Hyperlexia

Background

Hugo is a 14-year-old boy with high grade autistic spectrum disorder (Asperger’s syndrome), who attends a Special School. The Local Education Authority is implementing an inclusion policy for students with disabilities and special needs, and the education officers are in discussion with his teachers and his parents about whether he should be moved to a mainstream school. To assist in these deliberations, Hugo was assessed on LASS. The results are shown in Figure 12.

Figure 12. Hugo – a case of hyperlexia.

Interpretation of LASS 11-15 results

Hugo is clearly of low ability (Reasoning; centile 9) but his rote memory (Mobile) is good (centile 62) and his ability to read nonwords is quite astounding (Nonwords; centile 90). However, his profile conforms to that of a hyperlexic reader, i.e. Hugo can decode text, read aloud superficially well and can recognise words within his rather limited vocabulary, but he understands very little of what he is reading. This is shown by the very poor Sentence Reading score (centile 5). Hugo’s good rote memory also helps him to spell fairly well, but he cannot use those words in a meaningful context when writing. 

Educational recommendations

It was decided to try Hugo in a mainstream secondary school, providing him with a support assistant in the classroom to help him deal with the work, and a number of computer support techniques were also put in place. The rebuses and speech in Co:Writer6 could help to keep Hugo’s mind on track, especially if linked with prompt grids from Co:Writer6 or WriteOnline. If he has good story ideas, as many Asperger’s students do, he could be encouraged to relate his story onto tape and then transcribe it into Co:Writer6 later. Use of talking books (e.g. Read Right Away) would help to develop his reading comprehension, with interesting and absorbing stories.