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Dyslexia is a myth

Graham Stringer, MP for Blackley, in his Confidential column on literacy, crime, dyslexia and wasted money

Published on January 12th 2009.

Dyslexia is a myth

Anybody who has any doubt about the impact of illiteracy on society should go to prison.

Any prison will do, the statistics don’t vary much.

As Strangeways is within my constituency and I visit it from time to time, I shall use it to illustrate my point. Of the prison population, roughly 80% of inmates are functionally illiterate and a similar number are drug abusers.

I am not, for one minute, implying that all functionally illiterate people take illegal drugs and engage in criminal activities, but, the huge correlation between illiteracy and criminal activity is striking.

It’s shocking that nearly one quarter of our fellow citizens in Manchester are functionally illiterate and this figure has shown little variation in the last 128 years of compulsory education.

I don’t believe in panaceas but I am confident that if the rate of literacy were improved there would be an inevitable decline in crime.

Children who cannot read or write find secondary school a humiliating and frustrating experience. Their rational response, with dire consequences, is to play truant.

Drugs, burglaries, robberies and worse, then, often, follow.

So why does the education system, even after the huge injection of funds over the past ten years, fail so many people and what can be done about it?

Unlike many of society’s problems, the answers are simple.

The reason that so many children fail to read and write is because the wrong teaching methods are used. The education establishment, rather than admit that their eclectic and incomplete methods for instruction are at fault, have invented a brain disorder called dyslexia.

To label children as dyslexic because they’re confused by poor teaching methods is wicked.

Dyslexia is a cruel fiction, it is no more real than the 19th century scientific construction of ‘the æther’ to explain how light travels through a vacuum.

The sooner it is consigned to the same dustbin of history, the better.

There are two simple reasons for being confident about the false nature of dyslexia. International comparisons and the fact that so called dyslexic children have no more trouble learning to read than other children, if the appropriate teaching methods are used.

If dyslexia really existed then countries as diverse as Nicaragua and South Korea would not have been able to achieve literacy rates of nearly 100%.

There can be no rational reason why this ‘brain disorder’ is of epidemic proportions in Britain but does not appear in South Korea or Nicaragua (it is also pretty damning that according to Professor Julian Elliot there are 28 different definitions of dyslexia).

But you don’t have to go halfway round the planet to see where this fictional malady has been eradicated. You can go to West Dunbartonshire where the Council has eliminated illiteracy.

When it started its literacy programme it had a higher than national average level of pupils entering secondary school who were functionally illiterate.

The magic bullet in West Dunbartonshire, was using synthetic phonics (sometimes known as linguistic phonics) to teach children to read.

This system recognises that there are 43 distinct sounds or phonemes in the English language.

In this system each sound is introduced initially with a signal ‘basic code’ spelling, for example the ‘ee’ sound is connected to the ‘ee’ spelling. Students are then taught to read by blending all the signs in the words, e.g for ‘ee’ the spellings ‘y’ as in funny, ‘ea’ as in eat, ‘e’ as in reflex, ‘i.e’ as in cookie etc.

This system successfully stops the confusion caused when learning to read and spell, by the fact that in the English language there are only 26 letters for 43 sounds.

It is amazing that rather than copying the huge success of the West Dunbartonshire scheme, 35,500 students are receiving disability allowances for dyslexia. Last year this cost £78.4 million and Ed Balls, the Minister responsible, wants to identify more dyslexics.

Certified dyslexics get longer in exams. There has been created, a situation where there are financial and educational incentives to being bad at spelling and reading. How perverse. This reached a pinnacle of absurdity, with Naomi Gadien, a second year medical student initiating a legal case against the General Medical Council because she believes she’s being discriminated against by having to do written exams.

I don’t know about anybody else but I want my doctors, and for that matter, engineers, teachers, dentists and police officers to be able to read and write.

It is time that the dyslexia industry was killed off and we recognised that there are well known methods for teaching everybody to read and write.

I started off this article by saying that I believed an effective literacy programme would reduce crime. I believe this to be the case but as important as this is, I think it is criminal that for nearly one quarter of the population, life is impoverished by the failure of the education system to teach them how to read and write properly.

This is not only a huge waste of taxpayer’s money, it is a terrible waste of human potential.

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422 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

PhilJanuary 12th 2009.

Hopefully at the next election, the dyslexics will know where to put their x and it will not be next to the name Stringer.

sevenarchespublishingJanuary 12th 2009.

The programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)tables which I presume have informed Graham Stringer's comments about South Korea and Nicaragua give South Korea top place; but I can see no mention of Nicaragua. After an extensive search on google to find out about Nicaraguan literacy rates, I have only come up with comments on the difficulties with schooling in that country and literacy rates at around 68%. There are still some parts of the Nicaragua where there is so much poverty children are not receiving an education of any sort. (Of course, I will be happy to stand corrected if it is just the case that I haven't been able to find Mr. Stringer's source. Politicians spout facts and figures, but the truth is most of what they say, is never investigated properly. Members of the public are told of the wonders of synthetic phonics as a teaching method but there have been many similar systems used in the past and there is really nothing at all new about it. Research at Warwick University at least 15 to 20 years ago came up with a very similar system which produced good results. New methods of teaching always do, as everyone gets enthusiastic and makes it work - give it a few years and it all gets to be ordinary and ceases to be the pancea it once was. Phoneme teaching, very very similar to that of the sythetic variety, takes place in Manchester, I am not at all sure why Mr. Stringer doesn't know that.

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

Karl - Thats the crunch point, whether he believes it or not he has made the link within the article between illiteracy, dyslexia, crime and drugs, therefore he has technically insinuated that 'mythical' dyslexics are functionally illiterate, and therefore predisposed to crime and substance abuse (incidentally it was a clever stroke of him to put the disclaimer in stating that he wasn't saying 'all' functionally illiterate people ..... however, from his example with strangeways, we are looking at a range of between 60% and 80%) ..... You're right, they do have the position to talk to scientists and make their own opinions, and just like GW and the Global Warming issue, Mr Stringer has done so, and ignored the evidence which points to the fact that Dyslexia does indeed exist. ...... Is it wrong for the dyslexia 'apologists' to expect at least a little bit of verifiable evidence and research to back up the claims made here? I would say that it was common sense to reject an idea to a greater extent until evidence was produced. ...... Extreme example here, and a bit of a silly one, but still valid ...... If someone were to state that the sky was bright pink with no evidence, you would obviously, and quite correctly, ignore the claim because you know it appears blue (or grey around here), however if they produced evidence that the colour 'Blue' had been misnamed and it really should be 'Pink' then you'd be correct to take a pause for thought on the matter.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

Are you dyslexic Zabzy? Their only appears to be one there? Am i wrong?

HelenJanuary 12th 2009.

For those of you arguing about arguments being anecdotal here are some references for research supporting Dyslexia:-Snowling, M.J. & Maughan, B. (in press). Reading and other learning disabilities. In Gillberg, C., Harrington, R., & Steinhausen, H-C. (Eds). Clinician's Deskbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.Snowling, M. J. (2004) The science of dyslexia: A review of contemporary approaches. In Turner, M.., and Rack, J,R.. (Eds.) The Study of Dyslexia. Kluwer Academic Publishers. 77-90.Snowling, M.J. (in press) Dyslexia. In Hopkins, B. (Ed.) Cambridge Encyclopedia of Child Development.Snowling, M.J. & Griffiths, Y.M. (2003) Individual differences in dyslexia. In Nunes, T., and Bryant, P. (Eds.) Handbook of Literacy. Dordrecht: Kluwer.Nikolopoulos, D., Goulandris, N. & Snowling, M. (2003). Developmental dyslexia in Greek. In Goulandris, N. (Ed.) Dyslexia in different languages, (pp53-67) London: WhurrSnowling, M. J. (2002) Reading development and dyslexia. In Goswami, U.C. (Ed.) Handbook of Cognitive Development. Oxford: Blackwell. 394-411.Hatcher, J. & Snowling, M.J (2002). The Phonological Representations Hypothesis of Dyslexia: From Theory to Practice. In Reid, G. & Wearmouth, J. (Eds.) Dyslexia and Literacy: Theory and Practice. John Wiley & Sons. (pp 69-83)Snowling, M.J. (2002) Dyslexia: Individual and developmental differences. In Stainthorp, R. & Tomlinson, P. (Eds) Learning and Teaching Reading (British Journal of Educational Psychology Monograph Series II, No. 1). Leicester: The British Psychological Society.Snowling, M.J. (2001) Dyslexia: Diagnosis and Training. In Smelser, N.J. and Baltes, P.B. (Eds) International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences. Oxford: Pergamon,. 3921-3924. (Online from November 2002)Goulandris, N. & Snowling, M. (2001). Dyslexia in adolescence: a five-year follow-up study. In Hunter Carsch, M. & Herrington, M. (Eds.) Dyslexia and Effective Learning. London: Whurr Publishers.Snowling M.J. (2000). Language and literacy skills: who is at risk and why? In Bishop, D.V.M. & Leonard, L.B. (Eds). Speech and language impairments in children: Causes, characteristics, intervention and outcome. Hove, UK: Psychology Press. 245-260.

quit yow jibba jabbaJanuary 12th 2009.

Stringy....Dyslexia does exist unfortunately...what also exists is lazy good for nothing's who don't want to learn, grasping onto the coat tails of the real sufferers in the hope that they get out of a bit of comprehension and get a free laptop for the trouble. Honestly, look around your office, of all the real people on the long term sick with depression about 75% just wanted a few weeks off.FACT!

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

I assume Mr Stringer has never lived with someone who is affected by Dyslexia. My wife has lived all her life with it, though we never new why she had such difficulty with instructions etc. We eventually realised it was probably a form of Dyslexia when she was in her 50's. As a result, from a very young age she has built up protective walls to avoid embarrasment when she didn't understand something. However my wife went on to complete and pass a two year diploma course, while continuing in full time employment at 55. Her spelling is generally very good & She is neither lazy or illiterate. Mr Stringer does not know what he is talking about.

he's right you knowJanuary 12th 2009.

Spot on Graham. Kids shouldn't be allowed to move up a year, let alone leave school until they can read and write. Whilst we're at it, let's get them to speak properly as well. Stop making excuses for people, you are not helping them.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

Dyslexia is part of the booming state education 'special needs' racket. Stringer has done well to alert people to one of the trendy, expensive fads that infect our state education system.

PollyJanuary 12th 2009.

Mike, were you being sarcastic and I've missed the point when you said Seoul was a little known place in Korea? It's the CAPITAL CITY of South Korea, and a 'little known' event called the Olympic Games was held there in 1988. No wonder people are taking a pop at Mancunians elsewhere in the postings.

Alan ArtusJanuary 12th 2009.

Sringer's comments show him to be nothing more than a headline seeker. to seek to confuse the very real condition of Dyslexia with the failings of society and the education system is absurd. Perhaps GB will call upon Stringer to resign.

a mumJanuary 12th 2009.

Totally agree - phonics works best for most kids, should be adopted in all schools, and no child should leave primary illiterate. I was horrified last year to find an 11 yr old at the local primary who couldn't read. Equally stunned that there was no concerted effort to sort that out before secondary - to the extent that I volunteered time to help when the school seemed to think there was no problem. Staff for this age group did not understand phonics or current best practise. This sort of thing is failing a significant number of our kids.But PLEASE do not equate this with dyslexia. A small number (maybe 2-4%) of children are genuinely dyslexic. Like my son. He comes from a house full of books, was read to every night & yet had difficulty learning to read. He is literate. Through our hard work. He still at secondary age has problems reading & writing quickly, organising his thoughts, remembering things. He will probably never express himself well on paper.His school have offered him very little in the way of help - most extra things he needs are provided by us.It is very frusrating to read that an MP doesn't believe in something that I see affecting him and other kids.By all means make the case for phonics teaching - it would benefit the majority of kids including dyslexics. But don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Dyslexia does exist - and shouldn't be used as an excuse for poor teaching.PS If you really believe in phonics could you ask Gordon Brown why he is funding the very expensive Reading Recovery programme to the tune of about 10 mill? This is not a phonics based program as reccommend by the Rose review

ADJanuary 12th 2009.

This is an ignorant ill considered and inacurate piece of tripe writing.If stringer wants to promote the teaching of phonics then he should not do it by atacking those with an accepted disorder. Its manipulative political posturing at best.The sugestion that children, many very young would deliberately not learn to read as well as they might, to then fake or bluf their way through a rigorous testing procedure in order to gain some dishonest financial gain is unrealistic at best ignorant at worst.As for Doctors the 2nd year medical student wants to take and pass exams - if all the questions are answered correctly then what mater if its verbal, in writing, or typed? And further would Mr stringer say that a blind person for example (who would also be unable to demonstrate their ability in a written exam) be excluded from any profession? or from education on acount of disibiltiy.I can only hope that with dyslexia so prevent his dyslexic voters take a stand against this kind of ignorance and vote him out.

pobyl cwmJanuary 12th 2009.

It is all about discrimination against this poor woman.She has every right to be angry against the male dominated medical profession who are too scared to lower standards to allow women to become doctors.The law should enforce that 50 percent of doctors are women and no man should ever treat a woman.All modern training should be directed towards women and not men to allow this oppressed gender minority equal rights as medical professionals.The issue of exams and qualifications is irrelevent it is all about mysogyny and denying women opportunity.Why do doctors need such high qualifications? How often do we just get the same old stuff when we see a GP?It is all smoke and mirrors.

SarahJanuary 12th 2009.

I cannot actually believe that an MP is stating that Dyslexia is a myth. I think this is harmful, and an affront to those who have to suffer the condition and also to those who do such brilliant and valuable work aiding those with Dyslexia. A vast majority of the views expressed here are insulting, out of touch and show no understanding at all, and are, quite frankly, gravely concerning.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

"....an analytical chemist in the plastics industry." That's a great qualification for understanding and commenting on dyslexia. He is pig ignorant at best!!

Very true trickyJanuary 12th 2009.

but i'm not the one criticising - merely defending - i am dyslexic :-) - i also put b's instead of p's very frequently - but it's all in my head - i don't have a problem

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

MCK - Being able to teach dyslexic pupils to read and write normally does not disprove its existence, I think it is more likely to be a testament to your teaching skills that you have been able to do so. It has been previously stated that Dyslexic people can be taught with the right methods, and I would say that in the face of the evidence pointing to the existence of the condition, you have simply been fortunate enough to use one of the correct techniques as standard ..... they ought to grab you for a teacher training group to get other teachers to use the same or similar methods.

cannonball11January 12th 2009.

To some degree Mr. Stringers "essay" reflects on the nature of New Labour itself; gone are the days when the vulnerable or those willing to persevere in the face of adversity could expect the support from the likes of members of the Fabian Society or Labour Party. Instead we have a bitter and spiteful party in its place, run for and by bitter and spiteful people - that has produced two bitter a spiteful governments.Mr. Stringer is nothing more than a product of our times, a sorry individual peddling an embittered ignorant cause. He didn't research into the subject of dyslexia before he committed his prejudices to paper, because he couldn't be bothered. "Couldn't be bothered" is the mission statement of the government and its MP's. I look forward to when Labour throw off its current fascist obsessions and returns to being a champion of social justice and democratic socialist reform.

Dr KarlJanuary 12th 2009.

ALL Manchester people are ignorant. I don't believe this, of course, but if I were to employ the level of enquiry demonstrated by most of the posters here and assume that they are representative of Manchester's intellect, that's the conclusion I'd draw. We can start be eliminating all the posters who use their own example or that of their mother (etc.) because they have presumably already been "diagnosed" as dyslexic and base all their opinions and experiences on this diagnosis, whether it is right or wrong. Just as pointless are the ones who extol their own academic achievements despite being dyslexic, for the same reason. Dyselxia probably exists in an extremely small number of people, and there are valid arguments on both sides as to its prevalence, as well as invalid ones. The idea that 10% of the population have it ignores the complexity of the original condition, and is more often than not a lazy diagnosis. The final group of ranters we can ignore are the ones who use their gift of free speech to diss Stringer, the Labour Party or (most mystifyingly) cluster bombs. They advance the argument not one inch.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

This article has some good points and some bad points. If the synthetic phonics system shows a scientifically provable advantage over existing teaching methods then I don't see any reason why it shouldn't be adopted, but Mr. Stringer doesn't help himself - or the case he's trying to promote - by coming out with nonsense such as:"If dyslexia really existed then countries as diverse as Nicaragua and South Korea would not have been able to achieve literacy rates of nearly 100%"(To which one obvious rebuff is: If yellow fever really existed then how come England has such a low incidence of this 'disease'?)or"it is also pretty damning that according to Professor Julian Elliot there are 28 different definitions of dyslexia"... and the word 'set' has 464 definitions (puzzles.about.com/library/weekly/blmosdef.htm…) - does this mean sets don't exist?The heading to one of the columns in Private Eye is a cartoon bearing the legend "Modern technology baffles pissed old hack".The same applies here except it's science and a politician that's been baffled.Perhaps instead of getting involved in complex issues about which he clearly knows little he should stick to simple matters, such as tying his shoelaces?

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

My mother has specialised in teaching children with dyslexia for over twenty years, my ex-partner was dyslexic and I find Mr Stringer's attention grabbing slurs a disgrace. Who's next for the firing line? People with depression should pull their socks up? Asthmatics should take a deep breath and get on with it? Last time I looked we were in the 21st century and MPs who are there by the grace of the public remember should be working to make life easier for all constituents not marginalising sections of society.

teacherJanuary 12th 2009.

Simply put dyslexia is the difference between IQ and ability (i.e. high iq but low ability) showing that the person is not functioning at their full potential. Being thick.... is matching low intelligence and ability. I think that this gentleman is demonstrating the latter... he clearly has NEVER taught a person who is dyslexic.

NormanskieJanuary 12th 2009.

I do not normally respond to idiotic people seeking power through controversial, stupid, ill informed, vote seeking remarks.YES let's educate people to a high standard and then they can make educated informed choices at the ballot box instead of voting in incompetents.

