Hyperlexia

Harvey is a 9-year-old boy with high functioning autistic spectrum disorder (Asperger’s syndrome), who attends a Special School. The Local Education Authority are in discussion with his teachers and his parents about whether he should be moved to a mainstream school. To assist in these deliberations, Harvey was assessed on LASS 8–11. The results are shown in Figures 34a and 34b.

Harvey is clearly of low ability (Non-verbal reasoning: SAS 80; Verbal reasoning: SAS 85) but his auditory sequential memory (Mobile phone) is good and his ability to read nonwords is quite astounding (Funny words: SAS 118). However, his profile conforms to that of a hyperlexic reader, i.e. Harvey 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 (SAS 74). Harvey’s good rote memory also helps him to spell fairly well, but he cannot use those words in a meaningful context when writing.

It was decided to try Harvey in a mainstream primary 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 SymWriter2 could help to keep his mind on track, especially if linked with prompt grids from SymWriter2 or DocsPlus. Use of talking books would also help to develop his reading comprehension.

 

Figure 34a. Harvey – a case of hyperlexia

Figure 34b. Harvey – a case of hyperlexia