Hyperlexia syndrome has characteristics similar to autism, pervasive developmental disorder,  and aspergers. Perhaps
hyperlexia may be a separate subgroup of children with Pervasive Developmental Disorder or could it be a separate
developmental disorder, of it’s own? These questions remain to be a mystery, as is the autism spectrum in whole.
Hyperlexia is a  precocious ability to read words, far beyond what would be expected at an early  age and /or a fascination
with letters or numbers. These children have barriers in language acquisition and communication. Children with this feature
have a simultaneous connection  in their  social interactions and behavior, they have difficulty socializing and interacting
appropriately with people.

Hyperlexia is the a feature skill, of premature reading abilities, which emerges in preschool years. Most children with
hyperlexia are diagnosed as pdd or aspergers, it is commonly found in children who are considered high functioning. The
feature may also be found in low functioning autistic children but due to the lack of language and communication skills are
unable to express their abilities.

Most  children with this syndrome  read or have pre- reading skills before the age of 5. Some children are reciting the
alphabet  at a very early age. Others begin as sight readers and later beginning understanding the phonics of a word. Some
begin reading only single words, and go on to read sentences, and paragraphs.


Hyperlexia children follow a similar pattern of development. First words developed at 12-18 months, but approximately half of
the children lose gained words and do not begin to regain them until after age two.

At about age two, language may be acquired through simple processing, beneficial through speech therapy. Early speech and
language attempts are mainly echolalic. Language is used in "chunks" and “whole phrases” and even entire dialogues may be
used as conversation. There are abnormalities in the form and content of language when they speak. It varies from
unemotional, high and low voice pitches, perseveration, pronoun reversals and peculiar use of words or phrases.
Comprehending of a single word, exceeds comprehension of sentences. Reading may come naturally, however they may not
understand the meaning of what they recite.  

Many Hyperlexia children show a big improvement in their language abilities beginning at ages 4 to 5, although difficulties in
holding social conversations continue. This pattern of language acquisition is similar to that of many high-functioning autistic
children.  Difficulties with social language persist in autistic individuals throughout adulthood. Individuals with Asperger's
syndrome are reported to have developed good grammatical language skills though they too have difficulty comprehending
subtle, abstract language.In the early years,

Hyperlexia children exhibit many of the behaviors typically associated with autism: self-stimulating behaviors.  Routine,
ritualistic behaviors, tantrums, sensitivity to sensory input (noise, taste, touch), general anxiety and specific unusual fears.
These behaviors subside substantially as growth in language, generally at age 4 to 5.

These children are  generally affectionate with their families and are better able to relate to adults than children. By age 5, they
became able to participate in structured interactive games with peers and imaginative play develops. Difficulty in socializing
and handling large groups remains problematic through the elementary grades.  

Hyperlexia children often succeeded in regular education classrooms with some minor modifications in instruction. This may
also be true for high-functioning autistic children, though there may be other factors which would cause autistic behaviors to
persist longer in this group.

Most  of the children with Hyperlexia syndrome generally have normal gross  motor development and normal neurological
tests, fine motor skills are often delayed.  


Many have no family history of disorders, though several families were positive for autism and learning disability in the
previous generation. Individuals with Aspergers's Syndrome were described as clumsy and uncoordinated, while autistic
individuals are often described as being very well coordinated.

Some children with hyperlexia syndrome may be classified as having a Pervasive Developmental Disorder, and while there
may be some similarities to children with autism and/or Asperger's syndrome. The differentiating characteristics appear to
center around the Hyperlexia children's ability to develop higher level language skills and the children's innate desire to develop
social relationships, though they may lack the language skills to do so effectively.

The primary reason for developing a specific diagnostic category for hyperlexia is to assure that hyperlexia is well understood
so that appropriate treatment strategies can be developed. In speech language therapy with these children, it is crucial the
reading skill be employed as a primary means of developing language. Reading can also be used for behavioral management
and for assisting the child in understanding classroom  routine.

Due to their pre-reading skills it is not expected that these children exhibit a language disorder and odd behaviors, it is often
regarded as a "splinter skill" and is not exploited as a means for learning. It is natural for a teacher to try restating a direction
verbally when a child does not respond, but these children need the direction to be written so they have something tangible to
look at. This approach has been used with autistic children who read early. The major difference is that autistic children have
a reduced ability to utilize the information acquired through reading within meaningful language.

Early Signs of Hyperlexia

•        Learns expressive language in a odd way, echoes or memorizes the a sentence structure unable to understand the
meaning. Recites whole phrases and  reverse pronouns.