Roy LewisJanuary 12th 2009.

Unbelievers may wish to check out:Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain by Maryanne Wolf

secretoJanuary 12th 2009.

Oh Helen, oh my! my entire opinion undone due to an uncorrected typo or two. Maybe I'm dyslexic as well. I must put a claim in.Surely you can mark my grades up in sympathy for my hideous suffering?

NickJanuary 12th 2009.

It always amuses me how an exceedingly dyslexic friend of mine manages to spell everything perfectly when he has to, such as when writing usernames, passwords and web addresses or when writing HTML.

LizRJanuary 12th 2009.

My sister is 14 and has recently been diagnosed as dyslexic. Despite her diagnosis she does not have any issues with reading, indeed her library is extensive and varied and has always had a passion for reading from a very young age. Stringer’s comments regarding dyslexia are not only uninformed, inaccurate and simplified a very real problem but they are also discriminative and prejudicial. It would be my suggestion that before anybody publically makes controversial statements that they research all facts and perhaps he should contact the British Dyslexic Association for further information. If he were to do this he would learn that dyslexia is much more than reading and writing and symptoms and severity differ from each dyslexic. Further, it is a condition that is regulated by brain activity/control, much like mental illness. Had Stringer made such controversial, inaccurate and uninformed comments regarding depression/mental illness I am sure he would have suffered a very public backlash. Dyslexia’s brains function in a different way to the average joe which means they may have problems in expressing in writing their actual intelligence level, spelling may be poor, mix up similar letters, have poor auditory memory and have issues with time frames, to name a few symptoms. However, unlike an average joe a dyslexic person will have to deal with their symptoms on a daily basis. Stringer’s statement is misleading, I concede that there are no doubt people in the UK who state that they are dyslexic as an excuse for their shortcomings. However those dyslexics who have been diagnosed by a recognised psychologist should not be tarred with the same brush. As for the extra time for examinations, laptops etc, not all dyslexics receive such measures. Indeed, to obtain additional time in exams, a dyslexic child must undertake an assessment and meet certain criteria. They are not measures doled out like sweets all those children that are unwilling to learn. By dumbing down this very real illness Stringer has done nothing but increase the level of prejudice and discrimination dyslexics receive on a daily basis. Thanks to the misconception that dyslexia equals illiterate and stupid her peers and uninformed teaching staff have little regard for her diagnosis and as such make derogatory and unjustified comments to the point that her self esteem and confidence is at an extreme low. Unfortunately, Stringer’s comments will only to further serve such small mindlessness and discrimination. For Stringer to conclude that having dyslexia means you are likely to turn to crime is absurd. A high percentage of burglaries, drug related crimes and violent crime is as a result of poor social and financial circumstances, poor parenting, poor education and greed. To blame these crimes on dyslexia is ridiculous. Also, I am a little sceptical of the accuracy of the statistical information for Nicaragua and South Korea particularly as Stringer’s accuracy in his other statements is severly lacking!Maybe Stringer should meet with dyslexic suffers to obtain their views on dyslexia. Maybe Richard Branson or Bill Gates have 5 minutes in their poorly educated multi-million pound lives to explain to him how dyslexia affects them!!!!!!!

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

Just to illustrate my point, I'm going to take one of the main claims in this article and show exactly how far off the mark Stringer is ..... extremely bad research or 'not quite the truth? you decide ......................... "The education establishment, rather than admit that their eclectic and incomplete methods for instruction are at fault, have invented a brain disorder called dyslexia."....................... Point 1: Dyslexia was first discovered in 1881 by a German physician (doctor) by the name of Oswald Berkhan. ......... Point 2: The term Dyslexia was first used in 1887 by an opthalmologist. ........ Point 3: It has also been known under the names Congenital Word Blindness and Strephosymbolia, all these names and researches were conducted by Doctors, not the Educational establishment. ....... All of this is available from readily accessible sources, and yet it seems that Stringer either could not find them in the course of his research, or has completely ignored ESTABLISHED MEDICAL FACTS in his misrepresentation of Dyslexia.

DellJanuary 12th 2009.

Dyslexia is the secret password for 'free laptop', isn't it?

TRTJanuary 12th 2009.

Go easy on the guy. He's obviously a bit hard of thinking.

PokerPaulJanuary 12th 2009.

How can a guy as ignorant as this get voted into office?He is saying dyslexia does not exist, when there is so much medical evidence to say it does and basically equating all dyslexics to criminal drop outs.I am dyslexic; I have a degree and work as in senior management.I can not believe how outrageously ignorant this guy is. Equating illiteracy to dyslexia is so misinformed. How is it the literacy rates in our schools are so low, perhaps the fact that standards have been falling year on year. I recently helped my niece to revise for her exams the standard to which she had been taught was significantly lower than that of my education. Teachers in my day were considered highly respected members of society, now they are faced with ill mannered children and more often than not parents who are no better.The 10% of dyslexics in his constituency should demand he resign.

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

There have been some very good points raised there, but I would just like to expand on one of ShelleyinHull's statements in her last post there: "In response to your comments re there being no 'rational reason' why Dyslexia is more prevelant in Britain than in South Korea or Nicaragua - It is NOT." ...... If you look at the possible reasons behind this, then the way Mr Stringers dishonest spin on the entire subject becomes clear, and to illustrate this I'll use some extreme cases from abroad. What he has said about Dyslexia in relation to South Korea and Nicaragua (despite being wrong in the main) is like quoting South Africa in an AIDS article, or Zimbabwe in one about Cholera ..... Just because the powers that be refuse to acknowledge a problem doesn't mean that sweeping it under the carpet makes it cease to exist. Before Gallileo people believed the Earth was flat, did that make it fact? Of course not ..... Before people knew what electricity was, what was lightning? The answer is of course electricity ..... There is also the factor that regardless of how much it has been bogged down by staff shortages, targets, quotas and 'red tape' managers, we still have one of the best health services in the world, and as such have an advantage in diagnosing these conditions over countries that lack an advanced healthcare infrastructure.

a mumJanuary 12th 2009.

Chris B said "It takes focus, concentration, self-discipline and desire plus talent in a field to succeed and learn. Not a free lap-top."Exactly. A free laptop or extra time will NOT help someone who doesn't know the answers to exam questions. They only help with getting the answers down in writing.Anyone who thinks these things are going to give someone a big advantage is not thinking clearly. So perhaps its time to stop moaning about this being dyslexics "cheating" or being given some sort of advantage......

Newton HeathJanuary 12th 2009.

Oh look...I'm dyslevix also.

Nicholas LawleyJanuary 12th 2009.

Maybe Stringer should come and meet my wife, her mum, and brother. They all suffer from some form of dyslexia, and in the case of my wife and her brother, the related condition of dyspraxia.As a result, I have to help my wife with her spellings, counting and remembering things as she has difficulty with all three.My brother-in-law often has to double check service numbers on buses because he reads them the wrong way round, and as a result has a disability permit for use on the buses to show it.My mother-in-law has to have a calculator with her at all times, because her dyslexia is numeric, meaning she cannot complete some calculations.Stringer has come out with some stupid remarks about things lately and perhaps should shut up or think about things before he opens that mouth of his.

Professor IgnorantJanuary 12th 2009.

I've not read this article but I agree with its messages and believe then man is right. I also agree with most of the posts. Well done all of you, especially you dyslexics, you've done especially well.

Mrs Brenda HatcherJanuary 12th 2009.

This man is showing the typical tendancy of ignorance coupled with an overwhelming egoism and ability to open his mouth and expose everyone to his assumed supremacy. Dyslexia is a term which covers many areas of inability to rationalise words and letters in the accepted form. Once diagnosed the person, hopefully a child, can be taught ways of dealing with their individual problem and most teachers are very happy to help. I say most teachers because unfortunately there are those who think like this man and are very unsympathetic to a child with any problem and I speak from personal experience in that quarter. I just hope that the people who voted him into his seat will remember his crass ignorance and reject him in the next election.

Tom SFJanuary 12th 2009.

Exactly right Mike, this site has Manchester News on it if i am right yes??? The reason why there are 150,000 words ( did u count them or something ? ) is because some people are angry whilst some are in support to Mr Stringer.

Frank VJanuary 12th 2009.

Mike - sorry to intrude on a tangent argument, but I think I understand what Karl is trying to say.I have to admit to my first thoughts, on reading somebodies claim to exceptional insight due to having experienced dyslexia first hand or the teaching of it, are those of "well, most of this will be a biased view worthy of discounting then".

Stephen NorwoodJanuary 12th 2009.

It is sad that a member of Parliament would write an article without studying his subject matter. Dyslexia is a real condition, it can seen in the different organisational structures of the brain during brain scans. It is true that it varies in the incidence in the populations across the world. There are a number of explanations for this but chiefly are the rules that govern the grammer and spelling within each language. English is a particularly difficult language because it is made up from many different languages and has many exceptions to the rules that define spelling. It is often not phonetical and this presents difficulties for dyslexics who rely on the phonological cues to support their learning. The governments Letters and Sound initiative is a positive way forward in raising teachers and parents of the correct approach to phonics teaching. I hope that the MP will now take the time to study dyslexia a little more. The Inclusion Development Programme is a new initiative to raise awareness of dyslexia - he should start there!

nathJanuary 12th 2009.

Lucy,Believe me, your boyfriend is just not very bright in certain areas....sounds like a fantastic Landscape architect. Accept him for who he is....with or without colored glasses!!

Ashley's Vibrating BumholeJanuary 12th 2009.

In this day and age, the spazzers should at least use a spellchecker. There's no excuse for mongoloid spelling in such enlightened times as these. The can also get their computers to read out the words to them. If they still fail in society after that, then let's just give them a pickaxe and throw them down the mines. :thumbup:Ashley's Vibrating Bumhole xxx

KellzoneJanuary 12th 2009.

PS I also want engineers, teachers, dentists and police officers to be able to read and write. I also want MPs to be better-informed on a topic before they expound there views.

Secret4uJanuary 12th 2009.

This is a damaging article by a Labour MP who has failed to grasp anti-discrimination legislation and who knows little about the lives of disabled people, and who has failed to grasp how non-disabled society - i.e. people like him - obstructs disabled people.It is true to say that a huge proportion of our prison population either have learning disabilities or mental health problems. However, in the light of this, to deny the existence of dyslexia actually reinforces the problem.I don't know if he has actually met any parents struggling to get their dyslexic children statemented - or to ensure that the LEA fulfills the terms of their statement - but if he had more insight into these situations, he would not present the picture he does.What shocks me is how ignorant he is about equality. As a lifelong Labour supporter and member, I am extremely disappointed. The quality of backbench MPs seems to be very low.Contrast this with William Hague, who brought in the Disability Discrimination Act, and we can see why Labour loses ground to the Tories. Mark Haddon, Shadow Minister for Disabled People, also looks increasingly impressive in contrast to the Hon. Graham Stringer. So does David Cameron.Many of the Labour Party's leading members don't even understand their own politics. No wonder the Tories run rings around them.

EdwinJanuary 12th 2009.

Graham Stringer is right about this - but it wasn't an excuse invented by our schools. It was invented by educationalists, who have virtually nothing to do with the actual business of teaching real children. and they have made a lot of money and a lot else out of the idea.

Bernard ChittyJanuary 12th 2009.

Graham Stringer MP,Dear Sir, Dyslexia is a myth.I think that there is much in what you say.I had great difficulty as a child reading and spelling. I failed my 11+. Both my elder sisters passed. I suggest that writing the names of objects on separate cards, eg TABLE, CHAIR, etc and then giving the card to a child to place on the correct item can be one way of learning. This is a good start. The second point is to learn the most used 200 words. Names are tricky, so ask how do you spell it? Also, what effect a silent "E" has on a word: it makes the preceding vowel "say its own name".I would be happy for some one from your office to contact me if you wish. Regards Bernard Chitty 023 92 466200.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

Please get someone from the dyslexia institute to comment. Our son has had their expert guidance for which we have paid - his primary school also gives him excellent support. Through all their effort and our son's determination to prove he's not stupid just dyslexic - he is now achieving and his confidence is building. He did not get a free laptop just loads of extra homework. We also paid for testing for Meares Irlen Syndrome - as mentioned in previous comment. We're very fortunate that he was diagnosed at a stage before he didn't want to or thought he couldn't learn. If dyslexia is such a "myth" then why do "Waterstones" the book shop have it as their chosen charity?

Professor IgnorantJanuary 12th 2009.

Apologies there folks I seem to have posted this twice. You'll note I corrected my mistake. Perhaps I too am dyslexic?

AngilegsJanuary 12th 2009.

I'm sure it's lovely to rely on statistics rather than real life and the experiences of real people. What a luzury you have.

kateJanuary 12th 2009.

This MP is a fool ,I have an intelligent son of 14 who can now read after having attended a specialist learning unit for 2 years but still struggles to write,type or even play ball games,as dylexia affects lots of things apart from reading.He could however probably make a speech without notes and come across as the most intelligent kid you had ever seen.local education authorities do not like to diagnose dyslexia,they call it specific learning difficulty and it has nothing to do with writing your b and d the wrong way round!!!

arbeedoggoneJanuary 12th 2009.

Has G Stringer noted the size of the Clackmananshire study? Has he read the 'Rose report' where prof Jim Rose led an analysis of the current evidence? Rose certainly casts aside the notion of a 'magic bullet' approach.His conclusion is that a consistant systematic approach is called for, bearing in mind the developmental needs of the individual child. This is a big ask when children within schools are driven by a political agenda - literacy and numeracy 'targets' which take little heed of the child's all round abilities, interests and needs.There are no universal cures and there was always a high proportion of illiterate people in prison before 'dislexia' was invented/diagnosed.

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

Paulipips - just like the proverbial cross eyed sniper your aim may be excellent, yet you still missed the target by miles. Or are you saying that in the case of the builder subsidence does not exist? In the cases of the doctor and the psychiatrist, why is it that some of the best in their fields acknowledge the existence of ME and ADHD? And in the case of dyslexia, why do you refuse to look at the portfolios of proof for its existence that have been built up since 1881? ..... Yes, if some pharmaceutical company came out with a miracle pill that was somehow passed by the BMA and NICE then I agree, profits would certainly have a bearing on the diagnosis rate for the less scrupulous in the medical profession. ..... I would be interested in seeing your proof into the claims in your post, but then again you don't need any, as you didn't display the same level of arrogance and ignorance as Mr Stringer, who stated his opinion as a fact.

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

Dr Karl, I would have to ask in that case who it leaves that is not ignored, as your post has basically discounted everyone who has made comment on this article, and simply leaves the article itself as an erroneously claimed fact............................The dyslexics (and family of dyslexics) who have posted here have a valid claim to be heard because they have experience of the condition................................The people who you claim assume they represent public opinion, look at the posts for and against, and you'll see which ones out of them are correct in their assumptions and which are not (as the replies on here must by definition of open forum, be approximately representative because they come from the public directly)..................whether 10% of the population or not has it depends directly on the complexity, and also whether another of the claims by both Mr Stringer and Dr Elliot is based on fact or conjecture, and that is the 28 descriptions point ..... are there 28 descriptions, or are there 28 variants/strains?.............And finally, on this type of emotive subject, can you honestly say that you blame some people for venting their anger in comments? ..... at least they are, in the main, directing it at the source of these ill advised claims

Tom SFJanuary 12th 2009.


scoteeeJanuary 12th 2009.

Frank V 2 sureley a spell checker may correct the wrongs for you, but if you made the mistake in the first place chances are you will make another one reading the thing back and getting your knickers in a twist over it.Bloody spell checkers, am I missing something here ?

UxterJanuary 12th 2009.

this guy is obviously a tawt!

NickJanuary 12th 2009.

The difference is i wouldn't mind standing in a line with someone with the Ebola virus. Put me in a line with Mr Stringer however and i might just be sick :D

ShelleyinHullJanuary 12th 2009.

In response to your comments re there being no 'rational reason' why Dyslexia is more prevelant in Britain than in South Korea or Nicaragua - It is NOT. The simple fact is that Dyslexia does not just affect one's literacy, and the more complicated (perhaps too complicated for you to understand?) fact is that the English language is so inconsistent due to it being an amalgamation of a number of different languages, heavily taking influence from latin forms, and leaving spellings unchanged when pronunciation has changed drastically(!) makes it all the more difficult to proccess for someone with a Dyslexic profile.I speak as someone with a Dyslexic profile myself. Educated in a state school in Hull. I now have a degree and you can tell that I am not illiterate. My dyslexia affects my ability to organise myself, meaning I have to work very hard not to forget things, to keep things tidy and to be on time for appointments. It also affects my ability to tell left from right, and to tell the time. I am occasionally very clumsy, and sometimes have difficulties with maths - especially the annoying trait of reading numbers the wrong way around, so 24 is read as 42. I think you should do some reading on what Dyslexia actually IS before claiming that it is a made up disorder to provide an excuse for illiteracy. Idiot.

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

esquilo - ok, as you've stated that this website is dedicated to food, drink, art and entertainment, maybe you would like to explain where in those categories the article these posts are in response to falls (and fictional humour doesn't count)

SteJanuary 12th 2009.

Dyslexia is not a moth

KarlJanuary 12th 2009.

Mike - You can't genuinely read into the article that Stringer believes that dyslexics are criminals, can you? That seems like reductio ad absurdum to me. Let's not forget he's a politician. Politicians are not scientists; they are, however, in a position to listen to the opinions of scientists and form judgements of their own - indeed, to ignore dissenting voices would be a dereliction of duty. Imagine if all politicians ignored the evidence on global warming, for example. We have a very recent example of this in the shape of GW Bush, and even he has changed his opinion now he doesn't have to act on it. Great progress is made when we seek out the truth, and if the dyslexia apologists would rather live in comfortable darkness than have every single aspect of their supposed condition researched, debated, opposed and maybe even upheld, they are effectively supporting the cessation of progress in their situation.

