Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Strengths of a Hyperlexic Learner

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Hyperlexic kids have lots of different strengths, besides their exceptional ability to read. Here are 8 strengths of a hyperlexic learner.

Similar to a lot of diagnoses our kids can receive, there's often a focus on the negatives instead of the positives. You'll basically hear a lot about the areas of weaknesses instead of the strengths. 

You might hear from teachers about how your child's struggling with this or that. 

Or you might be told that your child isn't making progress in speech therapy as expected. 

During assessments, you fill in forms that are basically just checklists of things your kid struggles with. Speaking of which, those forms and questionnaires are the worst, aren't they? I loathe filling them in.

As a parent, it's extremely disheartening to have the focus be primarily on these weaknesses. 

And it can be a major self-esteem destroyer if all the kids overhear about themselves is a list of negatives and can't dos.

Obviously you don't want to disregard the weaknesses. Those are skills you do need to address and support, but it can be rather exhausting hearing all about what your child can't do yet. 

I know that it's simply the deficit model at work. You know, the list of things to "fix," for lack of a better word.

But there's rarely any focus on the things they can do. The positives. The strengths. 

And sometimes we need to be reminded of these positive things instead of all of the can't dos.

Our hyperlexic kids are amazing. You know that and I know that. Sometimes though, their strengths - outside of their early ability to read - are rarely highlighted. So today let's focus on the strengths of a hyperlexic learner.

Strengths of a hyperlexic learner

Strengths of a Hyperlexic Learner

Please keep in mind that hyperlexic kids have a wide range of abilities and skills. So some of these may apply more to your child than others. Or some might not apply yet or at all. And that's okay. But generally, these are things that hyperlexic kids excel at.

1. Excellent Decoding Skills & an Exceptional Ability to Read

Obviously, a list of hyperlexic strengths is going to start off by mentioning their excellent decoding skills. That's a given, right?

I mean, the kids can read. There's no question about it. Doesn't matter if the word is simple, like cat or tree, or something more complex, like ichthyosaur or hypothalamus...They can read just about anything. 

It's amazing to watch this ability unfold throughout their toddler and preschool years.

Hyperlexic kids have excellent decoding skills

2. Strong Visual & Auditory Memory

Hyperlexic learners have phenomenal memories. 

They can see a long complex word once and know how to spell it for years to come. They can hear a song once and hum the entire song back correctly. They can memorize lists of facts about presidents, countries, planets...you name it!

They can remember details from years ago with crystal clarity. For instance, my son still talks about that one foggy day when we drove across the city to go to an appointment. He was age four at the time and he still remembers it all these years later. It really was foggy that day, probably the thickest fog I've ever had to drive through.

You can even ask my son what is discussed on specific pages of his favorite books and he can tell you what's on that page without even cracking open the book. He's like "Oh that page is about X and did you know (insert random fact from that page)?"

Hyperlexic kids have strong visual & auditory memories

3. Strong Pattern Recognition Skills

Hyperlexic learners have fantastic patterning skills and perform amazing on pattern recognition activities. 

In fact, in the hyperlexia systematic review by Ostrolenk et al. (2017), "pattern detection and manipulation are generally enhanced in up to 50% of individuals" and they "perform better than neurotypical people at tasks...such as pattern detection and manipulation, block design, visual search, mental rotation, and hidden figures."

Since they're excellent with patterns, it's not surprising then that they thrive in areas such as reading, math, and music. These subjects are all about patterns after all.

Hyperlexic kids have strong pattern recognition skills

4. Quick Learners

I don't know if you've noticed this yourself, but hyperlexic kids absorb facts like a sponge! 

They're quick learners, especially if the information is presented visually and includes the written word in some way. Basically, they can learn things quickly and with ease when you play to their strengths. Hmm, I wonder if you've heard me say that before...

Hyperlexic kids are quick learners

5. Love to Learn

Hyperlexic learners seem to have a thirst for knowledge and love to learn, whether it's about Roman numerals, the periodic table, Jupiter's moons, countries and flags, or even a new language or two.

Perhaps this is one of the main reasons why they have a preference for non-fiction books.

Hyperlexic kids love to learn

6. Passionate

Hyperlexic kids are extremely passionate and love to share their interests (and everything about those interests!) with you. Their early fascination with letters is a great example of how passionate they can be about certain interests.

Hyperlexic kids are extremely passionate

7. Have an Ability to Hyperfocus

Hyperlexic kids have highly focused attention, especially on things that they are passionate about. In other words, they are good at hyperfocusing. 

Hyperfocus, if you're not aware, is when your child can become so immersed in what they are doing that they don't really notice what else is happening around them. They essentially go all in on their interests, which is why their interests are often quite intense and all-encompassing.

You'll notice this ability to hyperfocus even in hyperlexic toddlers where they're so engrossed in their letter play that they can't move on to the next task until all their letters are perfectly arranged.

8. Strong Spelling Skills

Most hyperlexic kids are strong spellers. Not surprising given their gestalt processing where they learn language in chunks and their strong pattern skills. 

So they're often rockstars at things like spelling tests and spelling bees. 

They're also good at pointing out typos on packaging and in books, which is something I also excel at so I'm glad my son does this too. It's clear he's my son!

However, some hyperlexic kids may also struggle with spelling as they get older, especially if their phonic skills aren't well developed. So that's something to keep in mind as I do know that not all hyperlexic learners will remain strong spellers.

Strengths of a hyperlexic learner

So to Recap...Here are Some Strengths that Hyperlexic Learners Have

Hey, skim reader, I've got you covered! Here are 8 strengths of a hyperlexic learner:

  • Excellent decoding skills & an exceptional ability to read
  • Strong visual & auditory memory
  • Strong pattern recognition skills
  • Quick learner
  • Love to learn
  • Passionate
  • Ability to hyperfocus
  • Strong spelling skills

Strengths of a hyperlexic learner