For information about the 
Dyslexia Retreat at the Entrance: www.hoibythesea.com/children-programs

'The Right Brain for the Right Time' is Barbara's newest book on how to identify and manage dyslexia.

click here to get the book

click here to get the e-book

'The Gift of Dyslexia' 
by Ronald Davis

click here to buy the book

Some of the most successful and famous people in the world are famous BECAUSE they are DYSLEXIC not despite of it

Walt Disney, Albert Einstein, 
Richard Branson, Tom Cruise, Cher, 
Whoopy Goldberg and Bill Gates
...just to name a few!

What is Hyperlexia?

Hyperlexia, as in the case of my recent client 'Hirdai' (13 years old)

  • A great ability to read well beyond the age or average reading level, yet without the understanding of the words read.
  • In Hirdai’s case I heard him read an adult book of great complexity without making a single mistake. Of course it didn’t surprise me that he couldn’t tell me what he had read. But when I asked him to read a simple children’s book, suitable for an eight-year-old, he still could not comprehend anything he had been reading. Despite the precocious reading ability, the communication skills were lacking as much as the comprehension. The way the words were expressed reminded me of autistic children with echolalia, the repetition of words like echoes. His voice lacked rich tones and variations.
  • Intelligence, showing an average or above average IQ and above average decoding skills. Some evidence coming from fMRIs show that hyperlexia may be the neurological opposite of dyslexia. I did not see that in the functioning of Hirdai, as there was an obvious link with dyslexia, in the difficulty making sense of words without obvious pictures.
  • Most children that show signs of hyperlexia also present as autistic or on the spectrum towards autism. As such hyperlexia is often coupled with other autistic traits: problems with social interaction and making friends, sensitivities, fixations, need for routines, etc.
  • Hirdai presented most of the above autistic symptoms, as well as the inability of hyperlexic children to answer questions of “why, how, who, what, when, where?”

 

What we did to correct hyperlexia:

His parents’ hard work in the past made it easier for me to work with Hirdai. He worked tirelessly, never wanting to stop—I had to insist on short breaks, pretending they were for my own benefit. Although he didn’t speak much, he could—after thinking for a while—answer in short and halting sentences, usually in a flat tone of voice.


I proceeded with him in combining our Dyslexia Correction Program with the Autism Approach. In order to have pictures for the small words, he made the alphabet and we mastered some of these short yet very common words. Additionally I slowly introduced life concepts, such as “change,” “consequence,” “time,” “sequence” and “order” over the space of the five days I had with Hirdai.


With every day and with every concept there seemed to be more of the boy present and aware. As much as the focus exercise helped him in his ball catching, it also got him into his body. He looked more focused and he walked with more purpose. He even started to contradict his mum, which absolutely amazed her. He has always been such a good boy, she had told me—and I explained how important it is for an individual to start objecting. It was the beginning of being an individual. We all go through these stages, some more intensely than others. We call it the “terrible twos” for the young children when they become oppositional.


A lot of autistic people haven’t gone through that stage and Hirdai was starting to go through that phase, which may not be so pleasant for a parent, especially when the two-year-old is thirteen.


Finally we started the reading process, with one of the early chapter books. I stopped him at every sentence, sometimes even after a comma and asked him all these questions that usually a hyperlexic child has trouble with. “Who was speaking, when they say ‘he’?” “Where did the boy play with his car?”, “What was the name of the man next to him?”, “Where is the dad?”, “Which was his favourite car?”

Being almost impossible to answer, the replies were mere guesses in the beginning—and usually wrong ones. Yet the longer we persevered and the more of the small words that were actually on the page were becoming images and models, the clearer the meaning formed. Eventually the entire page was like a movie in Hirdai’s mind and he told it to me in his own words. It came as a big surprise to his mum as it showed real insight and clear individual thought and reasoning. Even the tone of his voice had more depth.


I have talked to his mother again when they returned from a holiday in India and she told me how amazed his relatives were when seeing him again like this. He had never been more alert and interactive. Of course he still has a long way to go—and hopefully will return to finish more of the concept work to conclude with the awareness of relationships. After knowing himself he will find a way how best to fully participate in life. Only then does it make sense to look at making friends.