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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.

Jan HJanuary 12th 2009.

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

before tricky notices itJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

esquiloJanuary 12th 2009.

Dear Mike, can i point you toward the Masthead of the site for a reason to my own personal comment. Your other question should be better addressed to the editorial team of the site. I suppose that ManCon is now on the favourite lists of some more people. Even if they are offended by a minor politician and live in Inverness. Although, it is pretty hilarious that a column on a Macnunian website has attracted one-issue invective (although, doubtless totally objective, natch) from across from across the country. Surely that groaning and whining is Nothing at all like the rusty wheels of a bandwagon being pressed into action. God bless the forums. As for TOM SF ..... whoosh..... Anyway guys, what are your favourite bars?

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.

esquiloJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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!

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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!!

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Jarhead68January 12th 2009.

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

JOHNHARRISONJanuary 12th 2009.

So if this dyslexia did exist it would be down to poor teaching would it? Well being a lad educated in the 50’s in a Manchester school not 5 miles from the constituency represented by the rite horrible (dyslexian slip no doubt) member for Blackley , I’m over the moon to be told that this readin and writin difficulty I’ve experienced for the best part of 60 years now is little more than a figment of my imagination or possibly a failing of our aged teacher, Pop Wiltshire, to knock some edycation in to my thick noddle But maybe you noticed I’m just a little jaundiced in my perception of Mr Stringer, because for many years I sat in my office on the corner of Albert Square and watched the antics of this man with his friend Gabriella who vociferously prosecuted the case for the weak minded and feckless of the metropolis so successfully that this heckle and Jeckle couple stitched up arguably the best chief constable Manchester has had, whereupon law enforcement dwindled under the chaos of the blether of human rights until folk like me tired of the criminal classes spoiling the quality of our lives and deserted the sinking ship. He was then a world class plonker and it seem little has altered since; this article only goes to prove the leopard cannot change its spots. However in any event, and call it what you will, those who have some kind of difficulty with our language should not give up hope or become despondent by the drivel written by opinionated bigots I now edit several successful village magazines and my best friend over and above any educational aspirations is Mr Gates and his marvellous invention – the spell checker And never ever forget people Dyslexia rules K.O

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.

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.

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?

ScottJanuary 12th 2009.

As a dyslexic who had a small help up when i was 16, I managed to change my life, after completing a dyslexic course in Chelmsford in my 30's I have give 14 years of my life to develop Unist of sound, a phonic teaching methord developed bt Walter Bramley in the 70's, they are in fact 150 phonetic sounds, Units of Sound is in use 100's in school and presion in the UK on computer for 14 just look at the evidenceHow any computer program actual teach?

HelenJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

teacherJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

I think that this is a very ill considered comment about Dyslexia.Dyslexia is a leraning disorder that I have had for over 35 years. I have learnt techniques such as mind mapping to solve the difficulties i have with the condition. Dyslexia is the same as someone with sight issues. You would not stop them from wearing glasses!!! So it is the same with Dyslexia, it the putting of a 'name' to a learning problem that can be overcome with other teaching methods. I concur that there may be abuses of the system that was created to help people with dyslexia, but that is the problem of the system not of dyslexia.Allowances should be made for people with a diagnosed learning problem and yes, there should be a greater use of different teaching styles in school which would help to give all people the chnace to achieve their full potential. But please don't through the baby out with the bath water. Dyslexia as a condition exists.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

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!

JenJanuary 12th 2009.

