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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.

I am a myth Karen royleJanuary 12th 2009.

I am 47 years old my motehr was a teacher when she had me and she tried all the teaching methods know to man to help me express myself still I had great difficult learning spellings and writting essay. I was 20 years and three months when on entrying Nursing at eastbirmingham hospital because no one oin the north would take me for SRN training only sen because I was unable to get olevel english or maths I had by then got cse grade two and a range of unclassified to d at olvele english. I had mangaed to get five olevesl or there equal in two or three sitting I failed all my Alevels getting olevel pas at Bioloogy and a fail in socilogy anfd general studies much to the disappointment and bewilderment of teachers at both fearns and haslingden high school in rossendale as I failed my eleven plus to bacup and rawstall grammer school even though I had extra lesson and lots of help from the headmaster at thorn infant school how dare you say dysleixc doesn`t excist . when you try your hardest to do all the rules of englisdh when you spend ever waking hour learning spelling still on friday to come near the bottom of the class. You sick me mr graham Stringer meet me if you dare or are you like the night sister I meet at crumpsall hospital when hear I was dyslexic want to prove she could teach me to spell i was qualifiled and registred dyslexic and I let her come every night when we where quite and go over english rules but it doesn`t matter when I am tired or in full flow the spell and grammer goes out of the widown and single words i cann`t break down so sometime reading can be a problem get your fact straight before you open your mouth, you don`t know what pain I went through being called stupid lazy, ihave suffered with deprssion since I was six looking back and people like you who comment do not help would you tell a blind man they could see its only in they mind I thnig not !!!!!!!!!!!!

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.

MarkJanuary 12th 2009.

You've spelt Strangeways wrong on the image. ;¬)

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.

HelenJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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

PaulyJanuary 12th 2009.

Ashley's Vibrating Bumhole, check your spelling!!! *hands you a pickaxe*

cannonball11January 12th 2009.

Cancer - huh? That's just people wanting a free ride and a bit of sympathy. Oh, I'm sorry Mr. Stringer. Did I pre-empt your next planned article?

DownwinderJanuary 12th 2009.

I might have agreed with the premises of this article before I got Multiple Sclerosis. Now that I have experienced the results of brain damage and dysfunction I will have to say that the author has his head someplace where the sun doesn't shine.

foobooJanuary 12th 2009.

Once again a person in an influential position fails to do their homework and causes distress unnecessarily. The "can't read and write" definition is the Victorian one. It was how they first spotted the condition. There has been over 100 years of research since then proving that it's exists and that it is more than a literacy condition. Poor literacy is just one symptom of around 35 common ones.His statement is that of a bigot.

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!

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

Julian, please don't be too harsh on Mr Stringer ..... he has obviously been researching this for about 5 minutes, and in that time believes himself to be the worlds foremost authority on Dyslexia. Don't let the fact that he bases his argument on conjecture, rumour and superstition sway you from his validity and holiness in this matter ...... then again I could just be talking the mickey out of a whiner (Stringer) and not be being serious at all ..... so go ahead, have a field day on the ignorant nonentity ;)

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!!!!!!!

sashaJanuary 12th 2009.

I've found Mr Stringer's coments fascinating. My dad, brother and myself are all dyslexic, and left+right handed. Or not! Our mistake. It must be fabulous to be as clever as him.

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.

KellyJanuary 12th 2009.

Are you trying to tell me downwinder, professor ignorant, paulipips are not showing their ignorance? I think you should read my comment again Jimi C, I didn't comment on the whole article, I find Grahams dyslexia comment poor. FYI I think Graham does have some points, and I fully agree with improving teaching methods, which will inevitably reduce crime and literacy.

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.

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?

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?

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.

mike fleethamJanuary 12th 2009.

There is scientific evidence supporting a neurological and behavioural condition called Dyslexia. There is scientific evidence against. There is also a great deal of urban myth and opinion fuelling both sides of the argument. What all parties in the debate should find hard to disagree upon is that some human beings have simply been born with brains that are significantly impaired when it comes to aspects of processing language. Call it what we like – Dyslexia – Special Language Need – Visually gifted - there’s no escaping this fact. So how does one MP’s comments towards those with language challenges help things along? In no way other than further stirring up the fires and diverting energy to debate rather than solutions. He criticizes teaching methods yet fails to mention that some of the most effective classroom practice is inspired by special needs (and especially dyslexic) pedagogy.My son is severely dyslexic and has the visual IQ of a 15 year old. He’s 9 and typical of many dyslexic learners. His brain is a gift to the problems and challenges of 21st century; he fixes adult problems in a jiffy, sees creative solutions in his mind; imagines the most vivid and innovative designs and creations, has interpersonal skills to die for. And struggles to remember how to spell “what”. While some educational leaders talk, debate, research and produce endless consultations, the gap between his intelligence and linguistic skills is widening. Given the correct support and opportunities, his esteem will remain intact: his embarrassment at having to publicly declare his spelling test scores in class, whilst his creative potential remains hidden, may just be held in check. But there’s a good chance that I’ll be collecting him from a police cell one day if he feels that his gifts are never valued and his efforts to do the things he finds hardest are in vain.I call on Graham Stringer and other leaders to get past the language and labelling and to make things happen for those learners whose brains simply aren’t wired for language. How can we quickly and effectively discover, value and enrich their strengths, whilst supporting them in their challenges?

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

Freedom of Speech, I agree with you that healthy debate is essential to the democratic process ..... but I have to disagree with you on saying that this article is merely a personal opinion. It is a personal opinion disguised as fact (as it happens only thinly disguised because of the poor quality of his research). Personally, it seems to me that this article was not put forward for a reasoned debate, but to illicit a response, and when broaching this type of emotive subject this is unfortunately the range of response that will come forward.

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.

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.

esquiloJanuary 12th 2009.

Dyslexia, schmyslexia. Can't people just be allowed to be stupid anymore? Leve 'em in peace.

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.

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.

BenJanuary 12th 2009.

