Dyslexia in Medical Studies

Dyslexics can work in a wide variety of professions, as we have reported here several times. This also applies to the medical field. It is not yet known how many medical professionals are affected by Dyslexia. However, we have seen dyslexics studying human or veterinary medicine or already working in their field on several occasions.

Intellectually (in terms of knowledge), studying medicine is not a problem for most of those affected. However, in these fields, the subject of Dyslexia is not discussed at all or rarely, and people come out even less often than in other fields of study. The barriers for dyslexics seem to be much lower in fields such as social work, architecture, and other engineering professions. In contrast, in elite fields of study such as medicine, psychology, and law, there is a greater stigma to coming out as dyslexic. This often triggers anxiety or self-doubt among those affected when choosing a course of study, even though these students often perform very well academically when guided and supported according to their abilities.

Many of those who are affected encounter a lack of understanding. Professors or colleagues doubt their professional suitability by pointing out that they cannot read and write without errors. This results in strong pressure to perform, which can affect the overall psychological state of the students. Those affected deal with this pressure in very different ways, with family background and the school development that they experienced playing an important role.

Some dyslexics are confronted with sentences like „How can you choose such a profession with these problems? That’s just won’t work!“. This is what some affected medical students experience in their everyday life. Often the good abilities of those affected are not recognized, because until today it is assumed that Dyslexia is a disease or disability. The fact that Dyslexia is listed as a reading and spelling disorder in the ICD-10 manual is also controversial among medical trainees. Many medical professionals view this particular reading-spelling disability as a mental illness. Therefore, it is a major handicap for many dyslexics to dealing openly with the problem. In this way, those affected are prevented from better professional development. With a more pragmatic approach, they could be better integrated, by recognizing and promoting their personal and professional potential regardless of their writing skills.

Dyslexics do not infrequently choose medicine as a field of study. This may be related to their usually good knowledge of science. They are also often very social and compassionate. Therefore, they are well suited for these professions, provided they are academically capable.

It would be good if the departments were more enlightened in regard to their approach of this topic. In addition, the medical condition of Dyslexia as a reading and spelling disorder should be questioned. For those affected, it often means discrimination instead of the necessary integration into working life.

Education politics should pay more attention to this issue. Otherwise, we will continue to miss many good opportunities to use the good potential of dyslexic people.


Corona Crisis – Opportunities and Risks for Dyslexics

In view of the current situation, we would like to look at the opportunities and risks associated with the Corona crisis. Especially for adult dyslexics, challenging times are dawning, but also good opportunities.

No one can say now what impact this Crisis will have in our lives. Dyslexics who have overcome various challenges in life before this current Crisis can draw on positive experiences at this time, because they know that crises also have an end. If dyslexics have overcome their difficulties before the Crisis, they have a good toolkit. They are psychologically more stable and will also get back on their feet more quickly after another internal crisis. They have worked through their difficult school biography and have achieved a good professional standing. There are clear opportunities to be seen here, since crises that have been overcome serve personal maturity.

On the other hand, those who have not overcome their difficulties in reading and writing in the past can now find themselves in massive inner-emotional crises. Crises often expose unresolved problems in one’s life. Problems from childhood resurface. Especially if one has experienced little support in the parental home in coping with one’s weaknesses. Or teachers have humiliated ones with dyslexia and reacted without understanding. This then becomes particularly apparent in coping with the crisis. This current Crisis in society as a whole is nevertheless also individual and personal, because it is closely linked to the biographical experiences of the individual.

Here the opportunities and risks of this Crisis become clear. Dyslexics who have overcome their difficulties have a much better chance of emerging stronger from this new crisis. Unfortunately, there are many affected individuals who have never dealt with their dyslexia through psychological therapies or learning therapy measures. For these affected, the current Crisis, which is not just a medical epidemic, will trigger further difficulties. It may cause the loss of a job, the death of a relative, or financial losses. It is not yet possible to fully assess what will trigger this crisis. This chain of problems can cause great psychological strain.

Unfortunately, in the past there was hardly any help from the state for those affected. Often, only middle-class dyslexics could afford support. Socially disadvantaged people were usually left behind.

The Corona Crisis will highlight many problems in Education, Social Services, Healthcare and Labor. It will become clear that we have not reformed our Education System for many years. The state had very little money left for the systemically important Social-Welfare System. This particularly affects the socially disadvantaged who may not easily overcome this Crisis. This is where civil society help is needed in caring for those affected. That is why the State should better promote and support non-profit initiatives. Otherwise, our community will be even less able to handle these tasks, because too little has been done in this area in recent decades.


Die Stärken legasthener Kinder erkennen und fördern

Kinder mit einer Legasthenie sollten nicht nur über ihre spezifischen, anlagebedingten Schwächen im Schriftspracherwerb definiert werden. Vielmehr müssen die Stärken dieser Kinder bereits in den ersten Grundschuljahren erkannt und entsprechend gefördert werden. Dies kann eine wichtige Prävention vor seelischen Folgeerkrankungen sein.

