Étudiante-chercheuse étoile October 2017

Alexia Ostrolenk

PhD student in Psychiatry
Université de Montréal

Award-winning publication: Hyperlexia: Systematic review, neurocognitive modelling, and outcome

Published in: Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews


Alexia Ostrolenk and her team decided to conduct a literature review to establish the existence of a link between hyperlexia and autism. Hyperlexia is the early acquisition of reading skills without explicit teaching. The researchers found a strong co-occurrence between autism and hyperlexia, with 84% of published case studies of hyperlexia being considered autistic, and 6 to 21% of autistic children presenting a hyperlexic profile. Formerly considered to be a rare condition, hyperlexia appears to be relatively common among autistic children. Furthermore, most of these children begin reading before the age of 5, and in many cases before speaking, indicating that they do not progress through the various stages of development in the same order as typically developing children. These findings indicate that autism is not just about deficits, but also about remarkable abilities that should be recognized and encouraged.