hyperlexic kids face are quite similar to those of English Language Learners. 

In other words, hyperlexic kids need to be taught language as if they are learning a second language. 

So it's not surprising that, when it comes to language skills, there are a lot of areas that they might need some extra support and practice with. 

The language challenges generally include (source):

  • "Understanding and using language functionally," in terms of "processing, formulating, and expressing oneself"
  • "Comprehending the intentions of others"

  • "Being able to convey one's own intentions"

But let's take it one step further and break it down into more specific skills and areas that you can target and address because knowing these specific skills gives you an idea of areas that your hyperlexic kid might need extra support and practice with. 

They are skills that you can target at home, during speech therapy, or even with certain IEP accommodations in place in the classroom. 

And they are skills that, if worked on, can also make a huge difference in their overall comprehension of language.

Please keep in mind that there will be a wide variety of abilities here with hyperlexic individuals and some of these skills may apply to some and not others. But most hyperlexic kids will experience difficulties with most - if not all - of these language skills.

Language skills development in hyperlexia

Common Language Skills that Hyperlexic Kids Might Need Some Extra Support With

Here are some of the specific skills that might need to be addressed:

1. Interpreting language literally (includes: idioms, metaphors, figurative language, personification, connotation, hyperbole, and/or words that have multiple meanings)

2. Developing and building vocabulary

3. Using pronouns correctly and understanding who or what those pronouns are referring to

4. Auditory processing

5. Prepositions and spatial concepts

6. Requesting things

7. Asking questions

8. Answering questions, especially ones that involve WH- questions

9. Making inferences (lots of inference cards to practice with here)

10. Using context clues to pronounce homographs correctly (homographs are words that are spelled the same, have different meanings, and usually pronounced different) 

11. Labeling

12. Saying no and protesting (try these)

13. Communicating basic wants and needs (try these)

14. Grammar

15. Sequencing (first, next, then)

16. Time concepts (includes: day, week, month, seasons, AM/PM, past/present/future, sometimes, today/tonight/tomorrow/yesterday, etc.)

17. Understanding and using social language and rules (try a social story to help with this)

18. Visualization (the Visualizing & Verbalizing kit is a popular choice for this skill)

19. Connotation (picking up on the feelings or emotions associated with certain word choices)

20. Gaining someone's attention to initiate a conversation

21. Flexible thinking

22. Following directions 

23. Giving directions

24. Recognizing associations between objects (categorizing, making analogies, identifying opposites, etc.)

25. Identifying attributes and descriptors of objects and situations

26. Understanding multiple meanings for a single word and resolving ambiguity (e.g., I saw bats ~> could refer to baseball bats or the animal)

27. Making choices

28. Recognizing and responding to nonverbal language cues

29. Making connections with their own knowledge

30. Understanding cause and effect

31. Using context clues (includes: picking up on the meaning of words, foreshadowing, etc.)

32. Monitoring comprehension

33. Expressive language, both spoken and written

34. Determining an author's purpose or intent for writing (or speaker's purpose for speaking)

35. Being able to explain and describe things (try this graphic organizer)

36. Narrative and storytelling skills

37. Understanding characters' motivations and reactions in a story 

38. Activating prior knowledge or schema

39. Conceptualization

40. Language comprehension

A list of language skills that hyperlexic kids might need some extra support with