Dyslexia and Traumatic Experiences

by Evelin Witruk (Volume editor) Shally Novita (Volume editor) Yumi Lee (Volume editor) Dian Sari Utami (Volume editor)
©2016 Conference proceedings 209 Pages


This book focuses on dyslexia and traumatic experiences. It strives towards fostering a scientific exchange that promotes emergence of synergy effects and real progress in the understanding of dyslexia, psychological trauma, and stress experiences, as well as special methodological problems of qualitative research. The international and interdisciplinary team includes authors from Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Morocco, Sudan, South Africa, South Korea, Iran, China, Portugal, and Germany. The main topics of the book relate to dyslexia with some new perspectives on this old phenomenon, to traumatic experiences, to intervention methods and to some special methodical problems, particularly in qualitative research methods.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Evelin Witruk, Shally Novita, Yumi Lee, & Dian Sari Utami - Preface
  • Chapter 1 Dyslexia
  • Evelin Witruk - Dyslexia – New Perspectives on an Old Phenomenon
  • Shally Novita & Evelin Witruk - Emotional Consequences of Children with Dyslexia: An Overview from a Cross-cultural Perspective
  • Regine Eichhorn - Secondary Symptoms and Compensation – Mechanisms of Dyslexic Children
  • Yumi Lee, Julia Strobel, & Evelin Witruk - Teachers’ Knowledge about Dyslexia: A Cross-cultural Comparison Study between Germany and South-Korea
  • Samudra Senarath - Teachers’ Knowledge about Dyslexia in Sri Lanka
  • Buddhiprabha D. D. Pathirana - Rainbow Forever: Recommendations and Suggestions for Potential Psychosocial Interventions to Sri Lankan Children with Dyslexia
  • Ouafa Raziq - Legasthenie in der marokkanischen Gesellschaft (Dyslexia in the Moroccan Society)
  • Adil Ishag - Diglossische Aspekte beim Arabischlernen (Diglossic Aspects in Arabic Language Learning)
  • Guangshu Gu & Dian Sari Utami - Family Elements of Reading Problems among Children in a Chinese Environment
  • Chapter 2 Traumatic Experiences
  • Zarina Akbar & Evelin Witruk - Coping Strategies and Disaster Experience Predict Post-traumatic Growth Survivors of Disaster in Yogyakarta Province Indonesia
  • Gunendra R. K. Dissanayake - Trauma Never Ending: The Impact of Different Forms of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) on Women’s Psychological Well-being
  • Asanka Bulathwatta - Trauma among University Students in Sri Lanka and Germany
  • Verbra Pfeiffer & Sivakumar Sivasubramaniam - First Year Students: Using Expressive Writing to Cope with Trauma
  • Juliet Roudini & Evelin Witruk - Consequences of Trauma Experience in Iran and some Middle East Countries
  • Hamidreza Khankeh, Amin Saberinia, Davoud Khorasani-Zavareh, Ali Ardalan, Maryam Nakhaei, & Maryam Ranjbar - Emergency and Disaster Health Provision in Iran: Challenges and Achievements
  • Nadia Hanum & Konrad Reschke - Indonesian Driver’s Behavior: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after Accident caused by Bad Driving Practice
  • Dian Sari Utami & Guangshu Gu - Families in Trauma: Potential Problems and Determinant Factors of Parent-Child Relationship in China and Indonesia
  • Chapter 3 Intervention Methods
  • Konrad Reschke - 20 Jahre Traumaforschung an der Leipziger Universität: Zur Entwicklung diagnostischer und therapeutischer Techniken (20 Years of Research on Trauma at the University of Leipzig: Development of Diagnostic and Therapeutic Techniques)
  • Dian Veronika Sakti Kaloeti & Evelin Witruk - Prison Parenting Rehabilitation Programs as a way to Reduce Traumatic Experience Caused by Parental Incarceration
  • Yumi Lee, Yun-Hee Kim, Ji-Hye Kang, & Hyeong-Keun Yu - Postvention is Prevention: Helping Students Bereaved by Suicide in Korean Schools
  • Marcus Stueck - Ten Steps of Stress Reduction: The Intercultural Adapted Version of Training of Stress Reduction with Elements of Relaxation (STRAIMY®-International)
  • Edgar Galindo - An Intervention Program for Children with School Failure Problems
  • Chapter 4 Qualitative Research Methods
  • Bodo Krause - Methodische Entwicklungen in der qualitativen Persönlichkeitsforschung (Method Development in Qualitative Personality Research)
  • Hamidreza Khankeh & Maryam Ranjbar - Conducting Qualitative Research in Health
  • Yumi Lee & Thérèse Thuemler - A Content-analysis of Korean and German Teachers’ Perception and Belief regarding Students with ADHD: A Comparison with US Findings

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Evelin Witruk, Shally Novita, Yumi Lee, & Dian Sari Utami

(University of Leipzig, Institute of Psychology)


This book is the seventh volume in the series “Studies in Educational and Rehabilitation Psychology”. It contains selected contributions from the international conference “Dyslexia and Traumatic Experiences” organized by the team members of Educational and Rehabilitation Psychology, Institute of Psychology at the University of Leipzig. It took place on 5 and 6th of December 2014 in the University of Leipzig, Germany.

