comprehension strategies for hyperlexia — The Bump
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comprehension strategies for hyperlexia

My DS (4 years old suspected on spectrum with speech delay, vision, fine/gross motor delay) has really gone into overdrive with his hyperlexia. He probably knows 300+ words. Last night we pulled down a puzzle we had not done in months. It has 40 animal names each on their own white background. You are supposed to match them with the photo. He knew them without thinking even a second. Although he told me "look two mouses!" One said mouse and the other said moose. I explained the difference by showing him the pics.

Even his Slp tried an experiment. If D'S doesn't answer a question after a few times she writes it down and points to it. He reads it and then answers her. So maybe he has a delay in the auditory processing but not in the visual processing of the question and can answer it?

Anyway I am wondering if anyone has tried any books that help kids with this specific issue. I saw a book online that is $60 and claims to help hyperlexics gain understanding/comprehending through their site story that uses sight words that are familiar.

Anyway, these are a few sentences I wrote last night to give you an idea what he can read

The brown monkey likes to eat the yellow bananas

I want zero cookies.

The kangaroo can jump very high (wasn't sure what "very" was)

 

Re: comprehension strategies for hyperlexia

  • -auntie- said:
    Micelle78 said:
    My DS (4 years old suspected on spectrum with speech delay, vision, fine/gross motor delay) has really gone into overdrive with his hyperlexia. 

    Has he actually been identified as having hyperlexia or are you assuming he has it? At four, he could just be a reader on the youngish side. Most twos who are reading have hyperlexia, but some threes and fours are just young decoders/readers.

    He probably knows 300+ words.

    Does he read words in isolation or is her reading short stories? If it's the former, do they tend to be nouns, verbs?

     Last night we pulled down a puzzle we had not done in months. It has 40 animal names each on their own white background. You are supposed to match them with the photo. He knew them without thinking even a second. Although he told me "look two mouses!" One said mouse and the other said moose. I explained the difference by showing him the pics.

    That's great.

     Even his Slp tried an experiment. If D'S doesn't answer a question after a few times she writes it down and points to it. He reads it and then answers her. So maybe he has a delay in the auditory processing but not in the visual processing of the question and can answer it? 

    This exercise actually suggests his reading comprehension is on par with his decoding so long as his answer to the SLP makes sense in the context of the question. It's pretty easy to get a reading eval done to determine if he is comprehending text written in a way that a child his age could understand it. As he gets older, his decoding level may outpace his emotional maturity, ToM and central coherence which would result in poor comprehension caused more by spectrum traits the a specific LD.

    That said, visual processing is almost universally stronger than auditory processing in children well into puberty. You can improve auditory attention, discrimination and memory by limmiting screen time to no more than an hour daily (inclusing games, computers, tablets, etc.) and reading aloud daily. Books on tape can help build listening skills as well.

     Anyway I am wondering if anyone has tried any books that help kids with this specific issue. I saw a book online that is $60 and claims to help hyperlexics gain understanding/comprehending through their site story that uses sight words that are familiar. Anyway, these are a few sentences I wrote last night to give you an idea what he can read The brown monkey likes to eat the yellow bananas I want zero cookies. The kangaroo can jump very high (wasn't sure what "very" was)

    I would bother with a book at this point. Reading is probably the best thing you can do along with answering his questions about words. Make sure you don't "dumb down" your vocabulary but don't get too long winded or your risk losing him.

    If you need to work on comprehension at some point, Lindmood Bell has one of the few programs that's pretty much the gold standard. Visualizing and Verbalizing.


    I'm going to apologize to the board before answering or attempting to answer this question.  I know I rarely post.  Sorry sorry. 

    But I agree with Auntie.  Who identified your child?  Not that this gives me any backing here, but I'm a reading specialist.  If you put nonsense words down on paper does your child decode them correctly...like sart or vump?   

    How is his phonemic awareness? 

    And I agree with V/V being the gold standard but that will come later on in elementary school.  There is also a program and assessment called cars and stars that we use with kids who do not do well with V/V....but again....elementary school. 

    For now, get some books with just pictures and have him "read" the pictures. 

