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.


One Year of the Corona Pandemic – our Experiences and Observations

Today we write in the month of April 2021 and look back on one year of the Corona Pandemic. In this report, we would like to reflect on the experiences and observations we have gathered while working at our Institute.

Who would have thought that after one year of the pandemic, things have not gotten much better? If you trust the statements of some researchers, this phase will continue for some time. Soberly speaking, 2021 will not be much different from 2020. Further forecasts are pure guesswork. We will have to come to terms with the conditions of this pandemic, even if we long for a return to normality. Whether it will ever return, we do not know, but post-Corona normality will probably look different.

We keep asking ourselves these questions: How will the lockdowns affect the psycho-social development of those under our charge? How will the school closures affect the children’s acquisition of written language? Will this increase the percentage of children with reading and spelling disabilities? As an educational and research institution, we face these questions because they affect our field. There is no denying that the Corona pandemic fosters mental health problems. Very likely, many children are developing learning difficulties because of the school closures. We cannot provide generalized answers to this, but we will report the snapshots of this year.

It becomes very clear that the differences between educationally advantaged and disadvantaged families are even more visible as a result of the crisis. Children in socially weaker families experience such times of crisis as more threatening and insecure than middle-class children in which both parents can work. Therefore, it can be assumed that educationally disadvantaged children may develop increased behavioral problems and significant learning regressions as a result of the lockdowns and school closures. On the other hand, families advantaged in terms of education also have to bear a significantly higher burden under the pandemic conditions. However, this can usually be well compensated for by a stable family structure. It will probably only be possible to realistically observe and evaluate the effects of the current crisis on our field in the coming years.

We are seeing early indicators that school closures are having an unfavorable impact, particularly on children with learning difficulties. Many children experience anxiety and significant learning delays in reading and writing. These differences were not as great before the Corona crisis. It is conceivable that the current crisis, with its lockdowns and school back and forth, will favor the acquisition of LRS[1]. Children with predisposed Dyslexia will also have greater problems as a result of the crisis. In summary, the longer this crisis continues, the greater the deficits will become for children with learning disabilities. In homeschooling, it is almost impossible for younger children to compensate for learning deficits in the acquisition of written language, because they lack professional school supervision. Thus, there will be an increase in Dyslexia among students.

These are our initial observations. But there are also positive developments to report, where children with clear reading problems have benefited from homeschooling. This is because they had to read and understand significantly more texts. We also saw good progress among secondary students. Some children have also benefited from individual help with learning from parents and grandparents.

A very large percentage of children clearly struggle with school lockdowns. Most of the children long for a normal school routine. Especially the back and forth between school opening and closing creates uncertainty for the children. Time and time again, we have seen children crying because they were overwhelmed with homeschooling. Parents have also told us of a significant extra burden. Of course, the situation is experienced differently in individual families. Nevertheless, policymakers should draft a clear plan on how to better organize schools under pandemic conditions.

How the situation will develop in the near future, we will continue to monitor and then report.

[1] German for reading and writing disability (Lese-Rechtschreib-Schwäche)