Why is my 3-year-old able to READ but NOT Communicate ?

Updated: May 24, 2020

I have heard this question a number of times and have also seen this in some children who come in for assessments or attending our Early Intervention Program.

Some common statements by parents or our teachers who have noticed this are;

“My son was so taken up by the letters of the alphabet from as early as I can recall. Now at age 3, he loves picking up books or flashcards to read.
He is able to read almost all single words that an 8-year-old can. However, what confuses me is that when I try to engage him in a conversation based on what he is reading, he is not responsive.”

“My student was able to read books made for children aged 7 to 8. The thing that puzzled me though was that he seemed to not really understand the books he read.
So I tested his comprehension ability. When I showed him pictures of objects that were not labelled, he simply kept quiet and looked around for other activities to do. So I then showed him pictures of the same objects which this time was labelled with words. He started to look keen and excited and was able to name all the picture accurately. "

The reason for this could be because the child has hyperlexia.

What is hyperlexia?

“Hyperlexia is precocious and unexpected reading skills and abilities in children way beyond their chronological age” (Treffert. D, 2013)

Although Hyperlexia can occur in any child, it is quite often seen in children with Autism. This is especially so when it is paired with communication problems and delays in other areas.

Children with hyperlexia appear to have the ability to decode words that are very advanced for their age.

For further reading.....check out this site


Darold Treffert - https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/mind-guest-blog/oops-when-autism-isnt-autistic-disorder-hyperlexia-and-einstein-syndrome/


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