Two-year-old girl taught herself to read due to unusual medical condition

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Tanya Paxton’s daughter Sienna began speaking and reading by age two, however her early development was due to an underlying medical condition. Sienna has hyperlexia, which is associated with her autism, which she was diagnosed with aged four.

Despite being born two and half months premature and weighing just over 2lbs, and being slow to start sitting up and rolling over, little Sienna was picking up phrases from street signs and TV adverts very early.

Ms Paxton told how thrilled she was to hear her daughter start speaking, saying: “Her first word was a fairly standard ‘hiya’, but from there she quickly moved into full sentences, often repeating phrases from TV.

“‘Sky, believe in better!’ she parroted over and over again after seeing the advert on telly.

“By two-and-a-half, she was reading off signposts and notices when we were out and about.”

People often told her how advanced her daughter was when she started reading signs out loud such as ‘exit’ and ‘lift’.

Ms Paxton added: “But at home, she was looking at the same picture books that all toddlers have, and running through her ABCs.

“She certainly wasn’t learning adult words like ‘exit’, ‘lift’, ‘toilets’ and ‘fire escape’.

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Her abilities to read and talk affects approximately two in every 10,000 children with autism, as they can read perfectly without actually understanding what they are saying.

Now aged nine, Sienna still loves reading.

Her mother said: “Sienna is a complete bookworm and can get through a young adult novel in a day.

“I have to be so careful because she’ll pick up absolutely anything and read it.

“I recently caught her reading one of my books called How to Kill Your Family, with a cheeky grin on her face!”