Let’s CHAT about Hyperlexia: Scripts

Mar 29, 2021 | Blog

Scripts are written language that we expect our HxL to use expressively (through spoken or signed language or via AAC). These are different from written expectations, written schedules, or written social narratives, as we want our HxLs to use these scripts to functionally communicate expressively. If necessary, you may choose a special font or colour to indicate when something written is intended to be used expressively.  

We often say to family members of hyperlexic individuals during consultations that they have taken on a few new roles. They are advocates, teachers, speech-language pathologists pathologists, and MIND READERS! Many guardians know what their child is trying to communicate, even when others don’t, and it is no different for the guardians of HxLs. We are lucky in that we can often write down what we think our HxL is trying to communicate to help give them language to use. Once a script has been provided, and successfully used a few times, typically our HxL will be able to store and use that script for years to come! 

Some tips to consider when writing scripts for our HxLs: 

  • Try to use easily generalizable scripts.  Similar to “core language” concepts, we want to create “core scripts” that the HxL can use across contexts and environments. 
    • For example, rather than teaching the script “I want milk,” you may choose to teach, “I want that” or just use a close sentence script like, ” I want____”
    • Note that when we use core language such as “that, those, this,” it often relies on joint attention and is accompanied by gestures, which may be additional skills that need to be supported for the HxL. 
  • Introduce, encourage, and work on one-three new scripts at a time, usually until close to mastery.  
  • Use cloze sentence scripts such as “I want _____” 
    • A parent once asked a great question about getting “stuck” on a script, and the advice  in this case is to write down the change we want. Rather than “I want ____,” now we are expecting “Can I have ____” or “May I ________”. To demonstrate this, we can visually scratch out or remove the “I want ___” script and write down the new script instead! Additionally, based on the HxL’s baseline abilities, you may be able to start with these seemingly more complex scripts, as many HxLs’ scripting and memory abilities will allow for that! 
  • Be consistent! HxLs are patterned learners, so if you modify or change a script, don’t expect immediate comprehension. You may need to visually demonstrate how the script has been changed by crossing out a word and inserting a new one, or writing down the additional words now expected. 
  • Write scripts where they are functional and appropriate.   
    • For example, the bathroom door might have “Bathroom” labeled on it along with a script or an expectation written underneath (e.g. “I need to go potty” or “I need to go potty, I will get [Guardian] to help me”). 
    • Another example: Laminate a page to write on the fridge with a script like, “can I have __________?” You may provide options below such as “juice,” “milk,” or “yogurt” that your HxL can physically maneuver to complete the sentence, or simply read out loud to communicate what they are craving!

While many of the aforementioned ideas are proactive in providing scripts, you can also write them down reactively. This is where our stash of whiteboards come into play! If your HxL is struggling to communicate something, and you’re feeling confident with your telepathy abilities, you can quickly try to provide them the script for what you think they are trying to say. Either you’ll see your HxL read their script with a smile across their face, or you’ll get some indication that you need to take another stab at mind-reading what they are trying to say. They will always find some way to communicate!