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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.

PeteJanuary 12th 2009.

Having read the above comments in detail, I would like to offer my support to all those who are dyslexic and who individuals with dyslexia, I wish Sharon Moore the best of luck in fighting the LEA and would be interested to learn of the outcome of your case. I would like to know from Graham Stringer, MP for Blackley how he has arrived at the opinions he has stated in his article and what makes them so valid in his opinion. I have Dyspraxia and Dyslexia and despit a very poor social upbringing I have exceeded my own expectations and continue to do so rather than turn into a crazed drug taking criminal who is stupid. I served in the British Army for 15 years and went to war zones in the role of a Combat Medical Technican saving people's lives and making life saving decisions under pressure. Since then I went to University and found out half way through my three year course that I have dyspraxia & dyslexia, even though I have always known that I have had a problem since the age of three though I was told that I was slow, autistic and thick (this being the 1970' & 80's)It took a years worth of hard work from myself to start getting the right support in place and having some fantastic support from individuals to support and help pass my Adult Nursing Diploma. When I did finally get a job in a NHS trust I encountered discrimination from a minority of people & finally being recognised that I have alot to offer. I still encounter problems on a daily basis and always will. My point is individuals with dyslexia & those that support individuals with dyslexia need positive support not ill informed comments displayed by Graham Stringer.

esquiloJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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!

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?

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!

HelenJanuary 12th 2009.

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

NLPJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Jarhead68January 12th 2009.

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

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....

before tricky notices itJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

Elin's mumJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

TRTJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

Marilyn GuyJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

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.

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!!

Roy LewisJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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?

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!

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.

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.

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?

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.

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?

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.

PaulyJanuary 12th 2009.

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

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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)

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.

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.

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.

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.

KarlJanuary 12th 2009.

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

KarlJanuary 12th 2009.

Stringer has high expenses. Ergo, his opinions on anything are bound to be wrong. Can we stick to the point, please? We might get somewhere.

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.

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.

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.

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.

ADJanuary 12th 2009.

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

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

Jimi CJanuary 12th 2009.

"All the comments agreeing with Grahams comments are just proving how many uneducated ignorant d**kheads we have in Manchester.”And the above comment shows your ignorance for failing to see the other side of an argument.Well done!

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.

Ernalds alter egoJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

SteJanuary 12th 2009.

Dyslexia is not a moth

leonaJanuary 12th 2009.

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

PollyJanuary 12th 2009.

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

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Lucy PalmerJanuary 12th 2009.

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

scoteeeJanuary 12th 2009.

Bugger off Kevin we voted No!

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.

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.

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

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.

scoteeeJanuary 12th 2009.

and bbc news

dyslexicandproudJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Sharon MJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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!

Frank VJanuary 12th 2009.

Karl. You will wait all day. It's hilarious, in a black humour kind of way. However, it's also nauseating. Can you prescribe me something?

sevenarchespublishingJanuary 12th 2009.

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

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

this has inforated me!! he should go back to school him self i may strugle to spell what a shame..thats why GoD made man invent a spell cheek!!!idout!! dosn't he know all recorded geounis are thort or know to be deslecixs...I whent to Good schools were and had home schooling to teach me to spell but you know what what dose spelling reaily mater and dose the fool not reilise thats not the only thing it can afect!!!!At the end of the day just about any one I've ever meet cant tell unless i tell them and normaly tell me im one of the smartest pepoule they have ever meet. AT school and coolage the teachers always said i was one of if not the smartest!!!im so out raged i have stared a facebook group as there's power in numbers to ensure labour are never in power agin in my life time if they have brain less idouts like this working for them!!!!!

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?

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... ;)

Sharon MJanuary 12th 2009.

frank v - this is why i have been fighting for my childs education to put him somewhere where he can understand and learn, the methods used at his previous school were not helping him but at his new school he is doing excellent, but you have the fight to prove that this is what your child needs and unfortunately time runs out as they get older to get them what they need, therefore which leads to the socail problems.

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.

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.

Very true trickyJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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?

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

"As a former primary school deputy headteacher" <-- This of course entitles you to a full and expansive understanding of this area.Hopefully you are no longer in education, failing those children who's disability you dismiss.

PollyJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

Nick AJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Kathryn HilesJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

Sharon MJanuary 12th 2009.

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

byslexicJanuary 12th 2009.

what an ignorant tw*t!

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?

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.

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.

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?

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

i cannot believe this was published. it is people like Graham Stringer that unfortunately do not understand what Dyslexia is yet feel that they can comment about it. Dyslexia is far more complex than just reading and writing spelling!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

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.

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.

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.

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?

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!

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.

Tom SFJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Jarhead68January 12th 2009.

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

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

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.

STRANGE WAYSJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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....

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!

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Allan WhyteJanuary 12th 2009.

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

NickJanuary 12th 2009.

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

RchirdarJanuary 12th 2009.

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

If it wz up 2 meJanuary 12th 2009.

I blm txt spk.

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.

