Why shouldn't dyslexia be ignored?

"Dyslexia is not a disease"

Teachers should consider dyslexia / dyscalculia when grading. The school system focuses more on supporting affected children.

VIENNA. In Julia's texts, the letters often dance around each other. Jan, on the other hand, has his problems with numbers. Like Julia and Jan, many students suffer from dyslexia (poor writing) or dyscalculia (poor numeracy). Up to 15 percent of a year are affected. But how does the school system deal with these children? How is it funded? Is weakness taken into account when grading?

Mathilde Zeman, Head of School Psychology in Vienna, emphasizes: "It is important to know - neither dyslexia nor dyscalculia is a disease." Assigning a disease to the child would only stigmatize the affected child. "These are children who have a learning disability that has a specific name."

The school system tries to counteract this learning difficulty through support, according to Zeman. This used to happen in dyslexic courses, and the affected child left the classroom for the duration of the lesson. Today this happens through the use of a team or support teacher who deals specifically with the affected child for a while. Some parents would also work with the child.

Astrid Kopp-Duller, President of the First Austrian Umbrella Association for Dyslexia, emphasizes: “These children are not weak, disturbed, sick or even disabled. They simply do not find the teaching methods offered sufficient to sufficiently learn to write, read or arithmetic. ”The majority of these children simply need other pedagogical and didactic approaches. The umbrella organization has been training trainers who apply precisely these approaches for twelve years.


Waiting doesn't help

Far fewer children also need psychological care. It is therefore important to clarify which path is the right one in each individual case. In the event of suspicion, parents can have their child tested both at the school psychological counseling centers of the state school councils and by a dyslexia trainer (see also link: www.legasthenietrainer.com).

It is important to Kopp-Duller: “It doesn't help to wait, because unfortunately dyslexia never dissolves without specific help. If the problem is ignored, mental illnesses in the children are usually the result, which should be avoided at all costs. ”When it comes to dealing with dyslexia or dyscalculia in Austrian schools, Kopp-Duller says that this is“ very different ”.


No license for mistakes

Every teacher has his own way of dealing with it. Educators who know the subject understand and take the weakness into account when assessing. Others did not accept dyslexia or dyscalculia. "There is also no law in Austria that was specially developed for dyslexic children, only decrees or guidelines on how to deal with children in class."

Zeman emphasizes that dyslexia and dyscalculia should in any case be “no license” to be able to make mistakes without consequences. However, the school psychologist refers to the legal regulation, according to which not only the written expression but also, for example, oral participation must be included for the performance assessment. Kopp-Duller says: “In fact, there are many interested teachers who, when giving grades, value the fact that, on the one hand, there is of course an effort to continuously improve written performance, but they also weight oral performance so that an overall positive grade is achieved. "

If there are still problems with a teacher, Kopp-Duller advises the parents concerned to first inform the teacher and get him to “not constantly criticize, but to provide motivating support”. It is wrong, however, “to want to force the teacher to help the child”.


A lot of patience and understanding

Support teachers or dyslexia trainers are responsible for this. “It also becomes problematic when some parents and also children believe that dyslexia or dyscalculia is the reason for not having to bother with writing, reading or arithmetic. Many rely on the line of compassion, which eventually becomes a problem, because everyone should be able to read, write and do arithmetic in some way. "

Therefore, Kopp-Duller's appeal is: If the necessary conditions are created, every child can learn the cultural techniques. All that is needed is the didactic path that is suitable for him. “And a lot of patience and understanding” - from both parents and teachers.

("Die Presse", print edition, January 5th, 2009)