Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Reader in my Room

The Reader is the name of a great movie starring Kate Winslet who won an academy award for her role as a former Nazi convicted in a war crimes trial.

Go watch this if you have time---it's a great movie, but now I want to tell you about someone else.

I  have a kindergarten child on my caseload that I could call "The Reader"----he should be a poster child for the American Hyperlexia Association.   His word reading is extremely high, spelling perfect, conventions such as capital letters and periods errorless.  He can memorize stories, scripts, and videos.  On the other hand, basic communication is difficult for him; social skills are lacking; tantrums abound.  Although he reads the words with great expression, answering an oral question is hard. He is currently in an Exceptional Children separate classroom, in case you are curious.

Since inclusion is the way to go with most kids, I've started taking him into a regular kindergarten classroom for guided reading and have been pleasantly surprised with how well he behaves, navigates the classroom, gets his books, and comes to the reading group.  The regular education teacher does a great job modifying her questions to him, and eliciting words using fill ins and visuals.  Once the reading group is finished, I take the same book, and use it with the child during a language therapy session (on a different day).  The teacher then uses it again for a re-read, and his ability to participate in the group improves.

Yesterday, in guided reading, the group read a book (level C if you know Fountas and Pinnell) named "Using Tools".  The child really needed some extension activities with this, so today, he and I wrote our own 'tool book'.  Actually he wrote it himself, using an app called Book Creator.  For a child who really has severe communication impairments, he was effortlessly able to write a book above what typical kindergarten students can write..... in ten minutes. The sentences he wrote were different than the original guided reader---not copied in the least and had no carrier phrase, although they did follow the same syntactical pattern.
Take a look!   He is also a skilled typist, and figured out the app instantly.  I was amazed, and so was the regular kindergarten teacher.  She immediately started talking about increasing inclusion time and I couldn't agree more!
 I have screenshots of his book, along with a couple of other images.....

I cued slightly... (wrapping what?)

He didn't know this ancient technology. Spelling was perfect though!

Creating the story with Book Creator

Book Creator on the iPad, the printed book, and the leveled reader which started this.

For my speech friends, any exciting treatment ideas out there for kids with hyperlexia?  What are your thoughts on inclusion?



  1. My son is hyperlexic kindergarten student. He is in regular classes. He has 5 support teachers that take him out of the class room setting 30 minutes a day (each has a specific day). For a minute, I thought you were describing my son. His reading and spelling abilities are incredible. His ability to recall factual information is uncomparable. However, has no idea how to answer w questions. He has a hard time with transitions that are outside his normal schedule within the regular classroom. Social stories and the individual time with the support teachers have helped with calming him down. We have gone from visiting the principle daily to a routine when my son gets anxious. He has a quiet table in his classroom with a stress ball. He also has a "bouncy cushion and foot bungy" for his regular classroom seat. If you have any suggestions on what else we can be doing with him, I am open for ideas. To answer your question about inclusion, we think it is wonderful. 90% of the time our son behaves like those without this superability; the other 10% of his time I want to crawl into his brain to see what sets him off.

    1. Thanks for your comment. It sounds like you are on the right track--with good speech/language therapy, accommodations in the classroom, pre-teaching, schedules, and peer role models, he'll gradually acquire better language comprehension skills. I know it's not a quick sprint, though.