1. Parenting
Send to a Friend via Email

Your suggestion is on its way!

An email with a link to:

http://giftedkids.about.com/od/glossary/g/hyperlexia_def.htm

was emailed to:

Thanks for sharing About.com with others!

Hyperlexia

By

Definition: Hyperlexia is a syndrome characterized by an intense fascination with letters or numbers and an advanced reading ability. Hyperlexic children read at levels far beyond those of their age mates and often begin reading at very young ages, sometimes at age two.

This advanced reading ability is in contrast with difficulties understanding spoken language. Unlike other children, hyperlexic children don't learn language in the typical language learning progression of sounds to words to sentences, nor do they begin to develop a vocabulary starting with nouns, adding verbs and do on. Instead hyperlexic children memorize phrases, sentences or entire conversations. To express an idea, the children must be able to dissect what they have memorized to create original expressions.

Hyperlexic children have excellent visual and auditory memories, which means they easily remember what they see and hear. They use their memory to help them learn language. They will often exhibit echolalia, which is the repetition of phrases and sentences without understanding the meaning.

Given their difficulty with spoken language, hyperlexic children rarely initiate conversations.

Hyperlexia is considered to be part of the autism spectrum of disorders and like autistic children, children with hyperlexia have problems socializing and behaving appropriately. They also exhibit other characteristics of autism:
  • Self-stimulatory behavior
  • Ritualistic behavior
  • Concrete and literally thinking
  • Difficulty with abstract concepts
  • Normal development until 18-24 months, followed by regression
  • Need to keep routines
  • Difficulty transitioning from one activity to another
Additional characteristics of autism include the following:
  • Sensitivity to sounds, smells, and touch
  • Unusual fears
  • Selective listening (may appear to be deaf)
  1. About.com
  2. Parenting
  3. Gifted Children
  4. Gifted 101
  5. Glossary
  6. E-H
  7. Definition of Hyperlexia - What is Hyperlexia

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.