Written by Faiz Danyal
When I was a child, I was always teased by my classmates. They liked teasing me with a specific tune - a jingle from Nano Nano Candy commercials which aired during the early 2010’s. I would feel irritated whenever I hear the jingle. One day, during lunch break, they teased me again with the annoying jingle and my patience ran out. I threw chairs all over the classroom with anger. Thankfully, my close friend was near me and managed to calm me down before the situation could get any worse. I realized from that day that my hyperlexia can sometimes get out of control. Today, I have gotten better at managing my emotions and I am able to interact with others well, thus making me feel grateful for living in this wonderful world.
One of my main problems when it comes to my disability is since I was little, I tend to cry if anybody teased or bullied me. This continued even in secondary school. I’m also afraid of social situations that might go out of hand. for example, when I am exposed to jingles or songs that kept repeating the same words which might cause an instant emotional reaction.
Furthermore, I have also struggled with social communications and was not able to socialise with my friends. My brain tends to feel pressured and stressed out when someone teased me until I could not handle the pressure and would burst into anger. This emotional fragility is why I always distance myself from interacting with others. Most of the time, I would go to the library when I had no class during my time in both primary and secondary school since I was afraid of some of my classmates who would tease me and the noises that could trigger my emotional outbursts. Thankfully, I was able to receive counselling support from my primary and secondary schools in facing my social anxiety as well as helped me face any teasing or bullying.
Furthermore, when I think about something fun like a song or a video, it tends to stick in my brain, especially if it involves body movements like a dance. This caused my brain cells to become energised like a continuous flow of electricity, causing my body to act like I’m dancing. Those who do not know me might judge me and this makes me feel nervous and I try hard to prevent my body from reacting.
The most common misconception about Hyperlexia is that individuals with this particular disability could not cope with social communications with people. For instance, we tend to avoid interactions with friends or classmates and may easily get emotional, angry or irritated if our friends teased us too much. Thus, we are labeled as being anti-social. Another common misconception that I discovered for me as an autistic individual is that people tend to misunderstand our behavior when we are in public places like shopping malls or a gathering and even during daily conversations. For instance, when I speak to others, sometimes, I come across as being rude because of my word choices or actions even though I thought I had behaved politely. As a result, I become more nervous and conscious of my social communication as I do not want to offend anyone or receive complaints at work because of my social behavior.
However, despite my struggles and these assumptions, I live by my motto of ‘enjoying every second in my life’ and I want to prove that having Hyperlexia is not a brick wall for my success. In fact, one of the key strengths of most individuals with Hyperlexia is that we are able to memorize well and learn fast. For example, I am able to memorize content like equations, formulas or important facts. When I have to give a public presentation, I always prepare the key points inside my head so I do not need to use any scripts. Despite my disabilities, I can cope with my normal life and I try my best in socializing well with others. For example, I always socialize with other cosplayers and my friends who share similar interests during pop culture conventions.
In terms of my education, I am glad that I am able to study like any typical student to develop my knowledge equally with normal students. In fact, my classmates and I always helped each other during classes. Furthermore, I’m grateful for having friends from primary and secondary schools who are friendly and always give me moral support during tough times.
I always follow my mother’s advice which is that disability is not a golden ticket to achieve success. She taught me to not rely on my disability to get sympathy or special treatment from the public. I need to work hard on developing myself to become a capable, independent and successful adult. As individuals with ASD, we need to stand up and reflect upon ourselves that we are capable of doing something extraordinary. We have our own skills and strengths that we can utilize in achieving successes. Thus, my hope is that we will have more individuals with hyperlexia to make waves around the world. I, for one, want to make full use of my life to contribute to society.