This is an appalling explanation of something that could actually be very valuable to the dyslexic population. Someone once described Dyslexia to me a learning DIFFERANCE as appose to a learning difficulty, which is entirely accurate. There are teaching methods which could, if not eradicate, then significantly reduce the problems in literacy associated with the condition. These methods would not detrimentally affect the learning of the non dyslexic population within a class and would simply bridge the gap between the two populations, this does not mean that there would then be no Dyslexia, granted it would be less likely to be diagnosed due to the fact the symptom are being automatically catered for, Perhaps this is the case in South Korea or West Dunbartonshire? If it’s not causing a problem then why fix it? If these measures were put in place as standard the government would not have to spend money on separate classes for Dyslexic people, which in my experience held me back as appose to help me, is it not just sensible for this to be the case? However even if this were the case would the words I see on a page miraculously stay still? Would time perception and spatial awareness suddenly make sense to me? I highly doubt it. And yes I have spell checked this on my free lap top, and yes I came across this article while doing research for an exam I will get extra time in. My view on this, I am very grateful, however if the teaching I had received in school had been ‘Dyslexia friendly’ perhaps I would not need these allowances to be made for me in university?

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!

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.

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.

Kasper HauserJanuary 12th 2009.

Stringer is 100% right. Dsylexai is a mtyh!!

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?

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.

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.

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.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

you are an idiot.

TRTJanuary 12th 2009.

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

MarkJanuary 12th 2009.

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

sevenarchespublishingJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Ralph McDevittJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Newton HeathJanuary 12th 2009.

Oh look...I'm dyslevix also.

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!

Chris BJanuary 12th 2009.

Very brave article or very foolish.. Time will tell. It's hardly rivers of blood but it's message is parallel. a warning about the future. Regardless of whether the article suits your beliefs or happens to offend your sensibilities this society has to wake up to the reality that we're all pussy-footing around each other too sensitively. Surely telling a child early on in their schooling that they have an excuse for failure is bad. Most kids wil happily wallow in that label given half the chance. As for Dyslexics struggling through university. I'm noy dyslexic but I had to drop out because i simply couldn't keep up, had my eye on other things and couldn't really get my head down and focus. Am I suffering from ADHD??? No, I was simply not good enough. It takes focus, concentration, self-discipline and desire plus talent in a field to succeed and learn. Not a free lap-top. Is difficulty learning sometimes mistaken for 'learning difficulty'?I've since found a profession that suits my skills rather than wallow and blame teaching methods or argue that the styling of compulsory tasks was not to my mindset, disposition or liking.I'm intelligent to a level, whcih is adaptable to most things but probaably not academia for its' own sake.From another angle I do believe that wherever in society we categorise things/people we open up this chicken and egg thing. It's happened with poor/blacks,(myth) jobs/disabled, (myth), the aged, obese, smokers, 'disadvantaged', etc. Once you label yourself or are labelled it's a sentence till you can shrug it off. i didn't really even notice Barack Obama was a black guy until everyone made a song and dance about it. I wonder if there are any secret high level dyslexia 'sufferers' out there who've just never made an issue out of the fact that they were incorrectly eduacted, lacked ability or just weren't interewsted in learning at that point in their life?? Get on with it please reagrdless of your supposed issue, will you?

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.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

HelenJanuary 12th 2009.

Hi Tom SF could you ask the following questions please?No 1:-Will he now speak to leading researchers in Dyslexia such as Prof Margaret Snowling and leading researchers in reading research such as Prof Rhona Johnston?- as he clearly has not done any real researchNo 2:-How did he collate this alleged data from Strangeways and does he think this is a representitive sample?No 3:- Ask him what it feels like to be an A grade numpty?

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

Hmmm, how would be label Mr Stringer's comments? Ignorant, misinformed, misguided, irresponsible, dangerous, idiotic, insulting, simplistic... or just media hungry? Actually I think the best way would probably be to say he is just plain WRONG. A classic bit of media hype from an MP looking for publicity, I suspect this will haunt him for the rest of his career... hopefully he doesn't have one now, Education Secretary anyone?

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.

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?!

Sharon MJanuary 12th 2009.

Well if he does bother to read any of my emails and rants I ask him to come to my sons school and meet Dr Brown then we would see how arrogant he was.

