Autism and Hyperlexia

Martos Perez J, Ayuda Pascual R.
Centro Leo Kanner, Valencia, Espa a.

Introduction. Hyperlexia is described in children who present alterations or retardation in development and is frequently characterised by their teaching themselves to read at an early age.This ability to decode words does not correlate with their intellectual level and can course with different degrees of mental retardation.

It is always accompanied by difficulty in establishing social relationships.

Autism is a disorder that is prototypical of the autistic spectrum disorders (ASD), which are essentially characterised by qualitative alterations in social interaction, in communication and language development, and in the presence of a limited repertory of interests, accompanied by stereotyped or peculiar responses.

Method. The presence of hyperlexia in autistic children is more frequent than in other development disorders.

This phenomenon is linked with the increased skills involving visual memory, visual discrimination and motivation/interest towards visually represented material that is to be found in people with autism.

However, not all autistic individuals present hyperlexia and not all children with hyperlexia present autism, although evidence shows that hyperlexia is a phenomenon that is observed with greater frequency in autism and in ASD.

Conclusion. Hyperlexia, understood as meaning a little island of ability in children with autism and ASD, poses a number of question and represents an important challenge in neuropsychological research in this population.

PMID: 12599104 [PubMed – in process]

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