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Specific learning disorder

Field report by Johannes (student of the University of Cologne)

My name is Johannes, I study at the University of Cologne.

My disability is not visible to me on the outside, only when I write or read aloud does it become apparent and I falter. When I have to ask how to write a word, when I am asked what word is written in my notes because it is misspelled, when I have to pause to think about how to pronounce the word, when I have to ask others to look over my spelling, grammar and punctuation, then you notice that I have difficulties. I have a dyslexia / dyslexia / dyslexia. So an impairment of my reading and spelling skills.

expand: Teilleistungsstörung
Bild: antoniodiaz/

For me, difficulties arise in everyday life at university when I have to produce written work in a short time. I need longer than people without such an impairment and for exams a single room would be advantageous for me, because when my fellow students are finished or their time is up, they get up and leave the room, perhaps asking questions, and disturb my concentration for the time I still have left. When reading a lot of texts it is very helpful for me if I get barrier-free documents, i.e. scanned documents that recognize the letters as such, so that I can have scanned PDF image files read aloud to me or search for the most important points in the document.

A respectful approach without generalisations or prejudices about being lazy or stupid would be desirable. If you have questions, it would be helpful to get a serious answer instead of a saying that attacks your self-esteem or makes fun of you. A solution-oriented attitude is also helpful. Instead of saying: "You have to take care of this", a "We will find a solution for you" would be much better. Students with the problem sometimes have different and different compensations for disadvantages, that is what the lecturers have to decide if and which compensation for disadvantages they consider appropriate. Such a thing is not within my scope of discretion.

What is unusual about me is that I find it easier to understand and write English texts. In some subjects I was allowed to write and hand in English texts and was then graded according to this. This helped me with some exams and saved me a lot of time, because otherwise I usually spend more time on German texts.

However, every impairment is accompanied by certain competences. For example, I am very creative and can use my creative impulses well in group work and projects. Communicative aspects are also easy for me, such as making presentations and presenting information, which is why oral examinations are also a good alternative for me to take exams.

In the meantime I can deal well with my disability. I know my strengths and weaknesses and plan more time in advance for certain tasks. Sometimes it is a bit unpleasant to communicate this and to play with open cards, but this is the only way people can learn from each other and learn to understand each other. On the other hand, I can also convince with my strengths and bring in competences, both at work and at university.

I like to study at the University of Cologne because there is an aid project, L-R-S, Reading and Spelling Studies, where especially students with partial performance disorders, such as dyslexia, are helped and there are also lecturers who are very committed to making their lessons inclusive.

In the meantime, after having dropped out of my studies twice, I have now finished my studies, as I was informed about possibilities of support and assistance and was thus finally able to master my studies without having to doubt my competences.

In numbers...
The group of students who are restricted in their studies due to a partial performance disorder (4% of all students surveyed in the best2 study in Germany (n = 20,897), are predominantly people with dyslexia, dyslexia or dyscalculia (72%). Students with AD(H)S make up a small proportion (27%). However, AD(H)S have a greater impact on the studies of the students in question than those with dyslexia, dyslexia or dyscalculia. The special evaluation of the University of Cologne on the best2 study results shows that 4.3% of the respondents (n = 952 for the UzK) for whom a partial disability has the greatest impact on their studies (NRW = 3.6% with n = 5,436).

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