Hyperlexia: Autism with a Twist?

I’m still trying to decide whether I think that “hyperlexia” is really just autism with a remarkable (savant) reading ability, or whether it is truly a stand-alone condition, as some people insist. You be the judge. What is hyperlexia? Hyperlexics are said to almost always be boys, and their ability to spell, read, and pronounce words is markedly advanced for their age. Usually these kids have easily mastered letters and numbers by the age of two, and by three can read many words. They seem to have a far greater capacity for reading than for spontaneous speech. They may eventually … Continue reading

The Astonishing Musical Genius of Derek Paraviccini

“Music is an inherent part of the universe.” The human mind is mysterious indeed. For example, how is it possible that a 26-year old man who can’t count to ten and doesn’t know his own birthday—-a man who is blind, severely learning impaired, and autistic—-can also be a musical genius who plays thousands of complicated piano pieces with perfect skill and accuracy? Derek Paraviccini’s talents will truly astonish you. He was born three months early, a twin whose sister was unable to survive their early delivery. Derek nearly died three times after his birth but was resuscitated and kept alive. … Continue reading

Do Vaccinations Cause Autism? A Mother’s Viewpoint

There’s been a controversy for quite some time about whether the mercury, or thimerosal, in certain childhood vaccinations causes autism in children. All you have to do is search for “mercury” or “thimerosal” or “vaccinations” or “autism” on the internet, and you’ll find numerous reports, comments, debates, and arguments over the issue. The Question Personally, I’ve even been asked by people, “Do you think your son Kyle got autism from an immunization?” For many months, I’ve been researching this matter, and although I can’t possibly give an ironclad answer (can anyone?), I have come up with one that feels right … Continue reading

Does Television Cause Autism in Infants and Toddlers?

We are still very much in the dark about what causes autism, and why the number of cases of children diagnosed with this puzzling disorder continues to rise. New theories are being suggested, including the idea that television viewing by babies and toddlers under the age of three somehow triggers autism spectrum disorders in children who have a genetic predisposition. A New Theory It seems like a ridiculous hypothesis, but professors at Cornell and Purdue University are suggesting there’s a link to early television viewing and autism. Professor Michael Waldman and Sean Nicholson of Cornell University, and Nodir Adilov of … Continue reading

A Couple of Wise Guys…

My two oldest sons are quite a pair. They have an affectionate, hilarious bond, as brothers. Garrett (in sunglasses) is fifteen, a straight A student, and extremely bright. He’s one of those kids that can smooth talk his way out of most anything. I don’t often see him doing much homework, yet he pulls off sensational grades. Tests and quizzes come easily for him. He’s an aspiring musician, and the house is usually filled with the rollicking sounds of his piano tunes in the living room or his voice singing through the closed door of his bedroom. Garrett has juvenile … Continue reading

“What Will My Child’s Future Be?”

I received a phone call yesterday from an extended family member. She was concerned because a doctor had suggested that her son, age three, was probably somewhere on the autism spectrum. This young mom spoke very articulately about her son’s symptoms, like echolalia (the tendency to “echo” back another person’s speech), his inability to connect socially with others, and his aggressive tantrums. My heart went out to her, because she sounded like me a decade ago. It wasn’t so much what she said, but the worried tone in her voice. I remember having those fears, and I remember the intense … Continue reading

The Autistic Savant: When a Disabled Child has Extraordinary Gifts

Although my son Kyle, 13, is autistic, he has some phenomenal abilities. His memory is amazing. If you asked him the capital of any country in the world, or any state in America, he would answer instantly. Kyle the Geography Wiz What is the capitol of Mongolia? “Ulaanbaatar.” What is the capitol of Mozambique? “Maputo.” What is the capitol of Kazakhstan? “Astana.” What is the capitol of Mauritania? “Nouakchott.” Honestly, it’s fascinating. He will name the capitol of any country within a fraction of a second. You can’t stump him. He can also calculate all kinds of mathematical equations in … Continue reading