"I have some concern about how the diagnosis of “autism” is continually broadened and diluted to where some children are given that diagnosis prematurely and in error. In my work with children with savant syndrome, I noticed that some children who read early – hyperlexia – were being called “autistic” when, as time went on, their autistic-like symptoms disappeared and they turned out to be very normal, very bright children." -Darold Treffert from his article "Hyperlexia: Children Who Read Early"
"The real issue with the mis-diagnosis of autism in some children who read early or speak late is that certain education and treatment decisions are made inappropriately. Beyond that the families of these children are worried and discouraged needlessly for a long period of time until the “autism” (which was never Autistic Disorder) fades." -Darold Treffert #hyperlexia3awareness #hyperlexiaIIIawareness
The rule of thumb for many parents of children with hyperlexia is:
WHEN IN DOUBT, WRITE IT OUT!
(If it isn’t written, it may not exist)
"This third group of children who read early present with a startling precocious ability to read, well beyond that expected at the child’s chronological age. The hyperlexia is coupled with an intense fascination with letters or numbers. Yet in spite of the intense preoccupation and ability with words, there are, correspondingly, significant problems in understanding verbal language. Comprehension of that which is masterfully read is often poor, and thinking is concrete and literal. There is difficulty with, and paucity of, abstract thinking. There may be some behaviors and symptoms commonly associated with autism spectrum disorders as well including echolalia (repeating rather than initiating conversation), pronoun reversals, intense need to keep routines (obsession with sameness), auditory or other sensory hypersensitivity, specific intense fears, strong auditory & visual memory, and selective listening with the appearance of suspected deafness. In this group of children these latter “autistic” traits and behaviors are only “autistic-like” however, mirroring those seen in autistic disorder itself. However, in contrast to those in Autistic Disorder, these “autistic-like” symptoms fade over time as the child “outgrows” his or her “autism” as some parents have described that transition. I call this group Hyperlexia III."- Darold Treffert from his article "Hyperlexia: Reading Precociousness or Savant Skill?"
Outgrowing Autism? A Closer Look at Children Who Read Early or Speak Late
Some of these children may never have had autism in the first place, despite being diagnosed with it
By Darold A. Treffert on December 9, 2015
All the following links on this page are articles written by Dr. Treffert
When a flair for reading is mistaken for autism
BY DAROLD TREFFERT / 8 MARCH 2016
"I noted that while each of these children had been given a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder along the way, the course of that condition, and more importantly outcome, was very different and much more positive than more typical autistic spectrum disorder, Asperger's or PDD/NOS or whatever diagnosis had been assigned. Essentially these children did 'outgrow' those more ominous diagnoses and were now generally very bright and successful neurotypical children, adolescents or adults. What had occurred is that in the evaluation process there was the failure to sort out "autistic like" symptoms from Autistic Spectrum Disorder" -Darold Treffert from his article "Oops! When "Autism" Isn t Autistic Disorder: Hyperlexia and Einstein Syndrome"
"Caution needs to be used before applying that diagnosis to children with hyperlexia as a presenting symptom. The need for that caution stems from the pervasive, mistaken notion that hyperlexia in a very young child is always linked to autism. When a diagnosis or label of autism is prematurely and erroneously applied to a child who may be more appropriately identified as having hyperlexia III,
it produces much unwarranted stress, burden, and worry for parents and leads to mistaken predictions regarding prognosis." -Darold Treffert from his article "Hyperlexia III: Separating ‘Autistic-like’ Behaviors from Autistic Disorder; Assessing Children who Read Early or Speak Late"
Hyperlexia: Children Who Read Early
by Darold Treffert MD on JANUARY 13, 2015 in BEHAVIORAL HEALTH, KNOW & GO TOPICS
Dr. Treffert One of the most valuable lessons I learned from a wise and seasoned professor in medical school was, “The first step in treatment is to make the correct diagnosis.”Nowhere in medicine at present is that sage advice more applicable than in making the diagnosis of “autism.” While Autistic Disorder certainly does exist (I met my first such patient in medical school in 1956) such a weighty diagnosis needs to be applied only very carefully.