What is Hyperlexia?

Hyperlexia is when children show advanced reading skills and abilities that are beyond their current age and intellectual expectation / norm. Hyperlexia is a hyper-fixation and focuses on letters, words, and sometimes early reading. Hyperlexia is often linked to ASD or Autistic Spectrum Disorder, and it affects roughly 6% to 20% of all children with autism.

Hyperlexia is a fascination with letters and numbers. People with hyperlexia have an innate ability to decode or sound out words very quickly and are commonly known as “super readers”. They generally have a very good auditory and visual memory.

While they can read well, they may have verbal communication skills that are below their age level. Reading comprehension can be difficult for some with hyperlexia.

A person with hyperlexia is excellent at memorising and quick to learn rules and patterns.

What causes Hyperlexia?

There are three different types of hyperlexia, each with different potential causes.

  • Hyperlexia one – children with no underlying disabilities learn to read early on and above their age level. Other children eventually catch up, making this a temporary form of hyperlexia.
  • Hyperlexia two – a type of hyperlexia that appears in children that also have autism. Caused by an obsession with numbers and letters that leads to a much higher reading level than their age.
  • Hyperlexia three – this form of hyperlexia decreases over time. Those with hyperlexia three will have exceptional reading skills but may fall behind in verbal communication. However, over time, these symptoms will disappear.

Signs and Symptoms of Hyperlexia in Children

Now that you have a better understanding of the different types of hyperlexia that can exist, I’d like to share with you some of the most common signs of hyperlexia in children. I’ll include the 4 most common signs of hyperlexia here: 

  1. Improved ability to read – A child may develop reading skills faster than most other children in their age group. This may include other signs like repetition of words that a child hears or sees, and can even result in a child learning to read on their own.
  2. Developmental issues – Developmental disorders are common in children who are hyperlexic and such developmental issues can include lower communication skills and behavioral problems. 
  3. Lower comprehension – While hyperlexic kids excel at reading, they display lower than average ability to understand and comprehend. Figuring out puzzles and games can often be challenging and frustrating for hyperlexic children. Written language can also be a challenge for hyperlexic children.
  4. Affection for books – Children with hyperlexia love books and reading. This special ability and affection can lead to children with hyperlexia to be better at spelling words, and results in hyperlexic kids having a fascination with words, letters and numbers. Hyperlexic children also often enjoy reading more than playing with toys and games, which can be another strong sign of hyperlexia in children.