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.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

I have a form of Dyslexia. It wasn't diagnosed while I was in school or university, so I received no help or support at all: I just developed complex coping strategies to deal with my poor memory and concentration problems. I am Dyslexic, not illiterate. I have a degree in writing and journalism, over a decade's worth of experience of creating copy for the media, and earn my living by writing, editing and proof-reading text. Mr Stringer, please try and grasp the simple difference between a learning disability and illiteracy. Genuine Dyslexics just have their brain wired a little differently to the 'norm.' This does not mean they are stupid or lazy: simply that their learning and day-to-day operational systems are not the same as the majority of the population. Many people with one or another form of this learning 'disability' actually become very imaginative and resourceful in developing coping strategies, and with a little adjustment and support from educators and other key people around them, can go on to become high achievers, even in academic or literary fields. By the way, Einstein was Dyslexic.

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.

LukeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

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.

Mrs Brenda HatcherJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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).

JulianJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Jane SJanuary 12th 2009.

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

byslexicJanuary 12th 2009.

what an ignorant tw*t!

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!!!!!!!

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)

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

Einstein was dyslexic. Are you suggesting he was academicly too lazy or lacked the intellegence to remember how to spell five letter words correctly.

TimJanuary 12th 2009.

This article is quite an achievement even for a politician. Anyone who suffers from dyslexia or who is a parent of a child with dyslexia will tell you that this man has no idea what he is talking about.

Dr PointlessJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

Anonymous_28January 12th 2009.

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

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/

please resignJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

TeacherJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AdeleJanuary 12th 2009.

When did ManCon turn into the Daily Mail? This could've been a healthy debate as Mr Stringer makes some good points about standards. I have taught in the past (moved into training and development now) and there are lazy teachers who are part of the 'it's not my problem, when's payday' mentality so by the time illiteracy is picked up it's often too late. Dyslexia is a different issue altogether though and it's a bit ignorant to put them together like this, I'm a bit embarrassed for ManCon and Stringer actually. Regardless of what our opinions on the matter are, dyslexia is covered by the DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) and it's pretty poor practise to allow such a rant to be published, you wouldn't allow it for deafness or cancer or someone in a wheelchair. I'm not dyslexic and am lucky enough not to have struggled in school but I'm glad there are measures and additional help for such conditions. Not everyone learns in the same way and this is a fact. Improved literacy rates in West Dunbartonshire are highly commendable but I'm sure that's got nothing to do with dyslexia being a supposed myth.

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.

answer to benJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Sharon MJanuary 12th 2009.

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

David HagleyJanuary 12th 2009.

well i don`t have one!

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.

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.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

Perhaps Graham Stringer should have a chat with Dr Neil Humprey; a specialist in learning difficulties at Manchester University, and ask him how he manages to secure grant funding for a non-existant condition.

Sharon MJanuary 12th 2009.

pete, yes i will let everyone know how i got on, my tribunal is supposed to be march 18th but the date has changed a few times. And yes I have had to fund this very expensive fight myself £5000.00 to date plus school fees, but i have had to sell my house and move back to my parents to do this, so i am one of the luckier ones, but this is not only my fight i am fighting for all other children whos parents cant afford to do the appeal process. and for those people moaning about other peoples comments on here regarding dyslexia, dont read it, go onto another forum and talk about good pubs etc, as obviously this horrible thing does not affect you at all. When you have been through this you will then understand how sickening his comments are !!

KellzoneJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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

helenJanuary 12th 2009.

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

GuyJanuary 12th 2009.

Graham is obviously exaggerating in order to grab a headline, but he is correct in the point he is making. I find it incredulous that governments and educationalists can sit by and allow an underclass of citizens to slip through the net.

Oh dearJanuary 12th 2009.

