Hyperlexia is a condition, which interferes with speech, language and social interaction. It may be accompanied by unusual or “different” behaviours.

Children with Hyperlexia have an intense fascination with letters, numbers, patterns, and logos from a very young age and a precocious ability to read, spell and write much sooner than their peers. Hyperlexia was initially identified by Norman E. Silberberg and Margaret C. Silberberg (1967), who defined it as the precocious ability to read words without prior training, typically before the age of 5.

In the UK, Hyperlexia is not recognised as a diagnosis in its own right, and the majority of children affected will receive a diagnosis of Autism (ASC).

Hyperlexia is observed in children who demonstrate the following cluster of characteristics:

  • A precocious, self-taught ability to read words which appears before age 5, and/or an intense fascination with letters, numbers, logos, maps or patterns.
  • A Significant difficulty in understanding and developing oral language - Echolilia is Common
  • Unusual or different social skills whereby they may have difficulty interacting appropriately with peers and adults.


  Darold A. Treffert, MD (wisconsin medical society) reports that Hyperlexia can present itself in several ways
  • Hyperlexia Type I is the bright, neurotypical children who learn to read early. 
  • Hyperlexia Type II refers to the children with autism who seem to have hyperlexia as "a splinter skill." 
  • Hyperlexia Type III includes children who read early, do not fall on the autism spectrum, and show autistic-like symptoms that they eventually outgrow.
For further information on the three types of hyperlexia, we suggest reading his article.


Hyperlexic Children may develop the following "behaviours"

  • Form close relationships with chosen family members and/or friends.
  • Demonstrate the intent to communicate.
  • Learn to speak in a peculiar way - (echo or memorise the same sentence structure; echo speech of others; reverse pronouns.)
  • Listen selectively
  • Have difficulty understanding who? why? what? when? where? and how? questions
  • May rarely initiate social conversation or can struggle to continue a social conversation.
  • Think in literal terms and have difficulty with abstract concepts.
  • Possess very strong auditory and/or visual memories.
  • Have an intense need to develop or keep to routines in daily life. sometimes showing ritualistic and/or obsessive behaviours.
  • Have difficulty understanding and/or accepting changes and transitions.
  • Develop specific or unusual fears.
  • Display unusual sensitivities to sounds, odours, tastes or textures.
  • Exhibit self-stimulatory behaviours.

There are some very useful resorces to help support your Hyperlexic Child

These Facebook groups are a fantastic support network for parents