No one seems to have explained how some places seem to have no dyslexia. Does using synthetic phonics "cure" it? Or does an effective teaching tool show that anyone can learn? Those mocking Mr Stringer need to explain how West Dunbartonshire eradicated the functional illiteracy it previously recorded. Or maybe they think WD simply fiddled the stats....

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!!

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?

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?

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.

JamesJanuary 12th 2009.

MP Mr Springer what are u talking about!?!?!? Your a waste of time and a waste of are tax payers money. Its people like you who need to shut there mouth and get there information from a dyslexic person first. You’re just another one of the useless Labour MPs who has done nothing for this country

byslexicJanuary 12th 2009.

what an ignorant tw*t!

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.

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!

AdamJanuary 12th 2009.

Stringer has the right idea when it comes to synthetic phonics - pity this idea gets buried under his flawed ideas and logic regarding 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." What, so if a malady can be cured then it never existed in the first place? Great logic. Plus equating dyslexia with illiteracy is a massive oversimplification."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." Er, apart from the fact that they have different education systems and different LANGUAGES? The more orthographically transparent a language is - and Spanish is very logical in its spelling - the easier everyone finds to learn it, dyslexic or not. Sounds like a rational reason to me.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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/

Bob LomasJanuary 12th 2009.

I see that Graham Stringer's knowledge has not increased since he was a newly elected councillor to Manchester City Council. Could this be down to a mental/educational/genetic disorder or is he just naturally thick?

Newton HeathJanuary 12th 2009.

Oh look...I'm dyslevix also.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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)

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.

benJanuary 12th 2009.

I had the best schooling money can buy but still find it hard to read and spell, so what a twit Mr. Stringer is. I have lived and Nicaragua, and you are telling me that you trust their data??? That’s just silly. I will nether vote Labor now.

D's lx icJanuary 12th 2009.

I could not agree with you more! Far too many people are misusing these ridiculous labels. For example, there are thousands of people in the country that prefer to refer to themselves as being 'Politicians', when of course there is no such disability. These people are simply hiding behind this spurious label to avoid the fact that they are just incredibly stupid or grossly incompetent. For example, George Bush, need I say more.

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).

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.

NHOJ CAM NALHCALJanuary 12th 2009.

Well done Graham its about time some one brought back// DYSLEXIA TO THE FRONT PAGE // could it be link to demenshior as well just a thought thank god for spell check //// ? well it did not work on that word did it baaaaaa humbug //

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.

Allan WhyteJanuary 12th 2009.

I'm a Labour party member in this man's constituancy and I will find it a real struggle voting for him in the next general election. After his cheap comments about the Scots, his disloyalty when times got difficult for the party and now this. I'm no academic but surely there are better qualified people to be commenting on this subject than him. Graham do yourself a favour and avoid the rum before you think of your next headline grabbing comment.

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

Anonymous academic: .... Mr Stringers 'factually based' comments are in actuality based on literacy rates in prisons and a very spurious link to the dyslexic condition, however he has missed a few critical points ..... 1: As Dyslexia has been around as a recognised condition since the late 19th century, and more has been found out about it with every passing decade, how can it possibly be linked to a way of teaching that has changed constantly over the last 130 years? ..... 2: As dyslexia is a worldwide condition, and each country has different ways of teaching, how can it be linked to an educational system at all? ..... 3: German Genetic scientists (with a little more knowledge on the matter than Mr Stringer) have found a Gene which they believe is the genetic cause of the condition, how is that possible if it doesn't exist? ..... 4: As dyslexia is in effect the mildest form of autism, does that also mean that Autism itself is a figment of peoples imaginations? ............... Tom, Thanks for the reply, you'll have to keep us updated on what he says.

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.

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.

GobsmackedJanuary 12th 2009.

As much as i fully agree that teaching standards need to be improved, saying that Dyslexia doesn't exist is irresponsible. Yes, in my opinion dyslexia (like adhd) is now commonly used as an excuse for lazy/misbehaving students, but this doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. I passed my GCSE's, A Levels, Degree and i have a successul job, but i struggled a lot with reading and Maths, it meant i spent far more time on these subjects to try and be remotely good. It was a relief when i got to uni and discovered there was a reason why i struggled. I wasn't given any free aid, but good advice on how to work around the dyslexia. It's easy for some one like you, to make such a sweeping statement, when you obviously don't struggle with literacy. We can't all be as fortunate as yourself.

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.

Frank VJanuary 12th 2009.

D WilliamsAn interesting post. However, I think it a poor indication of society, when we call for people to be censored, regardless of how misjudged their views may be. We live in a democratic society, where the Rt. Honourable Graham Stringer's career, will live and die on his comments. I would give example of the BNP representatives who were not allowed to take part in open debate at Cambridge University. The day we prohibit open debate, we condemn ourselves to ignorance and give up our freedom to the state.

Mr John GoodwinJanuary 12th 2009.

My father states "as a Cambridge graduate in Chemistry and an Oxford Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) in the Medical Faculty I can scarcely be accused of being illiterate. However, his life experience proves beyond question that there is a world of difference between being illiterate and Dyslexic. I still remember the terror I experienced at school when I was expected to learn poetry by heart and to spout it in public. The reason is that I have a form of Dyslexia which interrupts the transfer of data between short-term and long-term memory, which has over the years prevented me from rising to the highest levels of my profession, despite total dedication to it. It is a great insult, and potentially defamatory, to have people like Mr Stringer considering that Dyslexia is no more than illiteracy or laziness." I am myself a dyslexic, and I suggest that Mr Stringer talks to "Two Jags" Prescott and Lord Heseltine and see their reactions to this outburst. I am mindful to report him to the Parliamentary Ombudsman for breach of the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 for encouraging others to discriminate against Dyslexics and allied conditions. I wiil be writing to my MP, Dr Vincent Cable, about this crass outburst.

hippleJanuary 12th 2009.

this is just what i would expect from an uninformed ignoramus like yourself.get in the real world preferably the gaza strip.thats if you have the brains to book a flight.

KarlJanuary 12th 2009.

Honestly, I can feel it in my waters. At some point someone is going to present an argument that doesn't contain a personal anecdote before abstracting their story onto the whole of humankind. Don't ask me why ... I just a feeling.