The purpose of this book is to strive towards fostering a scientific exchange that promotes emergence of synergy effects and scientific progress. The authors of the book articles are from Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Morocco, Sudan, South Africa, South Korea, Iran, China, Portugal, and Germany. The interdisciplinary character of this book is representing in contributions of scientists from psychology, special education, linguistics, genetics, and neuropsychology.

The main topics of the book are structured in four chapters. They are related to dyslexia with some new perspectives on this old phenomenon, traumatic experiences, intervention methods, and some special methodical problems, particularly in qualitative research methods.

The authors of the book articles, the participants of the workshop, as well as the editors were very grateful for the sponsorship of the DAAD for scientists from Sri Lanka.

Evelin Witruk
Shally Novita
Yumi Lee
Dian Sari Utami

Leipzig, March 2016

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Chapter 1

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Evelin Witruk

University of Leipzig, Germany

Dyslexia – New Perspectives on an Old Phenomenon

Abstract. The article aims to the question what is new until the last two decades in the dyslexia research and in the assessment. Some new aspects and some lines of progress will be discussed regarding the genetic basis of dyslexia, the hemispheric dominance, and the visual-spatial abilities of dyslexic individuals in different ages.

Keywords: genetic basis of dyslexia, hemispheric laterality, visual-spatial abilities.

1 From family and twin studies to the analysis of the genetic code

Family and twin studies indicated over decades a strong hereditary disposition of dyslexia. The studies showed that 40 % of the siblings and parents of a dyslexic were also having dyslexia (Grimm, 2001; Wilcke & Boltze, 2010). In twin studies, the genetic determination of dyslexia was highly estimated (about 60 %; Olson, Forsberg, & Wise, 1994). But the critical point regarding these studies is that the non-measured impact of family members, of cultural and natural environment were not be considered.

Linkage studies are a way to narrow the genomic region, where relevant disease genes are expected. Several genes have been linked to dyslexia, including DCDC2 and KIAA0319 on chromosome 6 and DYX1C1 on chromosome 15 (e. g., Grigorenko, et al., 1997). But, these findings are not always replicated. Molecular studies have linked several forms of dyslexia and different cognitive processes to genetic markers. However, no single gene is definitively implicated in dyslexia. Linkage analysis showed until now that at least nine different chromosomal regions could be identified where several disease genes are suspected. Those regions are connected with dyslexia, and are called DYX regions (Witruk & Wilcke, 2010).

Association studies focused on genes previously identified in linkage studies as potential candidates and compared different populations (i.e., dyslexics vs. controls). Most relevant are the analysis of SNP (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism), which means that a single base at a certain position in the genome is different in some individuals, and that these individuals comprise at least 1 % of the population. ← 13 | 14 →

Wysocka, Lipowska, and Kilikowska (2010) could show that dyslexia “seems to be a complex trait determined by number of genes, with small to moderate effects on the specific phenotype, involving various factors such as heterogeneity, incomplete penetrance, phenocopy, or oligogenic inheritance. Based on combined linkage and association analysis using both qualitative and quantitative phenotypes, the multiple regions (DYX1-DYX9) on chromosomes 1, 2, 3, 6, 11, 13, 15 and 18 have been reported likely to contain genes contributing to dyslexia. Most recently, four candidate genes (DYX1C1, KIAA0319, DCDC2, ROBO1) have been identified as associated with dyslexia” (Wysocka et al., 2010). Therefore, it is possible that one person has some genetic risk variants and some protective variants that compensate each other. Depending on the number and type of genetic risk variants, a mild, moderate or severe type of dyslexia is developed (Witruk & Wilcke, 2010).

2 From the assumption of left handedness to hemispheric laterality profiles

The former assumption of left handedness as a characteristic of dyslexic individuals could not be confirmed in the last decades. Several empirical studies found a weak, combined laterality, and hemispheric coordination problems among dyslexic children. Larsen, Höien, Lundberg, and Ödegaard (1990) found a reduction of the usual asymmetry of the left and right Planum Temporale as well as a high correlation of mixed handedness and phonological disorders. Stein (1994) explained dyslexia by the impaired magnocellular functions and the impaired hemispheric specialization and lateralization. Sebastian and Yasin (2008) showed in a Mismatch Negativity experiment with compensated dyslexic adults that the lateralization of the auditory system can be less specialized as a result of impaired hemisphere dominance.