Tom SFJanuary 12th 2009.

Hi Mike, I have a meeting with Mr Stringer next Friday, i am going to be asking him about his reason's for stating this, as everybody can see this has cause widespread public outrage, we will all now have to wait for a response from the PM ora Labour spokes person on this matter in question.

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

Another little point I'd like to raise, and if possible have answered is that Mr Stringer quotes Dr Julian Elliot, stating that it is 'damning' that there are 28 descriptions of Dyslexia, and uses this as a leverage point in his claim that it doesn't exist. There are over 120 different types of cancer, each with multiple descriptive variances, and 3 primary types of flu, each with many strains, and again multiple variations of description for each. So going by the logic stated above, this must also be damning evidence as to those conditions not existing either, regardless of what the evidence says ..... time to eat those words and admit you are way off base on this one Mr Stringer.

Playwrite27January 12th 2009.

As an American citizen, I always thought the British were better than us, but this bloke really takes the biscuit! I have a learning disability. It's torture for the learning disabled to go through life, being told by ignorant prats like this MP of yours, that they are not disabled...being told year after year all your life, by peers, teachers and even a parent, that you can "do the work if you want to," even though the very real reality is...no, you can't! You're brain has a glitch in it--it's nothing to do with wanting or not wanting, it's everything to do with some wonky electrical impulse in one side of one's brain--probably that you were born with. This "man" is giving Manchester a bad name...and Britain as well. Who in their right mind wants to be represented by someone who boldly shouts from the rooftops that he's a mentally lazy and cruel prat. It's almost like being in America, listening to this...whatever he is. This prig doesn't help--he hurts--the issue. He hurts me, with his words...words can leave invisible scars, and if this disability nazi doesn't have the b_lls to apologize, than the miserable coward should just go back to his pram where he belongs.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

I can't believe this was published! Just because somebody suffers from Dyslexia, it doesn't mean that they are illiterate or any less intelligent than people who do not suffer from it. This is absolutely ridiculous and offensive! I don't have Dyslexia, but I have friends who do have it, as well as their degrees and careers. Therefore they're clearly not illiterate. I cannot believe that somebody actually commissioned this article to be written in the first place!

boredJanuary 12th 2009.

Helen you are allowed to free speech like the rest of us but to be honest the length of this rant is getting boring now, each point you make in the most recent rant has been made already. Does anyone have anything new to say that doesn’t require pointing out to the obvious? No offence Helen.

HelenJanuary 12th 2009.

I see you are living up to your screen name Professor Ignorant!Who are you to tell us how to use this forum and FYI that is far from a full bibliography!

Sharon MJanuary 12th 2009.

Forgot to say the web site is a government website and features comments from The Secretary of State Ed Balls and Sir Jim Rose who's last statement on the site reads :Update from Sir Jim RoseI would like to thank everyone who responded to my recent call for evidence, views and experiences on dyslexia and associated learning difficulties such as dyspraxia and dyscalculia. This resulted in about 850 responses, including 75 from children and young people. A thorough analysis of these responses is being prepared, which I will consider with my expert advisers as we develop recommendations to improve the identification, progress and outcomes for children and young people with dyslexia and associated learning difficulties. Many parents who responded tell us they find it difficult to obtain sufficient or appropriate help with their children’s difficulties through their schools, and some have sought support from independent specialists. Responses from people with dyslexia tell of the frustration and anxiety they experienced at school, again because they did not feel they were getting the help they needed. With valuable support from my Expert Advisory Group, through visits to schools, by reviewing published research and meeting a number of researchers, I am assembling an up-to-date picture of the complex nature of dyslexia and other associated learning difficulties around which I will be making recommendations on the identification and teaching of children and young people with these difficulties. Early identification is crucially important, but that is by no means the whole story. Once dyslexia and associated learning difficulties has been identified, we need to be a good deal clearer about what constitutes a high-quality teaching programme with sufficient flexibility to take account of individual differences.I would reiterate the Secretary of State’s December 2007 message to schools and local authorities: ‘We need to be better at identifying pupils with dyslexia and then supporting them … I want all schools to look closely at the support they offer for dyslexia, check that they are giving the most appropriate support available and try to identify dyslexia where it may occur.’This chimes with paragraphs 5:41 and 6:48 of the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice (www.teachernet.gov.uk/…/SENCodeOfPractice.pdf…) which say that ‘where progress is not adequate, it will be necessary to take some additional or different action to enable the pupil to learn more effectively. Whatever the level of pupils’ difficulties, the test of how far their learning needs are being met is whether they are making adequate progress’. The firm intention is that my report, which I am now expecting to publish this coming spring, will provide clear recommendations on how schools and local authorities can best respond to the Secretary of State’s challenge to improve the identification, progress and outcomes for children and young people with dyslexia and associated learning difficulties. Jim Rose1 December 2008

David HagleyJanuary 12th 2009.

well i don`t have one!

mumofdyslexicJanuary 12th 2009.

I feel appalled at this diatribe of bigoted and personal viewpoint. Knowing the struggles my son has had to endure and the financial hardships my family have suffered trying to help it is insulting Graham not only feels his views are credible but that he feels entitled to have them published. Luckily my son is intelligent, sensitive and has enough common sense not to be hurt by such arrogant outbursts. I hope graham never has to experience dyslexia in his own family. I am certain he would not feel entitled to ridicule any other disability as it would certainly not be pc. It s easy for the uneducated to knock dyslexia.

Mrs LeesonJanuary 12th 2009.

My daughter who is now 10 years old has had problems since with reading and writing since starting school. She reads very well now, but still has problems writing. She also has significant problems with maths.I had spoken to her teachers on many occassions to discuss these problems but was told that she was slow learner and was making progress slowly. I knew that this was not true due to the fact that she was so intelligent in other areas. We decided to have her assessed ourselves and our fears were confirmed, she suffered from Dyslexia. I wonder if the school would not admit that here was a problem because of the cost. My daughter is not lazy she is very hardworking and always gives 100% in anything she does. I worry about her future and how she will fare when she comes across people like you who dismiss her problems or blame them on the way she was taught. She will have to fight for any extra support throughtout her education - I just hope she has enought fight in her and doesn't give up.I'm sure that if one of your children had problems with reading and writing you would be the first in the queue to have them assessed.

Jarhead68January 12th 2009.

Oh, thank you, Helen. I was wondering what I was going to do at the weekend. Now I have a fabulous reading list. Bless you, dear girl.Man. U. 4 Evah!

Sharon MJanuary 12th 2009.

his email address is stringerg@parliament.uk ive sent one and not only to him but others but as usual you do not get any responses, well what do you expect.

Nick AJanuary 12th 2009.

I find the comments Mr. Stringer has made to be extremely offensive, what right or authority has a labour lap-dog backbencher (check his voting record) with a degree in chemistry got to comment on the existence or non-existence of a condition that he clearly has no knowledge about. As someone who has an honours degree in Biology, a masters degree in microbiology, half way through a medical degree and who is dyslexic, I can assure you the condition does exist and i'm glad it got picked up because otherwise I definitely wouldn't have passed my exams, as it was the pitiful amount of extra time I received didn't allow me to finish my papers. And as for the DSA, there is a paltry amount (around £150) available where students really need it (textbooks and printing), classed as "additional costs", something which Mr. Stringer claims over £22k a year for! This man should make a full apology to the house and if he had any decency he should resign as well.

HelenJanuary 12th 2009.

Thanks Mike you beat me to what i was going to say lol- cpuldn't have put it better myself :)

David MorganJanuary 12th 2009.

As is his style, Graham Stringer may have gone a bit over the top. That is how he has brought so much publicity to the subject.But he does have a point AND it is an important one. While people are lambasting him, thousands of children are going through school unable to read, when they are quite capable of learning to.Most primary teachers have not had the technical training needed to understand why or to know how to help.In our experience, running the Easyread System, there are probably around 2-3% of children who really have substantial problems with text that are tricky to sort out.But the rest don't. They have routine and easily recognised problems that can be fixed quite quickly.So, no... there IS something that can be called dyslexia. But yes... most of the 120,000 children who will leave primary school this summer unable to read, are quite capable of learning. I am confident of being able to teach 95% of them to read over the next 6 months, if given the chance. In fact we always guarantee the result when a parent or school asks for help.For more information have a look at our site:http://www.easyreadsystem.comBest wishes David

KellzoneJanuary 12th 2009.

What IS a waste of taxpayers' money is the salary paid to this self-appointed expert (i.e., idiot) who has absolutely no understanding of the struggle people with dyslexia face, not just in school but for the rest of their lives. I started teaching my son his ABCs before he could even walk. I read to him every single night. I bought video tapes and cassette tapes, including a phonic system. I used flash cards. He had a frieze of the alphabet on his bedroom wall. I sent him to nursery school where he continued to learn the basics of reading. By the time he started school he should have been able to read a newspaper with all the effort that had been put it; but he was one of the slowest readers in his class. I suggested that he must be dyslexic and his teachers thought I was mad. I sent him to private school for the last two years of his primary education because I thought the state school wasn't up to scratch and still he struggled. He was finally tested for dyslexia and my suspicions were confirmed. I then bought a multi-sensory reading manual designed especially for dyslexics which teaches children to read polysyllabic words through syllable division and still he struggled. I finally bought him Harry Potter books and the cassettes to go with them and he read them every night; and now his reading is pretty good, but he still can't spell or punctuate. He is entitled to a laptop and extra time during exams, but refuses both as he doesn't want to be seen as different! So, Graham Stringer, try telling my son that he is lazy or that there is no such thing as dyslexia!

Professor ChucklebuttyJanuary 12th 2009.

If Mr Stringer had read the email properly, we could have avoided all this fuss. He was asked to do a piece on DYSPEPSIA following his foul wind during lunch the other week.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

i love how everybody is ranting to their own tune!

LukeJanuary 12th 2009.

How disappointing to find a man who clearly has a level of intelligence using it to score headlines rather than research the whole issue. Yes, he researched literacy but did he get bored at that point? Literacy and dyslexia are too different things (for example does Mr Stringer think synthetic phonics will help my short term memory or instinctively know left from right – I’d like to see that). I have a degree and have a good career but struggled with writing in school. I spent more time on my GCSE English (for which I got a ‘B’) than on all the other subjects combined. I was only diagnosed at university and then only because I decided to get tested due to things pointed out on the Cosby Show, not because of people in education spotting it. When I was diagnosed my first question was what can I do about it – the response you will get off most people. Yes there will be lazy people trying to get what they can - show me an area of society (around the world) where this isn’t the case. As many of the people with personal involvement who have replied to this have pointed out, getting help from the education system is not easy. They don’t hand things out at the drop of a hat. Most people want support. Yes a laptop is nice but it’s an easy answer, not a proper one. The information is out there and the different methods of learning such as synthetic phonics will help but it often takes more effort than should be necessary to get that support. Well done to Mr Stringer in comparing a few statistics and coming to a conclusion. I can do that too. South Korea has 121 people per 100,000 in jail and Northern Ireland only 30 (World Prison Population List 2007 – International Centre for Prison Studies, King’s College London). Does this mean increasing literacy in Northern Ireland will increase the number of people committing crimes? No, not unless you are Mr Stringer. As for the editor who is now welcoming a response from a qualified person – did you used to work on the Russell Brand show? Your level of editorial control is non existent. Asking for a response after publishing an article that is this offensive to a significant proportion of the population is a bit late to say the least.If only you’d done a synthetic phonics course because apparently that solves everything!

Anonymous_28January 12th 2009.

I am appalled by the blatant discrimination about this genuine disorder, and equally shocked at some of the comments posted here! I am dyslexic but have developed coping strategies in order to achieve a 1st class science degree and a PhD, and have a successful career as an academic scientist. It is incredibly ignorant to suggest the difficulties experienced by people with dyslexia are due to ‘laziness’, do you not think that if we had a choice we would prefer not to struggle through?. Despite all the best will in the world dyslexia can be very hard to cope with and I would suggest that unless you suffer from it you are in no position to judge or discriminate.

silence is goldenJanuary 12th 2009.

Graham stringer does read these rants and Graham stringer is also well aware of the response he has achived.Graham stringer appears more and more arrogant as the seconds tick by with no response to the rift of questioning he has caused.

Jan HJanuary 12th 2009.

Responding to amused:You seem to want to be critical of the spelling mistakes and poor grammar. You are not without fault.Perhaps your parents should have taught you how to use an apostraphy correctly. Stones and glass houses?

RobJanuary 12th 2009.

I do not mean to knock colour blind people it is an analogy to discrible dylexia too some one who is not dylexicI know nothing about the condition of being colour blind but if I was an M.p writing an artical about it I,d study the subject in depth or better still ask someone who is colour blind.Ask your self this though Mr Wizard of Oz ,do you object to my using the colour blind as an anology in which case I apoagise for the offence or are you annoyed about dyslexics defending them selves on this forum?

TeacherJanuary 12th 2009.

I love the way the educational establishment gets the blame for poor literacy skills (and everything else that's wrong with society). Yes, kids get taught to read and write etc at school, but most spend only 6 hours a day there. If parents actually bothered to sit and read/write with their children instead of slapping them in front of an xbox or playstation for an easy life maybe they would get the extra practice that is sorely needed by most children. Dyslexia DOES exist, but as some here have said, that is simply a reason to try harder, not an excuse for failure.

Ernalds alter egoJanuary 12th 2009.

Damn I just cant keep my mouth shut...it'sno wonder I did'nt make a head teacher!

Bob HuskinsJanuary 12th 2009.

It's a fact that some people are academically-minded, and some are not. So what if a child doesn't read as well as others - maybe they're meant for a non-literary career. Pushing students towards academic goals rather than giving them the choice of academic and vocational ones is to blame. And there we have the pressure for all students to read and write perfectly. It's a nonsense!Dyslexia is a misleading term that refers to any number of difficulties a person has in written language. It doesn't exist as a disorder in itself, it's rather just a handy term used far too liberally these days to label any kind of failing at school. Teachers / policy makers should address individual problems, not a meaningless blanket term.

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

Karl - He has indeed formed his own opinion, but the evidence from his article itself shows that his research did not look at the actual evidence of its existence ..... and the evidence he claims as fact is either made up or highly misinformed and unverified. For instance his claim that Dyslexia doesn't appear in S Korea has been disproved, his claimed literacy rate for Nicaragua is between 20% and 30% out from official figures, his claim that it was invented by the educational institutions is seriously in error ..... You're wrong about the analogy with cancers, at least in the way I was using the analogy, Cancer may be visible and treatable in a physical way, however there are a multitude of functionally different cancers within the category, some requiring different treatments from others and some displaying drastically different symptoms from others ..... yet dyslexia is still lumped under one umbrella by Mr Stringer and dismissed. There are various functionally different, scientifically and medically proven, forms of dyslexia ....... this next bit might sound like deja vu ....... with different symptoms, and different treatments ..... the only difference is that you can't just cut dyslexia out, or irradiate it to kill off the bad bits. ................ Interesting point on the semantics, let me reword that a little ..... if we gave equal weight to every theory and opinion, despite relative weights of evidence, then we may as well not have science at all, as every proven theory would be open to any form of interpretation. You may not see that as the same thing, but think about it and you'll see the stark similarities.

DavidJanuary 12th 2009.

Much of this article is very silly. I have seen dyslexic pupils and the substantial improvement in their literacy skills when they receive teaching that addresses their needs.Of course, lack of literacy is really damaging for children, and of course phonics can be an excellent way of teaching. None of this means that dyslexia isn't real, though, and we need to provide every young person with the kind of teaching that they need, which is not necessarily the same for everyone.Don't rubbish dyslexia; help the dyslexic!

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

This labour MP is just showing his ignorance of a real problem. when at school 38 years ago I was written off and felt a real failure. 60 attempts at at gce's resulted in me aquiring GCE English GCE Geography and gce Maths twice all grade 6. This was followed by years of complaints at how slow I was at both reading and writing. But then Dyslexia had not been invented in those days. You were either branded thick which I am not or Lazy which I am not. Also there was no consideration of me going to University or gaining a degree. I was not even able to make my choice of career which would have been the merchant navy, becuase by the time I got the required entrance qualifications of three gce's becuse of my age they demanded A'levels. But then that was at the time Nurses were accepted with 3-5 gce'sHowever after a successful first year at University 2003-2004, In which my marks were 4 2/1s and 2 2/2s and 2 3rds, However in My first semester of my second year they all dropped to low level 3's that it was identified at the age of 49 I was dyslexic. This was obviously considered serious enough for the Authority to pay £12,000 for equipment and aditional support for the remander of my time at University. Oh or is that this man's next target poor teaching at teh Universities. Did he actually go to one? So Mr Stringer you may or may not suffer from it but it is a real and can be a debilitating condition, especially if you spend years of yourself suffering from depression becuse of fealing a failure and continually criticised. Your behaviour is wicked, not children being helped.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

To the idiot who said that Dyslexia is a way to get a free laptop, I have two words, but being Dyslexic I can't spell them. Use your imagination (if you have one). It took me three years of pleading the (alleged) support services at a Manchester university for help with my form of Dyslexia, and in the end had to resort to getting big guns involved just to get a small number of fairly useless support sessions arranged. There was no lap top, and no concessions were made for me. To be honest, that was not my intent in asking for help. I just wanted a little specialist tuition aimed at someone whose learning processes differ from the 'norm.' I mistakenly thought that an institution of higher learning might be able to provide such support. (Ha ha ha). I had to battle every inch of the way, and was made very stressed and unhappy by the whole process. I never used my 'disability' as an excuse to get preferential treatment, and in fact wasn't diagnosed until very late on in life, so just struggled along for years. After being diagnosed with a learning difficulty BY the university, I had to beg and BEG for help, and ultimately had to fight tooth and nail to get a tiny amount of support (which was provided by an outside agency). I wouldn't wish a learning disability on anyone, and people who try and negate such issues can just fcuk off.