    My son is also 4 and I'll eat my foot if he isn't hyperlexic.  He can decode anything in English.  He watched a few episodes of Super Why and Word World and BAM...he figured out the code like a puzzle.  He understands zero of what he reads, even at the noun level.  He is in for some serious comp remediation when he is older.  Asher owns hundreds of books by nature of having a reading specialist for a mom.  Within the profession we are torn, some think, take away print and others think....leave it.  My thing is......he needs exposure to the story and to be around it, even if he needs help to access it.  So we leave the books, we read every night.  But we talk through every part of the story.  Every single part.  I'm constantly pointing out text and connectedness to the story by saying "you know Asher, you're right that does say cookies, you read that, but you know how else I know it says cookies?  I look at the picture and there are cookies......what about those cookies anyway?"  Validate, but bring it back to the meaning. 


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  • Thanks @Auntie and, and no apologies needed.  I think this board is very kind and I personally do not mind lurkers commenting.

    My son has a speech delay.  A few weeks before turning 2 he pointed to some letters on my sweatshirt.  At this point in time he only had the words :ma-ma, da-da, ba (ball), and moo.  Anyway, he smiled at me and pointed to each letter waiting for me to say them and smiled bigger when I told him what the letters on my shirt spelled.  The next day, he walked over to my shirt and said the letters.  This is from a kid that never repeated anything we said.  He only used jargon and the few words I mentioned.  He brought me a book and pointed to each letter in it and I told him.  Literally a day or two later, he walks over to me and tells me ALL THE LETTERS.  I was so happy because at that time, he would not copy anyone talking and was finally trying to communicate.

    Needless to say it became something he was VERY interested in.  He had a V-Tech toy that said all the letter sounds and he memorized that soon after.  By 2.5 years old he still only spoke to me with nouns (no verbs) but could tell you two digit numbers, all his letters upper/lower, and all the sounds they made.  This was also when he began recognizing easy sight words (stop, jump,. go, car). 

    By the age of three he was sounding words out-- I heard him, yet even though he was working with a speech path-- he had very little verbs still.  He would also ask me what something was if he could not figure it out.  He would say "Mama, this spells?"  He speaks better today but very behind what would be typical and has a hard time with questions that are "Why" "WHen" and some "Where". 

    In fact, the freakiest moment was when we were walking in the mall (about a month before he turned three) and he looked up at me and said "Balloon starts with B"  I assumed that he picked it up from educational shows.  He then started looking around the store and naming things he saw and telling me what letter they started with-- he was not even three years old yet.  Still not convinced that he didn't just memorize this, I looked at a pile of "Dockers" khakis at JC Penney.  I looked right at him and said "What does Dockers start with?"  He looked at me and screamed "D!!!!" 

    The reason I think he is hyperlexic is that he literally learns words-- he knows it. Regardless of font or size handwritten or not. Nouns or verbs and he will make a stab at the pronunciation and look to me for approval. You do not have to repeat it to him-- its in his brain.  He learned a whole bunch of words and just "Knows" them.  I did not use flashcards with him or teach him even how to read.  He did that himself.  Its like he just cracked the code and that was that.  He did the same thing with numbers.  He could count to 39 by the time he was 2.5.  He could actually count higher but tended to mix a few numbers up-- like skipping the 60s and moving to 70s. 

    He also learned the entire 50 states in 3 weeks-- could take each puzzle piece--tell you the name of the state and lay it on the floor exactly where it went-- when he was 2 years 9 months old.  I imagine he just has this amazing photographic memory that lends itself well to learning this rote stuff so easily. Not sure if you saw my post a few days ago, but he sang the alphabet backwords for fun and only skipped "H"

    What is the hardest part to wrap my head around is the fact we still struggle with him understanding what we say to him.  He gets better everyday-- but its hard for him.  The reason I started this post was that he is literally reading so well- I know mostly by mass memorization, but I feel like this may help me get his comprehension improved.  We have TONS of books.  I have been a music teacher for the past 11 years and education is very important to me.  He has lots of books, puzzles, educational games, and stuff that OT recommended.  I spend a lot of time researching toys/books.  I personally didn't know if anyone had success using one of the books I mentioned that is geared specifically for hyperlexics or not.

    So to answer your other question, he reads words in isolation-- without a picture or anything to give a context clue, as well as sentences at a reasonable speed that a kinder would probably read.  He loves it. 