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....

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.

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.

HelenJanuary 12th 2009.

Hi Polly, See below for a summary of what Dyslexia is as there is no one definition:- “a processing difference experienced by people of all ages, often characterised by difficulties in literacy, it can affect other cognitive areas such as memory, speed of processing, time management, co-ordination and directional aspects. There may be visual and phonological difficulties and there is usually some discrepancy in performances in different areas of learning. It is important that the individual differences and learning styles are acknowledged since these will affect outcomes of assessment and learning. It is also important to consider the learning and work context as the nature of the difficulties associated with dyslexia may be more pronounce in some learning situations.” (Reid, 2002)

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.

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.

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

CrisisSurfer and Frank: Learning disabilities are indeed difficult to quantify, mainly because we know so little about the workings of the human brain, and although you could quite accurately say that everyone bar a select few on this planet have some form of learning disability, it is the severity of it that gives it its final classification .... But to reverse the analogy that someone else put forward of the car mechanic ..... you don't need to see under the bonnet to say 'it's not working', but a mechanic needs to be familiar with all parts of an engine to tell you exactly what the problem is and how severe it is ..... likewise with the brain, teachers and other educators (and in fact ill informed MP's) may be able to say whether something is wrong or not, but it takes a specialist to tell you what it is, and unfortunately the human brain isn't quite as much of an 'open and closed' book as a car engine, hence the amount of difficulties that are termed dyslexia.

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.

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.

red manc 4evaJanuary 12th 2009.

If a research scientist had stated this without researching it and proving it, they would have been sacked.Why is stringer getting away with cr^p like this? Time for him to be deselected.

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!

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)

KarlJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Ernalds alter egoJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

leighJanuary 12th 2009.

Good on you Sharon.

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!!

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.

DellJanuary 12th 2009.

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

risunJanuary 12th 2009.

Now you should know why the british public has so much contempt,for our political "friends", when they come out with such crass & ill informed opinions,like this "so called" educated sub human has just done!!!

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

oops. x

I'm starting a facebook groupJanuary 12th 2009.

'Kevin Peel - get out of my life'

David HagleyJanuary 12th 2009.

well i don`t have one!

AlisonJanuary 12th 2009.

I am a trainee teacher and am Dyslexic. While I agree with this stupid man that low literacy is a big problem in our society as it prevents children from accessing education, I think he is completely ignorant to suggest that Dyslexia does not exist. Also the education system cannot be left to be completely at fault for poor literacy. What about children who do not have a single book to read in their house and who have parents that do not value reading as an important skill. How can children be expected to be able to read or even have the desire to read if this is the environment that they have been brought up in. In regards to dyslexia not exisiting and just being and excuse for poor literacy is just ignorant. Mr Stringer obvioulsy needs to do his research more detail before making such a statement!

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

Dyslexia is not a myth, however I do think that it is often used as an excuse within some educational establishments for poor performance of it's students. I know of a man who was dubbed 'stupid' at primary school; isolated and bullied, but with skilled support at secondary school and university has gone on to be a professor of linguistics. Not all people with dyslexia leave school functionally illiterate and not all functionally illiterate people are dyslexic, but grouping the two together you have is like saying that people with depression are just lazy!

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!

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

bbshropshireJanuary 12th 2009.

Dyslexia is not all about reading and writing! This guy seems to have stormed into this with his eyes shut!I suffer from dyslexia and yes my handwriting is terrible but as far as the rest of the condition stands I have a terrible memory amongst other things. To be sat in the car on the way to school and sat at school and also at the kitchen table every day for over a year trying to remember my times tables by repeating them over and over verbally and written and still to this day at the age of 23 couldnt even begin to answer a single question you ask me! It also affects me with spacial awareness and the inability to get out things I know perfectly well in my mind but couldn't even begin to outwardly put into words or down on paper which can get very frustrating. I am a very competent driver but yet it took me 6 attempts. I have no idea which is my left and which is my right... If i'm not dyslexic then I don't know what the hells wrong with me!?You cannot put me in a box though as dyslexia comes in all different shapes and forms and affects everyone in different ways but if someone looks at me funny or says something about me being thick or stupid then I will turn and around and tell them that actually I am neither thick or stupid I am actually very bright but suffer from dylexia which makes me shine in different ways that some may not acknowledge. I may not be a banker or a lawyer etc but as a freelance photographer I feel my dyslexia has helped me to develope new stragegies and ways of dealing with every day life in a more creative and maybe sometimes outspoken way.I am now making a name for myself as a freelance photographer after graduating with a 2:1 BA hons degree in Photography and for the 1st time in my life I am being praise for my ability and slowly I am beginning to feel some selfworth. But every day when I have to go out and market myself I dread it incase i get tonguetide or someones going to ask me a question I know in my head how to answer but can't get it out into words.If this man has never experienced these difficult stepping stones to living a basically ordinary life he can't possibly know what it is like or even what he is talking about.

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.

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.

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.

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!

Kevin PughJanuary 12th 2009.

I am now 50 years old and discovered that I was dyslexic when i was 35. Discovering that at 35 suddenly made it obvious to me why I found studying at school and then University so difficult. We did not have at that time the advantages of computers. So dyslexia, or learning difficulties if you will, certainly does exist. What I would say is that the label of dyslexia is all too often used as an excuse not to even try. As far as I was concerned, as a child, if someone else could read, write and spell then so could I, even though it took some 30 years to reach that goal.Education these days is too focused, in my opinion, on how it makes you feel rather than teaching on the one hand, how to study/learn (repetition, repetition repetition) and on the other, developing one's memory (repetition, repetition repetition). Usually assessments at school comes down to a quick multiple choice check sheet simply because the attention span of most children is extremely short.If we really want to make a difference in education we need to reduce class sizes, get rid of the attempt to control what teacher's are doing through near useless paperwork and focus on developing the child's ability to think, study and learn for themselves.

scoteeeJanuary 12th 2009.

Bugger off Kevin we voted No!

Newton HeathJanuary 12th 2009.