Jarhead68January 12th 2009.

lysdexics untie!But what if Stringer's right? We've wasted so many taxpayers' quid on nothing because we experimented with our children's education by letting liberal, progressive twits get away from the fundamentals of good teaching. Oh, the humanity!

Tricky needs to chillJanuary 12th 2009.

Jesus tricky. Gobsmacked just fessed up to being dyslexic, admitted struggling and that teaching standards need to improved in his/her opinion.

scott charlesworthJanuary 12th 2009.

Graham your a waste of taxpayers money why? Read on. I'm a 25 yr old dyslexic PhD student, so illiterate far from it. My reading ability is above average but I still have problems reading and writing as my brain works in pictures. finding out I was dyslexic has really helped me tremendiously and without my diagnosis and help (which you think is a waste of tax payers money) I may never have reached my full potential. Furthermore, at first I was sceptical so I have took time to research and therefore understand dyslexia. Through research I have gained a greater understanding, which is why Graham I know that your speaking rubbish and your an absolute idiot! This is my opinion based on fact, shown to us by YOU through YOUR article, you've actually proved yourself to be an idiot, WOW only an idiot could do that. You have an idiotic opinion of dyslexia, I feel sorry for the people of your constituency and worried that your an MP. You have obviously not researched dyslexia and are talking about something you do not understand. If you had bothered to research the condition properly before making these stupid assumptions, based on forign government statistics, which we all know can be 'fiddled' to show what a government wants (just look at your parties new deal and employment figures). If you had done real research you would realise that dyslexia effects different languages to differing degrees, for example if I was Chinese I probably wouldn't be dyslexic, infact I would probably have an astonishing literacy, why, mainly (there are other factors) because a dyslexic brain works in pictures and so abstract words (which the english lang contains a hell of a lot of) mean nothing to me as my mind has no picture for them, thus confusing me resulting in reading problems Your stupid article has made me very angry and scared that there may be more MPs as stupid as yourself, I will be writing to number 10 as well as many others...Graham your the waste of taxpayers money.

foobooJanuary 12th 2009.

To say the standard of teaching is a problem is one thing (and one I agree with) so say dyslexia is made up is an entirely different thing, a damaging, hurtful and inaccurate thing. There is a wealth of medical evidence and research that proves it's existence."...rather than admit that their eclectic and incomplete methods for instruction are at fault, have invented a brain disorder called dyslexia.""Dyslexia is a cruel fiction..."These are not criticisms of teaching methods they are unsupported attacks on people with a genuine condition.If he didn't intend to offend and malign then he could publish a retraction clarifying his positions as primarily criticizing teaching. He hasn't done that...he's a misinformed bigot.

KimJanuary 12th 2009.

Sharon, we live in a country where childrens education is supposed to be free, so it is absolutely diabolical that you have had to go to the lengths that you have, in order to provide your son with the education he needs.

STRANGE WAYSJanuary 12th 2009.

I omitted to add that one area of conclusive evidence for neurological differences manifesting as dyslexia has come from Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) studies. You can't get evidence much more concrete than that. What's next on Mr. Stringer's hit list - autistic spectrum disorders?

Tom SFJanuary 12th 2009.

Now although i agree with Graham, Dyslexia is a condition which affects 6m people in the UK . But he is right, taching and the level of teaching in Manchester school's is poor in my personal opinion.

gyaiffJanuary 12th 2009.

I am a teacher and, sadly, it is commonplace to refer a poor reader to the relevant authorities to obtain a special needs statement for dyslexia.The parents like it as it excuses poor progress and our school's league table likes it because poor performers results are removed and confined to the special needs section.

Jez sezJanuary 12th 2009.

I think Graham Stringer has a point but... to deny dyslexia exists is going too far. I believe English speaking people have the highest reported incidence of dyslexia because the language itself has been derived from many other languages and therefore has few rules to make spelling logical.Take any word ending in 'ough' for instance - there are at least 5 ways of pronouncing the sound: 'uff' as in 'tough'; 'o' as in 'though'; 'oo' as in 'through'; 'uh' as in 'thorough' and 'off' as in 'cough'.It's no wonder there are literacy problems with English speaking people and where there is a genuine difficulty in trying to read words with the letters in the right order such as exhibited by dyslexia sufferers then the condition is more likely to be diagnosed. Dyslexics often suffer from other problems because they often have a difficulty comprehending the order letters are in in a word. They also have problems telling left from right - they can't easily see the difference between a left and right shoe, for instance.I would agree that dyslexia is often used as an excuse for illiteracy whereas, as frequently mentioned in these 'rants', more often than not the main reason is down to poor teaching methods. There is also a lack of patience/responsibility/discipline when trying to get any illiterate or semi-illiterate person to understand the importance of literacy in the ability to take control of his/her life in the community and not be hoodwinked by those who would take unfair advantage of this mostly avoidable ignorance.There are recognised tests which can usually separate the true dyslexia sufferer from the poorly-taught illiterate. If these tests were combined with better teaching methods then reading and writing would be improved for both the genuine dyslexic and 'normal' children.

MeJanuary 12th 2009.

What an idiot. There is enormous amount of evidence to support the existence of this disorder. The reason it is difficult to pin down is because there a a large number of causes. Dislexia is an umbrella term for many conditions, a bit like the word cancer covers many underlying conditions. Before a child with dislexia is treated by a specialist they are tested to see what the causes are in their particular case.Many children with dislexia have an issue that means their working memory is severely impaired, or in other words a brain disorder, not something made up. The fact that many countries do not suffer from dislexia is well documented and is believed to be because their written language is constructed differently from ours, for example in some cases it is phonetic when our is not.Dislexia is also a spectrum, so I am sure there will be some for which another teaching method might have worked better, and perhaps even cured it, but to make this ridiculous claim that it does not exist is biggotry in the extreme.People with dislexia need a lot of ssupport to teach them strategies to oovercome this disabilitating condition. They need our support, not this ridiculous rant. Literacy is so basic that without it a small minority fall out of society and end up in Strangeways. If we don't want this to happen in the future we need to provide more help, not less. Sufferers are taught strategies to overcome their shortfalls. Mr Stringer is paid a lot of money but that strategy does not seem to be help his afliction of biggotry. Perhaps a short period out of work by being voted out will teach him that someone in such a public position should check their facts first and perhaps consult and expert!

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

As somone who struggled through Uni and A levels due to Dyslexia I am shocked and truly pi**Sed that anyone could write such ball crap!

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

Dificult to think of an appropreate word strong enough to describe my feelings towards the author. As someone who has Dislexia and has suffered no end from a small minority of teachers and university proffesors who did not believe in it this kind of artical from an MP no less is just appaling! I hope, for the sake of my descendants (2 of my 3 kids have been tested positve for Dislexia already) that no one even bothers to read the artical! I will not read it, the summary on the BBC website was enough to tell me I should not bother! BTW it is very counter productive to sugest any particular strategy for the teaching of anythign. No two minds are the same and reading in particular needs to be taught using the appropreate method for the mind being taught not some method chosen as the best method by some !@%&$@! politician for !@%&$@!'s sake! The reason it shows up more often in countries where English is the first language is that English is the least phonetic language in the world. If you want every Dislexic child to learn to read easily the answer is easy, dump the English language and adopt Czech instead!

RobocopJanuary 12th 2009.

Dyslexia is REAL.So is Ignorance.Dyslexia can be counteracted.Can your ignorance be counteracted too, I wonder?Don't throw the bay out with the bath water. Maybe phonics is a better solution for the teaching of reading than others used elsewhere.That does not logically mean that dyslexia doesn't exist.Indeed many of our most literate, numerate & creative individuals, scientists, artists, performers & entrepreneurs are dyslexic and will remain so until their last breath.True one should not abuse labels or specific names of conditions as a blanket excuse. Surely it is those who do use ADD & Dyslexia as blanket excuses that results in this kind of knee jerk reactionary indulgence in pig headed ignorance upon Mr Stringer's part.

scoteeeJanuary 12th 2009.

Bugger off Kevin we voted No!

nick de villeJanuary 12th 2009.

appalled at this man's stupidity, another good reason not to vote labour, clearly he doesn't have the intellect to govern and the labour party should have the sense to sack him....

RchirdarJanuary 12th 2009.

What, Kevin ...? Was the other candidate called Graham Stirnger?

HelenJanuary 12th 2009.

Secreto- have you not heard of spell check?- there goes your argument lol!

Pete StarJanuary 12th 2009.

Excellent! For years I've been saying the dickslexsia is just a posh word for stupidity. Sounds Like I was right!

RihcadrJanuary 12th 2009.

He's not alone in thinking this, and he's far from ignorant. There is no scientific basis for thinking that there is a part of the brain designed for reading, which is something invented by humans just as evolved as - indeed indistinguishable from - modern humans. Reading is an acquired skill gained by repetition and recognition, first of letters and then of whole words. You might as well assign my mother a syndrome for her inability to grasp Windows XP. Badly educated children ARE labelled as dyslexic, and can actually benefit from this diagnosis in the ways described. What is diagnosed as dyslexia might well be a reading difficulty caused by some other psychological problem or even problems with the retina or eye muscles, but to label Stringer ignorant for actually seeming to have read up on the subject is just wrong.

LurseJanuary 12th 2009.

Recent evidence reported in IC New Scientist 5 November 2005 supports a genetic basis for this apparently non existent problem. There is also evidence that optic nerve damage may play a part ibid 18-Aug-1999. The lack of correspondence between spelling and phonetics in standard English undoubtedly exacerbates the problem in England and explains the better results obtained in Korea which has an almost wholly phonetic orthography. It may also explain why Welsh literacy has improved since the teaching of Welsh was encouraged in Wales given the high rate of Dyslexia reported in Wales. Notwithstanding any of the above personally I find the MP's remarks wholly offensive as someone who was only identified as Dyslexic after 45 years of struggling to spell correctly and has never learnt his tables despite both proper and what would now be regarded has highly improper traditional teaching. Finally I'd like to add that this almost makes Rhodes Boyson look like an enlightened educational reformer. In conclusion it's pitiful he didn't actually bother to do any of the research his scientific training should have taught him before drawing uninformed conclusions based on insufficient evidence. The only excuse is I can think of is that he's a Chemist or forgotten his training in becoming a politician and look what the last one of those did who achieved political prominence. Good effort Stringer.

Sharon MJanuary 12th 2009.

This is an email i have sent to mr stinger - god forbid he never has a child or grandchild that has these problemsDear Mr Stringer, As I am a mother of a child who is 13 who has dyslexia, asbergers and high spectrum autism I found your comments very disturbing. Since my child was found to have difficulties I have fought to get him a proper education, because as you state, I realised that if I left him in the State Education system he would become out of hands and possibly a criminal who knows. It started with him not being able to talk at the age of 3 so to communicate he used to hit out, which even at that age he was branded the naughty child who no-one could do anything with. Even though he could not talk at the age of 3, he could draw pictures which were way above his peers and he could do 100 piece jigsaws. He showed signs of great intelligence. He was then literally thrown out of our local state school, which was devastating. The education then offered me a place at a resource centre, which was for children who has severe disabilities. I was told that he basically would just play all day. Play all day ??, when he showed great intelligence ??. I refused and sent him to a private school with 50 children attending, which my mother and father funded. He progressed excellently and gained in year 6 level 5 for science, level 4 for maths and level 4 for English !!! This was because I placed him in an environment he could cope with, small classes, professional teachers, support for when he became frustrated etc. It then came to the transfer to upper school and this did not go well. He could not cope with over 200 children, he became frustrated in the lessons as he just did not understand what was going on, his self esteem and behavior problems all came flooding back. This was in a school he had been in since kindergarten who knew him. So it proves that if these children are not in the right environment they can not and will not learn, and to hear people say oh its just because their spoilt or their lazy is devastating. I took him out of the private school and taught him at home for 6 months and I just could not do it, it was very hard and very stressful. I then found a school in Lichfield called Maple Hayes Hall. They teach the children using icons, which is excellent. The children understand this, one child told me at his old school he was being pushed with the phonics way of learning and he said he felt as though he was being tortured !!. What can I say !!. Jack has been there since October 2008 and it is a different world !!. He is top of the class, his self esteem is 100 %. All of the children there have dyslexia and are all improving day by day. They are the most pleasant and positive young children you would ever get to meet, and every one of them says now that they understand and want to learn. The school also stands by a strong discipline procedure which might I add is the major problem in every school. I suggest you go and visit Maple Hayes Hall in Lichfield and I suggest that more schools like this are made available to children with learning difficulties and I am 100 % sure this would have a dramatic effect on teaching these children and getting more positive outcomes. I am currently having to take the LEA in Staffs to a tribunal which at the moment has cost me £5000.00 to date just so my son is educated correctly so he does not become one of your statistics, and I know there are 100's of parents who are fighting to stop their child being educated incorrectly. The school that the LEA want Jack to go to has 1300 children he couldn't cope with 200, and Jack would be taught by a classroom assistant ?? How is he expected to do well in that environment and with teachers who are not even qualified in 1 subject !!. So referring back to your comments I suggest again go and visit Maple Hayes Hall then go and visit these so called special needs centers and then look at why we have so many children turning into criminals. Sharon Moore Also, once my case has been heard I am going to the media with all of my findings as I feel that these children who need proper specialised education and who are not getting it are as good as being abused in the current system and are being totally let down by the UK Government.

CaliburnJanuary 12th 2009.

Here we go again, another ill informed MP. I had a number of problems at school namely a stammer, and concentration problems. My parents were told by Social Services to place me in a mental instution as would be of no use to society. Today I would have been diagnosed as dsylexic. I eventually overcame the stammer improved my concentation and came away with 2 O'Levels grade A and 5 C.S.E's which wasn't bad for someone classified as an idiot. I know some people may never fully overcome these problems mainly because of those in postions of power holding such bigoted, uniformed, opinions. Do the right thing and resign you seat and crawl back to your bigoted Ivory Tower.

KarlJanuary 12th 2009.

Mike - The naming of the colour of the sky is strictly semantic, and if we gave equal weight to anyone who comes along and gives the colour a new name, we might as well not bother with language at all as everything would be open to interpretation. You simply cannot say Stringer has ignored the evidence on dyslexia when he has clearly formed an opinion based on a body of evidence. Just because his conclusion differs from your own doesn't mean he has igored all contrary evidence. My guess is that like most people he has gone through life blindly accepting the existence of dyslexia in all its forms of testing, diagnosis and treatment and never even considered that an opposing view existed until he had it pointed out to him. Those trying to make a parallel with cancer are utterly misguiding the argument as cancerous cells in their multitudinous forms are visible in many spectra and their symptoms are measurable. The fact is that no reputable scientist IS standing up and claiming its non-existence, so we could do without such straw men.

AmusedJanuary 12th 2009.

I noticed that the first few commenters against the article were, as a whole, badly written with many mistakes.I also noticed that nobody seems to mention the most important teachers in a childs life, the parents. Teachers have to teach 30+ children at a time and can't use different methods for each one. Surely then, if parents see their child is struggling they should step in and ensure that they bring their child up to the required level.The same goes for discipline in schools, children should be taught respect and manners at home first.

NLPJanuary 12th 2009.

Mr Stringer assumes that a lack of 'proper' education is where the blame lies for our children not being able to read and write. How narrow minded can someone with such authority be? I think it is frightening to think that Dyslexic people are taking the blame for the sake of finding yet another way to take away benefits. What about the real reasons behind children with learning difficulties? Please Mr Stringer - have a closer look at how poverty, bad housing, poor diet,illness, abuse, birth problems and bullying, amongst other reasons, affect a childs ability to grasp what is going on in the classroom and wider world. You have not mentioned any of these elements which can and, do contribute towards a less than wonderful start to learning. Look at the wider picture when assessing why and, how people commited particular crimes. Yes, some people within prisons may have problems with literacy but, blaming the education system ( which is more supportive and, stimulating than ever) for failing and, dismissing the very real condition - Dyslexia does not paint a true picture of what really is going on here.

john greenhalghJanuary 12th 2009.

What a fool this coming from an MP is a total discrace he should resign his seat god help us with bigots like him in charge of our country. My son suffers with dyslexia, so i know the problems it causes, through sheer hard work he was accepted by Worcester University in 2008 but had very little help from our education system untill he arrived at uni.

NathJanuary 12th 2009.

The 'label' dyslexia is pathetic. People cannot be great in all areas. I wasn't good enough to play for United- i'm not searching for a label or condition to excuse my failing!! My spelling is terrible and my reading isn't much better...I AM NOT DYSLEXIC...just not very good at it. My strengths lie in other areas.Simple....end of.However, if there is a free laptop going, i'll be as thick as you want!!!

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

CrisisSurfer - I would agree with you on the point that dyslexia is more than likely a term for various problems, however that makes it no less valid as at the very least a condition category. Cancer has over 120 variants, most of which are unlike others in the category, but they are still termed validly as cancers, same with flu variants and strains ..... so although it could be argued to the letter that it does not exist as a single condition, it could not be reasonably argued, as Mr Stringer has attempted to do that it does not exist at all. Your point on the early teaching of writing and language is well noted however, this could indeed lead to problems and misdiagnosis under the dyslexia umbrella.

Graham NelsonJanuary 12th 2009.

Synthetics phonics? A fat lot of good they have done for MY dyslexic child! He is a highly intelligent boy, with an amazing visual memory. But ask him to remember verbal instruction or take in a list of written instructions and the poor kid is over loaded! Instructions have to be broken down into small chunks or he simply cannot manage them. Dyslexia. He can't write legibly. Dyslexia. He has a phenomenal visual memory (he remembers movies in amazing detail, ones that the rest of us have long forgotten were ever on the TV let alone what happens in them.) Typical dyslexia. What Mr Stringer fails to realise is that some languages help to disguise the existence of dyslexia. For example, Russian Cyrillic characters are pronounced exactly as they are written ALL THE TIME, unlike our own. That makes learning to read easier, but it doesn't solve some of the other problems common to dyslexia, such as the inability to process verbal and written instructions. Sure, the handicap that is dyslexia can be overcome - see Michael Heseltine and Richard Branson or Susan Hampshire - indeed, I am dyslexic and I've got a Masters Degree in Writing Studies! But the condition is real enough in spite of good and bad teaching.

