About 4 percent of all students in Germany are affected by dyslexia, with a ratio of 3: 2 significantly more boys than girls. How is the reading and writing weakness defined? What are the underlying causes and with what measures can dyslexia be treated?

What is dyslexia?

A reading-spelling weakness should only be used if it was really "diagnosed" by a recognized institute or a specialist. It is not always LRS when learning difficulties are identified.
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Dyslexia, also called read-spelling weakness or LRS, is a partial performance disorder. The literacy performance is well below the level that would be expected due to intelligence, age and schooling.

Deficits in reading speed, in reading accuracy and in reading comprehension manifest as symptoms of the reading disorder: letters are omitted, added or twisted, the reading speed is very low and what has been read can not be reproduced.

The spelling error manifests itself among other things in the form of distortions of the letters. For example, b is often translated as d, p as q or u as n. Likewise, omitting or changing letters or inserting incorrect letters is common.

Typical for dyslexia is the error inconsistency: There are no systematics for the errors, but the same word is written incorrectly in different ways.

causes

The cause of dyslexia is, in particular, inadequate phonological awareness. This refers to the ability to recognize syllables or dissect a word into its phonetic components.

For example, children who have dyslexia often find it difficult to break down a word into their syllables or hear the sound with which a word begins.

As a further cause of dyslexia deficits in visual or auditory information processing are assumed. For example, about 60% of all children suffering from dyslexia have problems reliably controlling their eyes at will.

In addition, the genetic predisposition can be mentioned as cause: The familial accumulation of a dyslexia could be proven in different studies. If a child has dyslexia, 52 to 62% of his siblings are affected.

Symptoms, Complaint & Signs

A reading-spelling weakness should only be used if it was really "diagnosed" by a recognized institute or a specialist. It is not always LRS when learning difficulties are identified. External conditions should be considered, which can be a reason for problems in writing and reading.

If there is a diagnosis, the school should definitely be informed as the child needs more time to read and write. Has the child read a lot, does it have a positive relation to books, is the child supported in the homework and does it have the necessary peace of mind when completing it? Also frequent teacher changes, a bad class situation can influence learning difficulties.

Children with LRS must be helped with calm and patience. Often, these children themselves develop donkey bridges and strategies to help themselves. If there is no possibility of support at school and at home, it is advisable to involve professionals. Here it is important to see that the person builds a positive relationship with the child, a basis of trust can be created.

The self-confidence of the child is restored, strengths are praised. Support on this basis, if possible with the same person over a longer period of time, leads to success. The child learns to handle LRS, there are no restrictions on choosing a career - there are also academics with LRS.

Diagnosis & History

If there is a suspicion of dyslexia, an ENT specialist and an ophthalmologist should first be consulted in order to rule out any impairment of hearing and vision.

To diagnose dyslexia, an intelligence test and a reading-spelling test are performed. If there is a clear discrepancy between intelligence quotient and reading-spelling performance, there is dyslexia. In this case, the value determined in the read-spell test must be at least 1.2 standard deviations below the intelligence test value.

The level of literacy development remains very stable if left untreated. In many cases, dyslexia can be accompanied by symptoms such as school anxiety, disciplinary difficulties or depressive moods.

The comparatively poor reading and writing skills often burden children with dyslexia. Some of them develop as a complication fear of school or another anxiety disorder. The fears may relate to the school or specific subjects or generalize.

complications

Without targeted support programs, efforts to improve reading and writing are often in vain. It is also possible that the children are making progress but are moving much more slowly than their classmates. This can lead to frustration. Another complication is depression, which can range from depressive moods to clinical depression.

Conversely, disorders of social behavior are possible. In addition, dyslexia may be associated with developmental disorders or an adjustment disorder. Some children with dyslexia somatise their mental health problems. You then often suffer from abdominal and headaches, seem agile and unfocused or complain of nausea.

This does not have to be simulated to avoid school, but can actually exist. A critical distinction between avoidance behavior and somatization is therefore important. Even with targeted support, dyslexics may feel marginalized.

Some suffer from needing extra lessons, tutoring or therapies. These children often have problems fully understanding and accepting the diagnosis of dyslexia. Child-friendly education and an accepting, understanding approach to the child can therefore be beneficial.

When should you go to the doctor?

Children or adults who can barely read or write should undergo a test to measure their performance. If, despite all efforts, parents notice significant differences in their performance in direct comparison to their peers, they should be discussed with the pediatrician.

