Hyperlexia & Bedtime

Whilst routines are beneficial for any child, children with any type of sensory issue thrive on it. The world is an unpredictable place, routine and order relieve a lot of anxiety and stress, giving back some control for what is happening in the chaotic world around them.

Neiva is a child that thrives on routine.

Bedtime is a really important area that we try and stick to the same routine as much as possible. Sometimes, things crop up and we cant do anything about it but for the most part we try and keep to the same system. Here are some of the things that have worked for us:

Reward Chart
Neiva loves Charlie & Lola, in fact so much of her communication is related to an episode she has watched and memorised and fortunately for the most part, she uses it in context. For example if she is hot, she will tell us she is “completely absolutely boiling”.

In one of the monthly Charlie & Lola magazines we buy for her, there was a whole section dedicated to “Bedtime”. Included in that was a page entitled “Bedtime Reward Chart” I cut it out and framed it. We ordered a set of Charlie & Lola reusable reward stickers from eBay and we were ready to go.

The downside to taking something out of a magazine is that you cant change the order or content to adapt it to your personal routine (however, there are plenty of free printables on the internet that do this). Fortunately for us, the order and content was perfect for us. And of course, being the hyperlexic superstar that she is, she reads the instructions beautifully.

So, Neivas bedtime routine is as follows:

She has to:

  • “make my room ever so completely tidy”
  • “have a very bubbly bath” (although showers are necessary if we are pushed for time, generally the bath wins)
  • “put my pajamas on completely all by myself”
  • “brush my teeth extremely carefully”
  • “read a lovely bedtime story”

I like this routine. It works for us. Its simple and covers all bases. Some days we do have to skip the bath completely but since the rest of the routine is covered we generally get through this without much fuss.

There are days where we are back too late to start the set routine. As mentioned above when skipping bath time, as long as the majority of the list is covered we are usually ok. As long as we end with a bedtime story, bedtime is straightforward.

Bedtime Story
Reading a story to Neiva isnt a chore, its our favourite part of the day. And maybe this isnt the “thing” to do to encourage independence, but as they are only little once, we do often read her to sleep. Naturally, being a child of routine, she has her favourites. “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” and “The Little House” are regularly read. Currently we are reading “The Velveteen Rabbit“. As far as bedtime stories go, this is such a winner on so many levels. For Neiva, who loves the outdoors and nature, she adores this book. Its so gentle and wistful and dreamily written, the perfect bedtime story. Its long enough for her to go to sleep to, but short enough to get the ending (and it is such a good ending)

Finally, there are the nights where despite all the planning and routine following, she is just out of sorts and there is nothing we can do about it. So, for those nights its a few drops of Bach Night Remedy and an extra dose of patience.

My reward? A lovely glass of red wine waiting for me downstairs.

L x


Enid is very special. She is a loyal, kind, patient and loving friend and for the seven months she has been part of our family, we would be lost without her. Did I mention, Enid is our beloved therapy cat.

How did this wonderful creature become part of our lives?

It was early 2016, and whilst things were going ok for Neiva at nursery we were in a constant state of worry. Whilst her vocabulary was advanced, she would sing songs constantly all day long, and recite long paragraphs of her most favourite Charlie & Lola episodes, her communication was at that time very basic. She would only communicate with us if she needed something “juicy mango please” (her favourite apple and mango drink) and “jammy biscuit please” were her most frequent requests! Would Neiva ever be able to communicate with us? Would she ever make real friends? Does she ever feel lonely? Are we doing everything we can for her? We were trying desperately to communicate with her in the only way WE knew how without realising to HER we might as well have been speaking a foreign language. This led to immense frustration on both sides and the memories I have of that period are very dark, sad and helpless.

Around this time there was a lot of buzz online and in the media around a special little girl named Iris Grace and her Monet style paintings. She was locked in her silent world, like Neiva, but with the help of her art, her devoted parents and her pet cat Thula she had began to communicate with the outside world again. This was just the hope I was looking for! I ordered the book immediately and read it from cover to cover in one night, sobbing from start to finish. The next day I told my Mum about it and she eagerly took the book (and cried from start to finish) and passed it on to my Grandma (who also read it and cried from start to finish). The same scenario played again and again with my sister, then other family and friends, all with the same response, the similarities to Neiva were striking!

“Why dont you get Neiva a cat just like Iris?” my Mum asked one day whilst we were both watching Neiva putting her matchbox mice to bed. “A Maine Coon cat?” I said “Why not?” she replied “Neiva has such a bond with animals and nature I cant see why it wouldn’t help her, they are known for being very child friendly, they even love water, how much would Neiva love a pet that loves water just as much as she does”

The more I thought about it the more it made sense. Every week we took Neiva to the same farm for ice cream, and every time she made a fuss of all the animals there, particularly the ducks. She always seemed settled outside in the elements in all weathers and with animals. Paul and I talked about it at length. He agreed that it would be a good idea and we worked out a budget.