I'd agree with the person who called Stringer's dribble 'tripe writing' except I quite like tripe. It is nonsense, the worst kind of ignorant gob-on-a-stickness that MPs given their position in society should avoid. A few things worth noting:1. Comparing statistics across countries can be very misleading for a variety of reasons. E.g. some countries exclude all children with special educational needs from mainstream schools and therefore statistical measures of mainstream literacy/numeracy, etc; our UK statistics include the whole school age population.2. Languages vary in their decodability, particularly around grapho-phoneme correspondence (the relationship between sounds and letters). English is rather irregular; Italian, e.g., isn't. English is a relatively more difficult language to learn.3. Research shows a physiological basis for dyslexia to do with the transit of visual signals to the brain. The work of Prof John Stein at Oxford University is where little Graham needs to look.Stringer describes the 'educational establishment' (who they?) as 'wicked'. The wickedness is in his puffed-up, willful ignorance. Buffoon.

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Mark TownsonJanuary 12th 2009.

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

foobooJanuary 12th 2009.

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.

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.

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

kateJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

PaulyJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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....

Peter J KeeganJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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 ?

PokerPaulJanuary 12th 2009.

Good point Pauly here are some more for the Ignoramus: Winston Churchill, John T Chambers,CEO of Cisco Systems. Henry Ford. William Hewlett, Co-Founder, Hewlett-Packard. F. Scott Fitzgerald.

KarlJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Jimi CJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

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.

a mumJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

HelenJanuary 12th 2009.

I do currently work in a local womens prison which does not reflect the same 'alleged' statistics as Strangeways. Furthermore, can you really generalise your findings from one institution to the whole population-I think not!

Tom SFJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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!

esquiloJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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...

teacherJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Student TeacherJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

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.

2outof3January 12th 2009.

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

PaulyJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Professor ChucklebuttyJanuary 12th 2009.

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

decision-nowJanuary 12th 2009.

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

PrincessJanuary 12th 2009.

I have 10 A's and A*'s a GCSE and 3 A's and a B at A level.... Not to mention a university degree.I wonder how Mr Stringer would explain my dyslexia?Clearly i can read and write, and have not been taught poorly. So how exactly does someone with my academic achievments get diagnosed as (severly) dyslexic. I really am curious.Also, he should probably get his facts straight in the case of the medical student. She has not asked not to sit written exams, in fact, quite the opposite. At her medical school all end of year exams are multiple choice questions. She performs very well in her written assignments and has requested that she be allowed to take an alternative written test.

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.

Pedigree DyslexicJanuary 12th 2009.

I have posted this poem to illustrate that:-A)Pressing F7 is not a cure for DyslexiaB)Mr stringer's favoured edu-fad might not be all it's cracked up to be.I have a spelling checker,It came with my PC.It plane lee marks four my revueMiss steaks aye can knot sea.Eye ran this poem threw it,Your sure reel glad two no.Its vary polished in it's weigh.My checker tolled me sew.A checker is a bless sing,It freeze yew lodes of thyme.It helps me right awl stiles two reed,And aides me when eye rime.Each frays come posed up on my screenEye trussed too bee a joule.The checker pours o'er every wordTo cheque sum spelling rule.Bee fore a veiling checker'sHour spelling mite decline,And if we're lacks oar have a laps,We wood bee maid too wine.Butt now bee cause my spellingIs checked with such grate flare,Their are know fault's with in my cite,Of nun eye am a wear.Now spelling does knot phase me,It does knot bring a tier.My pay purrs awl due glad denWith wrapped word's fare as hear.To rite with care is quite a feetOf witch won should bee proud,And wee mussed dew the best wee can,Sew flaw's are knot aloud.Sow ewe can sea why aye dew praysSuch soft wear four pea seas,And why eye brake in two averseBuy righting want too pleas.As before - There are no mistakes in this post. It is spelt and punctuated exactly as I intend it to be.

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!!!

RobJanuary 12th 2009.