•        Rarely initiates conversations

•        An intense need to keep routines, difficulty with transitions, ritualistic behavior.

•        Sensory / tactile sensitivity.

•        Self-stimming behavior such as rocking, spinning, and odd eye movement etc.

•        Specific, unusual fears or distress at inappropriate times.

•        Normal development until 18-24 months, then regression.

•        Strong auditory and visual memory.

•        Difficulty understanding questions, such as "what," "where," "who," and "why".

•        Think in concrete and literal terms, difficulty with abstract concepts.

•        Listen selectively, appear to be deaf at times.
Hyperlexia - what is hyperlexia - child with hyperlexia.   Bright Tots - Information on child development - Autism information.  www.brighttots.com
Hyperlexia Syndrome
Printer Friendly Copy
Hyperlexia Syndrome

Resource Home


Baby Tooth Decay

Behavioral Disorders

Child Safety Tips

Disorders Home

Early Intervention

FMLA for Parents

Learning Disability

Parenting Issue

Preschool Special Ed.

Parenting Help

Speech Disorders

Weight Concern


Asperger's Syndrome

Childhood Disintegrative

Early Signs of Autism

(Repetitive Speech)

Fragile X


Low Functioning Autism
(Classic Autism)

Pervasive Developmental

Rett Syndrome

Savant Syndrome

Semantic Pragmatic Disorder
For more information and articles on autism visit:
Choosing the Right Toy for :
Babies      Toddlers      Preschool
World of Autism

What is Autism?  Frequently asked questions on autism - What causes autism?  What is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA
Therapy)?  Autism Diagnosis - What are the Types of Autism, What are the signs of Autism?  Medications used in
treatment of Autism - A Genetic Clue to Why Autism Affects Boys More - Autism and Vaccines - 1 in 68 Children
affected with Autism - Autism: To Cure or Not to Cure - Speech and Language Problems in Autism Spectrum Disorders -
Research Points to Genetic Link in Autism - Challenges Siblings of Children with Autism Face.

Autism Articles

Inspirational uplifting news articles on Autism / The Downside of Autism in the News
Mom Wins Fight for Autism Insurance
Bright Tots ~ Information on childhood developmental disorders, including autism, attention deficit disorder (ADHD),
behavior disorders, bipolar disorder, cerebral palsy, childhood disintegrative disorder, depression in children, diabetes in
children, down syndrome, emotional disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder , selective mutism, separation anxiety
disorder, speech and language disorders and spina bifida.

Resources, articles and information on autism including Asperger's syndrome, assessing autism, autism and tantrums,
autism in childhood, autism therapies, characteristics of autism, discipline strategies, early signs of autism, echolalia,
fragile x, hyperlexia / dyslexia, immunization worries, oral care and autism, pervasive developmental disorders (PDD), Rett
syndrome, savant syndrome, and more...

developmental disorders - Find Early Intervention in your area.

Information and articles on
autism therapy and autism treatment including: ABA therapy, autism diets, chelation therapy,
cognitive behavior therapy, key to learning, medications for treating autism, play therapy, occupational therapy, physical
therapy, sensory integration, signed speech, speech therapy, TEACCH Method and more...

What is a learning disability? What are developmental domains? Tips on teaching a child with autism, age appropriate
behavior (milestones), parenting rules, oral care and autism, baby tooth decay, is your child over weight? For those hard to
understand terms, visit our

Bright Tots - Helpful information for picking the right toy for Babies, Toddlers and Preschool kids
What to look for in developmental baby, toddler and preschool toys. Read on the importance of choosing the right
educational baby toys, educational toddler toys, educational preschool toys that will

"Make Learning Fun"

Choosing the right Baby Toys | Toddler Toys | Preschool Toys | Special Needs
Autism Resources

Autism Home

ABA Therapy

Assessing Autism

Autism Diets

Autism Treatments

Autistic Behaviors

Characteristics of

Cognitive Behavior

Early Intervention

Early Signs of Autism

Keys to Learning

Learning to Learn

Medication and Autism

Myths of Autism

Occupational Therapy

Parenting Rules

Physical Therapy

Sensory Integration

Teaching Play Skills

Shopping Tips:

Shopping Resources

Baby Toy Guide

Toddler Toy Guide

Preschool Toy Guide

Sp. Needs Toy Guide

*the links below will open in
a new browser*

About Us

Contact Us


Info Page

Privacy Policy

Link Partners

Link Exchange
Autism Diets     Autism Information     Developmental Disorders     Parenting Issues