Frankie Joseph

We want to introduce you to our inspiration for creating this website.  His name is Frankie and he was born on July 24, 2010.  Frankie was my daughter’s first child and my second grandchild.  Frankie was the happiest baby.  He hit all of his milestones on time.  He never fit the MCAT checklist that pediatrician’s use to help determine autism in babies and toddlers.  His only milestone that he missed was talking.  We couldn’t understand why he wasn’t talking.  My daughter was hoping he would just be a late talker and he would catch up.  But I knew something was wrong when I realized he had a very large vocabulary and could label almost everything yet was unable to put a sentence together.  He never called us by name. Never a Ma, Da or Mema, even though he knew these words, he didn’t know how to use them. This was a very scary time for me.  At a much later date when reading an article by Dr.Treffert it stated that these words would be one of the last words used correctly by a Hyperlexic III child. If only I had found this article earlier in time it would have eased most of my stress and concern for my Frankie.  This is the main reason we chose to do this blog. I would love to help other parents of Hyperlexic III children get the correct help they need. Also to share the hope I received when finding Dr.Treffert’s informative articles on this subject.  About 2 years 10 months, Frankie was reading words from his books without being taught to do so. It was amazing!  Yet when he wanted to go outdoors we would tell him to say “open the door”  and he would, but he couldn’t seem to remember what to say the next time around. Because of his wonderful reading skills we got the idea that maybe he would understand it more if we wrote it down. Sure enough when we wrote it on a strip of paper and taped it to the door and him reading it but one time, he was finally able to remember to say open the door the next time around.  Something in the Hyperlexic child’s brain clicks when reading the written word that does not click in the spoken one. Remember always, if you write, write, write they will read, read, read.

At first we didn’t realize that reading so early was anything strange.  We just didn’t know enough.  We unfortunately wasted some time with speech therapists who didn’t really know how to help Frankie or what may be wrong with him. At three years, 3 months we finally found a speech therapist who diagnosed him as being on the spectrum with expressive/receptive disorder. She was the one who knew from his reading and visual capabilities that he was Hyperlexic, but even she did not put the emphasis on it that we now know it deserved.

Frankie slowly progressed.  He did however develop some “autistic-like” tendencies.  He would sim in the form of humming like he didn’t have the words to fill his thoughts.  He didn’t like to transition. He was very self-directed.  But he was always so loving, fun and outgoing as well.  He just didn’t fit the typical autistic child.

We were hoping for more progress during that year, but it didn’t come very quickly. He entered school at 3 years, 7 months because it took time to get him tested by the school district (we are in NJ).  He did not do well that year in school for the most part.  His behavior was an issue and of course they felt like he wasn’t being social enough.

Our breakthrough truly came when Frankie entered Pre-K 4.  His IEP meeting in October didn’t go very well and I decided to really look into what Hyperlexia really was.  I thank God everyday that I did.  I came across some Youtube videos of a little boy named Evan with Hyperlexia who was following the same timeline as Frankie.  I was thrilled to see that he continued to get better and better.  Then I came across Dr. Darold Treffert’s articles and website. I finally saw what Hyperlexia III was.  Everything clicked.

Based on Dr. Treffert’s articles, we compared Frankie to his description of Hyperlexia III. This is how we began to discover and believe that there is in fact a Hyperlexia III and finally a place Frankie fit in.