Awwwwwww.....it's hard to handle the trust, no?

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.

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.

vicky: a dyslexic MSc graduateJanuary 12th 2009.

Another thought; if it was poor teaching then wouldn't we be coming out of school with classes all full of 'dyslexics', rather than the odd one in each class? Surely if a teacher is bad at his or her job the whole class suffers?

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.

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.

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.

HelenJanuary 12th 2009.

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

ErnaldJanuary 12th 2009.

That's exactly right.

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

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

Polly - Yes I was being sarcastic :) It wasn't a pop at Mancunians, it was in reference to Mr Stringers claim that Dyslexia was absent in South Korea ..... which is negated by the fact that there is a Korea Dyslexic Association based in Seoul

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.

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.

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?

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.

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....

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"?

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.

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 ?

Regen08January 12th 2009.

Characteristic lack of critical faculty from one of the principle opponents of the TIF bid / congestion charge.

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.

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.

paulipipsJanuary 12th 2009.

I can imagine why Stringers comments will not go down too well with many Confidential readers but that's due to them being a load of middle class limp wristed tosspots - anyone who lives in the real world can see just how right he is.....good man GS - you get my vote.

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.

Frank - No problem :) I welcome everyones input on my comments ..... I would have to say on the point you make there on bias that although highly valid, I see it as failing on one aspect, and that is that the comments from the dyslexics and families on here are being made in response to a highly biased, badly researched and ill informed article. I myself am thankfully not dyslexic, but I have seen the effects of true dyslexia on friends and a couple of indirect family members. ..... I know that dyslexia is now used as an umbrella tag by certain parts of society for various learning difficulties, but the fact that Mr Stringer has made the claim 'Dyslexia doesn't exist' is still irresponsible given the sheer amount of evidence that has to be ignored to come to that conclusion.

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.

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

openmind, if they're paying him more than £1.50 for a 3 year contract then they've been done.

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.

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.

CrisisSurferJanuary 12th 2009.

Hi Frank V, I totally agree with you there who is exempt from a learning disability? It is such a relative term. I mean if we view my co-ordination with laird Hamilton (or for all you girls out there Layne Beachley) then I have a real learning disability! I mean I don't want to appear trite about this but there are probably very few of us who can cast stomes. I really agree with your point. Thanks for making it.

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.

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

Tom, the views are indeed only held by stringer himself and not the party as a whole, but the fact that he has made them in open forum while stating himself as the MP for Blackley automatically makes the connection between him and the party ..... If the Labour Party do not wish to be associated with this view, then they should distance themselves from it specifically.

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!

Ralph McDevittJanuary 12th 2009.

I am a 24 year old, fully literate dyslexic, currently studying a masters in neuropsychology. As such I find your comments regarding dyslexia both ignorant and insulting. I can only assume that you have simply not bothered to do any research into the condition. This is surprising considering your £62,467 staffing allowance for 2006/2007, as you would think you might employ someone to check your statements - adding irony to your criticism of the dyslexic allowance. One wonders whether you yourself are a victim of "eclectic and incomplete methods for instruction" in your education. If you had wanted evidence of the existence of the multifaceted condition you would have needed to look no further than the respected journal Dyslexia. Evidence has been found for neurological, cognitive and behavioural deficits that are present from early childhood to adulthood irrespective of improvement in core literacy. Further more there is increasing evidence of a genetic component from DZ and MZ twin studies.Your comparison with Nicuraguan and South Korean literacy rates are spurious. For a start the UK also has a literacy rate of nearly 99%, according to the United Nations Development Programme's Human Development Index. Secondly this misrepresents the problem, most dyslexics achieve full literacy - just later than the others. The problem is not identified in these countries because they do not have the resources to diagnose the sufferers (in the UK a dyslexic evaluation costs around £300).From a more personal perspective I can say that without my diagnosis of dyslexia I would not be in the position I am today. Far from excusing bad teaching methods, it focused my family and my school on providing me with the additional teaching methods and assistance I needed. It has also helped me identify my strengths and my weaknesses: before diagnosis I thought I may have just have been stupid, now I realise that my problems are simply with writing, spelling and reading speed - with the use of a computer and a spell check I am capable of performing just as well as anyone else. It is because of my diagnosis - not despite it - that I recieved more concentrated tuition in literacy. I would have to say that I am one of the lucky ones: my condition is not that serious and I have had the benefit of top quality support throughout my schooling. For others dyslexic deficits can be much more serious and debilitating - anyone who has spent time with such people will know that dyslexia is not simply due to poor teaching. And their situation is not helped by those few who still insist that the problem does not exist - for reasons that I can only put down to their desire to make a name for themselves and enhance their career.

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.

SecretoJanuary 12th 2009.

So we're expected to believe 6 million Brits have dyslexia? 6 MILLION?? Give me strength. And that (according to some of their posts - many of them can read and spell perfectly well - if so, how do they know they are dyslexic? Did mummy and daddy decide that their little precious "suffered" from this life-threatening condition when they didn't get top marks in an exam. Give you a clue people, you don't "suffer" from being a bit slow or a crap speller, you "suffer" from cancer, leukaemia etc. Get over yourselves. The bile spilled over this is hilarious. I wonder how many of the "outraged dyslexics of chorlton" also have peanut allergies, lactose intolerence, irritable bowel, bi-polar, ME, ADHD, OCD and whatever the lifestyle pages are promoting as the latest affliction.

Blue PeterJanuary 12th 2009.

For me, there is something altogether more sinister emerging from this 'debate' than many of the rabidly polarised views expressed. There is a wholly undisguised assertion from some contributors that Graham Stringer should be prevented from airing his views simply because they happen to conflict with their world view. By all means assert your opinion but respect the right of others to express theirs. Incidentally, those who vehemently disagree might wish to write to the NAD (National Dyslexic Association).

HelenJanuary 12th 2009.

