Dyslexia: what is behind the dyslexia?

Dyslexia: what is behind the dyslexia

Hardly any other disease has as many misunderstandings and myths as dyslexia. This disorder, also known as dyslexia (LRS) or dyslexia, affects around five per cent of all children and adolescents worldwide but is still relevant for those affected in adulthood. In this article, you will find out how dyslexia develops, how it is diagnosed and what consequences it has for those affected.

What is dyslexia?

According to the definition, dyslexia refers to a common partial performance disorder of reading and spelling ability, the cause of which can be traced back to various factors. It is essential to mention that an intellectual disability does not cause this disorder.

The terms dyslexia, dyslexia or dyslexia are sometimes differentiated according to their causes and used differently. However, specialist literature, the World Health Organization and well-known interest groups use the terms synonymously.

The Federal Association Dyslexia & Dyscalculia e. V. uses the terms dyslexia and dyslexia for reading and spelling difficulties that meet the WHO ICD criteria.


Is dyslexia a disease or even a disability?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines dyslexia as a disease according to its international catalogue of ICD-10 diseases. In addition, it distinguishes and specifies further sub-forms of dyslexia. While the classification of dyslexia was the subject of court proceedings in Germany, most courts defined it as a disability.

Although this is often criticized as stigmatization, it is essential to note that recognition as an illness or disability forms the legal basis for a funding claim. The status as a disability is not meant to be derogatory but to emphasize the need for supportive therapy.

What are the causes of dyslexia?

The exact causes of dyslexia are not yet fully understood. What is certain, however, is that various factors influence the LRS. Researchers have found that a genetic component may play a role. This assumption is supported by the fact that dyslexia often occurs more frequently within a family. LRS is suspected to be triggered by a disruption in genes that affect the allocation of letters and sounds in the brain and language and word processing.

But gender and environmental factors also have an influence. For example, boys are much more likely to be affected by dyslexia. If there is no appropriate support from the social environment, this can, in turn, hurt the development of dyslexia. Furthermore, studies suggest that there is an association between ADHD and increased television consumption.


How is dyslexia manifested?

Symptoms of dyslexia show up in both writing and reading. The following signs can indicate an LRS when reading:

  • Omit, add or replace letters, syllables and words
  • a slow reading speed
  • Wrangling letters in words
  • Trouble spelling letters correctly
  • Problems reading aloud due to delays or lost lines
  • lack of ability to reproduce what has been read or to recognize connections from what has been read
  • Replacing words with a word with the same meaning

In addition, the following symptoms of dyslexia can appear when writing:

  • grammatical errors
  • Punctuation errors
  • many errors in dictation or copying of texts
  • Mistakes in spelling words
  • partially illegible handwriting

Other manifestations of dyslexia are also possible, such as an isolated spelling disorder in which only one of the symptoms is present, a mathematical disorder (dyscalculia) as a subtype of dyslexia, or a combination of all disorders.

Dyslexia Testing: How Do You Diagnose LRS?

There are guidelines for diagnosing dyslexia, i.e. a nationwide regulation that educators and physicians must adhere to. The first step in identifying dyslexia is to rule out other causes, such as vision or hearing problems. If these are not available, various tests follow in arithmetic, reading (e.g. measuring reading speed), writing and text comprehension (answering questions about the content of the text), and an IQ test.

If the performance in all tests is at least 16 per cent below average but with a normal IQ, the diagnosis of dyslexia is made. Specifically, the child and adolescent psychiatrist or the child and adolescent psychotherapist diagnoses this and issues a corresponding certificate.

What are the consequences of untreated dyslexia?

If dyslexia is not treated appropriately, permanent and sometimes severe negative consequences can occur. Poorer career opportunities accompany the ever-worsening performance at school and later in training or studies.

In addition, permanently poor performance can also negatively affect the psyche and development. Those affected often have low self-esteem and withdraw socially. Especially in the school environment, affected children often find themselves under tremendous pressure to perform, and, especially if LRS is not recognized, sometimes there is also a lack of understanding on the part of the teachers or parents.

Parents also often feel overwhelmed since practising alone at home with the affected child cannot improve the problem. A corresponding diagnosis is, therefore, often a great relief for both children and parents since the LRS can now be treated accordingly.


Is dyslexia curable?

According to current research, dyslexia cannot be cured entirely. However, early and targeted therapy can achieve astonishing progress and improvements in reading and spelling skills.

Therapy is still possible in adulthood, but the learning progress is slower, and the chances of success are lower than with early therapy in childhood and adolescence.

What to do with dyslexia?

Suppose a reading and spelling weakness has been diagnosed. In that case, therapy by a dyslexia trainer should be started as early as possible since the chances of successful support are greater the earlier it starts. Therapy trains the person’s problem areas through various exercises in reading, writing and pronunciation.

These areas are trained because the reading, written, and spoken words are stored in the brain in three ways (visual, motor, and phonetic, i.e., sound). The different exercises should be adapted to the level of development of the person concerned in the respective area.

Strategies for relaxation and stress management are also trained. This should help those affected to deal better with their LRS in exam situations, for example, and thus avoid aggravation of the problem due to stress and hecticness.

Who bears the costs for therapy?

According to health insurance companies and legislators, the costs for dyslexia therapy are to be borne by the parents themselves. However, there are conditions under which the youth welfare office will cover the costs of therapy for children. These include that a teacher must confirm the child’s unique needs and that the school itself does not provide support that is appropriate to the child’s needs.

If these two points and an official diagnosis of dyslexia are available, parents should apply to the youth welfare office to cover the costs.

If the therapy is started in adulthood, the costs must be borne by yourself. However, training centres or employers sometimes support therapy as part of employee development. If in doubt, the conversation should be sought here.


What additional support measures are there?

In addition to therapy, many other support programs and exercises for children with reading and spelling difficulties vary wildly from region to region. Examples of offers of help can be found on the website of the Federal Association for Dyslexia and Dyscalculia eV (BVL).  

In addition, parents should learn about support offered at their children’s schools, in libraries or in educational centres and use them.

Are people with dyslexia entitled to disadvantage compensation?

Since children with dyslexia need more time for written tests due to their difficulties in reading and writing, there is a disadvantage in compensation. This usually manifests in the fact that those affected are given more examination time. Since education in schools and universities is regulated not by the federal government but by the federal states, the regulations vary significantly from region to region.

In addition, even within a federal state, the implementations sometimes vary greatly, so it cannot be said in general whether and to what extent people with dyslexia are entitled to compensation for disadvantages.

This should be requested individually from the schools, training centres and universities. To receive compensation for disadvantages, a certificate certifying the dyslexia must be submitted.

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