Let’s CHAT about Hyperlexia: Labeling and Describing

Mar 22, 2021 | Blog

Many hyperlexic learners (HxLs) have incredible capacity for memory that a neurotypical person can only dream of having. Due to their memory and their rote learning style, many HxLs have strong vocabulary and labeling abilities, especially for concrete items.  

Just as we use their decoding strength as a tool, we can also depend on their memory capacity when teaching new vocabulary and labels! 

Here are some great tools to help promote labeling around the home or classroom, or even when reading a book: 

  • Laminator 
  • Velcro 
  • Post –its 
  • White-board 
  • Speech vs. Thought bubble re-usable stickers 
  • Label Maker 

Around the Home: 

  • You can label items around the home (e.g. oven, drawers, bookshelf, refrigerator, etc). 
  • You can couple these labels with descriptions like “hot oven” or “cold, white refrigerator.” 
  • You can label bedrooms with their names like “Grandma’s bedroom” or “MY bedroom.” 
  • You can label areas like “living room” or “reading corner” or “regulation station.” 
  • You can add descriptive language to certain areas like “My bed. I go to sleep in my bed” or “Bookshelf. Books go on the bookshelf.” 


Around the Classroom: 

  • You can label activities or toys  (e.g. “trains” or “animals”).
  • You can label different learning areas or stations. If one area serves multiple purposes, be sure to label the area for the expected activity at the right time!
  • You can label different student or paperwork areas (e.g. “homework turn-in bin” or “backpack area”).  
  • You can add language to certain labels (e.g. “my desk: I sit here while the teacher is talking” or “Circle Time: I sit here during Calendar and Morning Meeting”). 


Reading a book:  

  • You can write the characters’ names above or over their pictures. The connection of name vs. label may not be independently created while reading for the HxL. For example, in the Clifford stories, writing both “Clifford” and “big red dog” over pictures of Clifford will help reinforce that that one picture or character may have multiple labels. 
  • You can write anaphoric labels too – e.g. writing “he” or “she” pronouns over character names to indicate who the pronouns may be referring to from the text. 
  • You can label the place or time based on the pictures or information from the text. For example, a text might state, “As the sun rose…” which we would want to label as “morning” or even “6am” to help reinforce comprehension. 
  • You can label feelings or emotions. 
  • You can label dialogue to make it clear who made the statement! 


You can also use labeling as a form of informal assessment. You can write a few labels out on flashcards, and see if the HxL can appropriately match the label with the correct toy or object. This kind of activity will assess if the HxL is attaching meaning to the words they are decoding! 

Here is a boom card by Miss Meg at Let’s Learn that is useful for assessing decoding with comprehension: CVC Word and Picture Matching 

Remember, not only can you label items with their concrete terms, but you can also label with descriptive terms, or even applicable scripts that we’ll discuss in the next blog!