I strongly advise that Mr Stringer has a talk with Professor Margaret Snowling of York University to go through the vast research supporting that Dyslexia exists- which there was never any doubt that it did!I qualified as a Primary Teacher in 2007 and the teaching of reading is rigorously assessed in Primary Schools and is better than ever! All teachers are aware of the Primary National Strategy, the Rose reading report and as such are all pretty uniform in the teaching of reading. Therefore if the teaching of reading is rigorous and uniform then how does Mr Stringer explain the fact that Dyslexia still exists?Mr Stringer is, however, right in saying synthetic phonics is an effective method in teaching children to read (which is the method currently used- so his teaching research for his argument must be out of date). Teaching reading using synthetic phonics has helped eradicate a form of Dyslexia termed Surface Dyslexia. However, other forms of Dyslexia still exist therefore how can Mr Stringer explain this?Moreover, the countries mentioned do not have the mechanisms to detect Dyslexia that we do in the UK which refutes Mr Stringer's already weak argument!

weavsallJanuary 12th 2009.

Well I am dyslexic.. believe me it is real. Though I would never say I am iliterate.. I would love to be able to let Mr Stringer have coped with the stuff I had to when I was in school. I had special lessons that were "meant" to help but because dyslexia wasn't recognised as a problem when I was at school I didn't get the help I needed. My Dad who has also sucseeded through very hard work is dyslexia and was cained for not learning his spellings. I have worked very VERY VERY hard to get where I am I have an INCREADIBLE family that are supportive and have always said you can achive anything if you want it.. I think the way they are teaching litracy to our children now would have helped me, it wouldn't have canceled out the issues I have. I think the family unit has alot more to do with achiveing, encuragement, belief and respect go a long way. I found what I was good at and went for it.. Dyslexia does not mean you are iliterate or you are going to end up in a prison.. Mr Stringer, I think you may have had a point but you confused it.. (and if things are spelt wrong then its because there was no spell checker..sorry)

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 !

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.

Jo TutorJanuary 12th 2009.

OH yes and inability to precis!!!! SECRETO must feel very safe to be blinkered and only able to see in one direction. UNLIKE DYSLEXICS. We can see/ think many things at once. I have had very little general problems with spelling - but do have others. don't be so limited dear.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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!

Elin's mumJanuary 12th 2009.

HOW DARE YOU. My 10 year old daughter has dyslexia. Your comments are so insulting.

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.

scoteeeJanuary 12th 2009.

and bbc news

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.

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.

NickJanuary 12th 2009.

I will agree that there are many people who shout dyslexia as soon as they find reading and writing difficult, but what this article is doing is saying point blank that it doesn't exist. Maybe the real problem isn't the educational system but the lack of understanding of this learning difficulty.

foobooJanuary 12th 2009.

Those last two posts made no sense...who would want to trust their health to someone who hadn't put the time in and qualified to actually know how to safely treat you.And computers only know what humans tell them. They aren't the machines from comics that can do your homework for you. A human who knows their subject has to put the info in to them in order for them to be able to give out that info. Understanding how to use a computer is no substitute from learning your subject of interest yourself.

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!

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

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.

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

Karl - That is true, advancement in science is based on challenging opinions, and Mr Stringer has definitely done that part of it ..... the problem lies in the fact that he has no evidence to refute the current standing on Dyslexia ..... and the evidence he claims to have, as shown on previous posts, is either incorrect or at best spurious. Also with the way he words the article, he makes an insinuation that most dyslexics are criminally inclined by the nature of the condition, which is also a fallacy. Even his view of the discovery of the condition show his research on the subject to be lacking (if he ever did any at all) in that he claims it was the educational establishment that 'created' dyslexia, where the truth lies far further back, and in the medical industry.

maccaJanuary 12th 2009.

Dyslexics Question The Existence of Graham StringerDyslexics today questioned the existence of Graham Stringer MP.The Manchester Blackley MP was labelled "a cruel fiction", who should be consigned to "the dustbin of history".Stringer insisted he was "very real" to the 6 million people in the UK affected by him.However, dyslexics said millions of pounds were being wasted on what they called a "false" MP."The establishment, rather than admit that their eclectic and incomplete methods for instruction are at fault, have invented an MP called Graham Stringer," they said."To label Graham Stringer an MP because he's confused by poor teaching methods is wicked."If Graham Stringer 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 Graham Stringer does not appear in South Korea or Nicaragua."They claim the "fictional malady" has also been wiped out in West Dunbartonshire, and research has conclusively proven that Graham Stringer MP does not exist in that particular area of Scotland.A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said the government was supportive of Graham Stringer: "We understand the distress and frustration that the parents of Graham Stringer feel so keenly," he said."Often they have endured years of struggle trying to get extra help to overcome their child's difficulties. That is why the government is working with a number of organisations to identify and promote best practice in identifying and supporting Graham Stringer."A spokesman for Mr Stringer said: "Once again Graham Stringer seems to be making the headlines for all the wrong reasons."It is frustrating that the focus should be on whether Graham Stringer exists or not, when there is so much evidence to support that he does.""Many people assume that literacy will solve the issue of Graham Stringer MP, however although many Graham Stringers have acquired the skills of reading, there is no doubt that they still remain Graham Stringer," the spokesman said."It is concerning that dyslexics do not recognise Graham Stringer, who affects 10% of his constituents, even though his government have taken steps to make sure Graham

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.

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

Mrs Leeson - I don't actually think he would be in the queue to have them assessed, because judging by this article Mr Stringer appears to put his own opinions and political career ahead of his or anyone elses family.

JimmyBobJanuary 12th 2009.

This man cannot be taken seriously as he clearly as no understanding of the disability. Dyslexia is not just reading and spelling. I know this because I have Dyslexia and can read at a high level and can spell better than many of my peers, I also have a first in Mathematics from Liverpool University. The symptom I and many others suffer from is that finding words when they are needed in our brain can be difficult. Hence why we write badly and need to re-read everything twice. In conclusion, if Mr Stringer had every been in contact with Dyslexics he would know all this.

ATCJanuary 12th 2009.