    We made a joke when he was around a year old that he was reading because his favorite book at my parent's house was a stupid-- pictureless operation manual from the cable company.  He would stare at each page and then turn the page and stare some more.  Little did I know then, he was actually studying it.

     
  • too   ha!

     
  • the apologies comment was directed to @ABColeslaw and a thank you was to both of you for answering me!  Lex, thank you for your personal experience too!

     
  • -auntie- said:
    Micelle78 said:

    My son has a speech delay.  A few weeks before turning 2 he pointed to some letters on my sweatshirt.  At this point in time he only had the words :ma-ma, da-da, ba (ball), and moo.  Anyway, he smiled at me and pointed to each letter waiting for me to say them and smiled bigger when I told him what the letters on my shirt spelled.  The next day, he walked over to my shirt and said the letters.  This is from a kid that never repeated anything we said.  He only used jargon and the few words I mentioned.  He brought me a book and pointed to each letter in it and I told him.  Literally a day or two later, he walks over to me and tells me ALL THE LETTERS.  I was so happy because at that time, he would not copy anyone talking and was finally trying to communicate.

    This doesn't mean he's hyperlexic. I know more than a few kids on spectrum who are non-verbal who read well. DS has dyslexia and knew all his letters and numerals by the time he was two. It's sounds almost like an ASD thing- where letters and numbers are a kind of special interest and one that gets mommy's attention with positive feedback.

    Needless to say it became something he was VERY interested in. 

    Special interest. This could be the restricted interests/repetitive behavior component of ASD.  Like baseball stats, dinosaurs, WW II, sharks, Transformers, Thomas the Tank Engine and the classic Titanic.
    I have wondered myself if it is a special interest. 

     He had a V-Tech toy that said all the letter sounds and he memorized that soon after.  By 2.5 years old he still only spoke to me with nouns (no verbs) but could tell you two digit numbers, all his letters upper/lower, and all the sounds they made.  This was also when he began recognizing easy sight words (stop, jump,. go, car).  

    That kind of speech delay is often associated with ASD. It's interesting, though, that he's reading sights words that are verbs.

    By the age of three he was sounding words out-- I heard him, yet even though he was working with a speech path-- he had very little verbs still.

    That's great. My sister and her younger DD were both reading about 1st/2nd grade level around 3- 3 1/2. Neither was hyperlexic. TBH, neither was a particularly good student. But they were early readers and really enjoyed reading for pleasure well into adulthood.
    It is hard to say right now what kind if student he will be for sure.  Too many unknowns.  DH and I were both in advanced classes at a young age, but again, that doesn't always mean anything either

      He would also ask me what something was if he could not figure it out.  He would say "Mama, this spells?"  He speaks better today but very behind what would be typical and has a hard time with questions that are "Why" "WHen" and some "Where".

    The "wh" questions are a common ASD glitch. If he had a dx, this would be addressed in SLT. Is your SLP working on this?  
    Yes, in fact I noticed that my EOB actually shows she is billing "cognitive" instead of it saying speech like it did before.  Either that is a new wording from the company or she is billing that way because his speaking has come a long way.

    In fact, the freakiest moment was when we were walking in the mall (about a month before he turned three) and he looked up at me and said "Balloon starts with B"  I assumed that he picked it up from educational shows.  He then started looking around the store and naming things he saw and telling me what letter they started with-- he was not even three years old yet.  Still not convinced that he didn't just memorize this, I looked at a pile of "Dockers" khakis at JC Penney.  I looked right at him and said "What does Dockers start with?"  He looked at me and screamed "D!!!!"  

    That's great. He's cracked the code for reading English.
    Yes, and he wants to always read to me or have me read to him-- almost hourly he will bring me a book, then run around and jump, dance etc, then want a book again.  He is a very active kid

    The reason I think he is hyperlexic is that he literally learns words-- he knows it. Regardless of font or size handwritten or not. Nouns or verbs and he will make a stab at the pronunciation and look to me for approval. You do not have to repeat it to him-- its in his brain.  He learned a whole bunch of words and just "Knows" them.  I did not use flashcards with him or teach him even how to read.  He did that himself.  Its like he just cracked the code and that was that.  

