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Hyperlexia

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School support section:

Advice for the classroom
School issues
Books and articles
Programmes, games & software
Useful addresses & websites

Home support section:

What is hyperlexia?
How will this affect my child?
How can I help?
Where can I find out more?

School support:

What is hyperlexia?

The hyperlexic child is a competent reader in relation to reading accuracy, but usually has a significantly lower level of comprehension. This discrepancy is evident when children with hyperlexia are asked questions on what they have read – they have read well but without apparent understanding. Their abilities with the underlying mechanics of literacy (reading and spelling) significantly exceed levels of comprehension.

Advice for the classroom:

  • Developing Comprehension:
    Look for every opportunity to encourage comprehension, and engagement with the ideas in a text.

    Use interactive approaches that involve a question-and-answer teaching style – this can help the pupil to develop understanding.

    Encourage all activities and discussions that will develop conceptual reasoning, and logical thought.

    Try to concentrate on developing concepts – this can be done through putting items into groups and categories and explaining why they are a distinctive category.

  • Motivation and Self-esteem:
    Try to keep academic pressures and demands at a level where the pupil can see him/herself achieving them.

    Let the pupil know you are aware of his/her difficulty, and that you are sympathetic – but that you have high expectations.

    Be specially generous with praise and cautious with criticism. Praise can be a natural motivator as long as the child feels the praise is genuine and deserved. It is important to let the pupil know why he/she is being praised rather than just to provide praise. In a behavioural reward system with extrinsic rewards such as stickers or points, the child can easily see why he/she is being praised. This can be an effective motivator, as long as the rewards are meaningful and appropriate.

School issues

Ensure that all the pupil's teachers know about the difficulty and understand its implications. Encourage reading material that is at an appropriate conceptual level – the pupil will have little chance of developing comprehension and conceptual processing if his/her reading material is at the higher level implied by his/her decoding and oral reading skills.

Books & articles:

Aaron, P. G. (1989) Dyslexia and Hyperlexia. (Kluwer).

Aaron, P. G. (1994) ‘Differential diagnosis of reading disabilities’, in Hales, G. (Ed.) Dyslexia Matters (Whurr) – a useful chapter on hyperlexia.

Programmes, Games and Software:

An excellent range of activities and games to aid word access and expressive language can be found on: http://members.tripod.com/~Caroline_Bowen/wordretrieval.html

Games to Improve Reading Levels, by Jim McNicholas and Joe McEntree (1991), consists of 74 games to help in the development of reading skills. The games are categorised into topics such as directional orientation, auditory skills, visual skills, vocabulary, word attack skills, reading for meaning, and the development of phonic skills. Published by NASEN.

Paired reading can be done at home, and actively involves the parent and the child. Keith Topping, from The Centre for Paired Learning (see Useful Websites), suggests that paired reading is a very successful method and involves the parent (tutor) and the child (tutee) reading aloud at the same time. It is however a specific, structured technique.
Both parent and child read all the words out together, with the tutor modulating their speed to match that of the child, while giving a good model of competent reading. The child must read every word and when the child says a word wrong, the tutor just tells the child the correct way to say the word. The child then repeats the word correctly and the pair carry on.
Saying ‘no’ and giving phonic and other prompts is forbidden. However, tutors do not jump in and correct the child straight away; rather, the tutor pauses and gives the child four or five seconds to see if they will put it right by themselves. It is intended only for use with individually chosen, highly motivating, non-fiction or fiction books which are above the independent readability level of the tutee. One of the important aspects of paired reading, and indeed any reading activities, is praise – the parent should look pleased when the child succeeds using this technique.

Peer tutoring is a technique similar to paired reading, but using another, older, child as the tutor. A recent project on peer tutoring using paired reading in primary schools in Scotland (the ‘Read On’ project) showed gains larger than would normally be expected. The Read On project website (see below) includes many free resources and data on evaluation. A video resource pack for peer tutoring is Paired Reading and Peer Tutoring.
The linked Thinking Reading Writing website associated with Keith Topping has many free resources for paired reading, thinking, writing and spelling. Further information is available from the Centre for Paired Reading website (also at www.dundee.ac.uk/psychology/TRW), where details of Keith Topping’s book Thinking Reading Writing: A Practical Guide to Paired Learning with Peers, Parents & Volunteers (Continuum) can be found.

Visualizing and Verbalizing for Language Comprehension and Thinking – developed by Nancy Bell (1991), this programme provides a comprehensive procedure for the use of visualising to promote and enhance reading and comprehension. The stages include picture imagery, word imagery, single sentence, multiple sentence, whole paragraph and whole page. Additionally, the programme provides an understanding of the functions of the gestalt hemisphere and useful strategies for classroom teaching. It is published by Academy of Reading Publications, Paso Robles, Calif.