In case of behavioral problems of the child, a lachrymal appearance or withdrawal behavior, a doctor should be consulted. If the person shows an aggressive behavior or is inclined to lies and untruths, a doctor's visit should be made. In case of a lack of self-confidence, the loss of social contacts or a depressive mood, a doctor should be consulted.

If learning difficulties occur in a wider range of areas in a school-age child, or if the child refuses to learn in principle, a doctor or therapist should be asked for help and support. If the child dances the lessons, clarifying discussions are also necessary. If the affected person develops self-made donkey bridges, which contribute to an increase in the error rate, corrections are necessary in good time.

To avoid frustration or to increase the problem, a doctor or a therapist can be consulted. If a lot of time is needed to read or write, this should be discussed with a doctor. In the case of an unusually large number of errors during reading or writing, it is also advisable to carry out a test to determine the cause.

Treatment & Therapy

Depending on the severity of dyslexia, individual therapy or support in small groups in a dyslexia institute may be useful. For therapy, working on the "zero error limit", ie the procedure from the easy to the difficult, is characteristic, so that the child can experience a sense of achievement.

The development of basic knowledge is just as much a part of dyslexia therapy as the reading together of individual letters. Empirically proven as training programs in a dyslexia, inter alia, the Marburg spelling training or the Kiel reading structure. If psychic symptoms appear as concomitant disorders, psychotherapy may be appropriate.

After specialist diagnosis of a dyslexia can be made in the school area, a disadvantage compensation. It states that if a child is affected by dyslexia, spelling errors will not be included in grading and samples will be time-limited.

Outlook & Forecast

A generalized prognosis is difficult. In principle, however, it can be said that the chances of recovery increase significantly if treatment begins before the school starts to write. The road to recovery is arduous. Affected children need to be prepared for setbacks. Fear of school and depressive moods can determine everyday life. Girls often show greater endurance in the context of treatment. A stable environment that provides support proves beneficial in practice.

In many cases, even after numerous therapeutic sessions, dyslexia continues in places. Patients then have no choice but to come to terms with their situation. Restrictions arise for the career choice. Practiced strategies nevertheless allow normal participation in professional and private life.

A reading-spelling weakness does not just disappear. Children who have had no or inadequate therapies usually have a fragile school career as adults. The inability to motivate themselves for educational content is what characterizes their lives. That promotes her off the job. Careers do not come about that way. Employment in simple and poorly paid occupations is a consequence.

prevention

The phonological awareness, which has a high predictive power for the development of dyslexia, can already be assessed in preschool through tests such as the Bielefeld Screening. Risk children, ie those children who score poorly compared to their age group, can be met with support programs.

Through appropriate early detection and early support later read-spelling difficulties can be prevented or at least mitigated. Singing and rhyming games or counting verses generally serve to promote phonological awareness. Games like "I see something you do not see and it starts with A" are fun for the kids and help prevent dyslexia.

aftercare

In case of a reading-spelling weakness, the person concerned has a few options for follow-up, which can permanently alleviate the symptoms of the illness. However, a complete cure of this disease can not always be done so that those affected in many cases all their lives have to live with the reading spelling weakness. In their everyday lives, they are often dependent on the help of other people and their own family to facilitate this.

Self-healing usually can not occur. Especially at a young age, the affected children need the help and support of their own family and parents. At school, they need special support in order to minimize and alleviate the complaints of reading-spelling weakness. Since the reading-spelling weakness can lead to depression or other mental health problems, loving and intense discussions are very important.

However, in some cases, patients may require professional treatment. The life expectancy of the person concerned is not limited by the reading-spelling weakness. In grade assessment, teachers should be informed of this weakness in order for the assessment to be fair. Further follow-up measures are usually not necessary for reading-spelling weaknesses.

You can do that yourself

For children with dyslexia, the support of family and friends is particularly important. Parents should therefore give their child first all important information about the reading-spelling weakness. The more the person concerned knows about the disorder, the better and more self-confident he can handle it.

If the child feels overwhelmed, reward short-term achievements and playfully progress. Parlor games like Scrabble or Word Kniffel encourage spelling and fun at the same time. In the best case, this also awakens the child's learning motivation and gives room for further support. Which measures make sense in detail should always be agreed with a learning therapist and the child's teachers. In general, learning software and regular practice helps. The child should also be encouraged to read, as books are often the most effective tools against a reading-spelling weakness.

The therapeutic measures can be supported by spending time in the fresh air and a healthy diet. Both are a welcome relief to the learning stress and give body and mind new energy. If, despite everything, no progress is made, it is best to consult a specialist.

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