    Well, yeah, that's how it is when the aha! moment happens. But it doesn't necessarily mean he's hyperlexic. Many hyperlexic kids are very advanced in their speech. DS had hyperlexic speech, but not the reading piece. He had words before 10 weeks and several 2 word phrases at 6 months. He was later to learn to decode, even though he'd known his letters for years. When he cracked it, he went from pre-primer to 2nd grade in a matter of about 10 days. It was breathtaking to witness.

    DS attended a theraputic lab school for kids with learning disabilities. I chaperoned a field trip to the planetarium when he was in 2nd. One of the boys in his class assigned to me was a kid with hyperlexia who was obviously on spectrum. He'd been moved to the 2nd grade class, in part because he was being bullied in 5th (he was 12 and this was his 5th school; back story was that mom was from another country/culture and didn't accept the notion that he might have an issue- when evals were suggested, they left)

    DS was really into space at the time. He knew a lot and looked forward to the trip. This other kid blathered about show tunes and musicals the entire time. Between songs, he would read the information posted next to each of the telescopic photographs in the gallery for DS and then DS would explain to them what they said. It was really weird to watch- the kid could read the dense text flawlessly but had no clue what it said. At that point DS was a pre-reader but understood the material. That your son can answer a written question for his SLP suggests this is not an issue at this time.
    I guess its hard to see him read and understand but hearing a question he blank stares sometimes or smiles and changes the subject.  Its avoidance because if you ask him to read a word he doesnt know, he hesitates sometimes.  Its like he doesn't want to be wrong.  I know thats an ASD thing too

    He did the same thing with numbers.  He could count to 39 by the time he was 2.5.  He could actually count higher but tended to mix a few numbers up-- like skipping the 60s and moving to 70s.  

    Another common special interest. There used to be a mom here whose 2 year old could count past 100 while he drew the letters in the air with his finger. Sometimes young kids who do this seem to almost look up while they count. DS told me when he was younger that he could "see" numbers in his head- he was retrieving from memory by visualizing them.

    With numbers, it's important to make sure he understands one:one corespondence, greater than/less than and ordination.
    He does understand what numbers are bigger because if I say 5 more minutes-- he might say no, 10 more minutes.  If I say one cookie, he may say 3 cookies. 

    He also learned the entire 50 states in 3 weeks-- could take each puzzle piece--tell you the name of the state and lay it on the floor exactly where it went-- when he was 2 years 9 months old.  I imagine he just has this amazing photographic memory that lends itself well to learning this rote stuff so easily. Not sure if you saw my post a few days ago, but he sang the alphabet backwords for fun and only skipped "H"

    Strong rote memory is a common ASD thing. There have been times when DS dazzled me with his rote memory- like telling a cashier our phone number when he was not quite two because he'd heard me give it. Or telling me the tag numbers of out neighbor's car and truck 3 years after we moved away.
    We stream Curious George and he could tell you the episode number and title of a show hw watched a month ago when it flashes on the screen for about 3 seconds.  Its so crazy

    What is the hardest part to wrap my head around is the fact we still struggle with him understanding what we say to him.  He gets better everyday-- but its hard for him.

    Auditory processing is a work in progress well into puberty. All little kids struggle to some degree with discrimination, attention and memory. Some kids, especially those who have LD issues, ADHD, SPD or ASD, will struggle even more than their peers.
    That is good to know.  I can tell he understands me better, but then I think about the test his SLP gave him that put his receptive language in the 4th% for four year olds and 12th% for expressive.  I am sure that test is not perfect but for that day with that test, that is how well he could do 

    The reason I started this post was that he is literally reading so well- I know mostly by mass memorization, but I feel like this may help me get his comprehension improved. 

    It may give you another channel to purpose to strengthen the areas where he isn't so strong. It's a common gambit in teaching kids with learning differences to approach it with a "multisensory" strategy. But if he has CAPD/weak auditory processing, giving him more visual support for communicating will help him. Graphic organizers, lists, etc. Meantime, work on his listening skills by giving them more practice. Read aloud instead of allowing screen time. 

    We have TONS of books.  I have been a music teacher for the past 11 years and education is very important to me.  He has lots of books, puzzles, educational games, and stuff that OT recommended.  I spend a lot of time researching toys/books.  I personally didn't know if anyone had success using one of the books I mentioned that is geared specifically for hyperlexics or not.

    Not sure why you mentioned the books. Most of us here are pretty invested in our kids' educations. We get it.

