EARLY Reading Skills in Children with ASD: Giftedness or Impairment?
7% of our clinical population with ASD in Tunisia have early reading abilities, also referred to as hyperlexia
Most of parents and some professionals often consider this skill as a gift and reinforce it, whether some others consider it as an impairment and try to reduce it.
Objectives: Our objective was to correlate early reading skills with some major traits of autism.
61 children aged 4-11 years old with documented early reading skills through a thorough assessment of reading and developmental levels of language and intelligence, were further assessed for systematization (Empathy Questionnaire/Systemization Questionnaire EQ-SQ), sensory abnormalities (Sensory Profile 2) and stereotyped behaviors(Repetitive Behaviour Questionnaire RBQ)
Reading scores were significantly associated with systematization quotient (p=0.003) but not with empathy quotient.
They were also significantly associated with RBQ global score, especially with the Sameness dimension (p<10-3)
Early reading skills were associated to the ‘Sensitive/Sensor’ profile (0.049) according to the SP2 scores, and more specifically to visual hypersensoriality (0.04)
It seems that early reading skills in ASD correspond, rather than a talent, to a stereotyped hypersystemizing behavior underpinned by sensory abnormalities.