Sharon MJanuary 12th 2009.

macca !! that is what should be being published in the media !! it has made me feel a bit better well done

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

Another interesting discrepancy in this article is: "There can be no rational reason why this ‘brain disorder’ is of epidemic proportions in Britain but does not appear in South Korea or Nicaragua" ................ I found out that the HQ of the Korea Dyslexia Association is in a little known city called Seoul ..... anyone care to hazard a guess whether thats in North or South Korea?

leighJanuary 12th 2009.

Dear Editorial-Do you intend getting a response from Graham Stringer?Perhaps he is still writing it?

NickJanuary 12th 2009.

The problem with the article is that Mr Sringer hasn't just bad mouthed the educational system, which isn't such a big crime. He is trying to lay waste to a condition many have the unfortunate luck to have to live with. I am a teacher and feel that methods can be introduced which enable children to learn in a way that appeals to them and helps them reach thier full potential. This does not negate the facts of the matter that some children find it more difficult to read and write. In fact dyslexia doesn't just effect this area of their lives, it is often associated with poor co-ordination and the confusion of left and right. A diagnosis of dyslexia isn't given to someone who shows up and says "please sir I can't read this". It can often take months for a true diagnosis and many trips to the psycologist. Both my Husband and Son are registered as dyslexic. My husband holds down a very respectable job as a Police Officer and as with most dyslexics chooses to work through the disbility. As for my sons condition, does this article brand me as a bad teacher or bad mother? Maybe both!

ErnaldJanuary 12th 2009.

As a former primary school deputy headteacher, I agree entirely with Graham Stringer's comments. Of course, the dyslexia industry will squeal loudly as they feel their vested interest being threatened.

GWDJanuary 12th 2009.

One expects ill informed views to be expressed from time to time in the media but when those expressed views are as damaging as those provided by Mr Stringer, it beggars belief that he is an elected representative within our legislature. No wonder our country is in moral and economic decline when Labour MPs are allowed to get away with expressing such drivel.Having a daughter who is in her first year of secondary school and struggling with her dyslexic condition, both my wife and I were, to say the very least, angered by the schoolboy debating points that Mr Stringer put forward. We have tried the full range of methods and interventions with our daughter and yet she still struggles with basic reading, writing and spelling despite having a verbal and non-verbal reasoning age of well over 18. Far from being an invention, I can assure Mr Stringer the tears, frustration and lack of self-esteem caused to our daughter are very real.Mr Stringer refers to the educational and financial incentives that are attached to being labelled with dyslexia. We have obviously been in the wrong queue when these benefits were being handed out! Our experience is completely the opposite. His throwaway remark suggesting that dyslexia must be an invention because there are a wide range of conditions described as dyslexia underlines his deep lack of understanding. Anyone who has looked at this subject for more than five minutes that Mr Stringer has obviously devoted to it knows very well that dyslexia is an umbrella term for a wide range of literacy dysfunctions.In his position of responsibility, Mr Stringer should take more care about the views he expresses. I hope that he will be suitably reprimanded by his political party.

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

I'm actually waiting to see what Mr Balls has to say on this matter, seeing as his name was brought into the fray ..... I wonder if he'd consider writing an article in opposition to this one here

Jarhead68January 12th 2009.

Oh...and Go Red Devils...can you spell TREBLE?

leonaJanuary 12th 2009.

i am totally stunned that this MP didn't think a little more before presenting such total rubbish! it really helps people to beleive in democracy. it is true that dyslexia is an umbrella term however many people suffering from it have more than one problem. myself for example have no problems with reading however struggle with spelling and punctuation, i get confused with where to put commas etc. i am by no means illiterate, i have never had any extra time with examinations nor have i ever had a scribe. i attended extra classes to build up my skills and try to learn some of the things that were creating problems and i was refered to the exam board so i wouldnt be unfairly penalised. i dont think this could be described as my being lazy and i dont think it is even easy for the teachers. i had to partake in tests and was inteviewed by a psychologist before a diagnosis was made. as i said before i am not illiterate and i dont know any dyslexic person who is. perhaps that is simply the area i come from but there a many reasons for illiteracy and dyslexia is only one of them. lazyness is another but so is childhood illness, or children acting as carers would he say that they dont exist either? i agree that in some parts of the country the schooling is awful and something needs to be done, i also agree that there does apear to be a link with illiteracy and criminality however i totally disagree with his views of dyslexia being a myth. its a very real problem that people struggle with every day. i was going to take my rant directly to him but i can't seem to find an email address, any ideas?

please resignJanuary 12th 2009.

your ignorance is not representative of the people that place you in the position to you have been employed.I suggest Graham Stringer you resign before you do our city any further damage...I for one will join any campaign to get you out !

HelenJanuary 12th 2009.

Hi Tom SF, Could you post them on here please? Thank you

Asshead AlertJanuary 12th 2009.

The reason phonics work with most other languages is that the sound of letters does not change. Eg the letter "e" would not have the option of being pronouced "ee" or "eh". If you consider the following three words phonetically, Plan - Plane - Planet, the "a" letter sound changes for no good reason. When you divide words up into letter you invite confusion between words like "saw" and "was", which was a problem first identified over 60 years ago. Once you have led a child down the phonics path, they find it almost impossible to stop deconstructing words, even if it doesn't work for them. If your child is logical, and this tends to be seen more in boys, phonics (synthetic or otherwise) just confuses them and they switch off. Far better to first show them that a series of sounds has a shape. "He said" is not "Huh-eh sss-ah-ee-deh", it is just "he said". I don't know what they are doing in West Dumbartonshire, could it be class sizes, ratios, resources, money, staff motivation or any number of other factors. I would like to see if there is any correlation between the incidence of people diagnosed with dyslexia and those were subjected to the phonics experiment as their first introduction to the magic of words. (or should that be mm-ah-ge-ih-keh oh-fff wooh-oh-rrr deh-sss)

kerrieJanuary 12th 2009.

Tom: i am glad to hear someone is going to address this issue with Stringer himself, but i am certain many people would like to hear his response to this matter. Any chance of posting his responses for us all to view?

NickJanuary 12th 2009.

I think the main problem is the goverments view of one method fits all approach rather than every child is an individual and requires different teaching methods. From experiance and coming from a school who already use the synthetic phonics form of teaching (as most schools already do for the record), we have found that combining this system with a see and say method for children whos' main form of learning comes from thier amazing visual accuity has benifited this area of the classroom. Just a suggestion

PaulipipsJanuary 12th 2009.

Society needs labels to let us feel better about our own lack of skills........ Eg : A crap builder excuses his lack of skill by saying he must have built on subsidence......A crap doctor excuses his lack of skill by saying his patient must have M.E ........... A crap Child Psychiatrist excuses his work by saying the kid must have ADHD.......A crap teacher excuses their lack of skill by saying the kid has Dyslexia. I'm surprised the Pharmaceutical Industry aint come up with a pill for Dyslexia - there would be ooodles of cash to me made and watch the 'diagnosis' rate soar overnight if they did.....Hang on ! I cant run a 100 meters in 12 seconds - I wonder if I have some form of disorder that I could get benefits for...mmmmmm!

KarlJanuary 12th 2009.

Good point, Frank! I'll drop the doctor, just like Gillian McKeith did. It didn't do her any harm!

secretoJanuary 12th 2009.

"The body of my argument" as you put it was actually a referral to some so-called dyslexic posters on this very thread stating that they could read and spell perfectly. Hence the question. But don't let that stop you.

That devil...January 12th 2009.

i'd ignore the whole article if i were you,stringer has lit the touch paper and run for cover.An excellent piece of free advertising(save your breath people).Stringer will no doubt be in the next celebrity big brother house where he belongs- playing games)

teacherJanuary 12th 2009.

can i just add.... that is intentionally a very, very simplistic description intended to highlight my opinion, before anyone rants at me about the complex nature of this learning difficulty... ;)

JulianJanuary 12th 2009.

I have a Degree in ENGLISH. I am also dyslexic - how do you reconcile that you pathetic ignorant little man.

Marilyn GuyJanuary 12th 2009.

Well you achieved it, another political gaff but it got the response you wanted huge publicity and contraversy, well done. Only it made you look the stupid one for not researching your topic! A classful of pupils, all taught by the same teacher, same methods, yet only one suffers this terrible affliction, even its subblings can read & write. I know I have spent years giving extra help to one daughter who is dyslexic. She is very artistic, gained her exams, trained as a jeweller, opened her own high street shop, employes 4 p/t staff and designs and makes some of the jewellery, plus won awards for her success. She is clearly far from stupid, unwilling or unable to be taught, or as you put it "confussed by teaching methods". Don't you think that you, in your positon of MP should do some research before giving your opinion so publicly on a topic you clearly know nothing about, but then as I said, it got you the public profile to further your political career, never mind the people you upset.

esquiloJanuary 12th 2009.

Is it part of dyslexia that family members feel the need to post 150,000 word tirades about the unfairness of life on a website dedicated to food, drink, art and entertainment? Its almost as bad as when there's a "there might not be a god" or "evolution is looking likely" article on a British newspaper's website's comment pages and they are invaded by creationists from Armpit County, Nebraska. Anyroad, anyone been to Luso or Grinch recently? Is Cloud 23 still worth the faff? Was t ever? BTW, Slumdog Millionaire is ACE!

NickJJanuary 12th 2009.

It is when I got to the bit about a "magic bullet" in West Dunbartonshire that I realised Mr Stringer's confusion. "Eradicating" illiteracy is not the same as eradicating dyslexia. Many dyslexics have problems processing the spoken word, and in putting their thoughts into speech. Their functional literacy - the business of teaching people "the cat sat on the mat" - may be pretty acceptable.Much illiteracy has no connection with dyslexia, and teaching is in part to blame.Oh, and there are some real charlatans in the dyslexia "industry".But denying a connection between dyslexia and illiteracy problems is on a par with ex-President Thabo Mbeki's longstanding denial of any connection between sex and AIDS.And the South African ex-President has now seen the light.Time for you Mr Stringer!

Sharon MJanuary 12th 2009.

I though id better ad that I have had to sell my house and move back in with my parents to fund Jacks schooling and tribunal costs before anyone comments that its ok for me because i have got money. I have not got money but if I have to get in debt to give my child a proper education that is what I have to do.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

As an academic (not a supporter) of Mr Stringer's factually based comments, I totally agree!The facts are that historic issues regarding literacy are not physical (I have worked with enough inmates to determine intellectual capability based on social as opposed to physical, social and/or cultural factors!!!The only factors that grey the area of statistical correlations are those provided by middle and upper class students who now request as standard that they receive extensions and/or automatic re-grades as a consequence of their 'privately determined' Dyslexic situations. Get a Life!

Frank VJanuary 12th 2009.

I think that there are two problems here, and of the two sides of the argument being debated, neither have a monopoly on truth.The term Dyslexia is used as a blanket diagnosis of most learning difficulties. Two totally unrelated types of learning difficulty can both come under the banner of Dyslexia. It is the equivalent of saying somebody is retarded. This is not a diagnosis.The problem can be exacerbated with some ineffectual teachers preferring to label children with the term Dyslexic, rather than admitting their own shortcomings in teaching ability. This is by no-means always the case, but it gives credence to the argument of the sceptic, who then thinks that it may be more prevalent than it actually is.Likewise, as much as you hear about children responding well to a diagnosis of Dyslexia, it can sometimes have the opposite effect, stigmatising the child, or making them think that there is no point in trying, as they will always be fighting an uphill battle. It is foolish to think that all children respond in a positive manner. Normalising learning difficulties and taking the attitude that different children respond to different teaching methods and the understanding that no-child will respond to all, is a much more grown up way of tackling the problem.At the end of the day, there are many different learning difficulties, which require a plethora of teaching methods. However, you are more likely to see these in use in the private sector as part of employee training. What is required is a more robust (less specific) curriculum, which allows freedom for individual schools to choose their own methods and the freedom for parents to choose which-ever school they think best fits their child's needs. It is only through funding individuality in our schools, that we will be able to achieve a balance of excellence.

paschar / stephen wanerJanuary 12th 2009.

Strephosymbolia , sitsus inversus totalis , Boustrophedon , these terms have been the brunt of my research since i live with dyslexia every day, the right brain dominant idea does not hold water as their are many leaks in it, if the result of birth or injury being a mute point does not matter, it is a known fact that certain countries are known to kill children when it is found that they have any kind of LD so as not to procreat the gene in the future but it still persists,I am a retired ARMY medic and i deal with people who are true mirror image readers, one should not comment on that which they themselves cannot see, dyslexia is very real , for those who can`t accept it for it`s real nature it has been said, it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool rather than to speak and remove all Dought. Paschar

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

Stringer you'll never know what it is like to be respected in the community. With a bit of luck at the next election you'll lose your seat over this. Better still resign now you're an embarrassment to the Houses of Parliament. It just goes to prove that MPs do actually talk nonsense about subjects they have not got a clue about. Stick to areas of your own expertise, like making cups of tea. The only wasted money here is your salary as an MP. Oh by the way GET YOUR RESEARCH DONE STRINGER.

JohnJanuary 12th 2009.

While I agree with a lot of what Graham says, I think he is muddling up two seperate issues. Illiteracy is caused by crap teaching and the use of whatever vogue method is in favour at the time. I went to primary school in the 50s and everyone came out able to read and write having been taught by traditional methods. Then various 'phonics' methods became fashionable and literacy rates tumbled because children had to learn one method then unlearn it and learn actual spelling. None of this has anything to do with dyslexia though, to say that it doesn't exist is nonsense. I've sat with a friend who is dyslexic going through a document and he literally could not see apostrophes. This hasn't made him a criminal, in fact he's an academic.

Dyslexia studentJanuary 12th 2009.

DYSLEXIA IS NOT A MYTH.What the Mr I'm-going-to-call-everyone-stupid Stringer talks about, as AD states, is an ignorant ill considered and inaccurate piece of writing. HE clearly doesn't consider all possible facts that can occur in this accusation as i see it and many others i'm sure will too. Firstly, he ignores all the scientific tests and results that have been conducted with the question 'Is there such a thing as dyslexia?', such as the genetic resoning that can be used to oppose why it isn't as diverse in countries such as Nicaragua and South Korea, and the Neurological + Cogntive evidence to support the diffenert functions and brain process ijn Dyslexic minds. Meanwhile, he is also using crinimal activity in his resoning and blames illiteracy when he doesn't look at other causes of crimes such as family or social experiences personnal to the human being and only balming it on the teaching system that the government themselves approve of and keep regular checks and progress reports of. Then there is the fact that NOT ALL dyslexica are under-achieved or illiterate as he implays, otherwises how do you think that i am here in a college if i am an under-achiever because i'm dyslexic. Looking back at his numbers that he has provided with the issue about other countries, he hasn't provided any hard evidence of the 'nearly 100% literacy rates' for Nicaragua and South Korea showing that it is accurate and consistent. If he had said recent reports prove such and such, i would have been a little more persuaded by his reasoning.In the end, as a conclusion, it turns out that Mr. Stringer is just throwing around unsupported accusations, and blaming it on the teaching methods. And it is totally unacceptable and ridiculous. He has no right what so ever to make such statements.

Blue PeterJanuary 12th 2009.

Sorry to interrupt this cosy little love-in Mike but I think you'll find the facts as you put it are precisely what are up for discussion. I'm afraid 'as supported by medical evidence' doesn't quite cut it.

Sharon MJanuary 12th 2009.

it is very frustrating and also the emotion it has on the family, everyone needs to have a look at the new website for special needs as this is what they plan to do regarding dyslexia and special needs...... obviously they have had a communication problem with Mr Stringer ?????http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/wholeschool/sen/

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

what does he know? Does he know what it`s like when you know what you are trying to write down and its takes up to three times as long some times before some one gets it correct esp when you are under pressure and you have to concentarte so much harder.

Tim RJanuary 12th 2009.

I have dyslexia, I often have to read and then re-read sentences to make sense of them, I can only remember telephone numbers in 3 number sequences and I dont write cheques because I spell the number incorrectly (let alone the names).I wasn't picked up as dyslexic until I was 20 years old even though I was picked up as a 'gifted' child at school with an IQ of 154. Subsequently, because I couldn't copy off the blackboard and couldn't add up simple numbers in Maths I was labelled as lazy and troublesome.. this was the late 70's early 80's and Dyslexia wasnt even on the radar as far as my teachers were concerned. I was encouraged to leave school at 16 and apply for a job at the local meat-packers.However I was a smart kid, I learned strategies to help me over come my problems and to cut a long story short I now have 2 degrees from major universities, I have written for the Guardian, I have co-authored academic papers, and written for magazines on subjects as wide as music and philosophy.Dyslexia is real, though no doubt some people are being labelled as dyslexic who are not, but it is very complicated (its not like having high blood pressure or a lazy eye) it comes down to how our brains are wired, how they interpret the world we see and interactive with, how it process and stores data. To write it off as nothing more than a convenient excuse for poor education is nothing more than a demonstration of ignorance.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

How can Mr Stringer be trusted to represent his consituency in the house of commons if he cannot even grasp a basic concept? As numerous studies have shown their is a distinciton to be made between dyslexia and illiteracy. Dyslexia does not prevent literacy it makes certain activities sucha s reaidng writing, spelling and processing information more difficult even ofr those who may become very literate or be considered exceptionally talented. Whislt dyslexia should not be something for local education authorities to hide behind it remains a very serious disability that makes reading and writing more difficult for those who suffer from it. I think it is disgraceful that a public official thinks this kind of ignorrant, tabloid nonsense is appropriate for a public official. His actions, by association, bring his party and office into disrepute and provide grounds for resignation in my opinion.

Dick SchutzJanuary 12th 2009.

