Reading/spelling difficulties may occur more frequently in families

family-2972218_1280For decades there has been a discussion among experts that dyslexia can occur in the family as a special reading and spelling weakness. Why these difficulties can occur more frequently in the families concerned in the acquisition of written language has not yet been fully clarified scientifically.

Adopted behaviour or hereditary predisposition as causes of reading and spelling problems

There are some indicators as to why people have similar difficulties as individual family members (father or mother, grandparents or uncles and cousins). So far, there are some neurological and genetic assumptions that can promote dyslexia. These are believed to trigger problems in auditory and visual processing in the speech centre, working memory and short-term memory. These problems are similar in the family accumulations of cases, which is why those affected find it more difficult to acquire written language compared to non-dictates. On the other hand, there are behaviours that are adopted from one generation to the next, which can additionally favour difficulties. Probably an interaction of environmental imitation and hereditary predisposition plays a greater role in these accumulations. It has not yet been clarified which dimension of these two factors is greater. Perhaps only environmental-institutional imitations occur in LRS and hereditary causes play a more dominant role in dyslexia. Too little is currently known about this.

Transgenerational transmission and less neuronal peculiarities?

In any case, there are indications from practice that the family accumulation must be due on the one hand to a predisposition to this. This point is undisputed in the professional world. On the other hand, there are family predispositions that, for example, parents offer children little incentive to learn to read and write. There are, so to speak, weaker role models or even educational poverty than environmental imitation, which cause difficulties in reading and writing and can favour an unfavourable course of these. Could transgenerational transmission play a role here? And less neuronal peculiarities of those affected? It is not known. We know of those affected where mental illnesses also occur. But the problems do not always have to automatically lead to psychological damage or be related to trauma.

Different family accumulation and coping with learning problems

Our observation in practice shows time and again that there must be different causes for the family accumulation. In some cases, the difficulties are passed on directly to the children and grandchildren. Probably about 50-60 percent of all reading and spelling difficulties are inherited in this way. Then a generation can be skipped once, whereby the grandpa had a dyslexia and the grandchild can show similar difficulties. Father and mother had no or very little problems at school. In this group the coping and compensation of the problems is different, this is due to the severity of the weakness and the psycho-social health. Problems in the social fabric probably play a lesser role here than in children with Reading/spelling problems.

Cases where environmental conditions are likely to predominate – socially disadvantaged families are also disadvantaged here.

In other cases we see family environments in which unfavourable behaviour and educational problems (uncontrolled media consumption, low family incentives to learn to read and write, low educational attainment of parents, problematic social fabric) can play a role and in which there are no hereditary particularities. These interrelationships have so far been discussed too little in the professional world or neglected by socio-political ignorance. Although some studies provide clear indications that the social conditions play a greater role in the acquisition of written language, especially among those from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds. Therefore, the topic „LRS“ is also an important social topic. Because only experts will be able to keep their jobs or get one again in the future if they have no difficulties in reading and writing.

Normal intelligence and neurological peculiarities are not sufficient causes

In our research, we observe various causes for a familial accumulation of these reading and spelling problems in affected persons. Only neuronal characteristics and normal intelligence, as assumed by clinical psychologists, are too little to explain, because neuroscience still knows too little about the human brain. One aspect that has not been considered very much so far is the environmental causes, the