Since early 1993, our family has been coping, working and, yes, succeeding, in dealing with our oldest son Nate’s hyperlexia. Now almost 20, Nate has achieved what many thought was impossible: he has just finished his freshman year of college at SUNY-Cobleskill, with respectable grades too!
Hyperlexia is on the autism spectrum and literally means “too many words.” It is marked by a precocious ability to read, coupled with an inability to conduct real conversation and, dare I say it, “normal” social interaction. Fortunately for us he was diagnosed at 3 1/2 years old, through the Center for Speech and Language Disorders in Elmhurst, IL. Through their great work in twice a week sessions (CSLD was a short drive from our Lincolnshire home in suburban Chicago), we’ve been able to draw out Nate’s vast intelligence.
That’s not to say it’s been easy. Oh no, it’s not to say that at all. Nate is not independent, though he seeks that more and more. Nate has strong support at home from his parents and two brothers and still needs a one on one aide to bring him to school and back.
Mission of Complex? That’s typical Nate word play on “Mission Accomplished,” and one of our favorite bits of Nate-speak. What I hope this blog can do is give help and solace to parents struggling with younger kids posed with similar challenges. I know that when Nate was 9 or 10, we were desperate for stories, any stories, of a 20-year-old like Nate. There weren’t many, let only ones that ended up with a kid in college! How we got here from there is a fascinating story, at times frustrating, at times funny, at all times rewarding.
Our family has never presented ourselves as inspirational people, or as experts in autism or hyperlexia. Yet, we find ourselves living in the midst of an inspiring story, with much to offer. The Mission of Complex blog will share stories, memories, paths taken and, hopefully, serve as a sounding board for families and professionals who are looking for fellow travelers who are a bit further on up the road.