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Hyperlexia

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Chantal Rigg

on 2 December 2012

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Transcript of Hyperlexia

So you think your student may be hyperlexic. Now what? Speech and language therapies are crucial to the hyperlexic child. All other interventions should build upon this platform. These students know how to read, they need someone to work with them on how to communicate using the language they have already decoded. Julie Whaley has likened the way that hyperlexic children learn their first language to the way that adults learn a second language (2012). Early intervention with speech and language therapies can dramatically increase a student's ability to communicate with the world around them. They just need support in applying the words they can recognize to many of the social situations they find themselves in. The first strategic step to improve the deficit The first, and most crucial, step is proper identification. Misdiagnosis of hyperlexia is rampant in today's schools. Due to the conflicting group of characteristics that a hyperlexic student may present with, Asperger's syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder, simple language delay, hyperactivity , ADD, ADHD, hypersensitivity, EH, hearing disorders and even giftedness are just some of the wrong diagnoses that hyperlexic children have been labeled as. The results of a misdiagnosis are long-lasting due to the fact that educational teams create IEP's that hinder the child's development (Murdick, 2004).

Hyperlexia is not a medical diagnosis, nor is it an identified category in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). There is no clear-cut definition for identifying students so this only exacerbates the problem for many teachers (2004). What is Hyperlexia? Imagine knowing how to read, but not being able to communicate with those around you. This is the challenge for many hyperlexic children. They learn how to read at an extraordinarily young age by simply surrounding themselves with printed words, letters, and symbols. They have a physical need for reading, a sort of obsession. If books are not available, hyperlexic children will look to the signs and symbols around them to satisfy their need to decode (Nation, 1999). Even though they show signs of good language skills, i.e. able to pronounce words phonetically, hyperlexics cannot apply meaning to those words which leads to issues with reading comprehension, social interactions with peers, and general educational impacts (Semrud-Clikeman, 1990). How can I help the hyperlexic student understand classroom content? Even though hyperlexic students can read, they only have pieces to the larger puzzle of understanding and they have no way of understanding how they all fit together. They cannot recognize words in context or how the language is organized. Often, these students will speak in a disordered fashion, misplacing pronouns due to the fact they can't recognize larger patterns. Hyperlexic students for the most part are visual learners, so the use of graphic organizers can be helpful in the learning process. Highlighting and focusing on simplifying text that include figures of speech can aide in further understanding for these students who tend to take everything literally. Vocabulary development is still crucial for these students as they so often do not understand how the same singular word can have different meanings and connotations depending on their use. Slang usage also proves difficult (Murdick, 2004). How can I modify my day to day routine to help the hyperlexic student? Hyperlexic students can find it very difficult to interact with their peers due to the fact that they don't understand the complexities of the language they can so easily identify. A teacher can help this type of student by combining gestures, touch, or visual aids with the repeated association of words (Scarmella-Nowinski, 2011). Once the teacher helps the student to connect the written words they know with meaning, the hyperlexic student can begin to develop their communication skills with others. Modeling appropriate behaviors and interactions also help to create meaningful connections for these students. Daily routines are paramount for creating a sense of security for the hyperlexic student. When they are relaxed, they are more able to focus and have less of a chance of falling prey to self-stimulating/distracting behaviors (Murdick, 2004). Abstract Hyperlexia is a fascinating collection of traits that effects more of our school's population than we are aware of. It seems as if a cruel joke of nature that something so extraordinary at first could be so devastating if left misdiagnosed. With early interventions, hyperlexia can be treated and significant gains can be made; however, how many high school students hide behind the "gifted abilities" that hyperlexia has to offer, and due to the fact they are so high functioning, they slip through reading everything, but understanding so little of how language works. Teachers be monumental in aiding speech and language therapists by incorporating routines and creating many visual connections to the text. Graphic organizers, mind-mapping, and role playing can accelerate a hyperlexic student's comprehension. Chantal M. Rigg
2 December 2012
Diagnostic Reading Hyperlexia List of works consulted Murdick, N.L., Smith, B.C., & Rao, S. M. (2004). Teaching Children with Hyperlexia. Teaching Exceptional Children, 36(4), 56-59.

Scaramella-Nowinski, V. (2011). Hyperlexia. Pediatric Neuropsychology. www.ndcbrain.com.

Semrud-Clikeman, G. (1990). "Right Hemispheric Dysfunction in Nonverbal Learning Disabilities: Social, Academic, and Adaptive Functioning in Adults and Children." Psychological Bulletin. American Psychological Association, Inc. 196-209.

Whaley, J. (2012). What is Hyperlexia? How to Intervene? www.Idail.com.
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