    But I'm not sure what driving the hyperlexia thing? Some three year olds read because they've cracked the code and are able to understand the material presented on their cognitive and emotional level. Some of them will go onto be talented students, some are just precoscious and will be in the middle of the pack by middle school. It's hard to say.

    As I recall, you are married to a man who can't wrap his mind around the possibility of an ASD dx. I'm sure you know hyperlexia is a common comorbid to ASD, but ASD would be the primary presenting dx. Are you hoping to get the ASD help you need by "treating" hyperlexia? Are you hoping to use this as a ticket of admission to the dev pedi where you'll get the ASD dx if appropriate for him? A dev pedi would consider the reading as part of a workup; s/he might even have a psychologist do some testing to get you some idea of where he is academically at this point, IMHO, the ASD elephant in the room is a lot more worthy of your consideration than reading at 3.
    My books comment was for ABColeslaw who mentioned she was a reading specialist.  I have been reading this board for a few years, everyone here does a lot with their kids ABColeslaw is a lurker that mentioned reading was probably the best thing I could be doing with DS.  the comment was not directed to you.

    DH has bipolar and he wants to wait until DS is going to kinder to get dx'd to make sure its as accurate as possible -- he thought for the longest time DS would outgrow it.  We had a bad experience with EI (it is run through our school district- the one I work for) and DH started questioning everything more.  DS has been in private speech for over two years and OT for about 18 months and vision for about 5 months.

    DH actually told me about the Seinfeld article.  he is a big fan and I think it hit him that it could be more common than he wants to admit.  DH could have written that article that says autism is a band-wagon DX and that people just want to call their quirky kids ASD because its cool.  Cool like ADD was when we were growing up.  He calls the over-diagnosis a sickness and culture problem.  He says, can't kids just be weird and have weird parents?  he says the over-diagnosis is an insult to the kids that actually have in his words "real-ass-autism" and he says they are funneling services and dollars away from kids that can benefit.  He is also in the mindset to let people use EI that can not afford private therapy and not double dip. 

    In our state, you can double dip-- private and EI.  My husband says we can afford it and should let others use it that can't.  We tried EI for 5 months at my pleading because I figured DS could use all the help he could- even by double dipping.  It was terribly disorganized and a joke that we stopped when he aged out and declined using the 3-5 year old program.  I can not speak to everyone's EI or even other's experience in my district, but it was not good.

    I only listed my husband's feelings on this to illustrate where he is coming from and how that impacts how we are going about DS's therapies-- hopefully did not insult anyone on here because that is clearly not what I am trying to do.  DH is jaded from misdiagnosis of himself growing up (as I have talked about at length on here).  

    So to answer your other question, he reads words in isolation-- without a picture or anything to give a context clue, as well as sentences at a reasonable speed that a kinder would probably read.  He loves it.  

    Great. It soulds like he's an early reader.

    We made a joke when he was around a year old that he was reading because his favorite book at my parent's house was a stupid-- pictureless operation manual from the cable company.  He would stare at each page and then turn the page and stare some more.  Little did I know then, he was actually studying it.

    Cute.

    I wouldn't spend so much bandwidth on this until he's closer to school age and it matters. He could just be reading with the level of comprehension expected of a three. Sometimes kids who read well for their age delve into books that are beyond them in terms of emotional content and struggle to comprehend because of their relative immaturity. Kids on spectrum often struggle with fiction once they hit middle school and themes become more character driven and complex. 

    I'd work on the auditory stuff if you feel that's weak- a good dev pedi will consider this as well, btw. One risk, going forward is if his processing interferes with his learning style. If he's that rare auditory learner and he has weak auditory processing, learning will be more challenging though a multisensory approach should be effective. 

    I have been in touch with my school district's Autism program and am getting the ball rolling on what they need from me before he enrolls for kinder.  He is 4 but a summer baby so we are going to wait until age 6.  They would like to see him evaluated for speech by their SLP and go from there. They may be able to enroll him in speech because he qualifies for the 3-5 program by age.

     They only know him from what i have explained.  they are encouraging me to go ahead and get him evaluated by a dev pedi.  DH is ok with it as long as he doesn't have to go.  I guess that is better than saying he won't speak to me again-- like he said last time.  Baby steps.  I technically have two years to figure this all out before he goes to school.  I just know wait times can suck



     
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