As the previous comments demonstrate there are people who pass through the educational system acquiring very little expertise along the way. Interestingly, those who take the greatest pride in their dyslexia were able to read the article and write more or less coherent, if not persuasive, comments. However they dodge the two points that Mr. Stringer makes for calling out poor instruction as the determinant: "International comparisons and the fact that so called dyslexic children have no more trouble learning to read than other children, if the appropriate teaching methods are used." These two reasons are irrefutable, which leaves the proud "dyslexics" with no alternative but to dodge the very important matter and attack Mr. Stringer personally.

Magpie 11January 12th 2009.

I'm boiling with rage.....First, this ignorant (at least ill informed) M.P. gave the game away. Money. Universities and colleges are spending millions that some people begrudge.Secondly...The man does not begin to understand what went on in that Scottish Borough...Synthetic phonics was just one weapon used to raise levels of literacy. I would, timidly, suggest that equally important was the involvement of the whole community in teaching the children to read. The suppost of a large majority of the community must have meant that the children were more likely to succeed.Third... The dyslexics in West Dunbartonshire will still have difficulties even tho' many of them will be able to read (and what do we mean by read? BTW)but they may find they have short term memory problems, problems with organisation, problems with spelling...I will not go on.Fourthly...as a teacher of 37 years experience I must say this: If I had known everything I know now about the difficulties some people have in learning that we call dyslexia then I would have been able to help many more of my pupils than I did.Fifth...I too did not believe in Word Blindness (as it was often called) until it impinged on my own life and I saw it within my own family. My youngest son is mildly dyslexic, highly intelligent by any means of measuring but still mildly dyslexic. Looking at my own schooling I see where I had (an d still have) problems...Oh yes! I am almost as intelligent as my son but I had difficulties learning and organising. My wife's family exhibit signs of dyslexia and she herself did not learn to read until she was nine, her mother taught her by constant repetition and a smattering of phonics.This man must be stopped. Enough damage has been done by the ignorant interfering in education. BY "the ignorant" I mean politicians and those who seem to forget that when they were at school there were always those who found academic learning difficult...but then most of these people were privileged to go to academic schools and, later, universities.I could go on...and on...and on.(by the way,snipers, if I have made any errors in typing this remember that I learned to write in longhand and that a computer keyboard is an alien environment to such as I ...oh yes I am also mildly dislexic)

2outof3January 12th 2009.

I am the father of three children all educated at the same schools, using the same methods. Two coped fine with reading and writing skills, the middle child did not. He has dyslexia. It took us many months to get him statmented and to get any support (due in part to ignorance of the type exhibited in the above article). He was subject to a battery of test which clearly showed he was well above average intelligence, yet failed to cope with reading. Once supported by a specialist teacher trained in helping pupils with dyslexia he rapidly made progress. As for children in Korea etc not suffering from dyslexia (to the same degree, if you read the academic literature), the reason is simple, the complexity of the Korean (Chinese, Japanese, and Arabic) written format means that they use different areas of the brain to process written language than WesternEuropean children. Early studies appear to show this processing area of the brain is less prone to the coding issue that cause most types of dyslexic problems.Sadly there are some who have seen this problem as an opportunity to play on people's ignorance and to set up a "snake oil" bandwagon, taking concerned parents cash in return for bogus cures....Perhaps if our MP's did some serious research and properly funded such educational needs, there would be fewer opportunities for such hucksters?

Owain StreetJanuary 12th 2009.

Simply ridiculous. My mother spent the best part of her life teaching children with a wide variety of learning difficulties. She then went on to be a county-wide advisor on methods of teaching such children. I can safely assume Mr Stringer hasn't spent any real time with such children. I can also assure Edwin that she did not make a lot of money out of "the idea" of Dyslexia. I take heart from the fact that most responses on this thread appear to treat Mr Stringers comments with the disdain they deserve. Oh yes, one last thing: perhaps we could save Government money by dropping less cluster bombs on civilians on our so called "wars". Oh dear there's another can of worms....

AndyJanuary 12th 2009.

I have dyslexia, and in my 4th year of university, 90% of the time I have to re-read sentences to make sense of them (missing words, letters or words in the wrong place). But if I was to speak it out it would be perfect. When pen goes to paper words get mixed up or missed out.

Oliver StieberJanuary 12th 2009.

I was taught using synthetic phonetics when I was at school (about 25 years ago) and I'm still dyslexic. I think if I had been taught english at a more technical level in later education (through secondary school and after we were taught the basics) I would have been able to cope a lot better, teachers assuming that you can just do english that don't even bother to explain the science behind it caused me no end of problems. Even if I had had that teaching I would still be dyslexic, I would just have been able to cope better.

John TippingJanuary 12th 2009.

Dyslexic Businessman invites MP Graham Springer to spend the day with him.Profoundly dyslexic Kent Businessman, John Tipping (Channel 4, Can’t Read Can’t Write, Aug 08) invites Manchester MP Graham Springer to spend a day with him so that he can give the politician a greater understanding of how the dyslexic brain works. This follows the MPs claim that the education establishment has ‘invented a brain disorder called dyslexia ‘.Mr Tipping states that there is a huge amount of misunderstanding around his ‘hidden disability’ and welcomes the opportunity of helping to throw some light on the situation through this invitation.‘Dyslexia is so much more than just having difficulties with reading and writing. I struggle with short term memory issues and have real difficulty with putting things in order and keeping up with fast conversations. I just take longer to process information. The knock on effect of low self esteem and low self worth can be devastating’.Father of three, John Tipping, runs two businesses with the assistance of read and write software and support from his wife Jill.‘I welcome this opportunity of giving Mr Stringer first hand evidence of how frustrating this condition can be in this fast moving world that we live in.’

leonaJanuary 12th 2009.

thanks Sharon, i will be sanding an email, i wont be doing a spell check on it and he can decipher what i am saying. shouldnt be too hard for him. after all i had a good education and good teaching methods so acording to his theory i cant be dyslexic.

CONTROMANJanuary 12th 2009.

Isn't it obvious when anonymous says "get you facts straight" that the problem is there are very few facts or empirical evidence to support the existence of a dyslexia. Nor is there evidence of a developmental or pathological process in the "disorder". Should we not conclude this is a product of nurture not nature?

Tom SFJanuary 12th 2009.

Hi All,Mr Stringer did not mean it as it has been portrayed here, he merely was saying that it is indeed the standard of teaching what is the problem,and that different styles of teachin are needed.

you can take my lifeJanuary 12th 2009.

but you'll never take my freeeeeeeedom!!! Go on Sharon!!!

Nic ConnerJanuary 12th 2009.

Mr Stringer MP said on manchesterconfidential.com that dyslexia is a 'cruel fiction'. He claims this is nothing more than a conspiracy to hide bad teaching. He tells us that there are 'well known methods for teaching everybody to read and write'. Well the well known methods to read and write obviously did not work for me. As I was the only child in my class not able to read or write this shows that either the teacher was teaching the right way to all the class apart from me or that I am too stupid to learn. It was none of the above I am in fact Dyslexic. I left the state primary school to attend a prep school which was specifically for Dyslexic children (Appleford Prep School, Wiltshire). Whilst I was there my parents undertook in a tribunal against my local education authority (LEA) in order to get me a statement proving I was Dyslexic and had specific learning requirements. After an independent educational psychologist (EP) report said that I was indeed severely Dyslexic. I took an IQ test the results of which showed that I scored high marks on all aspects of the test apart form my ability to read and write. If this was omitted from the IQ test then my IQ would be in the top 2% of the nation. The LEA sent out their own EP who had reservation as to the existence of dyslexia, but after testing me he wrote in his report that there is no doubt that I am Dyslexic and that I need specialist teaching so that I could achieve my intellectual potential.I learnt a lot whilst at Appleford, but when the time came to begin secondary school I was still severely Dyslexic this required I joined another specialist school which had a ‘whole school’ approach to dyslexia. This school (Mark College, Somerset) was run by an expert in the field of dyslexia (Dr Steve Chinn) the school only employed teachers highly specialised and experienced in teaching children with dyslexia. During my time at the school my Farther past away, my Mother was unable to pay the school fees so she went back the LEA. The LEA could not prove that any school in my area could give me the education I required so I was fully funded by my LEA. The support of my LEA allowing me the specialised schooling paid off, though I had a reading age of 11 and a spelling age of 9, I past my all GCES's grades from A* to C (with the help of a reader and scribe and in addition to extra time).I had to move to a new school which provided a Sixth Form for my A levels. I had to visit all the colleges and Sixth Forms at schools local to my home to see if they would be able to accommodate my needs. None could.lso managed to secure LEA funding for my Sixth Form at another school with a whole school approach to dyslexia (St David’s College, Llandudno) but this time it also took in pupils who where 'normal'. I studded English Lit, History and Phillphy of which I past all three with grad B and above.I would also like to know on what authority or indeed experience Mr Stringer had to justify his claim that Dyslexia does not exist. Since when do we take Nicaraguan figures to be true? Or the fact that in South Korea only 4.6% of the populous are educated, but to what level can they read and write? As a Dyslexic I can read and write, but not to a high level. I would happily meet Mr Stringer to discuss my Dyslexia if he wishes. I can ashore you and him that I am indeed a Dyslexic and that the specialised teaching does in fact work.

byslexicJanuary 12th 2009.

what an ignorant tw*t!

BekiJanuary 12th 2009.

How dare this Mp say things like that?!?! It must be wonderful to be able to get away with slandering lots of people and not having to pay for it! Dyslexia IS a recognised condition and you cannot fake it in the actual tests!

Sharon MJanuary 12th 2009.

Ah that is what everyone thinks that your child should be given the education they need, but because I am now legally involved with the education system the law only requires that children are to be given an ADEQUATE education which totally shocked me !!! So if you have a child that can learn with no difficulties you have no problems, but if you have a child with learning difficulties it is very hard to get them properly educated. It is so emotional seeing and hearing parents who tell me that they know there is something wrong with their child but the LEA have not got the budget to do anything about it so the statutory assessments are refused. Its all wrong and heartbreaking. I have helped out at schools and the times i have been in tears because a child has just been left to their own devices because they cannot input into the lesson and when I have asked the teacher what can be done they have just strugged their shoulders and told me they do not have the resources.

Tim ManionJanuary 12th 2009.

Chris, given Stringer's comments here and other pieces he's put on Mancon I'm not sure you could call him careerist. To deny dyslexia is real is probably not Labour Party policy.

Kathryn HilesJanuary 12th 2009.

How dare he?! I am appauled that anyone would make such a claim, especially someone in a political position. My sister is dyslexic and struggles with her school work and it is nothing short of an insult to say that her condition is a cruel fiction; cruel maybe but definately not a fiction. I find it astounding that anyone could be so ignorant, perhaps Mr Stringer needs to pay a visit to these establishments and perhaps do some research before making such a ridiculous and outlandish claim.

MarkJanuary 12th 2009.

Mr Stringer makes a convienient parralel with two countries to "prove" his theory.Does he believe therefore that because there are no recorded cases of Altzheimers or Parkinsons disease in St Kitts, Nevis, and certain other carribbean islands that these are also ficticious diseases?

LedderwoodJanuary 12th 2009.

I agree with many of your statements. It's true that 'of the prison population, roughly 80% of inmates are functionally illiterate' and as a teacher of excluded children I know that many are excluded because they 'find secondary school a humiliating and frustrating experience. You're also right to say that with the right teaching, their experiences could be different. As a parent of a dyslexic son, I strive hard to ensure that he gets the right teaching and that his self-esteem is not affected. Unfortunately many children don't have the same attention and yes - it is better to be class clown than class dunce.However I also assess many students and pupils for access arrangements and DSA. What I find here are mainly pupils and students of parents who have sacrificed a great deal to ensure their children acquire the literacy skills necessary. But dyslexia is not just about whether you can read or not. Synthetic phonics is a very good programme that is highly successful, but dyslexic individuals will still process language at a slower pace, simply because they have learnt to decode letters into words, but not always comprehend at the same time. They have to re-read text several times, hence disadvantaging them in timed exams. The subject of dyslexia is incredibly emotive. I have spent many years as an academic, a teacher and a parent and I know that it is naive to say that it is simply a case of bad teaching. I'm happy to have longer discussion if necessary.

JohnJanuary 12th 2009.

Actually, Rihcadr, there is plenty of scientific evidence showing that the Broca's and Wernike's areas and the neural pathway between them are the physiological centre of language in the brain

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

Don't blame dyslexia when the population ticks the box for Conservative candidates at the next election. The result will be an expression of peoples belief that Labour has forgotten about the people they represent - many of whom are Dyslexic. I trust that the well known sufferer from this debilitating condition Mr Richard Branson will now see the true Labour beliefs and withdraw his support for the party you are discrediting by these totally unfounded comments.

Jane SJanuary 12th 2009.

Mr Stringer is, as ever, a disappointment. I do hope the people of his constituency are pleased with their efforts in returning such an enlighted and useful addition to the House of Commons. Sadly, dyslexia is real and can have a devastating effect on the lives of bright children who are made to feel stupid by poor special needs identification and support. Mr Stringer's comments only add to the stigma these children can feel from a very early age. Dyslexia cannot only affect reading and writing, but organisational skills and the ability to learn tables and even tell the time! If anyone needs help with education, it's Mr Stringer.

Kevin PeelJanuary 12th 2009.

Jeepers. Just when I think that the words out of this guys mouth can't possibly get any more ridiculous he pulls another one out of the bag. What an absolutely disgraceful pile of rubbish. The best possible evidence of dyslexia is available right there in his constituecy of Blackley - what other explanation could there be for people selecting him as their MP?!

helenJanuary 12th 2009.

I did not mean your typos. The body of your argument stated that people who have dyslexia seemed to be able to spell therefore in your opinion are faking it -what i was meaning is how do you know they were not using spell check?

mark bakerJanuary 12th 2009.

as a dyslexia sufferer, with a son and daughter with dyslexia and part of a family that they used to isolate a dyslexia gene, i have found that there are no Nicaraguan or South Koreans in my family. Thank you for clearing this up. As a member of the labour party, i have a feeling that yopur job may not exist soon, does nicaragua have any vacancies for you?

Mrs EdgsonJanuary 12th 2009.

I was very upset with the rantings of an MP which I saw on the television. My son is now 14 and I have fought to get his dyslexia acknowledged all of his school life. He has always had extra help with his reading and writing at school. He has a statement of educational needs entitling him to an extra 15 hours of help a week,of which he probably gets about half. He is a very bright boy but still struggles with reading. I have always encouraged him to read and have spent hours with him over the years reading and going over homework. I challenge the MP to teach my son for 6 months to see if he can make any significant improvement to his abilities. I do worry about life after school as he cannot read and write very well and like any other parent want the best for my child. My child has been called stupid and thick before and it is very hurtful and untrue. Unless you have a child with learning disabilities I do feel it would be wrong to comment. I say to the MP please be a bit more thoughtful for the parents who cannot afford to send their children to special schools, we all have to rely on what the state offers us. Instead of condeming the label he should look at the way we teach our children to see if a change across the board can make an improvement. Please remember that some parents do care if their children cannot read and will try everything to help them even though it sometimes doesn't work.

Rachelle LawleyJanuary 12th 2009.

How dare he! i can't express into words how this mans awful comments have made me feel! I am a dyslexic person, i do not put my disability down to bad teaching, because it is not just i who suffers, my twin brother does, who has a more severe form, my sister and also my mother both suffer too. As well as having other learning difficulties i do not let it stop me from learning or struggling through high school, college and university. If it was not for the university however i would not be " diagnosed" with Dyslexia and dyspraxia. I do not have trouble reading, unless you include absorbing the information. I highly enjoy a good book, several to be precise. I love to write, i just cannot "see" my gramical and spelling errors. I think he needs to stop and asses what he has said. Children need to know if they have this, so they can get extra help. Besides, dyslexia people are proven to be more intelegent then the average person, they just cannot express themselves in the same way.

ContromanJanuary 12th 2009.

Whoa there Chippychap! You're name implies you're a happy go lucky little fellow. You seem pretty aggressive today. Witches don't exist anyway surely? You people don't half rise to the bait! Calm down dear.

HelenJanuary 12th 2009.

Well what can I say bored I'm a firm believer in drumming a point in so if that means repition then so be it - as you can see from my track record it works and gets results!

JO TutorJanuary 12th 2009.

See - as a dyslexic I am having to type this out again as I missed the essential bit of the preamble and my 'rant' dissappeared into the ether..By the way - Times New Roman is a truly ghastly font for dyslexics. Much better to have a sans serif font such as Arial or Comic Sans etc.HOW TRULY PATHETIC that Mr Stringer has so very thouroughly failed to do research into dyslexia (apart apparently from looking up how many different definitions there are for it!!) Maybe if he really read up about it he would understand more.ONE WONDERS if he is merely providing a soundbite smokescreen as a preamble for making even less provision financially to help dyslexics cope with the quite substantial difficulties associated with the magpie language that is English.Of course it is easier to become literate in Spanish (like Italian or Hebrew) as such languages are phonetic in their spelling . Learn one rule and it applies. English???!!!??? Dyslexia and the other conditions on the same spectrum, are SPECIFIC learning difficulties, are inherited ,and are independent of the person's intelligence level. One could say in lay terms that dyslexics have 'differently wired' brains. This causes problems with organisation, short term memory, auditory processing etc. However dyslexics can also have many great talents which are not granted to 'normal' people. e.g. my husband is an architect and can 'see' a building in 3D just by looking at one floor plan or even just the outside of the building. There is at least one firm of architects in Texas who will ONLY employ architects if they ARE dyslexic!!I only found out that I am dyslexic and dyspraxic when I was 50 and having my son tutored, and then did a Diploma in Specific Learning Difficulties at the Hornsby Institute in London. This was to add to my degree in Zoology from Oxford University and my PGCE. The diagnosis made many things I had experienced fall into place i.e. HUGE problems with organisation; clumsiness; having to work incredibly hard to obtain my degree and further qualifications, knowing that I am and was more intelligent and able than I can actually demonstrate in an examination; sometimes understanding difficult concepts as a whole and very fast; difficulties filling out forms.It is not surprising that there is a disproportionately high no of dyslexics in the prison population: poor opportunity, and the poor self worth which develops from being labelled 'lazy' and 'stupid' and 'daydreamer' workshy etc. Bored and dissaffected and unable to fit into the linear world, they are more likely to find themselves falling into criminal behaviour.The fact that dyslexia also confers advantages and did so in human societies makes complete evolutionary sense: to be present in such a high proportion and demonstrably an inherited trait it MUST HAVE conferred great advantages; - it is only in the last 100 to 150 years that the majority of the human population has had to be literate and numerate. That is a mere click in evolutionary terms. HOW ARROGANT to assume that just because one is an MP one has knowledge and wisdom on all things. Methinks there must be a financial angle to this Mr Stringer.

oops - i'm rushing - now i've got a my instead of meJanuary 12th 2009.

oops. x

french dyslexicJanuary 12th 2009.

ther are in fact 42 sounds in the french phonetic langauge as we struggle to pronounce "TH". It messes with my head any how....But Graham Stringer is surely vee biggest thucking idiot I have read about in this city...Hey I did it, I am cured!...Prat!!!