I,ve got a story for you I,ve made it really simple so Graham Stringer can keep up. I might help him a little he,s not dyslexic poor fellow so it might go over his headDarkness and vision and all the shades of the mind who know's more about colours?A colour blind man who reads books on the theory of colours and forms a opinionor a man who can see in colour ?If my life depended on it which one would I ask to pick out the colour blue? Only a colour blind man can say colours do not exist because he cannot see them and still sound ratationalThe problem for the man who sees in colour is discribing the colours too someone who can,nt see them the man who sees in colour may sound strange to the colour blind person or even mad,stupid and living in a fantasy world Does this make the colours go away ?No, but some times the guy who see,s in colour just wish,s he was normaland saw things in black and white just so life was easy for a changeSeeing in colour sounds better than being colour blindbut being told it makes you abnormal is not What if they then invent teststoo test your colour blind vision?the trouble is you see in colour and get all the answers wronghow could you be so stupid?Were,nt you told you where living on the planet of the colour blind?Well no, you could see in colour from birth and it never crossed your mind their were colour blind peopleJust as it never crossed their mind there where poeple who could see in colour What right does the colour blind guy have too judge the guy who see,s in colour?The same right the non-dyslexic has too judge the dyslexic

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?

Philip bennettJanuary 12th 2009.

In answer to""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%"I understand thatIf a language if built up of a picture and symbols instead of phonetic word a dyslexic brain can posses this in the same way as a non dyslexic brain.facebook group created plese join!

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

Response to D's lx ic ....... Never a truer word spoken, but then again, 'politician' has never been a disability, yet in Mr Stringers case its a disease listed right next to Ebola and Bubonic Plague.

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.

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....

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

Steve JobsJanuary 12th 2009.

One too many Daily Mail readers blinded by the headline. It would be interesting to see how the percentages of dyslexic children varied between type of school and area and how they ultimately correlate to performance tables.

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)

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

No probs Helen, and thanks :) ........... popped an email off to you Tom, a few q's in there that should go down like a lead balloon :) .......... I'll also be watching for GB's response to this, I don't like the guy, but he does have one thing going for him, he doesn't mince his words :)

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!!!

RobJanuary 12th 2009.

An open question to Graham StringerDoes the ability to put experience into linguistic syntax (words) change ones basic experience and comprehension of the world? Or is it ones ability to think rationally which defines ones experience?

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.

a mumJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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)

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!

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

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 !!!!!!!!!!!!

Alan ArtusJanuary 12th 2009.

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

CrisisSurferJanuary 12th 2009.

Hi Mike;yes I take you point. However I wonder if it is really a symptom rather than a condition! The risk is that everyone says, right you child has dyslexia, we've got a diagnosis for you now. The child then does not receive further assessment to understand their unique difficulties. Arguably dyspraxia and autism suffer from exactly the same semantic misuse. I do believe that unless we understand each child's particular difficulties we will remain impotent in our attempts to help.If only there really was a one size fits all solution!

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)

Jarhead68January 12th 2009.

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

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.

Freedom of SpeechJanuary 12th 2009.

Open debate is an essential element of a healthy democracy and I assume this article was intended to stimulate such a debate. Rather than putting forward reasonable and/or reasoned responses, however, the majority of the posts on here seem to be hate-fuelled rants against the author. I appreciate it must be an emotive subject for some, but I find the increasing tendency to simply launch nasty, aggressive personal attacks on those whose views don't concur with our own truly worrying. We are all entitled to hold our own opinions and should be able to air them for mature discussion without fear of being castigated as a 'denier' of whatever the current received wisdom on any given subject may be. It is precisely this kind of intolerance that created NaziGermany.

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

Tom SFJanuary 12th 2009.

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

gyaiffJanuary 12th 2009.

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

mark bakerJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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!

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 am disgusted at some of the comments. My 16 year old son is dyslexic. He has received no help or support or computer and the stress he has been under is immense. He has taught himself to read and write, now attends college and has never caused us any trouble. Due to the stress he also battles with ME (probably another myth) but he is winning and on his own. What he has achieved personally is remarkable and he has only just started.

Pedigree DyslexicJanuary 12th 2009.

