Hyperlexia and neurodevelopmental conditions

Table of Contents

Summary

Hyperlexia can be a sign of a neurodevelopmental condition. It is often found with autism. We still don't know enough about these links. A child may read early and have no developmental issues. If you have any concerns, contact your GP or health professional.

Is hyperlexia a sign of a neurodevelopmental condition?

  • We don’t know if hyperlexia is usually part of a neurodevelopmental condition or if it can occur alone.
  • If you have any concerns about a child contact your GP or health visitor.
  • Autism is most often linked to hyperlexia (Ostrolenk et al. 2017).
  • Not all hyperlexic children are autistic. 
  • Researchers (Cohen et al. 1997, Yokochi 2000) found hyperlexia traits with other conditions, such as West Syndrome.

How many autistic children are hyperlexic?

  • One study estimated that 1 in 5 autistic children may also be hyperlexic (20.7%, Grigorenko et al. 2002).
  • Another study estimated that 1 in 16 autistic children may be hyperlexic (6.6%, Burd et al. 1985). This used a stricter definition.

Why are autism and hyperlexia linked?

  • Studies found autistic people process more visual information than average (Remington et al. 2012). Hyperlexic people have good pattern recognition. These may be linked.

What is the number of hyperlexic children in the UK?

We don’t know the number of children who are hyperlexic. No major studies have measured this in the population.

However, if up to 1 in 5 autistic children are hyperlexic (Grigorenko et al. 2002). That is approximately 90,000 hyperlexic and autistic children in the UK.

Hypernumeracy, dyscalculia and dyslexia

Hypernumeracy or hypercalculia

Children with hypercalculia have excellent math skills. It is similar to hyperlexia, but an ability in maths. 

Dyscalculia

Children with dyscalculia have difficulty with maths. 

NHS Cambridge University Hospital: dyscalculia

Dyslexia

This is a learning difficulty with reading, writing and spelling. It’s estimated that up to 1 in 10 people in the UK have dyslexia. So it is quite common. Some studies have compared dyslexia and hyperlexia (Cohen et al. 1997).

NHS section on dyslexia