Hyperlexia & HF ASD

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Registered: 12-31-1969
Hyperlexia & HF ASD
Tue, 09-14-2010 - 7:58pm

Do any of you have a hyperlexic child? This is autism with a twist; a child who can read and decode words at an earlier than normal age, but not comprehend words at the level he/she is reading, coupled with social and communication delays. I think it's pretty uncommon. Just wondering if any of your kids are like mine.

Lauren is almost 3 1/2, and she can read anything. It turns out what I thought was her greatest gift was in fact a learning disability, and they tell me that while she is advanced now, she will always lag behind in reading comprehension. They say she will never understand fiction. She has an amazing memory for trivial details, but if you ask her what she wants for breakfast, she finds that question almost impossible to answer. She is socially anxious, but will talk to adults and is just starting to parallel play with the kids at her preschool. With cues and modeling from her teacher, she will talk to a friend at school, but the teacher has to feed her the exact words to say. But if you thumb through her coloring and activity books, you will see that she read and followed the directions to the best of her fine motor skills ability on the page, with no help. And if you give her a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, she will read it to you.

I wonder if the people on her IEP team are going to know what to do with her. She's a bit of a walking paradox.

Good Harbor Beach
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-28-2008
Thu, 09-16-2010 - 12:27pm

Life on the spectrum can be quite a challenge, as you know.

A good source of local information and resources is your local chapter of ASA . Start with going to asa.org and following their links to your local chapter info.

I also run a Meet-Up.com group for parents of kids on the spectrum and attend a support group run by the office where my children get therapy . I live in a major metro area, so there is lots of support available.

But try looking at MeetUp.com to see if anything is available in your area. My group is small and not very active at the moment. Parents of kids on the spectrum are pretty stressed out as a rule and sometimes are reluctant to commit to getting support for themselves. It seems like just one more thing to do. Use a lot of different key words in your search at MeetUp for best results.

Of course, this board is here and it's been a god-send. I can count on my board buddies to be here when I need them. They have chats twice a week at APOV . Here's the link


I think it's still on Thurs and Sat nights at 9 pm Eastern Time. I haven't been in a long time, but I know there are a few regulars ladies who are great resources and a lot of fun.

You are not alone in your journey. All you have to do is reach out. Hope this helps!

Andrea, mom to


Andrea, mom to

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-13-2006
Wed, 09-15-2010 - 3:53pm

Are you sure that her comprehension is poor? I'm not sure of the exact definition of hyperlexia, but it's probably just fine if she can't comprehend "Deathly Hallows" at 3.5. *smile*.

"They tell me that while she is advanced now, she will always lag behind in reading comprehension. They say she will never understand fiction."

I would take that with a grain of salt. I mean, how do they know? They (whoever they are) don't know.

My AS 12 year old was one of those early readers, as well, and his comprehension has always been just fine. But what we noticed is that the subject matter of higher-level books was too advanced. Like now, he's able to read at a pretty high level, but he hates books that are aimed at adolescents. He's just not there, emotionally. He's at "Captain Underpants".

He rarely enjoys reading non-fiction, contrary to the stereotypes about autism. I don't think the problem is that he doesn't comprehend it. The problem for him is that he has a very narrow view of what is "interesting", and has trouble keeping his attention on anything that doesn't fascinate him. So, for instance, yesterday he started talking about werewolves, so I looked it up on Wikipedia and showed it to him. He read through the entire article in a few minutes, because he was a bit interested, but didn't have the patience to spend time absorbing it, or looking at any of the links. For him, it's like, "That's nice. NEXT!" We're homeschooling this year, but so fat, that's pretty much how it's been. (He's diagnosed with ADD as well as AS, though.)

I'm rambling now, but I'll give you the same advice as I gave myself. And that is, just give her access to as many different books as you can, and let her choose to read what she wants to read. The comprehension might lag behind the decoding, but that's alright, because she doesn't need to be comprehending, "To Kill a Mockingbird" right now, anyway.

One of my gripes about school is that they approach reading with such a sense of urgency. Like they desperately need to convince kids that it's enjoyable, by handing out bookmarks that say, "Reading is cool!", or making them keep a list of what they read each night. Both of my kids enjoyed reading before they started school. (We've all got the learn-to-read-effortlessly gene.) But once they got into school, and learned that reading has all kinds of chores and busy-work associated with it, they both slowed way down.

Sorry this is so long. :) But don't worry! It sounds like you've got a really smart, sweet little girl. And cute, too!


iVillage Member
Registered: 05-22-2008
Wed, 09-15-2010 - 1:26pm

My 4 year old son is exactly the same. He has been reading since 3 and now at 4 he does understand what he has read but not fully. He has a lot of social anxiety but that also is getting a bit better. Obviously you have a smart child. Our biggest challenge is whether to keep our son advancing in reading and his other strong areas or whether to keep him back because of social issues.

I would love to hear other feedback on this.

Thanks. Ivona

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-17-2007
Wed, 09-15-2010 - 10:32am

My non-ASD child is the opposite. His comprehension is stellar, but he has profound dyslexia (all three kinds), so he can't read very well.

I have found that DH and I are the ones who are the experts on YDS. IME, the teachers do not see enough of all the different flavors of LD to know the ins and outs of a special issue. We have had to do most of the research into what could work for YDS. We have had to be the initiators on most interventions and accommodations. Sometimes, it feels like getting a Master's Degree in my son.