Useful addresses & websites:

Ann Arbor Publishers, PO Box 1, Belford, Northumberland NE70 7JX; website: www.annarbor.co.uk, provide a considerable amount of resources, most of which focus directly on literacy skills. For example, in relation to written expression, the Teaching Written Expression resource may be useful. This programme offers a theoretical framework and a practical step-by-step guide to developing sentences, constructing paragraphs, editing and developing a ‘sense of audience’.

Barrington Stoke Ltd, 10 Belford Terrace, Edinburgh EH4 3DQ; website: www.barringtonstoke.co.uk, provide a range of books for reluctant readers, including teenage fiction.

Better Books, 3 Paganel Drive, Dudley DY1 4AZ; website: www.betterbooks.co.uk

Paired Reading and Peer Tutoring:
www.dundee.ac.uk/psychology/ReadOn – the Read On project website, with many free resources and data on evaluation.
www.dundee.ac.uk/psychology/TRW – the Thinking Reading Writing and Centre for Paired Reading website associated with Keith Topping, with many free resources for paired reading, thinking, writing and spelling. Summaries of this broader work are available on the Scottish Council for Research in Education website (www.scre.ac.uk/spotlight/index.html – Spotlights 82 and 83).
www.dundee.ac.uk/psychology/c_p_lear.html – the Centre for Paired Learning website contains information and details of linked publications.

http://home.ican.net
www.geocities.com
www.hyperlexia.org/

Home support:

What is hyperlexia?

The hyperlexic child is a competent reader in relation to reading accuracy, but usually has a significantly lower level of comprehension. This discrepancy is evident when children with hyperlexia are asked questions on what they have read – they have read well but without apparent understanding. Their abilities with the underlying mechanics of literacy (reading and spelling) significantly exceed levels of comprehension.

How will this affect my child?

Your child will give the impression of being academically more competent than he/she is – because he/she will be able to read aloud fluently and well, it is easy to assume that his/her understanding is at the same level. This can lead to academic expectations that may be too high.

How can I help?

Look for every opportunity to encourage comprehension, and try to explain as many things as possible – encourage your child to show that he/she can do a task.

Your child will probably learn better by doing rather than listening.

Use interactive approaches that involve a question and answer and try to extend his/her answers – try to make this casual and relaxed. This can relate to leisure activities as well as school work.

The Thinking Reading Writing website (www.dundee.ac.uk/psychology/TRW) has many free resources for paired reading, thinking, writing and spelling. Summaries of this broader work are available on the Scottish Council for Research in Education website (www.scre.ac.uk/spotlight/index.html – Spotlights 82 and 83).

Further information is available from the Centre for Paired Reading website (also at www.dundee.ac.uk/psychology/TRW), where details of the publication Thinking Reading Writing: A Practical Guide to Paired Learning with Peers, Parents and Volunteers, by Keith Topping (2001) (Continuum), can be found. The Centre for Paired Learning website is www.dundee.ac.uk/psychology/c_p_lear.html and contains information and details of linked publications.

The series of books for reluctant readers from Barrington Stoke Ltd (10 Belford Terrace, Edinburgh EH4 3DQ; website: www.barringtonstoke.co.uk) can be beneficial in relation to motivation and can help children with difficulties read more at home. These books, by highly experienced authors, have been written with the reluctant reader in mind and they can also help children of all ages with reading fluency, reading comprehension and developing processing speed.

Where can I find out more?

Some of the books on dyslexia have a section on hyperlexia – such as Gavin Reid’s (2003) Dyslexia: A Practitioner’s Handbook (Wiley).

A more specific book is by P. G. Aaron (1989) Dyslexia and Hyperlexia (Kluwer); Aaron also wrote a chapter on ‘Differential diagnosis of reading disabilities’, in Hales, G. (Ed.) (1994) Dyslexia Matters (Whurr).

Hyperlexia Handbook: A Guide to Intervention Strategies and Resources, edited by Susan Martins Miller, is available via Amazon.com

Visualizing and Verbalizing for Language Comprehension and Thinking – this programme by Nancy Bell provides a comprehensive procedure for the use of visualising to promote and enhance reading and comprehension. The stages outlined by Bell include picture imagery, word imagery, single sentence, multiple sentence, whole paragraph and whole page. Additionally, the programme provides an understanding of the functions of the gestalt hemisphere and useful strategies for classroom teaching.

Some useful websites:
http://home.ican.net
www.geocities.com
www.hyperlexia.org/

 

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