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.

nick de villeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

HelenJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

and here we go for the last nail in the research coffin ..... Nicaragua has a literacy rate of almost 100%? ........ Since when was between 67 and 77 near 100? 67% was the 2003 figures, and Stringer expects us to believe that they can educate over 30% of their country without the resources to do so within 5 years? Not a chance. ........................ So the 'facts' that Stringer came out with in this article are coming apart at an alarming rate, and yet we still have no self defence off the MP himself. ......... Mr Stringer, By your article, you insinuate that Dyslexic people are stupid, backward and slow, this is simply not the case ......... Oh, and in my case I have a further advantage by your way of thinking ......... I'm not stupid, I'm not backward, I'm not slow, and the most telling one to your article is the fact that I'm not dyslexic either, not that it makes a difference to anyone but you.

Newton HeathJanuary 12th 2009.

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

TeacherJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Frank VJanuary 12th 2009.

CrisisSurfer - Thanks for your points, It's nice to have a reasoned thought on the subject, rather than the "it exists!", "no it doesn't" playground tattle we've been subject to so far.I think the problem is that everybody has learning difficulties, for example JimmyBob states that he has trouble finding the correct word to use in his head and has to re-read what he's written. Well, I'd put to you that 50% of the population probably have a variation of that and the other 50% probably have another variation of something which would fall under the broad category of Dyslexia. What we need to do is individualise learning. People tend to forget how to learn as they get older, some never get the chance to experience the correct type of learning suited to them. By separating out a particular learning difficulty, we miss the point. The biggest barrier to learning is the state of mind called "understanding"

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.

CONTROMANJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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!

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?

Thoroughbred MancJanuary 12th 2009.

This article has just been covered on Five lunchtime news...

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?

ErnaldJanuary 12th 2009.

That's exactly right.

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.

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!!!!!!!

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!

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

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?

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

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

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.

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?!

GWDJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

JO TutorJanuary 12th 2009.

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

leonaJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

TimJanuary 12th 2009.

In other news, Mr Stringer discusses his views on the 'myth' of the Holocaust, and how, with the judicious use of hammers, Homosexuality can also be 'cured'. In addition, he shares his thought's on Hitler, who was 'just misunderstood'...

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 !!

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

CherryFairyJanuary 12th 2009.

"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." Perhaps, had MP Stringer done his research, he would realise that one very rational explanation is that different alphabets require different depths of decoding. South Korean reading difficulties would not manifest in the same ways as those in English, hence the '100%' reading accuracy. Dyslexia in a language like Korean would show up in reading RATES rather than ERRORS. Perhaps Mr. Stringer would like to do some reading os his own next time.

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.

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.

hippleJanuary 12th 2009.

otsser

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.

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!

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.

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 !

D's lx icJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Tricky WooJanuary 12th 2009.

Of course, what he really said was "Dyslexia is a miss". It's just that he's got a lisp and the copytaker misheard him.

NHOJ CAM NALHCALJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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

AndreaJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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)

PaulipipsJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

JamesJanuary 12th 2009.

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

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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!

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...

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.

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.

SiouxJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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

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?

leighJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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!

PollyJanuary 12th 2009.

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

DanJanuary 12th 2009.

I am a dyslexic trainee solicitor and I can tell Mr Stringer that dyslexia is a very real condition. Firstly, may I point out that to be dyslexic does not mean that one is illiterate. Only someone with a very poor understanding of dyslexia would make that mistake. Secondly, Mr Stringer is interested in killing off the 'dyslexic industry'? I wonder if Mr Stringer has a vested interest in 'synthetic phonics industry'. With a quick internet search I could invest quite heavily in the synthetic phonics industry. By the way, literacy rates from the UN as of the 18/12/08; UK 99%, South Korea 99% Nicaragua 80.1% Is 80.1% almost 100%? Maybe Mr Stringer is numerically dyslexic...

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).

Sharon MJanuary 12th 2009.

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

zabzyJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Magpie 11January 12th 2009.

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

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?

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.

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.

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!

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.

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

maccaJanuary 12th 2009.

Dyslexics Question The Existence of Graham StringerDyslexics today questioned the existence of Graham Stringer MP.The Manchester Blackley MP was labelled "a cruel fiction", who should be consigned to "the dustbin of history".Stringer insisted he was "very real" to the 6 million people in the UK affected by him.However, dyslexics said millions of pounds were being wasted on what they called a "false" MP."The establishment, rather than admit that their eclectic and incomplete methods for instruction are at fault, have invented an MP called Graham Stringer," they said."To label Graham Stringer an MP because he's confused by poor teaching methods is wicked."If Graham Stringer really existed then countries as diverse as Nicaragua and South Korea would not have been able to achieve literacy rates of nearly 100%. There can be no rational reason why this 'brain disorder' is of epidemic proportions in Britain but Graham Stringer does not appear in South Korea or Nicaragua."They claim the "fictional malady" has also been wiped out in West Dunbartonshire, and research has conclusively proven that Graham Stringer MP does not exist in that particular area of Scotland.A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said the government was supportive of Graham Stringer: "We understand the distress and frustration that the parents of Graham Stringer feel so keenly," he said."Often they have endured years of struggle trying to get extra help to overcome their child's difficulties. That is why the government is working with a number of organisations to identify and promote best practice in identifying and supporting Graham Stringer."A spokesman for Mr Stringer said: "Once again Graham Stringer seems to be making the headlines for all the wrong reasons."It is frustrating that the focus should be on whether Graham Stringer exists or not, when there is so much evidence to support that he does.""Many people assume that literacy will solve the issue of Graham Stringer MP, however although many Graham Stringers have acquired the skills of reading, there is no doubt that they still remain Graham Stringer," the spokesman said."It is concerning that dyslexics do not recognise Graham Stringer, who affects 10% of his constituents, even though his government have taken steps to make sure Graham

