Friday, July 30, 2010


I am always amazed by Ryan's memory. Not only does he memorize every word of every tv show he watches and every book we read, but he can recall these things, in perfect detail, long after he has seen/heard them.

The other night he became very insistent that he needed "yellow star." After much thought and investigation, we realized he was talking about the second hand on the clock in his bedroom (which had a tiny banana on it, but hey, close enough), which he broke off maybe 9 months ago (while reenacting the Curious George episode in which George keeps changing the time on his clock so he won't have to go to bed).

This morning he asked if he could watch It's A Big Big World on PBS Kids. He hasn't seen that show in over a year; it's not even on the air anymore.

Later in the day, he referenced his favorite Sesame Street episode - "Texas Telly and the Golden Triangle of Destiny" - from last season.

One characteristic of hyperlexia is "strong auditory memory" coupled with weak auditory processing and expressive language.  The more I read about hyperlexia, the more the diagnosis seems to fit.  Ryan's speech therapist gave us a hyperlexia symptom check-list; we checked off 10 of 11 items.

I was thinking about making an appointment with a developmental pediatrician to get a formal diagnosis, but there is a potential pitfall: a diagnosis of hyperlexia instead of PDD-NOS might limit Ryan's service options within the CSE system.  I don't know if the school district classifies hyperlexia as a spectrum disorder - some say it is an ASD, others do not.  If they do not, and if a doctor changed Ryan's official diagnosis (rather than saying he has PDD and hyperlexia) Ryan might not be eligible to attend the special kindergarten program he's slated to enter, even though he would obviously be lost without benefit from its services.

Since slapping this label on Ryan wouldn't benefit him or change his course of treatment in any way, it's probably not worth while to have some doctor write new jargon all over his chart.  But I think I know the answer.


  1. I personally wouldn't do it. We've discussed this before but an additional label of hyperlexia is not going to change his course of therapy and a PDD label makes a stronger case for services. Hyperlexia is just another little cluster of characteristics (many of which kids on the spectrum have anyway). Obviously, it's up to you but as long as you're getting the services you want in the program you want, I wouldn't alter your paperwork.

  2. Knowing about your son's hyperlexia won't alter the services he's eligible for and it's not usually used as a diagnostic term, but it will help you and his teachers use his strengths in auditory memory and reading to promote communication.

    My son has hyperlexia and your description of your son sounds remarkably familiar. It is an amazing strength and will open many doors for your son! My son is entering a mainstream 1st grade class in the fall and is doing great.

    I write about life with hyperlexia at

    You might find you relate to some of what I write about there.

    Take care!

  3. Thanks, Christa! Oh, how I do relate...

  4. I'm inclined to agree with yours and Sara's instincts, M, but Crista's comment made me sit up.

    Having consulted with my lawyer on the subject of "reasonable accommodations" under ADA/EEO I can see the wisdom of not putting the services Capt. Awesome needs and is getting at risk by providing too-specific information.

    But with my (albeit short) experience teaching in public schools, I can definitely agree with Crista that more information is better when it comes to giving teachers everything they need to give the Captain their best.

    I guess I can't give any proper advice, but I can offer my faith in you and Stu that you will make the best choice for Capt. Awesome that you can.

  5. On a note unrelated to the end of the OP, though, the auditory memory story is fascinating. Captain Awesome's brain is incredible. Oh, the things he could do with that memory...


Keep it civil, people.