Kim Jong IlJanuary 12th 2009.

Wot yu al talk abot? In Korea, we al kan reed and rite no problm. I lik to chat with frens from oversees. if yu can spel an wan good chat, ples call me . I so wonely. Nicaraguans welcome

scoteeeJanuary 12th 2009.

and bbc news

ATC talks bolloxJanuary 12th 2009.

See link This girl has half a brain and she's not dyslexic.Get a real job you numpty.http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8159631.stm

Jan HJanuary 12th 2009.

Mr Stringer's comments show a complete ignorance of dyslexia. It is an abuse of an MP's power to put ill-informed opinion and prejudice into the public domain. I had an excellent education and I am very well qualified. What do you blame my dyslexia on then, Mr Stringer?

TimJanuary 12th 2009.

I'm sure I can think up 28 different definitions of "muppet", but sadly that doesn't make you a fiction, Mr Stringer.

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

esquilo - In the main I would agree, however the line 'whats hot in the city ...... ' covers a multitude of sins, including the one labelled 'News & Comment' in the contents menu at the left hand side.Anyway, people love being offended by a nobody ..... look at all the complaints about Jonathon Ross and Russell Brand ;) lolFavourite pub ..... hmmm, have to go way out of the city (and the county too) for that ....... The Duck and Drake in Leeds centre, not been in one that can beat it for the laugh yet

KarlJanuary 12th 2009.

See, Mike? It's perfectly possible to submit a rationally argued and arguable post. You're right that everyone deserves a say. This is at the end of the day an entertainment website and does not claim to be scientific. As the original article questioned the existence of dyslexia (as many others have done), it is, however, quite natural that the majority of respondents will represent the opposing viewpoint. I don't know how many of the respondents have actually studied dyslexia objectively and how many are basing their knowledge of the subject solely on their personal experiences. The great thing about science is that anyone can challenge the status quo and occasionally they are right - that's how it moves forward. A lot of the posters here take the opportunity to slag off Stringer and several label him bigoted, simply for challenging the orthodoxy. It really isn't helpful and you could even argue that it harms their argument to make it personal rather than draw on the facts of the matter.

esquiloJanuary 12th 2009.

or even "Leave".Not that the dyslexics would've noticed. Obv.

Vicky: a dyslexic MSc graduateJanuary 12th 2009.

Personally I think illiteracy and dyslexia are two different things. Fair enough, if someone is not diagnosed with dyslexia and they find it hard to cope in schools, they may drop out, but being dyslexic doesn't automatically mean you are illiterate (proof from myself whos just graduated from an MSc, and also those other posts from people with similar experiences). What Stringer doen't say is how many people in West Dunbartonshire are certified dyslexic! Just because they have found a better teaching system which, by all accounts, sounds like it should be introduced across the board, does not mean that they have 'irradiated dyslexia', just that they have got a good system there that teaches everyone the basics. It doesn't mean that there are not children in West Dunbartonshire that still struggled to get these basic literacy skills, and find this kind of thing so much harder than the average child (but is still an intelligent child and therefore can not be called 'thick'). I am dyslexic, and I too struggled with the basic literacy skills (I still remember being the only child in primary school with homework, being the only person in 'red group' - the worst group for spelling skills, because the other boy had moved up a group, and being in floods of tears because I just couldn't get my head round spelling and maths! All this trauma and I had already been diagnosed with dyslexia, so I knew it wasn't because I was thick, but that still didn't help!), but that did not mean that i didn't manage to gain those skills eventually!I think the worst thing about this article is making all those people who are certified dyslexic ponder, even if it is for just one second, that actually they were just ill-taught or thick. All the crap we have gone through to get where-ever we are today, to have had to work twice as hard as our peers, just to be on the same level as them, and you now try and claim its just ill-teaching of basic skills! Bulls**t.

STRANGE WAYSJanuary 12th 2009.

This is something I happen to know quite a lot about - much of it through first-hand experience having been a secondary school teacher for three decades. I thought the days when idiots like this say 'It's a middle-class umbrella term to cover up the fact that some kids are thick' were long gone. How sad and how depressing to know that someone in a position of responsibility and accountability is uttering this nonsense. Perhaps he'd like to share the evidence base supporting his hypothesis with the rest of us? Having exposed his ignorance in this manner can any credence be given to anything else this fool says?

Professor IgnorantJanuary 12th 2009.

I can't believe the passion this debate has created. Some woman's actually included a full bibliography in there! Get a life folks. Where do you have the time to write all this stuff?The day forums like these are worthy of our time is the day I see someone actually acknowledge the opinion of another and perhaps show some demonstration of a change in their mind-set. Get back to work folks. Save your breath.

NathJanuary 12th 2009.

Ralphy boy, i'm quite happy to be thick aka dyslexic for a free laptop when needed. However, i'm not in need of all the sympathy your 'group' constantly craves.Get on with your studies kid but don't worry if things don't go well- you can blame it on dyslexia.

Jane, AberdeenJanuary 12th 2009.

My son is seven years old and is dyslexic. Our story spans about two years. From the start of primary 1 we were told that our son was very bright, but just didn’t seem to get to grips with his letters. We had his eyes tested, and even with glasses the situation continued. We were becoming increasingly worried, I couldn’t sleep. We were told to do more reading at home. One weekend, he came home with seven books to read for Monday!!! This situation went on and on. Incidentally, we refused to read seven books in one weekend. I now know that pressure is the worst thing to give to a dyslexic child. Anyway, the turning point began when I was very kindly asked by his teacher if I would like to do voluntary reading with his class. Great, I love this kind of thing. My heart sank when I say my son’s head practically hit the floor at the mention of reading or writing. Sometimes he could perform and others not, but he obviously was very unhappy. Both I and the teacher were confused. It was suggested that he was just lazy sometimes. I wondered myself, since I couldn’t understand why sometimes he could and sometimes he couldn’t. I now know why, but that requires lots of knowledge about the nature of dyslexia. Sadly our teachers are not educated to have this knowledge for which I have the greatest sympathy.Eventually my doctor gave me the name of an independent specialist who dealt with a number of learning difficulties. On first consultation he said that our son demonstrated a lot of signs of dyslexia, but he was unwilling to absolutely confirm the condition. Our son was seven at the time, and still quite young in his exposure to learning to read and write. Six months later he was fully diagnosed with dyslexia. We were very relieved to have this diagnosis, along with a nine page report explaining all the tests, scores and suggestions for future learning requirements.We gave this report to his school, still feeling happy and hopeful that now our child could be helped. No ….. who was this guy that did this diagnosis? The headmistress told me that she had worked for many years with dyslexic children, and ours was, well …. Lazy. The educational psychologist of the school had seen the report and brushed it off … what is this ‘developmental dsylexia’?Our specialist offered to take time out of his own teaching schedule to come to our son’s school to meet his teachers and the educational psychologist in order to explain his findings and give any help which may be required.Again, feeling that we were indeed leaving the dark hopeless times in the past, I approached the Headmistress. I was blow over sideways by her response. She said that teachers and the psychologist might not like it.Needless to say, our child doesn’t go to that school anymore. He now attends the Aberdeen Waldorf School where the independent specialist has become his learning support teacher. We are very lucky. Our son is now recognised, like most children to be bright. The difference is that the BUT word no longer exists. Yes, he learns in a different way which is treated with utmost respect and support.I heard him say to his friend “sit down, I’m going to read you a bit out of my book”. I don’t need to tell you how I felt.I do need to say that there are many children who are not so fortunate, and many families who cannot afford private education. This is why I wholeheartedly support the need for blanket testing for learning difficulties at the age of eight. A non- questionable diagnosis gives parents, their children and also importantly their teachers rights which cannot be denied. Please give a moment to consider my story and sign the e-petition.It can be accessed on the internet in the Scottish Parliament website : http://www.epetitions.scottish.parliament.uk. Under the e-petitions tab, the petition is titled ‘Assessment of children for specific learning difficulties’, raised by David Ballantyne, and will close on the 20th February, 2009. Thereafter it will be presented to Parliament in the early part of this year.It's very sad that Mr Stringer has denied the existence of dyslexia and has not made the link with illiteracy, exclusion from school and crime. The need for early diagnosis is crucial and his stance only assists those who deny the condition and thus deny learning support (as happened to my son).

Student TeacherJanuary 12th 2009.

What an embarrassingly shocking lack of thought and research went into this extremely biased, self-aggrandising, and ultimately worthless piece of drivel.How wonderful it is that opinionated morons get to waffle on regardless. And judging from the sheep-mentality of some of those commenting, I'd guess you (and they) won't even bother actually doing any research on the subject to change your ignorant status ... why bother, after all, when your uninformed opinion can be used to pompously belittle anyone who has a learning difficulty? I expect that ADHD, ME and stress-related illnesses are myths too, in your little world. When I don't understand something through lack of knowledge, I educate myself. I research. I take time out and learn from people in the relevant fields. I guess that I have learned enough to know that I DON'T know it all. Something you very obviously have yet to learn.

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

Polly, I'll explain as best I can while also attempting to show the shortfalls in Mr Stringers research on the matter: ..... This is the section on dyslexia from a neurological foundation in the US ..... "Dyslexia is a brain-based type of learning disability that specifically impairs a person's ability to read. These individuals typically read at levels significantly lower than expected despite having normal intelligence. Although the disorder varies from person to person, common characteristics among people with dyslexia are difficulty with phonological processing (the manipulation of sounds) and/or rapid visual-verbal responding." ..... So as you can see, it is classified as a condition by official sources. Of course as Mr Stringer has stated that it is social and educationally based then the discovery by the German National Genome Research Network of the Gene that is believed by experts (in that specific field of science) to cause dyslexia must be wrong ..... I know who I trust in this argument, and it certainly isn't a British MP.

Peter J KeeganJanuary 12th 2009.

I tried emailing the Parlimentary Ombudsman to complain about Mr Graham Stringer but got a reply from a complaints officer. I got sent a copy of the Parlimentary complaints and in it, it suggest that if you have a compliant about an MP's conduct, you can write a letter to a Mr John Lyon, CB, Parlimentary Commissioner setting out the compliant as fully as possible with evidence to support it, you will need to provide an address and phone number. I intend to do this as soon as possible. I have also emailled my local MP Louise Ellman A/W a reply. I say to all those affected by Dyslexia and those who support Dyslexlics to keep on going, don't give up no matter what. There is also a support for those that Neurodiversity challenged which includes all learning disabilites based in Manchester and have monthly meetings, Janet Taylor is point of Contact, next meeting 07th Feb at the Town Hall Tavern at 1400 hrs for two hours. Details can be found on facebook or on the internet. Theres another group in Preston and there are other groups that meet across the country and may help some individuals that you are not on your owna and there are others who have similar sorts of issues. I intend along a good friend of mine to start a similar group in Liverpool at some point but in a more proactive role. I take this opportunity to wish all those dyslexics and those who support individuals with dyslexia well and those individuals who have displayed negitive comments to question their own comments and do more research into dyslexia to better their own understanding or are too ignorant to do so?

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

Blue Peter, I think you'll find that people don't object to Mr Stringer airing his views on any matter, regardless of whether they agree with him or not ..... the problem has arisen that he has presented his views as fact when they are quite clearly not (as supported by medical evidence).

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

As I stumbled across this ill informed article on my hunt for information on dyslexia I was astounded to find that someone of this man's position could have such an ignorant view of something that is a recognised and proven disability. I personally can vouch for the fact that this man's view on dyslexia is total and utter tripe. As the partner of someone who is classed as severely dyslexic but who has an IQ of 120 but a reading age of 14 and a spelling age of 13. My partner completed GCSE's and A levels and now has a very highly paid job. Whilst we both agree schools are letting down children with learning difficulties the one reason that he found personally with dyslexia was the fact that a few teachers had the exact same view as this ignorant and blinkered man. Which caused him immense trouble up to the age of 16 due to teachers considering him lazy and hiding behind something that wasnt there. Fortunately for him, he went to a private school with a sports scholarship which had an excellent dyslexia and an immediate recognition of his condition. Without this help and support the final years of his schooling would have been immensly difficult. To any person who has found that they are dyslexic, severe or not, do not worry, you are not alone and do not pay any attention to people with similar views as this so called politician. You will find you forte in life and it will be a strong forte due to the fact that you will have tried 10 times harder than other people to get the same results. As for you Mr. Stringer I hope you never have to justify your views to someone who suffers from dyslexia as you may live to regret writing this ill informed and ignorant article.

TeacherJanuary 12th 2009.

Secreto - are you seriously trying to claim that peanut allergies, lactose intolerence, irritable bowel, bi-polar, ME, ADHD, OCD are simply life-style choices??!! My God - you truly are a medical genius and should be awarded a Nobel Prize immediately for services to medicine. I truly hope no member of your family should ever suffer from any of these conditions as they will clearly receive neither sympathy nor support from you.

furious motherJanuary 12th 2009.

Mr Stringer, I am amazed that a MP is allowed to publicly voice bigoted opinions such as these. A well educated person would make sure he had all his facts prior to voicing an opinion. Maybe you feel because you can read and write it gives you the right to label people who suffer from dyslexia as functionally illiterate. I am a mother of two children one of which is dyslexic, and I am extremely proud of her and her achievements. She has a university degree and now works for the NHS in speech therapy, working with autistic children. She received no special help from our education system, struggled throughout her years in education, especially in her early years at school, with some teachers accusing her of being lazy, ripping her work up in front of her and make her stay behind at break times, this for a 5 year old is heart breaking ….. you loud mouthing these opinions will only make matters worse for those attempting to overcome their disability. I agree that teaching phonetically helps people who suffer from dyslexia with their ability to read, learning to build sounds into words helps a young child with dyslexia realise that they can find ways around the problems that face them, and yes the education systems needs to take this on board, but when a large percentage of our children learn effectively with the teaching methods in place today why should the whole system change, a little flexibility in teaching methods is all that is needed. Mr Stringer you state that it is your prison visits which shock you, but your opinion seems to have been formed from solely studying those that the education system seems to have failed, when a balanced opinion would have been formed if you had also studied those who having learned to overcome the disability that faced them have succeeded and become invaluable members of our society, these would include University Lecturers, Doctors, Scientists and the list goes on ….. it also may include MP’s.If one was to only venture out in the dark, then form the opinion that there was no light would they be right or just disillusioned.

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

I've just re-read the whole article again and it sounds almost like a denial/justification piece ..... I wonder if Mr Stringer has been diagnosed as Dyslexic himself at any point?

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

"She's now an A level student, but still struggles to make sense of a printed page when she is tired or stressed." - 'mumofdyslexic'That's the argument this man has. We all struggle with things when we are tired or stressed, but without Dyslexia aren't compensated in anyway (time wise or financially). If the coloured glasses 'fix' your daughter's dyslexia, what now separates her from learning at the same rate as the other students?

Frank VJanuary 12th 2009.

Dr KarlBy your own rant, are you not negating your own views (although I do agree with most of them) by using the title, "Dr"?

Steve, HullJanuary 12th 2009.

Yet another absolute prick of a politician, finding something obscure to get some free publicity. Rather than 'killing off' dyslexia, this nasty rash of a politician should be killed off. I have a partner of 19 years who is dyslexic, like many others failed by the education system, but despite this has achieved through his own dedication and commitment. This nasty PM Rash is using dyslexia as an excuse for the SHEER INCOMPETENCE OF THIS GOVERNMENT, AND THEIR INTERFERING INCOMPETENCE IN EDUCATION!! THEY HAVEN'T GOT A CLUE!!

cannonball111January 12th 2009.

Dyslexia a myth? Why only a few weeks ago a secretive Family Court "expert" determined that Welsh medium courts retard children (www.walesonline.co.uk/…/….) In the meantime the same courts routinely determine that autism is caused by women with MSBP - or through witchcraft (not sure which) or demonic possession (it's one or the other, or all of them.)Why stop at dyslexia? How about schizophrenia Graham? Cerebal palsy (aren't these folk drooling just to get a free laptop?) Downe's syndrome (aren't these kids just acting it up to get a free laptop?)Think of the money that could be saved by denying such conditions support - hang on! That's what New Labour do in any case! By gum Graham, you've tapped a rich vein here - appealing to those who like to roll out dyslexia jokes and at the same time not denying yourself the opportunity to write about your own personal prejudices.

Frank VJanuary 12th 2009.

Now, I'm not a sniper or critique of poor English in the extreme. I do however, not understand why people cannot use a simple spell checker add-in as part of their web browsing Firefox: download-firefox.org/…/how-to-use-spell-checker-in-firefox… or IE: http://www.iespell.com/Alternatively, copy and paste you entry into word, spell check and then copy and paste back.I do it, and I'm not dyslexic, so surely it can be beneficial to all?

