Why do adult dyslexics often have psychological difficulties?

In general, one has the impression today that mental illnesses are increasing in our society. About 40 percent of the population suffer from mental illnesses. Dyslexic adults are also more likely to have mental problems in adulthood. The causes are not only to be found in dyslexia itself. Many of these problems are related to rejection experiences and school fears, which can damage the personality of those affected. Also separation experiences by an reading and spelling weakness-class (Germany) can favour mental problems.

Possible causes of psychological damage in the childhood

The definition of read spelling disorder as a medical disorder image only outlines the problems. It is much more important to ask where possible mental illnesses come from. Were they caused during childhood in a difficult parental environment (divorce of parents, neglect, psychological violence, lack of parental support) or in school (class size, change of teacher, loss of lessons, methodology)? The social causes are indeed perceived and mentioned in the professional world. However, they are rarely taken into account in the diagnosis and support, because usually only the symptoms are recognised and treated. If the social problems in childhood were to be recognised and changed, many of those affected could be saved from possible psychological damage into adulthood.

Family and school environment can favour mental problems

We know several biographies of adults who had a problematic parental home during their childhood. This also applied to socially disadvantaged people, but most of them are families from the classic middle classes. We have seen people whose parents divorced during childhood. Some children lacked the affection of their parents because they were very busy at work. The upbringing of the children then ran parallel. Some parents offer their children only few incentives to learn, and high media consumption plays an important role in this. There were only a few isolated cases of neglect or physical or psychological violence by the parents. Some were told by their parents that they were too stupid to learn to read and write. This verbal personal devaluation can be a form of mental violence that can lead to psychological injuries and mental harm. Mobbing experiences at school exacerbate these problems. Classmates can sometimes be cruel when they verbally devalue their classmates because of their learning problems. Teachers can also miss their position as authorities by verbally or gestically devaluing the pupils concerned, by not perceiving the learning problems or by showing little empathy. These causes described here can favour mental problems into adulthood.

Probably 60-70 percent of adult dyslexics have suffered psychological damage. A reading and spelling weakness is not automatically a mental illness, but the personal environment contributed to a large part of these mental illnesses.

Mental problems are independent of reading and spelling difficulties

Most of the time, they cover up a reading and spelling problem. Psychologists often describe that affected adults have depressive illnesses because they could not cope with their reading and spelling weakness in childhood. We experience similar processes with adults who attended an LRS class and suffered from separation into a special school. Exclusion experiences in education or in the family context can devalue children’s souls. This is related to the psychological stability that is still developing in children at this stage. There are many different interactions, whether or not those affected experience mental problems.

Knowledge of the social environment can help dyslexia more effectively

Even if those affected have a family tendency to have problems in learning the written language, this does not mean that these difficulties cannot be overcome in early childhood. The social and family context of the affected person plays a decisive role in determining whether these problems must become a psychological problem or whether the affected person achieves mental stability through his or her developmental tasks. Therefore the medical diagnosis reading spelling disturbance brings little use to the concerning. Knowledge of the social environment is much more important. If this environment can be changed in childhood so that these children, despite their learning problems, are not devalued in their personal development but strengthened in their existing resources, there is a chance that they, like all other children, develop psychologically stable and do not have to suffer any harm. This context should be put more into the perspective of the professional world.

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