For the love of the alphabet
A personal story from a parent
My son’s first words were the alphabet from A to Z. I called this site Alphabet Children after him, and the joy he got from the alphabet at the time. On a walk he read out the street signs and number plates of cars. A short walk would take ages but he really liked reading every single thing he saw, it made me realise how much of our world is full of symbols. He was completely self taught, we never pushed him. He was fascinated by any letter, word, number or sign.
I followed his lead and gave him alphabet toys, activities and whatever sparked his interest. We had fridge letters, alphabet spaghetti, alphabet cushions, alphabet cards, wooden numbers… everywhere! Despite having difficulty with fine motor control, his first drawings were writing numbers and letters. He was also great at recognising shapes and colours.
As a toddler we spent a lot of time singing the alphabet song, tracing numbers in the sand and doing ABC jigsaws. When he was 3 he liked to spell words with his alphabet blocks. He read his favourite children’s books like ‘chicka chicka boom boom; with anthromorphasised letters living in a tree. It was unusual compared to children his age.
I think it masked his speech delay, as professionals said that if he was reading he must be bright and must understand language. My son seemed to read more for the love of recognising the letters, rather than the meaning of the words. People didn’t always pick up on this.
Other people questioned whether it was wise to encourage his reading and letters, and that the hyperlexia might be an ‘obsession’ that was holding him back. Alternatively others thought it must mean he was very intelligent or had pushy parents teaching him to read. No professional that I was in contact knew about hyperlexia, or engaged with this interest. There was very little information out there.
At this time he also had severe language and developmental delays. He hated loud noises and had trouble with things like kicking or catching a ball. He was later diagnosed as autistic. Professionals would focus on whether he was playing ‘typically’. He didn’t play with cars, dolls or pretend games. He didn’t play with other children at all. However he was exploring the world and learning, just in a different way.
My son is now older and his interests have widened into other areas like Lego and music. Yet his ability to recognise patterns is still really good. It’s his super power!
Personal Story. Date created: 1/4/2021 Date reviewed: 1/5/2022