SiouxJanuary 12th 2009.

Here we have a politician desperately trying to get his name in the media. He has not done his homework and has just quoted a rag tag collection of research coupled with some poorly phrased comments such as 'brain disorder. As with many people who do not know what they are talking about, he has confused literacy problems with dyslexia, a mistake in common with those who are ignorant of the facts. It must more complicated than that.He wants to get put there and talk to people with dyslexia. He would do better to throw his weight behind a genuine cause rather than trying to make life more difficult for a section of the population who already have a hard time.

answer to benJanuary 12th 2009.

I think the key is - dyslexia isn't an excuse to be illiterate, it's just harder to learn than the average person. The brain functions in a different way. I'm dyslexic, but i'm not illiterate. Maybe Dunbartonshire have a fantastic teaching resource - going by their results - which means everyone is up to speed.

decision-nowJanuary 12th 2009.

Do we need a referendum on this one? Bring back Sir Neil, let's all spend 12 weeks arguing yes or no and have a vote...or maybe not.

Chris LewisJanuary 12th 2009.

I'm not sure whether I find it more disturbing that Mr Stringer believes what he has written to be true or that he decides to share it with the world.Firstly, his statistics are worth a look: nearly 100% literacy in Nicaragua. Well, yes, if you think that 80% is nearly 100% (check the UNESCO Institute for Statistics figures). Literacy is very important in Nicaragua, and has been high on the agenda for some time; however, in a country with 20% illiteracy, the statistics on dyslexia are very likely to be subsumed.Secondly, even if Mr Stringer had checked his facts, it's worth considering how and if dyslexia is related to literacy. Extreme cases exist, of course, but the fact is that dyslexia makes reading and writing difficult, not impossible. Muddying the water by quoting statistics on literacy in one paragraph and trying to directly compare them to statistics on functional literacy in another is a low way of trying to make a point.Thirdly, £78.4M spread across 29 million UK income tax payers equates to about £2.70 a year to help children get the greatest benefit from their education. Which doesn't seem like quite such a burden. It is in all of our interests to see each generation achieve their potential and to attempt to remove as many hindrances to their education as possible.Fourthly, linguistic phonics is a fairly controversial area, and claiming it to be a magic bullet for literacy based on a study in an area with population 91,000 is pretty risky. Also, it would not address the issues of dyslexia sufferers; even if you know the group of letters "igh" is usually pronounced "i", if you can't recognise the order of the letters it is of no help. So while changes in the education system may be useful in some areas, the same needs for support will remain.Literacy is vital, and I commend attempts to improve it; however, poorly researched articles are of no help. This article is extremely defamatory to a large number of people (including sufferers of dyslexia, their families and their educators) to whom I believe Mr Stringer owes a sincere apology.

StevePJanuary 12th 2009.

What an ignorant idiot. Not only is this an ill considered article, it is intensely insulting to anyone affected Dyslexia. If it is the teaching methods then why is the whole class not affected and in fact only a few that fail? What this fool is saying is those few are too stupid to learn when the teaching is poor. Yet many "Dyslexics" go on to have major careers. How can an offensive twit like this hold public office?

Concerned ConstituentJanuary 12th 2009.

I cannot believe my eyes.This argument over whether Dyselxia is real or not was ended decades ago.All i can say to Graham is that he has achieved nothing except give fuel to those uninformed people that dislike anything that money has to be spent on. Like helping people with the real and scientfically provable condition of Dyslexia.The fact that phonics teaching helps a lot of people with Dyselxia does not mean their condition does not exist. That would like be saying if we all had hearing apliances there would be no such thing as a person with deafness.Dyslexia is also a spectrum disorder and involves many other aspects such as memory problems and dispraxia.I suggest Graham reads a book on Dyslexia before commenting again.

JulieJanuary 12th 2009.

I am very disappointment in the comments what Mr Stringer has said about Dyslexia. I have a child with Dyslexia who has to deal with on daily basis prejudice/discrimination, peer pressure in school and people ignorance in trying to get help and assistance to meet their education needs. Whether this means additional classroom assistances, extra time allowed in exam time or specific teaching requirements tailored to child that requires Special Education needs. This doesn’t mean you automatically get all this assistance automatically or a Laptop, we as parents have to battle every LEA, Teachers, Parents and even the society daily prejudices just for a Child to learn. I would like to know what Ed Balls has to say about this seeing that he has been tasked as part of his Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families to find ways or strategies to ensure that all children with Special Education needs gain the education their right. What about the Royal Family Princess Beatrice is Mr Stringer going to say that now she doesn’t have it and it is a myth? I don’t think so.

ErnaldJanuary 12th 2009.

That's exactly right.

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

Anonymous, there are many 'special needs' in education, are you saying that all of these are fake, or are you just jumping on Mr Stringers bandwagon ..... bluster with no backup ..... and targeting Dyslexia, a condition with 127 - 128 years of hard evidence behind its existence?

leighJanuary 12th 2009.

Good on you Sharon.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

99% of the pro-dyslexics cite little more than anecdotal evidence.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

To be as ignorant and inconsiderate to not only dyslexia itself, but also those who suffer from it is absolutely disgusting considering the privaliged postion you have somehow managed to aquire.

Sharon MJanuary 12th 2009.

My son has had just this year, 2 education phsycologist assessments, which might i add you need to get an independant assessment as the LEA assessments go in favour of the budget and not your child !! 1 of which I have paid for, and a speech and language assessment which I have had to pay for which have dug very deep into Jack's issues, thus resulting in a diagnosis of dyslexia, hyperlexia, dyscalculia, asbergers and autism and the LEA are still refusing that their is anything drastically wrong with him. I have received their statement for the tribunal and it all comes down to the fact that they do not want to use their budget to pay for him to be educated properly. I have got it in black and white its harrendous !

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

Well, I think you're all a bunch of cnuts

Ralph McDevittJanuary 12th 2009.

Oh and to "Nath": the reason that your specific deficts in footballing and spelling are not labled is because they are not part of a syndrome. Presuamably you are just thick and not very good at sport....

Lucy PalmerJanuary 12th 2009.

Thinking that dyslexia is just about reading and writing is bollocks. My lovely boyfriend has dyslexia and struggles with reading, writing, organisational and conversational skills and is often left struggling to find the correct words to express himself while speaking, especially when he's tired. This affects his confidence and social skills, hugely important parts of life. As a keen reader with an English degree, a journalism postgrad and general love of words, I used to find his problems incredibly frustrating, but after seven years I appreciate that it's a million times more frustrating for him. He is immensely bright and has a huge capacity for knowledge, he just has trouble articulating that knowledge. He is neither lazy, stupid or the victim of a poor education - he has a degree in landscape architecture and is very good at his job - he is merely a 30-something bloke with a medical condition doing the best he can. He's recently got some special glasses with coloured lenses which are making some difference, so fingers crossed he'll keep receiving help and keep improving. Graham Stringer, you're welcome to come and meet him so you can gain an educated understanding of what a true dyslexic has to cope with day in and day out. Maybe then you'd be able to write a more well-informed column.

D WilliamsJanuary 12th 2009.

I could comment that in the past 5 year Graham Stringer MP has ranked 1st twice out of 657 MPs for additional cost allowance on his expenses, As I know nothing about what these costs involve I would be in my view irresponsible to comment. It should be noted that as far as I know Mr. Stringer has no interest in any committees or topics of interest relating school aged education. To note further I believe that Mr. Stringer has conducted no educational research, has no background and has not referenced a single educational paper. His comments in my opinion have as much academic rigger as would be expected from an 8 year old pontificating on the plastics industry (Mr. Stringer area of expertise).SPLD dyslexia isn't an excuse to be illiterate; it's just harder to achieve certain processing skills than the average person. As with any cross section of society there are low ability, average and high ability people, this is no different for Dyslexia. The brain functions in a different way for dyslexics; this is shown in many studies of brain activity. Normal readers are found to use the left side of the brain in reading. By contrast, competent dyslexic readers use the right side of the brain; further to this, the more competent the dyslexic reader is, the less likely they are to use the left-hand side of the brain: “Dyslexics who read well consistently bypass the left temporal region." (Abigail Marshall 2003). I'm dyslexic, but I am not illiterate. Having had a low reading age at primary school I received a 1st for my thesis and have had educational research papers published. Interesting point, A one legged man who has a false limb is able to walk. Does this mean that the disability does not exist? “Dyslexia is a myth invented by education chiefs to cover up poor teaching methods” Obviously a very old myth! Orton (1937) claimed that reversible letters (b/d. q/p) were literally perceived wrongly by dyslexic readers either through a lack of suppression of the mirror image, produced by the alternate hemisphere of the brain; or through misperception based on incomplete visual information being obtained from the stimulus. Or not quite as old: "Dyslexia an inability to read normally as a result of a dysfunction in the brain". Myklebust and Johnson (1962) Although individuals can learn to read, reading is never fully mastered by anyone. Definitions of what exactly dyslexia is have varied over the years, but there is a broad consensus that it is a phonological memory problem.My belief is that public officials that think this kind of ignorant, tabloid nonsense is appropriate for public forum despite breaking the “Disability Discrimination Act” (1995) should not be in office. Mr. Stringers actions, by association, bring his party into disrepute and provide in my opinion strong grounds for his resignation.Mr D Williams Reference:Marshall, A 2003 www.dyslexia.com/…/different_pathways.htmMykebust…, HR and Johnson, DJ 1962 "Dyslexia in children" Exceptional Children, 29 14. In Naidoo, S 1972 "Specific dyslexia" Chap. 2 London: Pitman.Orton, ST 1937 "Reading, writing and speech problems in children." New York: Norton.Reid, G 2003 Dyslexia A Practitioner’s Handbook Wiley p7Singleton C 1999 : Dyslexia in Higher Education - Policy, Provision and Practice (Report of the National Working Party on Dyslexia in Higher Education). University of Hull.

PollyJanuary 12th 2009.

Can anyone tell me why, in my junior school in the 1950s, everyone, even the 'slow learners' learned to read, without half of them being labelled in this way? Personally, I think the illiteracy is down to lack of discipline and children not having to do things they don't want to, and dyslexia is a convenient label beloved by the PC brigade. Yes, I realise some people struggle, but is it necessarily a 'syndrome' or genetic fault? I also want to know why someone who struggles with the printed word got accepted on a medical degree course.

leonaJanuary 12th 2009.

there are many other famous dyslexics...heres a few Hans Christian Andersen, Agatha Christie, Richard Branson, Woodrow Wilson, George Washington, Muhammad Ali, Cher, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Leonardo da Vinci, Alexander Bell, Thomas Edison, as we know Albert Einstein, Robin Williams, Keanu Reeves, Kiera Knightley, Whoopi Goldberg, Tom Cruise and Orlando Bloom. there are many others including brain surgeons and nobel prize winners! they couldnt all be lazy victims of a bad education could they? i mean many went to private schools? and did great work, inveted things, created thoeries, proved theories etc!

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

CrisisSurfer - I agree that a 'one size fits all' approach would be the utopian ideal in this situation, but as you say ..... If only. ....... I would personally say that dyslexia as termed nowadays is both a condition and a symptom, as well as an end result in some cases. ..... The condition refers to the people who do have true dyslexia, but with the term being used for a wider range of learning difficulties, I also think the education systems teaching methods do shoulder some of the blame by 'creating' dyslexics (note: different from creating dyslexia) through bad teaching methods and poor resources. ..... Now if Mr Stringer were to put his money where his mouth was and fund an independant research into what dyslexia as a whole is, and what the different types of dyslexia are, taking a hands on role with the researchers, then he would not only be qualified to comment, but he would also be able to put together a better informed article ..... which I believe would read a lot differently.

MCKJanuary 12th 2009.

as an experienced educator, I have always maintained dyslexia does not exist and I pproved it by teaching all refered dyslexic pupils and students to read and write normally very quickly. The british education system is damned by pseudo-scientific 'theories' about abilty, I.Q., reading skills, talents, etc. It is a class-divided system - and I havwe taught in both 'bog standard' and expensive public schools as well as at university level in 3 countries. Yes, too many people in our system develop reading & writing problems. Yes, it can be a relief to get a (pseudo) diagnosis that stops them feeling stupid. No, they don't 'have dyslexia' - because it does not exist.

PollyJanuary 12th 2009.

Would someone like to define dyslexia for me? Some people mention spelling, others remembering instructions and now someone says it means your brain works in pictures. It seems to cover an awful lot.

Jonathan Schofield - editorJanuary 12th 2009.

If someone with experience or expert knowledge wants to reply to this thought-provoking article they can contact me on jonathans@planetconfidential.co.uk

Maggie DJanuary 12th 2009.

I am curious to know why my comment, posted a couple of days ago, has been removed. It was neither excessively rude, defamatory or lacking in contact details. Was it because I suggested that dyslexics direct their anger against the governments who perpetuated methods of teaching reading which flew in the face of all scientific research into the teaching of reading? Or was it because I criticised his government's endorsement of the Reading Recovery programm; a programme which perpetuates the discredited methods of teaching reading and goes entirely against the government's own recommendation (and guidance) that synthetic phonics should be key to the teaching of reading and the remediation of reading difficulties?It seems that entitlement to free speech goes only so far.

AndrewJanuary 12th 2009.

Graham are a complete idiot. I have dyslexia and believe me it is very real and whilst I was growing up not very nice. I have learnt overtime lots of coping methods which I use every minute of every day. I now have an Electronic Engineering degree and a very good job thanks some very good teachers who recongised the dyslexia and helped me deal with it. Like I said you are a complete idiot.

Mark TownsonJanuary 12th 2009.

On hearing what this MP has said about dyslexia, I am absolutely appalled and disgusted on the actual thoughts of an MP who has nothing better to do than slag off quite a large minority of peopl with certain problems. I am 36 years old, I have had problems with dyslexia since 1988, after I was diagnosed with it. I would like this MP to have one day in my shoes while I was at school and I bet all the tea in China that this so-called MP would be running home crying to his mummy after living one day in my shoes. Its okay having a silver spoon shoved up my arse from birth but unfortunately I didn't have a silver spoon, I had dyslexia. I apologise if the readers are offended with the way I put myself across but as I have said, I am appalled by this jumped-up MP who has possibly never had any experience of dyslexia, therefore, I think he should be fired for his comments, not just disciplined, a smack on the hand. An MP is supposed to be the voice of the people, not slag them off and make them feel small and inadequate. It is a scientific fact that dyslexia exists and you ask anybody who has dyslexia how hard it is to live day to day life. I hope this MP reads this and all the other comments that people have left. I am very sorry but I think that this particular website should not have published this article. People go on about discrimintation, colour, race etc, from where I am standing, I have just been discriminated against because I am not as clever as this SO-CALLED MP. Thank you.

foobooJanuary 12th 2009.

The fact that Korea doesn't have the same percentage of people diagnosed as dyslexic is not surprising. The same is true of China and I believe Japan.Dyslexics are picture thinkers. the Roman alphabet puts words together in linear sequences, this is one of the things dyslexics have trouble with...sequencing. The pictograms used in China, Korea, and Japan (and elsewhere) are pictures representing ideas, hieroglyphs, dyslexics are picture thinkers so don't have as much trouble decoding them, they are more 'natural' to a dyslexic mind.I'd like to see even the best teacher manage, through good teaching methods, to change the brain scans and DNA marker differences that can be found in dyslexics as well as the other symptoms that are not reading and writing difficulty.Do you reckon they could teach away balance problems? time measurement difficulty? or change attention spans? hearing problems? poor short term memory? these are just a few of the common symptoms. http://www.dyslexia.com/library/symptoms.htm

Jimi CJanuary 12th 2009.

Now the above comment is how to rant, I wonder how much has been cut and pasted from Grahams actual speech?I do agree that some people probably play the system or teachers aren't willing to try different methods as they work on "the majority rule" where whatever works for most is done rather than different techniques for different children.Dyslexia is a term too broadly used nowadays similar ro depression, its considered you dyslexic and thats its your done for and your moved to special schools. When most of the kids could stay in the mainstream education and attain high grades. I think Grahams interview is more a shot at the education system simply giving up on kids rather than a shot at the kids themselves.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

I am very disappointed to read the article published. My bright 8 yr old has been tested for dyslexia and now confirmed is indeed dyslexic, I have a bright 13 yr old who is sailing through education, I have tried everything to help my 8 yr old, the teachers are extremely good and include lots of individual help and group work. It is sad to read such a sweeping, generalised statement, which appears not built on extensive research both sides of the coin, in my opinion, as this gentleman has had his, it sounds as if he has done his research visiting prisons. There are many social factors that people end up in prison, to pin point dyslexia, I find is absolutely ridiculous.

Dr PointlessJanuary 12th 2009.

This is a lively debate. Well done all of you! Keep typing everyone; especially the dyslexics, every little helps.

SuJanuary 12th 2009.

Can't you see Graham's point about the student's crazy case against the GMC though? That's human rights gone mad - yet again. What if her disability meant she misread someone's medication dosage with fatal results? I'm hopeless at maths - would I be able to claim I was being discriminated against if I had to sit an exam for a maths degree which included some algebra and equations? Maybe it's over-simplifying things, but I'm tired of hearing folks whinge about discrimination.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

Secreto- Of course you feel the need to patronise, discriminate and insult those who do SUFFER with dyslexia because it clearly doesn't affect you. The 'bile spilled' over this article is a response from many angry people highlighting that people like you simply dont understand the problem at all. Ignorance must be bliss.

echo734January 12th 2009.

Wow, never previously been a fan of Graham Stringer, but I agree with his comments. Nice to see someone with influence putting his head above the parapet!!

AndreaJanuary 12th 2009.

This ill-considered article is an affront to all those students, parents and teachers who work so very hard to enable the students to reach their potential.

Sam ReynoldsJanuary 12th 2009.

The sooner Mr Stringer is consigned to the same dustbin of history, the better.No more need be said

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