There is no doubt amongst neuroscientists about the existence of dyslexia and its underlying physiological cause. The brains of dyslexics are constructed slightly differently to non dyslexics and this can be demonstrated to the satisfaction of the medical profession by brain scans and dissections. Further more Dyslexia was diagnosed and defined well before the invention of the laptop (free or otherwise). Most pertinently Dyslexia was defined well before edukashun became the preferred political football of nu-labour and attention seeking minor league MPs.PS. There are no mistakes in this post. It is spelt and punctuated exactly as I intend it to be.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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!!

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.

If it wz up 2 meJanuary 12th 2009.

I blm txt spk.

David MorganJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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

boredJanuary 12th 2009.

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

leighJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

BekiJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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??

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.

Andrew WalesJanuary 12th 2009.

I find it disgraceful that someone who is an elected MP can peddle such ignorant perfidious nonsense. Dyslexia is not a "fictional malady" any more than the earth is flat and Mr Stringer further underlines his ignorance when he equates it solely with literacy problems.I had always assume that the Labour Party existed to fight prejudice, rather than to pedal and re-inforce it. Mr Stringer has acted irresponsibly and I will be saddened if his Party does not seek to take action against him as a result.

Elin's mumJanuary 12th 2009.

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

ChippychapJanuary 12th 2009.

AND, if you throw women into the water the ones that float are witches.Moron.

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!!

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

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

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?

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.

secretoJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Dr KarlJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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.

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.

SuJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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!

stunnedJanuary 12th 2009.

dyslexic people are not iliterate. They just need more help and work to become literate. Nicaragua and South Korea do not have literacy rates of nearly 100% and anyone who believes they do, is to use your term "diverse" Many South Korean women living in rural areas do not have the luxury of education. I am dyslexic. School was made so difficult for me, I left at 13. I am now studying for a diploma with no secondry education. I run a sucessful business and at the ripe old age of 29 I own also own 3 houses. I did'nt get where i am without constant reading, research and self education. There are few people that would call me lazy or stupid however i can't spell numbers over ten or the days of the week. My daughter is also dyslexic she reads roof! as floor. Words are like anagrams for her and she needs extra time to translate.

Frank VJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

Tom SFJanuary 12th 2009.

Of course no problem, i will do that :) , i am interested in what Gordon Brown will be saying about this

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

RobJanuary 12th 2009.

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

ClareJanuary 12th 2009.

I felt So frustrated and angry after reading this article. How can this sorry excuse of a man truely believe its a myth.What he has written is totally without compassion or feeling towards anyone who struggles every waking hour with Dyslexia.Try and explain to my nine year old who works extremely hard doing extra reading and writing every day that she doesnt have Dyslexia.A girl who cries because she still mixes up her ds and bs,a girl who gets upset because her seven year old brother can read better than she can. And no its not poor teaching, she attends one of the best schools in the area.It seems to me that people do extreme things in order to get attention. Cant wait for the next election!

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.

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!

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.

DellJanuary 12th 2009.

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

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Jane, AberdeenJanuary 12th 2009.

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

gaspodeJanuary 12th 2009.

What a bigot. Who will he pick on next?Why did you vote for him?Will you vote for him again?I want my elected representative to be able to research and understand complex issues not just repeat half baked ideas from others. Given the volume of research that has been done on dyslexia, a condition which goes way beyond reading and writing - and manifests it self with varying degrees, any considered article could not simply dismiss it or its impact upon how people learn.

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.

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.

AndyJanuary 12th 2009.

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

openmindJanuary 12th 2009.

Dear Ed - challenging the sacred organic movement, exposing the TIF nonsense and now this! How much are you paying him to single handedly boost Man Con's profile?

zabzyJanuary 12th 2009.

Angilegs.... how ironic that you made so many spelling mistakes while responding to an article about dyslexia!

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).

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

HelenJanuary 12th 2009.

There are many forms of Dyslexia Secreto although reading and spelling are problems for many (but not all) people who have Dyslexia some dyslexocs may have problems with other things such as memory, sequencing and phonological processing

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.

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.

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.

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