I'm sorry but this gut is talking complete rubbish. I teach basic literacy to adults at a college in Birmingham and I would say about 25% of our learners have dyslexia in varying degrees of severity. It can manifest itself through one of or a combination of three types which affect the individual in different ways including how they understand the spoken word! Current wisdom and research suggests that the cause of dyslexia is right side brain dominance whereby the right sphere of a dyslexia brain is actually slightly larger than a non-dyslexic brain. Consequently, The cogitative processes carried out by the left sphere, including skills required for literacy are suppressed by the dominant right sphere. As a result of this, we often find that with the right sphere being responsible for artistic abilities, dyslexics will be gifted artists or able to express themselves some other way.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

My daughter and grandson are both dyslexic. She works in a university library. He's going to have an even worse time at school thanks to this arrogant and ignorant comment. It would be nice to believe this man would bother to think about the consequences of his actions - but then he supports a government that has no track record of ever doing so.

before tricky notices itJanuary 12th 2009.

I left a 'be' out - shoot my now. ;-)

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

Just Use Spell Check!January 12th 2009.

Such poor spelling and grammar in the majority of responses!Just use spell check and stop moaning about your fictional disorder!

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

If you're going write an article that is ill-judged and bares no relation to the reality of teaching and learning in 2009 you may as well do it properly and not write a single sentence that anyone who had spent just 13 minutes in a classroom couldn't tell you is at best misguided, at worst evidence for a vote of no confidence and the sack. Having taught literacy for the past 13 years I should know.

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?!

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.

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.

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.

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.

will wilsonJanuary 12th 2009.

This is a complete joke. I am dyslexic, but not badly affect, like some people, and I have had 100% private education in some of the top schools in my area. So if these schools are trying to cover up bad schooling then why have not all of the students coming out of these establishments also not got dyslexia??

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!

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

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.

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?

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.

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

Anonymous, yes you do have difficulty spelling but you have no difficulty in getting your meaning across, which at the end of the day is what really matters.

Monsieur ControversialJanuary 12th 2009.

Well dyslexia eh? It's all a load of tosh isn't it? The moronic state of our progeny is now established. Why? Because they don't care and nor do their ignorant parents. When they finally sign on all they do is moan about how they never had the opportunities. Even a below average retard (that's a retard that isn't quite as up-to-speed as his retarded peers) could scrape together a bag of GCSE As and A*s. That's all I have to say.

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.

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.

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.

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!

nelson66January 12th 2009.

My son was branded dyslexic by his teachers at the age of 9. His reading was poor and his spelling even worse (though his mathematics was excellent and he had no issue recognising numbers!!!).After going into school and discussing my concerns with the headmistress who took issue with me regarding the way i thought my son was being taught, we came to an agreement that he would do no other school work for 3 months other than to learn to spell the 500 most commonly used workds in the english language ( http://www.world-english.org/english500.htm )He learned to spell these words by the old fashioned method of writing them down 20 times and then writing a simple sentence using that word.By the end of the school year he had learnt to spell the next 500 ( www.esldesk.com/…/words.htm… )My son is now 13 and in the top stream of his local grammar school. I couldnt be more proud of his achievements.I think the term dyslexia is a cop out used by crap teachers.My two sisters are primary school teachers, who have since used the same system - IT WORKS.Neither of them has had a child finish the year in their charge without being proficient readers and spellers.So Mr Stringer - whilst i disagree with you on so many issues - i think youve got something right for a change!!!

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

I notice how he didn't state Nicaragua as one of his 100% countries in that interview ..... and he looked quite uncomfortable all the way through ..... just a shame that he can't find the time to respond here where it all started.

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!!

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

hippleJanuary 12th 2009.

otsser

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.

UxterJanuary 12th 2009.

this guy is obviously a tawt!

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.

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!

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

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.

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

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)

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.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

I have dyslexia, it does exist. I am 42 and I can read perfectly well, and enjoy reading, but I still read very slowly compared to my 11 yr old son, who can probably read about twice as fast as me. My hand writing it also slow and poor quality, but not for the lack of trying, and I have problems with spelling - I simply can't see that a word is spelt wrong in the way most people can - I could look at 10 different spellings of the same word and they would all look fine to me, fortunately they do not look correct to the computer.When I was at school dyslexia was not recognised and I was labelled stupid, when in fact I am an extremely gifted and intelligent individual with an IQ of 142.It is this kind of ignorant bigotry that labelled me stupid - this country should not waste the potential of some extremely talented individuals because of this ignorant bigot. This MP's remarks are as offensive to me as telling a disabled person in a wheel chair they are faking it and should pull themselves together and walk. He should research his subject more carefully before opening his mouth - starting with "The Gift of Dyslexia" by Dr Thomas West - featured in a Ch4 documentary on the subject.

yyee-yinJanuary 12th 2009.

Reading through my flatmate, Victoria's post, I agree wholeheartedly.I teach older children and I would go further and say it's not just dyslexia that the weaker students are diagnosed as having. For instance, I had a poor learner whose parents had a hippie-like passion for freedom and a firm anti-establishment stance. The child ended up with a statement for attention defiicit disorder.Another child who chatted and giggled, instead of applying himself in my classes, was statemented with short term memory loss.

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?

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!!!

Tom SFJanuary 12th 2009.

Hi Helen, yes of course i will ask Mr Stringer those questions. shall i post the answers on here or email you them? Out of curiosity is Mr Stringer anybody else's MP? If so will this affect whether you vote for him in the next election or not ?

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

I am a dyslexic student at the University of Manchester, and i have to say this article has angered me! Mr Stringer says countries such as South Korea have 'nearly 100% literacy rates' so people must not suffer from Dyslexia. HELLO! Most dyslexic students arent illiterate! They work at their problems such as reading and writing, so they can get on with life. The people bringing the rates down are the students who are not working.I study English Language and i do agree teaching methods could be improved. When i got to University i still did not have the grasp of basic grammar (im not talking about noun verbs and adjectives.. not that basic) and to my amazement most of my year did not either (to the shock of our lecturer!) This needs to be taught in schools! I think the point of this article is to highlight yet again the inefficient education system we have in England. Dyslexia is NOT a factor in this. Most students diagnosed gain help and improve their marks, so surely if the help and identification process was taken away, literacy levels would get lower?

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?