Frank VJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

This type of discrimination should not be allowed to be published

John TippingJanuary 12th 2009.

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

secretoJanuary 12th 2009.

Cheers Jo. Thanks for putting me right. I feel safe being "blinkered" (Translation: I don't agree 100% with the flashmob who have linked to ManCon to berate someone for not buying that 6 MILLION Britons are "suffering" from dyslexia). There again I'm just being limited. Ah well.

PaulyJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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?

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!

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.

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.

Niall HanrahanJanuary 12th 2009.

"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."You may be able to read and write Mr stringer but you're still a complete and utter spastic...How you are allowed to represent people is beyond me.

HelenJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Roger RelevantJanuary 12th 2009.

What a fool! He seems to be confusing dyslexia with literacy. If it really was the case that dyslexia was as a direct result of poor teaching methods then it surely stands to reason that entire classes of children would be classed as dyslexic, on account that they will all have been subject to the same teaching methods. Clearly there is something that inhibits 6m people in the UK learning in the same way and at the same speed as the majority of the population. I suffer from Dyslexia, however it did not present itself in my reading ability, but in my spelling (thank god for spell check!).Dyslexia is as connected to poor teaching as ADHD is to poor parenting! I must say for an elected Member of Parliament his argument construction is pretty poor, and full of holes… oh hang on… he’s a Labour MP!

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.

EdwinJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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?

Professor IgnorantJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

JulianJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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

PhilJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Tom SFJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

Frank VJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

Graham NelsonJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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

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.

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......

LurseJanuary 12th 2009.

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

A mum of dyslexicsJanuary 12th 2009.

I can't believe the ignorance of this M.P. Dyslexia is a very real problem for many. Dyslexics do need special help and should not be made to feel lazy or stupid. My children are all dyslexic to varying degrees but have all managed to go to university. They have been misunderstood and ostracised but have triumphed. If there were fewer people like Mr Stringer then life would be a whole lot simpler. There is enough prejudice in the world already without ill informed spouting from individuals who are supposed to be representing us.

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.

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.

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.

Dr PointlessJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Bob HuskinsJanuary 12th 2009.

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

TeacherJanuary 12th 2009.

I work daily with adults who are illiterate or who have low levels of literacy and also with dyslexics. They are not the same. Those who have low literacy due to poor or interrupted education usually respond well to 1-1 or small group instruction using a balanced mixture of phonics and whole word recognition presented in an interesting context, and are thrilled to make progress. Those with Dyslexia find making progress much more difficult. They struggle with language processing problems which affect either the way they see letters and/or the way they hear the letter sounds. Dyslexia is not only found in this country but the fact that English is not a phonetically regular language can make it more difficult to grasp the sound-symbol correspondence.At the moment I am working with a Dyslexic of Ethiopian background who attended school in Ethiopia from age 4-11 and failed to learn to read and write Amharic, then came here aged 11 and failed to learn to read and write English. He is not stupid and he is very motivated but progress is quite slow.I agree with Mr Stringer that there is a connection between poor literacy and criminality and I believe that this should encourage the educational authorities to target more resources on remedial literacy programmes in primary and secondary schools. However I feel very saddened that he felt he had to raise his national profile by attacking vulnerable people and seeking to diminish their struggle.

MarkJanuary 12th 2009.

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

STRANGE WAYSJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

Dyslexia is not a handy label for illiteracy! It is recognised condition which many successful people in this country suffer from (6 million?) It is sometimes inherited and in my case, my grandfather - a successful builder, my father - a successful electrical engineer, suffered from and overcame.In my son's case, when I was told dyslexia was a middle class name for 'being thick' by my son's school, I paid for him to be tested by an educational psychologist (schools don't test any more - it's too expensive) with an IQ of a130 and a very high non verbal reading score, my son was frustrated and turned off by 'remedial' classes where he would be taught spellings which he would forget 20 minutes later. He taught himself to read and now uses a computer to write with. End of problem? maybe - but my son suffers from depression and low self esteem and is only now, at 32, feeling ready to go back into education.He has never been out of work since he left school at 16 and now works with illiterate (but not dyslexic) young men in their 20's, teaching literacy skills.

Regen08January 12th 2009.

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

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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