Our research investigated the laterality profiles in dyslexic and normal-reading children in connection with their phonological awareness (Schulz, 2013), their intelligence profiles and reading and spelling performances (Unger, 2007). Two studies of laterality effects (hemispheric dominance effects) on hands, eyes, and legs in dyslexic children were discussed. It could be confirmed our assumption of weak and combined hemispheric laterality in dyslexic children and its motoric and sensory behavioral consequences on preferences of hands, eyes, and legs in dyslexic children. The individual laterality profiles were compared between dyslexic and normal reading children on the basis of discriminate and cluster analysis. The results show a dependency on dyslexia, gender, and a correlation to the phonological awareness. ← 14 | 15 →

3 Visual-spatial abilities: Deficits versus strengths?

The beginning of dyslexia research is connected with the assumption of special, and strong visual impairments in the sense of “congenital word blindness” (Orton, 1925) and the “Raum-Lage-Labilität” (Schenk-Danzinger, 1991). In several studies, visual deficits were found in dyslexic individuals. In most of the studies including dyslexic children visual deficits could be confirmed, such as Lipowska, Czaplewska, and Wysocka (2011), whereas other studies (e.g., Graeve, 1997), found no significant differences or could show advantages in the dyslexic individuals (Witruk, 2011, 2015). Therefore the question can be generated regarding the compensation effects during the life span of dyslexic individuals or visual-spatial strengths which can be connected with dyslexia.

Deficits in script acquisition can be the expression of a global, holistic processing style which can have advantages within several other visual requirements compared to reading and writing (Brunswick, Martin, & Marzano, 2010; Károlyi, Winner, Gray, & Sherman, 2003). This global, holistic processing style can be based on the reduced hemispheric asymmetry (Larsen, Höien, Lundberg, & Ödegaard, 1990). Our research is caused by the controversial findings regarding visual-spatial abilities in dyslexic individuals and the clear link to gender dependency of these abilities.

In three experiments, we used visual tasks which can be solved by different cognitive processing styles. In contrast to the analytic processing style, the global, holistic processing style is possible with assumed advantages for the accuracy and the reaction speed. We asked like Tafti, Hameedy, and Baghal (2009) and Wolff and Lundberg (2002) about the advantages in the sense of talents or compensation products of dyslexic individuals regarding visual-spatial abilities. We assumed that compensation products are developing over the school time and are completed in the adolescence. Therefore, we integrated dyslexic and control individuals from different age groups (children with a mean age of 10.26 years, adolescents with a mean age of 17.16 years and young adults with a mean age of 23.04 years) and from different orthographic background (Cantonese ideophonetic, Arabic segmental, and German alphabetic script). The results could confirm our assumption of visual-spatial advantages in dyslexic individuals in dependency of gender, age group, and the type of orthography. The advantages were clear in the group of adolescents and therefore they can be interpreted as compensation products (Witruk, 2015).

One of the conclusions of these findings led to the development and application of virtual realities for the assessment and treatment of dyslexic individuals on the basis of their visual-spatial strengths. Attree, Turner, and Cowell (2009) could show ← 15 | 16 → that the visual-spatial strengths of dyslexics are to observe in the age of adolescents, not only on the basis of traditional paper and pencil test (here used British Ability Scale, BAS II), but also on the basis of virtual reality tasks. They constructed a virtual reality test by using Superscape VRT software and could show significant better spatial recognition memory performances among dyslexic adolescents comparing with a control group. The authors conclude that the learning process of dyslexic children should integrate their strengths from the beginning. Using techniques that help them to learn through their strengths can enable successful learning. On this way they expect prevention against strong primary (failures in reading and/or writing) and secondary symptoms (e.g., anxiety, low self-esteem, and low motivation) of dyslexic individuals.

4 Affiliation

Prof. Dr. Evelin Witruk

Institution: University of Leipzig, Educational and Rehabilitation Psychology

Address: Neumarkt 9–19, 04109 Leipzig, Germany


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2016 (May)
Strain and Stress Experiences Qualitative Research Methods
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2016. 209 pp., 18 b/w fig., 12 tables

Biographical notes

Evelin Witruk (Volume editor) Shally Novita (Volume editor) Yumi Lee (Volume editor) Dian Sari Utami (Volume editor)

Evelin Witruk is a full professor of Educational and Rehabilitation Psychology at the University of Leipzig. The co-editors, Shally Novita, Yumi Lee, and Dian Sari Utami, are team members of the international Department of Educational and Rehabilitation Psychology at the University of Leipzig.


Title: Dyslexia and Traumatic Experiences
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