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

you are an idiot.

dolfrogJanuary 12th 2009.

Graham Stringer has no idea what dyslexiais and he has no idea how dyalexia relates to literacy.Being illiterate is not eh same as being Dyslexic.Illiteracy can be caused by poor teaching methods and synthetic phonics is only best suited to those who do not have a listening disability and are able to improve their listening skills.The myth that surrounds dyslexia is thge claim by some agencies that dyslexia is a neurological condition in its own right. Dyslexia is a man made problem which is about having problems accessing the visual notation of speech, which in our culture is called the written word. There are nuerological conditions which cause both auditory and Visual disabilities, which share a common symptom of dyslexia. These neurlogicla conditions include Auditory Processing Disorder, Visual Processing Disorder and Scoptic Sensitivity Syndrome, and some other sensory and motor deficits.As professor Elliot pointed outdyslexia is not a condtion but it has many uinderlying neurological causes of the dyslexcic symptoms, which is bourn our by most of the peer reviewed research into dyslexia.So Mr Stringer do your research before opening your mouth again to discriminate against the disabled.

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

SaraJanuary 12th 2009.

For people like me who have gone through their lives believing themselves to be stupid because they can't read, write or think as easily as other people, being diagnosed with dyslexia was a relief. I was diagnosed at 21 in my first year of university. It had taken me till that age to build up the confidence to actually go to university, where once my condition was diagnosed i was give computer software, not handouts, to help me with my course. Graduating was the proudest day of my life as I'd never imagined I'd get to that point. But to now have some pompous MP come out and say that a condition which has afflicted me my entire life is a myth is so infuriating. I don't know how he has the nerve.

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.

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)

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.

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

macca, I have one point to raise on that post ..... unlike the original article, you have erroneously based certain parts of it on real fact ..... i.e. Graham Stringer really doesn't appear in South Korea or Nicaragua (aren't they the lucky ones)

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

I remain stunned that such an ill-conceived and poorly constructed statement could have been produced by any reasonable balanced human, let alone a member of the national parliament. Much as I respect the honourable member's... 'deep' and 'varied' experience in the field of neurological sciences, I cannot help but suspect that the medical basis for this article was the last ten minutes of a soap opera featuring a character suffering from this well-known and widely-documented learning disability.Since Mr Stringer obviously has no knowledge on this subject whatever I shall take the liberty of drawing his attention to the researches of Dr W P Morgan who first documented the condition in Britain in 1896. The fact that it has been an accepted part of medicine for over a century negates the need for further comment; it is a period which will mercifully outstrip both the career and the life of this 'gentleman'.I shall not add to the copious and pertinent comments of other sufferers, and merely state that while I do not myself suffer from the condition I have worked with them before, and I can assure you that while arguments do persist on whether it should be defined as a condition or disorder, the effects are easily observed regardless of its classification. To watch an intelligent and popular 19-year old break down into tears for want of being able to spell 'tremendous' is a harrowing experience that I think this Stringer should observe before being welcomed (reluctantly) back into human society.The teaching methods he cites are well-known to circumvent the obstructions the disability entails and allow people to learn and work alongside others as is the right of every person.Before setting pen to paper again I would advise Stringer to at least consult some person with a modicum of knowledge upon the subject and thereby avoid another political suicide. Expulsion from the party, prosecution and interminable imprisonment are the most suitable punishments I can readily think of, and anything further is prohibited by both law and the constraints of the content restrictions of the website.Perhaps Stringer would care to meet figures such Höß and Goeth of the SS-Totenkopfverbände, who worked Jews and undesirables to death in labour camps, brushing aside mental and physical disabilities as 'mere fabrication to avoid labour duties'.Judging from the content of the above article (and I use the word reluctantly, and in its loosest possible manner) he already has. If I were not so enraged I would wish you luck in the imminent storm of protest that will follow, and if any justice exists bring your career to a brisk and well-earned end.

Juan KerrJanuary 12th 2009.

As I said when he singled out scots as all bad because he had long running problems with his boss(a scot), he is an idiot.Now he is trying to keep his neb in the paper by singling out the dyselxics, the man is a idiot and a liabilty. The people of macnhester should punt him into the long grass and elect someone who isnt as fond of the expenses form.

Tom SFJanuary 12th 2009.

Yes i will do,in fact i will give you my email address and when i have had the meeting with him i will email you what he says also if you have any questions that u want me to ask him, then let me know. tscholesfogg@hotmail.co.uk

scoteeeJanuary 12th 2009.

the point is that a spell checker asks you to confirm its questioning of your suggested errors,being a non-dyslexic its easy to fathom out.I imagine being dyslexic just complicates the issue for some?

MoJanuary 12th 2009.

My daughter is dyslexic - when she was eight I was pulled into school and told she could not read, had poor comprehension and sat there rocking backwards and forwards... Boredom, it turned out at been given baby books to read, and nothing to stimulate her skills. (Her i.q. is 149 by the way).At home she was reading Lord of the Rings to me, she speed reads at phenominal rates, but her handwriting speed is 25% of that of the average person.. so she was labelled stupid... no matter what I said.She did well in class and coursework, but failed exams miserably (her handwriting speed)... At university they diagnosed what is wrong with her, she is allowed to use a computer for exams and gets excellent results... Co-incidentally there are many types of dyslexia... and my daughter has never been a criminal... so sorry to buck the trend... Mr Graham Stringer... You should look at the wider picture all the teachers, nurses, doctors, and managers etc out there with dyslexia... Check via universities and colleges, or your own government statistics, there are lots... It is the type of environment not the illness that dictates how dyslexic people turn out... bigots like you and those who refuse to see there is a problem will certainly knock the negatives up...

PaulyJanuary 12th 2009.

Sorry I didn't realise it would appear like that or I would of put commas in.

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.

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.

GoffeyJanuary 12th 2009.

