Dyslexia is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects reading, spelling, and writing abilities. People with dyslexia typically experience trouble reading fluently. Thus, they often tend to read slowly. It may also cause difficulties in other tasks, such as writing or remembering spellings, reading long sentences or paragraphs, etc. Dyslexia can also cause difficulties in overall information processing.
Dyslexia is a complex condition influenced by a variety of factors, including genetics and neurological development. Another important factor influencing dyslexia is stress. Stress and dyslexia share a complicated relationship, as daily life stressors can aggravate the symptoms of dyslexia, while dyslexia in itself can lead to increased stress.
Dyslexia and Stress: How are they linked?
As mentioned earlier, the relationship between dyslexia and stress is a tricky one. While stress doesn’t directly cause dyslexia, regular exposure to stress can certainly worsen the symptoms of dyslexia. Here are a few ways in which stress can affect dyslexia
Increased Difficulty In Tasks
Stress activates the body’s fight or flight response, leading to difficulty in tasks such as information retention and attention, which are both necessary for processing languages. This may further contribute to difficulty in reading fluently, writing, spelling, etc making the process of learning even more difficult for individuals with dyslexia. Research also suggests that stress can impact learning negatively
When stressed, individuals may lose motivation to put in the extra effort needed to manage their dyslexia. This can lead to a decline in reading practice, homework completion, and other important tasks.
Individuals with dyslexia are often required to put more effort into tasks involving language, which already makes these tasks difficult for them. Stress can often cause high levels of distraction, making it harder to concentrate.
The secondary symptoms of dyslexia, such as frustration, behavioural issues, aggression, low self-esteem, etc., can be aggravated by prolonged stress. Not only that, but prolonged exposure to stress without intervention also puts individuals with dyslexia at a high risk of developing an anxiety disorder.
Individuals with dyslexia often develop coping strategies to manage their symptoms. However, stress can make these strategies less effective, further impacting their ability to function in academic and social environments.
How to Cope With Dyslexia-Related Stress?
Neuropsychologist Jerome Schultz developed the DE-STRESS method to help individuals with learning disabilities. The method is as follows
- Define: Professionals working with individuals with dyslexia must analyze and grasp how dyslexia manifests uniquely in the person that they are working with
- Educate: Professionals should educate individuals with dyslexia on how dyslexia influences their performance in various settings like school, work, or social situations.
- Speculate: This step involves prompting individuals with dyslexia to look forward and predict challenges they might face due to their condition when encountering new situations.
- Teach: It is essential to provide age-appropriate strategies and techniques to individuals with dyslexia so that they can minimize frustration and maximize success. Teaching stress recognition, honest self-evaluation, and the ability to learn from mistakes is essential.
- Reduce Threats; This involves creating more environments that are safe for individuals with dyslexia Environments should be structured in a way that reduces stress.
- Exercise: Regular exercise contributes to stress reduction
- Success; Individuals with dyslexia need ample chances to showcase mastery and experience success. Providing these opportunities helps replace self-doubt with a sense of achievement.
- Strategize: Encourage individuals to use their knowledge about stress management and dyslexia to plan for the future.
While stress doesn’t cause dyslexia, its impact on the challenges associated with dyslexia is undeniable. Recognizing the link between stress and dyslexia is crucial to designing interventions to manage both stress and the symptoms of dyslexia.
- Association, B. D. (n.d.). The impact of stress and anxiety on learning. British Dyslexia Association. Retrieved January 8, 2024, from https://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/news/the-impact-of-stress-and-anxiety-on-learning
- Dyslexia, Stress, Anxiety. How Are They All Connected? – Dyslexia Reading Connection. (2023, February 21). Dyslexia Reading Connection -. https://dyslexiareadingconnection.com/resource/dyslexia-stress-anxiety-how-are-they-all-connected/
- Dyslexia—Symptoms and causes. (n.d.). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved January 8, 2024, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dyslexia/symptoms-causes/syc-20353552
- Novita, S. (2016). Secondary symptoms of dyslexia: A comparison of self-esteem and anxiety profiles of children with and without dyslexia. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 31(2), 279–288. https://doi.org/10.1080/08856257.2015.1125694
- The Dyslexia-Stress-Anxiety Connection—International Dyslexia Association. (n.d.). Retrieved January 8, 2024, from https://dyslexiaida.org/the-dyslexia-stress-anxiety-connection/