The global therapy and diagnostic community do not yet see hyperlexia as a seperate dignosis, but rather an outgrowth of other disorders, such as autism or a speech/language delay. This may not always be the case as more and more children are being discovered with this profile. Identifying and confirming your child has hyperlexia may be helpful, and having an official diagnosis, such as autism may help you access services for your child that hyperlexia, given its unofficial standing, does not in itself help you access. Below are recommendations when looking for an evaluator.
Looking for on official diagnosis?
If you want to access therapy for your child either through insurance, or through the public school system, you may want a comprehensive psychoeducational evaluation (or public school FIE) done that will provide you with a diagnosis that will allow you to access those services. In public school, it is unlikely you would be able to choose the members of the evaluation team, but in a private setting you may have options to choose an evaluator. Below is a list of what to look for in a good private evaluator.
Be sure they are credentialed appropriately. Look for someone with a PhD in psychology, or a developmental pediatrician, or neuropsychologist. An official diagnosis of a developmental or cognitive disorder (or difference) should b made by properly credentialed individuals or insurance companies may not cover the cost of therapy.
Be sure that the evaluator has had plenty of experience evaluating young children (or if your child is older, children of similar developmental profiles). Some psychologists have more experience diagnosing learning disabilities and ADHD than children with such complex cognitive profiles as hyperlexia. If possible ask around for references.
If possible, have someone who recognizes and acknowledges hyperlexia as a style of learning and takes into account this learning style within the assessment process.
Be sure that the evaluator looks at both verbal and nonverbal cognitive functioning, including some form of nonverbal IQ measure as well as verbal as children with hyperlexia often lag behind in verbal measures of IQ.
Don't discount testing environment and routine. Ask the evaluator what methods they use to keep kids on task, visit if at all possible and see what the evaluation environment is like. Ask for a referral of a client who has had a positive experience with the evaluator.
Looking for therapy?
In being evaluated for private speech therapy, consider your desired outcome of the therapy. A public school speech therapist, or Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) speech therapists may be limited in their scope based on how the language difficulties impact functioning. A private speech therapist may be more able to address your concerns and evaluate and intervene more broadly. In looking for a private speech therapist, below are recommendations when it comes to a child with signs of hyperlexia.
Look for a speech therapist that looks at hyperlexia tendencies as an asset and tool, not a liability and symptom.
Be sure the speech therapist is prepared to do a formal evaluation with a broad range of tools.
Look for a speech therapist who lays out specific goals and steps for how to reach those goals.
If possible, get referrals from other parents whose children are similar in age and learning profile.
Don't be afraid to trust your judgement if you do not feel like a specific therapist is right for your child. Feel free to walk away and find a new one.