Im deutschsprachigen Raum orientiert sich die Fachwelt meistens an den Defiziten der legasthenen Kinder. Dabei werden ihre individuellen Stärken oftmals in den Hintergrund gedrängt. Eltern können hier einen positiven Einfluss nehmen, wenn sie die Kinder nicht mit ihrer eigenen schulischen und beruflichen Biografie vergleichen. Auch wenn Kinder gute Lernfähigkeiten geerbt haben, sind sie trotzdem von Geburt an eigenständige Persönlichkeiten, die es zu fördern und zu begleiten gilt.

Eltern, die sich einer Legasthenie in ihrer eigenen Biografie bewusst sind, können oft mit Verständnis und Einfühlungsvermögen auf ihre Kinder eingehen. Dabei spielt die Biografie der Betroffenen eine wichtige Rolle, denn legasthene Eltern sind unterschiedlich mit ihrer Situation umgegangen. Einige konnten ihre Legasthenie erfolgreich kompensieren, während andere ihre Schwierigkeiten nie bewältigt haben. Das spiegelt sich auch in der Erziehung der eigenen Kinder wider.

Wenn Lernprobleme bei Kindern erkannt werden, ist eine individuelle und wissenschaftlich fundierte Feststellung der Legasthenie sehr wichtig. Dann besteht eine reelle Chance, dass legasthene Kinder ihre Schwierigkeiten gut bewältigen. Dies sollte bereits während der Grundschulzeit geschehen. Je früher die Probleme erkannt und bewältigt werden, desto mehr vermeidet man seelische Lasten bei den Kindern. Hierbei spielt ein stabiles familiäres und schulisches Umfeld eine entscheidende Rolle, welches die vorhandenen Stärken der Kinder fördert. Das können zum Beispiel verschiedene sportliche Aktivitäten, die Kinder-Uni für naturwissenschaftlich begabte Kinder, eine musikalische Erziehung oder kreative AGs sein. Legasthene Kinder sind oft in vielerlei Hinsicht begabt. Das gilt es in den Mittelpunkt zu stellen und zu fördern. Dann wachsen diese Kinder zu seelisch gesunden Persönlichkeiten heran.

Werden die Probleme dagegen nicht erkannt oder gar ignoriert, können emotionale Schwierigkeiten bei den Kindern die Folge sein. Diese Schwierigkeiten können dann ihr Selbstbild und ihre Lernmotivation beeinträchtigen. Deshalb ist es wichtig, dass Eltern die Lernprobleme ihrer Kinder nicht vernachlässigen oder ignorieren. Eine unerkannte Legasthenie kann sich bis weit ins Erwachsenenalter hinein ungünstig auf die psychische Gesundheit der Betroffenen auswirken.

Unser Fazit ist: Eine frühe Feststellung der Legasthenie und die Förderung der Kinder mittels einer individuellen Lerntherapie wirken sich günstig auf die Entwicklung ihrer vorhandenen Begabungen und Ressourcen aus.


Recognizing and Promoting the Strengths of Dyslexic Children

Children with Dyslexia should not be defined only by their specific, inherited weaknesses in written language acquisition. Rather, the strengths of these children must be recognized in the first years of elementary school and supported accordingly. This can be an important prevention against potential mental illness.

In the German-speaking world, professionals mostly focus on the deficits of dyslexic children. Their individual strengths are often pushed into the background. Parents can have a positive influence here if they do not compare the children with their own school and professional history. Even if children have inherited good learning abilities, they are still, starting at birth, independent personalities who need to be encouraged and supported.

Parents who are aware of Dyslexia in their own backgrounds can often respond to their children with understanding and empathy. The past of those affected plays an important role here, because dyslexic parents have dealt with their situation in different ways. Some were able to successfully compensate for their Dyslexia, while others never overcame their difficulties. This is also reflected in the upbringing of their own children.

When learning problems are identified in children, an individual and scientifically based determination of Dyslexia is very important. Only then is there a real chance that dyslexic children will manage their difficulties well. This should already be done during the primary school years. The earlier the problems are recognized and overcome, the more one can avoid psychological burdens on the children. A stable family and school environment plays a decisive role here, which promotes the children’s existing strengths. This can be, for example, various sports activities, the children’s university for scientifically gifted children, a musical education, or creative associations. Dyslexic children are often gifted in many ways. This needs to be focused on and encouraged. Only then will these children grow up to be mentally healthy individuals.

If, on the other hand, the problems are not recognized – or even ignored – emotional difficulties can result for the children. These difficulties can then affect their self-image and motivation to learn. It is therefore important that parents not neglect or ignore their children’s learning problems. Undetected Dyslexia can have an unfavorable impact on the mental health of those affected, well into adulthood.

Our conclusion is: early identification of Dyslexia, and support of children by means of individual learning therapy, have a favorable effect on the development of their existing talents and resources.