I can't be sure, but believe that perhaps Mr Stringer has chosen his words here badly (at least one would hope so). From my interpretation, he would appear to suggest that dyslexia is too often used as an excuse for children not being able to read and write. I believe this, as do i believe that dyslexia is a real and treatable condition. I did find it amusing to read one comment suggesting that illiteracy can be picked up too late. I know teachers in both primary and secondary education who too often see pupils leave primary, or enter secondary unable to read or write to a sufficient standard. How is this possible in this country, when as Mr S says, 'less developed' countries manage almost 100% literacy?, attitude to education. In the so called underdeveloped countries, children walk for miles to learn in a shack with old and tattered books, genuinely pleased to get a better start in life. Here we seemingly educate children that if they aren't a genius, don't bother trying too hard, just live off the state. I'm not suggesting all those with an iq of under 100 do this, but far too many children these days see it as a goal for live.Just my 2c (if it's worth that much :-)

TrickyJanuary 12th 2009.

You could do well to sort out your "their" and "there", anonymous...

TempleJanuary 12th 2009.

Mr Stringer has (like so many modern politicians) gone a step too far, in equating poor or no literacy with dyslexia as though the two are synonymous. Many people have commented on how they have aided a child with managing the functional impact of having difficulties learning to read (i.e. that is ONE of the symptoms of their dyslexia). It is likely that the time and effort you have invested has paid off, and your child will feel more confident, and probably have a closer relationship with you as a result, as well as being better equipped for secondary school.If Stringer had not started making misinformed comments in respect of a recognised condition of which he is not an expert, then he would have made a valid contribution to the debate on childhood literacy issues.The reason there are problems with this is not just down to lazy teachers, or even indifferent and/or busy parents (who are most certainly responsible to a degree and should not try to shirk their obligations to the lives they brought into being). The government has used education as a battle front for a large number of years, prompting change in policy almost annually and certainly with changes of government at both a national and local level. I have a friend on a teaching degree (year 3 at a leading London school for such things) who was taught methods and approaches in year 1 that are obselete now. We need a consistent approach to be used, so that teaching assistants use the correct phonics pronounciation (if that method is choosen) or teachers, students and assistants can all develop expertise and refined skills for supporting primary school children. Some kids will always do better than others, but we should stop aiming for New Labour's lowest common denominator 'equality' and just help each child do the best they can, with the necessary support. There is no panacea for illiteracy for certain, but perpetual change and blaming teachers exacerbates the problem rather than containing it.

TRTJanuary 12th 2009.

Right, I've had a mull over what Stringer said, and I have to say, the guy's heart appears to be in the right place - illiteracy is an issue. There are apparent solutions out there, although I fear he has highlighted the difference between over-zealous diagnosis in the UK and under-diagnosis in Nicaragua and South Korea (incidentally, is that illiteracy in English learning or native language? Perhaps the answer lies in us ditching English and learning Korean instead?)The statement that there are 28 different kinds/definitions of dyslexia should be taken to mean that MORE research is required, and that the problem is more complex than appears. You can't simply dismiss something because you can't understand it.Good point, badly made. And politicians cannot afford to make points badly.

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?

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

Medical evidence has been collected and collated since Dyslexia was first diagnosed in 1881, and yet Stringer doesn't give anything over to prove otherwise ..... therefore his alleged facts are supported merely by spurious figures, yet without evidence of substance ..... It is stated in almost every science, and even Law ..... nothing has credibility without evidence.

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.

dyslexicandproudJanuary 12th 2009.

Dyslexia is not just about reading....Yes, i acknowledge that there are clear links between literacy and crime but blaming this so globally for all ills I feel is somewhat simplistic. it has taken me a long time to get right got. I'm a student nurse. Without the active support that is the University has given me, I don't know what I would have done. dyslexia can also be manifest with problems of organisation and sequencing. It affects people in different ways. With me, I find organisation very difficult but I have found strategies which have helped me greatly. Also, it is the actual processing of the words, the coding of the letters, that is the problem for me. I was not diagnosed as dyslexic until I was 17 years old.before then, I thought that I was stupid and thought that there was no hope. It's taken me nearly 18 years but I am now in the third year of my nurse training. And I am not the only dyslexic in my cohort of nurses. I do acknowledge that there does need to be a certain level of literacy amongst professionals however, I think that the diversity in any profession is essential. Sometimes, dyslexics solve a problem in a way which is different to the average way. We get to the same place but by a totally different route. Because we think differently, this can sometimes be advantageous because can have greater empathy with people who are different themselves.I'm very proud of being dyslexic. VERY PROUD. I'm quite happy to declare that I am dyslexic also because I feel that it gives power to those people who may be dyslexic themselves and feel ashamed of it and who suffer in silence terror of making a mistake and being labelled as stupid before it.I find what this politician has said offensive. He is obviously not dyslexic and does not realise the suffering that it causes. He does not realise the sheer terror of being at school and being asked to read something out loud I'm being terrified that he will read it wrong and be humiliated. he also did not have the fear of being labelled lazy or stupid or something that he had a problem with.Investment in dyslexics is an advantage to everybody. Look at all the amazing people who are dyslexic who have shown genius such as Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci and Richard Branson.If I could change whether I was dyslexic or not I'm in two minds about it. Part of me would love to be able to read and to think in the same way that other people do. There is another larger part that is glad that I am who I am, a unique individual who thinks in the uniquely individual way... And I think uniqueness is something that should be celebrated.it's amazing how technology can help individuals as well. I'm dictating this with voice recognition software. I use a computer to take notes in lectures and I find text-to-speech software absolutely essential. Some people don't like technology that, I can tell you that it has been the key to my cell.

HelenJanuary 12th 2009.

Dr Karl/karl, People who have Dyslexia are naturally going to complain about an MP who quite frankly does not know his backside from his elbow going by this article! Moreover, people who have Dyslexia actually have the most valid/salient arguments as it is the people with Dyslexia who are used in Dyslexia research as case studies are needed to do any kind of research worth it's merit as well as 'control groups'of course. Furthermore. I resent being referred to as ignorant as I have a First Class Psychology Degree, Primary PGCE and have worked with children with the condition some of which completed junior school at L5 (highest level in junior school SATs).

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.

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.

JulianJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

Wizard of OzJanuary 12th 2009.

only a buffoon would think colourblind people see in black and white!

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