The Czech Republic

In the Czech Republic, dyslexia is used as a global term for various developmental deficiencies relating to reading skills. The criteria used for dyslexia are not clear and intervention is solely focused on word reading training, while not much is known about the pattern and level of reading comprehension deficiencies among Czech readers.

The first mention of dyslexia can be found in an article describing the reading difficulties of a twelve-year-old girl, written by a physician, Antonín Heveroch, as early as in 1904. However, the first extensive studies of this topic began in the 1950s. These studies were connected to the topic of minimal brain dysfunction (MBD). Official acknowledgment of the topic of SLD came in the 1970s, when special educational counselling centres were established.

The term ‘Special Education’ was introduced in the Czech Republic in the1960s. However, it wasn’t until relatively recently that the idea that ‘all children had a right to an education’, first espoused in child development movements in the 1920s and 1930s, became part of educational and social policy.

The first dyslexia association in the Czech Republic – the Czech Dyslexia Association – was established in 1999, and is a voluntary not-for-profit organisation for professionals who deal with the condition, other specific learning disorders, and associated behavioural difficulties. The spirit of the association is one that fosters participation between people with dyslexia, parents of children with dyslexia, and any other stakeholders who are willing to get involved in their various activities. The main aim of the organisation is to disseminate new knowledge to specialists who are active in the field of dyslexia.

In the Czech Republic, assessment can be carried out by psychologists and special teachers / educators who work at psycho-pedagogical centres or in a special pedagogical centre. The diagnosis cannot be determined by a parent, a teacher, a subject herself, or even a paediatrician.

The teacher can carry out some sort of educational assessment on children whose lack of progress is a cause for concern. When a specific learning difficulty or disability is suspected, the teacher will try to investigate the following areas:

🔎 Reading: the level of reading speed, errors made, level of understanding, general reading behaviour.
🔎 Writing: handwriting, fine motor coordination issues, pencil grip, ability to visualise letters and ability to remember the motor patterns of letter forms.
🔎 Writing: spelling (focusing on the most common errors)
🔎 Mathematics: the child’s ability to understand simple number concepts and learn number facts and procedures; whether they can align numbers into proper columns, perform written calculations, and retrieve numerical facts (e.g. multiplication tables).
🔎 Focus: the child’s ability to maintain focus and concentration.
🔎 Auditory perception: the ability to divide words into syllables, the ability to recognise the first sounds of a word, word retrieval (verbal confidence and fluency), the comprehension of words in a song, the recognitioni of when a sound changes, etc.
🔎 Visual perception: possible difficulties in the discrimination of figures, the ability to distinguish an object from irrelevant background information, the ability of the child to be aware of the distinctive features of forms including shape, orientation, size, and colour.
🔎 Speech: richness of vocabulary, the ability to find suitable expressions, specific speech disorders.
🔎 Rhythm: the ability to produce and reproduce rhythm.
🔎 Spatial orientation: abilities relating to spatial orientation.
🔎 Directionality: the ability to recognise and operate upon left and right planes, possible problems with transversion and sagittal awareness.
🔎 Teamwork: issues surrounding a child’s aptitude and attitude when working in a team.
🔎 Family: looking at the family environment; the general level and type of education, chhild care, parental values regarding education, and parental attitudes towards childcare.

Diagnosis is generally carried out in the same way for all age groups, though the psycho-pedagogical centres work mainly with children and work with adults is rare.

The number of students with learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia has been growing at Czech secondary schools in the recent years, according to the data of the Education Ministry. According to experts in the Czech Republic, dyslexia-type conditions now account for 8 to 10 % of the population, with boys having it more often than girls. About half of the dyslexia cases are hereditary.

As of 2016, 8070 Czech secondary school students were affected by dyslexia, while four years before it was 6729. At elementary schools meanwhile, 36,638 students had problems with dyslexia, which was slightly more than in 2012/13 (34,521). It is expected that a number of elementary school students still are not aware of their dyslexia.

In terms of legality, Czech Republic legislation has been established in accordance with many other European countries, but the rules are not fully understood by the people who should apply them in practice; therefore, the practical implementation is often weak. Children and adolescents with dyslexia are treated in accordance with Czech School Law and Public Notice, but no regulations are available for adults with dyslexia.

There are very few centres for immigrants with dyslexia.

Ten Second Interviews: Slovakia and the Czech Republic

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