Dyslexia and dyscalculia are existing gene-conditional assessments transmitted by inheritance in humans. The sensory perceptions are affected by genetic processes of development in the brain. Scientific research has proved this.
„A dyslexic person of good or average intelligence perceives his environment in a different way, and his attention diminishes when confronted by letters or numbers. Due to a deficiency in his partial performances, his perception of these symbols differs from that by non-dyslexic people. This results in difficulties when learning to read, write and do arithmetic.“
Dr. Astrid Kopp-Duller 1995
How does one recognize dyslexia/dyscalculia?
Basically, we talk about primary dyslexia and/or primary dyscalculia when the following factors can be observed:
• A child’s intermittent inattention when writing, reading or calculating, i.e., as soon as he encounters letters and/or numbers.
• Differentiated sensory perceptions which are not sufficiently developed for learning writing, reading and arithmetic (calculation).
• Perceptual mistakes due to blurred sensory perceptions and the resulting inattention.
How does one recognize a Reading and Writing Deficiency (RWD)?
Basically, we talk about reading, writing and arithmetical deficits (LRS) when the following can be observed:
• Frequent errors in writing, reading or calculating.
Reading, writing or arithmetical deficits result from an unusual circumstance in a child’s life which can arise from multiple causes (see picture), either congenital or acquired problems.
What can one do?
With dyslexic and dyscalculic children, interventions must be made in all three areas which cause the dyslexia/dyscalculia! This effort requires training in attention and in sharpening of the sensory perceptions which one needs for writing, reading or reckoning at all costs as well as training in the symptoms.
On the other hand, with a child with LRS or arithmetical deficits, it is often enough merely to concentrate on the symptoms, emphasizing practicing writing, reading and calculating, in order to achieve success.
Naturally, as with a dyslexic/dyscalculic child, one should not ignore the possibility of eventual secondary problems.
Help and Support
Should a seemingly intelligent child unexpectedly develop problems in school learning how to write, read or calculate, one should not delay, on the basis that they will go away on their own, but instead provide individual, specific and targeted help for the child before any other secondary problems manifest themselves.
The educator-didactic level:
The child’s difficulties with writing, reading and/or calculating will be noticed first and foremost in school or at home. It is important that observations by the teacher, as well as the parents of any other respective parties, are taken seriously. Describing the situation as a weakness, disturbance, illness or disability should be avoided. The teacher should have a basic grasp of the problem and be able to explain it to the parents. It can happen that the existence of dyslexia or dyscalculia is denied so that one must not establish interventions.
Fortunately for those afflicted individuals, the number of people who ignore those conditions has decreased. The child cannot help himself, but rather is dependent upon his environment, the necessary understanding, and support. No law will ever also be able to change this, but only clarification, not only by the educators, that these children have alternative access to the matter of writing, reading and calculating. Not all children have difficulties in all areas; some have only in one area. They simply need more time to learn.
However, with children with primary dyslexia - as dyslexic children evidencing no psychological and physical deficits are referred to - teachers at school can only work to a limited extent within the framework of the lessons! In some cases, extracurricular help through a dyslexia specialist may be needed in order to obtain the desired result. Most dyslexic/dyscalculic children can be helped simply with the specific, targeted assistance of dyslexia specialist on the educator/didactic level.
A prerequisite is a pedagogic test procedure to establish and categorize the dyslexia/dyscalculia, since every child has individual characteristics and therefore needs individual attention.
The psychological and medical level:
If the problems of dyslexic/dyscalculic children are not detected in time, a secondary dyslexia can arise from the primary condition – i.e., actual clinical conditions associated with the dyslexia. The causes are very diverse: psychological and physical causes, excessive demands and frustration, bad eyesight, hardness of hearing, physical disability, linguistic awkwardness; or also familiar causes, separation or learning deficits, inadequate teaching methods, but also decreased abilities. Psychosomatic or even psychopathological factors can particularly be the consequence of insufficient assistance; then medical or psychological intervention may be necessary.
However, a child with solely a primary dyslexia should not be treated psychologically or medically, because the dyslexia itself is not a weakness, disturbance, disease or even impediment.
First of all, the child needs to be helped through a targeted educational-didactic approach. Expert qualified dyslexia trainers are equipped with the scientifically substantiated necessary knowledge to help dyslexic/dyscalculic children on an individual basis.
One sees in dyslexic children Intermittent attention deficits, caused by different sensory perceptions, and also, where applicable, anxiety resulting from the needs of the children for coordinated learning methods for writing, reading and/or calculating, that should be seen merely as associated symptoms of the dyslexia rather than clinical symptoms.
On the other hand, there are children whose concentration dysfunctions – all activities, including writing, reading and calculating, must be short and superficial – and hyperactivity – the entire daily routine is characterized by the child’s erratic behavior – manifest as true clinical symptoms.
Unfortunately, the associated symptoms of dyslexia and clinical symptoms often resemble each other; therefore it is difficult for the layperson to recognize whether he is dealing with a dyslexic child or one who is actually ill. A further complication is that dyslexic children can also show these clinical symptoms along with the dyslexia, when the number of the former is on the low side.
An assessment may be reached through observation. If the child can occupy himself intensively and at length with activities that do not involve writing, reading and calculating, and the anxiety has only manifested at the time of his entering school or later, one can assume that merely associated symptoms are involved.