Mum and I started our search. Early on however, became apparent that our budget would only stretch to a cross breed. Disheartened, I told her we’d have to limit our search or need more time to save up for a pure bred. A couple of days later I received a text from Mum with a link to a new litter of pure bred Maine Coon kittens. Both mother and father were there available to see and all the paperwork was in order. It was perfect….but way out of our budget. Mum called me. “Yes I know this is outside of your budget” she began “but me and GG (my Grandma) have been talking and we’d like to put the rest towards it” We were over the moon! “Yes absolutely, thank you!!”

We went to view the litter when they were nine weeks old. The lady that we met was a very experienced breeder and all the cats there looked healthy happy and well looked after. Neiva immediately wanted to be with them. Mum and I knew we had made the right decision. It was a group of five kittens and we had the choice of two girls. The first girl was very playful and jumped up on Neiva’s lap immediately. Neiva laughed “hello kitty” she said excitedly. No sooner had the words left her mouth and the kitten ran off to play with her brothers. “Where is the other girl?” I asked. “Shes hiding under the sofa, see” said the lady.

Sure enough there she was. She looked like the baby of the family, very shy, almost hiding behind her paws. Gently, the lady coaxed her out and after a few moments of gaining our trust she came and sat on my knee. I looked at Mum, this was the cat for us. I loved her gentle manner, like Neiva. I could see immediately they would get along fine.

We had to wait another four weeks before we could take her home. During this time we asked Neiva over and over again what should we call her? We were expecting ‘Casper’ the cat in Charlie & Lola or ‘Twinkles’ again another cat in an episode of Charlie & Lola or even just ‘Kitty’. We couldnt believe it when she said out of the blue ‘Enid’ It was perfect!

The day arrived and we were so excited! Neiva stayed behind at home with my sister whilst we collected her. We gently brought her into the middle of the room and opened the cat box and waited for her to come out and explore.

“Hello Enid” said Neiva “its Enid” “hello kitty” she said over and over. She was so happy and so were we. That first night Neiva went to sleep with Enid sleeping on top of her. Watching the two of them together made my heart melt. This was a good day.

From that day on, Neiva and Enid have been inseparable. They share everything, Neiva even feeds her breakfast when she thinks I’m not looking. Only last week whilst feeding her treats, Neiva gently stroked Enid and said “your a good friend Enid”

We are forever indebted to the story of Iris Grace. Without her, we would have never met Enid. As I am typing now, Neiva’s faithful friend is laid sleeping by my side. I dont mind that she will totally forget about me when Neiva comes home from school.

“Yes Enid, you are very very special”

To follow Iris Grace’s journey on instagram click hereFor a link to the book Iris Grace click here

Hello There

Neiva is our beautiful miracle girl, the result of almost a decade of infertility issues, devastating miscarriages and three emotionally and physically draining rounds of IVF, the last and successful of which used a technique called PGD. When she was born in 2011 she completed our life.

At around two years old Paul and I started to notice she rarely made eye contact and didnt really converse with us (other than when she was singing) We put it down to her being a quiet gentle child. When she started nursery at three, after a number of unsettled months, her teachers raised the concern that Neiva was displaying some signs of being on the autism spectrum.

There are always flowers for those that want to see them – Henri Matisse

As she was still so young and not wanting to rush into a premature diagnosis, we wanted to give her time to grow at her own pace. Her nursery teachers were extremely supportive and gave her one on one support and made her school environment a happy and secure place for her. She quickly settled into the routine of nursery and started to make great progress. With use of the PECS system, she was able to communicate with her teachers and we began to see the personality of a beautiful kind and gifted little girl.

Neiva is now five and has a near photographic memory. She will watch or see something once and will repeat what comes next or where we are (remind me to tell you the circus story) and because of her awesome memory she also taught herself to read at age three. She also has a particular gift for numbers, shapes and colours. The downside to these extraordinary abilities are her personal and social development. She will rarely initiate a conversation, she struggles when there is any change in her routine and cannot articulate her emotions which result in her taking herself away to any quiet corner and wanting to be left alone.

Neiva fits all the characteristics of condition known as Hyperlexia also known as “little Einstein syndrome” (I love this!). We still have a long way to go in terms of her social skills and speech but we are confident that with her ability, her therapies, and the love of family and friends she will navigate her way through this world successfully and with every support we can give her. We are blessed to know and love her, she teaches us so much.

Perhaps there is a language which is not made of words and everything in the world understands it.”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett, A Little Princess

This blog is a diary of our journey and will feature posts, in addition to speech and language therapy, on different holistic therapies such as

  • bioresonance,
  • bach flower remedies,
  • aromatherapy (I am a qualified aromatherapist)
  • gluten and dairy free child friendly recipes

I hope you enjoy reading our journey and hope we can be of support and encouragement to any parent taking the same road. Please take a look at my Instagram gallery where you will usually find me with a cup of tea in hand (almost always outside) with my nature loving girl.

L x