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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.

SecretoJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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?

Sharon MJanuary 12th 2009.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/7829684.stmthe above link is an interview with Mr Stringer following his comments. He says that if children are taught properly we would not have dyslexia, ok my point is why is it costing me a lot of money to go to tribunal to get the education my son needs and why do so many parents have to fight, then what about the children whose parents will not face facts that their child has learning difficulties, there should be a proper assessment system, which might i add, they will say they have and I can assure you they havent. I have paperwork here on my case and I have emails from the LEA departments which i dont think should have been copied into my paperwork stating 'Its gonna be cheaper to do this ' How is that helping the children who cannot learn ????

esquiloJanuary 12th 2009.

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

ATCJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

BenJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AngilegsJanuary 12th 2009.

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

LukeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Jarhead68January 12th 2009.

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

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

HelenJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

risunJanuary 12th 2009.

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

SteJanuary 12th 2009.

Dyslexia is not a moth

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Newton HeathJanuary 12th 2009.

Oh look...I'm dyslevix also.

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.

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.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

TRTJanuary 12th 2009.

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

weavsallJanuary 12th 2009.

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

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

ChippychapJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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!!!!!!!

JulianJanuary 12th 2009.

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

silence is goldenJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

ErnaldJanuary 12th 2009.

That's exactly right.

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.

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?

Freedom of SpeechJanuary 12th 2009.

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

KellzoneJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

Bernard ChittyJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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?

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.

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.

byslexicJanuary 12th 2009.

what an ignorant tw*t!

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?

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.

quit yow jibba jabbaJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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

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.

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

JulieJanuary 12th 2009.

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

KarlJanuary 12th 2009.

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

esquiloJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Bob LomasJanuary 12th 2009.

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

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

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.

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?

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!

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.

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.

Tom SFJanuary 12th 2009.

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

RchirdarJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

Sharon MJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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!

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.

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

HelenJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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......

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.

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.

KellyJanuary 12th 2009.

I can't believe how ignorant people are. There are so many comments that dyslexics are stupid and illiterate. This is not the case. Dyslexia is just a different way of learning... Dyslexia can be minimised by targeted literacy intervention, technological support and adapting ways to work and learn. All the comments agreeing with Grahams comments are just proving how many uneducated ignorant d**kheads we have in Manchester.

Tom SFJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

i 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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

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.

Pedigree DyslexicJanuary 12th 2009.

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

TimJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

you are an idiot.

Tom SFJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Mark TownsonJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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

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

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.

kateJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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

Maggie DJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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

Nicholas LawleyJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

Kasper HauserJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

GuyJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Mrs LeesonJanuary 12th 2009.

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

GoffeyJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

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

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

I am dyslexic (actually dyscalculic, but they're very similar). I was also priviledged to have enjoyed the best education money can buy. It hasn't changed my disability, I still have it. I struggle with the most basic maths, including making change in the shops and telling the time. I've never set foot in a state school in my life, so you can't blame the condition on the state system or poor education. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I hadn't at least had the support of a good education. Denying the existence of the problem only makes things worse for people in my situation, and removes any chance we have at a normal life. I see statements like this as incredibly dangerous.

PrincessJanuary 12th 2009.

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

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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?

BenJanuary 12th 2009.

What an offensive thing to say.Back in school days my best friend really struggled; he couldn't spell, and would get so frustrated in maths class he was known to cry (this was the case for near a decade of schooling.) He was diagnosed as dyslexic and given some tinted glasses to help. Within a couple of months he was amongst the best in the class, and achieved 9 A-A* grades.You might as well say cancer sufferers are 'putting in on' - I hope this man is made to issue a formal appology.

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.

will wilsonJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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!

Frank VJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Jarhead68January 12th 2009.

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

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!!!!!

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 ;)

Steve JobsJanuary 12th 2009.

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

NickJanuary 12th 2009.

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

nelson66January 12th 2009.

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

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

Newton HeathJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

openmindJanuary 12th 2009.

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

HelenJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Kevin PughJanuary 12th 2009.

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

KellzoneJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

KarlJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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!

scoteeeJanuary 12th 2009.

and bbc news

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.

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.

Professor ChucklebuttyJanuary 12th 2009.

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

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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'...

PaulyJanuary 12th 2009.

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

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

nathJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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.

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 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!

Sharon MJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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"

hippleJanuary 12th 2009.

otsser

Tom SFJanuary 12th 2009.

THE VIEW ARE REPRESENTED BY MR STRINGER ONLY AND NOT THE LABOUR PARTY MIGHT I STRESS THAT

Sam ReynoldsJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

2outof3January 12th 2009.

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

vicky: a dyslexic MSc graduateJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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?

Chris BJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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?

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?

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.

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?

cannonball11January 12th 2009.

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

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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

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).

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.

I am a myth Karen royleJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AdamJanuary 12th 2009.

Stringer has the right idea when it comes to synthetic phonics - pity this idea gets buried under his flawed ideas and logic regarding dyslexia."But you don’t have to go halfway round the planet to see where this fictional malady has been eradicated. You can go to West Dunbartonshire where the Council has eliminated illiteracy." What, so if a malady can be cured then it never existed in the first place? Great logic. Plus equating dyslexia with illiteracy is a massive oversimplification."There can be no rational reason why this ‘brain disorder’ is of epidemic proportions in Britain but does not appear in South Korea or Nicaragua." Er, apart from the fact that they have different education systems and different LANGUAGES? The more orthographically transparent a language is - and Spanish is very logical in its spelling - the easier everyone finds to learn it, dyslexic or not. Sounds like a rational reason to me.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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.

Asshead AlertJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

Jane, AberdeenJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

Steve, HullJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

Playwrite27January 12th 2009.

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

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).

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?

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

Amused may hava apoint about parental input but there are many parents out there who have struggled to get help with their children's learning difficulties due to lack of finance/time/teacher awareness of specific learning needs etc in our education system. It is easy to distinguish learning difficulties when your child reads words backwards, wants the same book over and over, can't tell left from right, learn the time, doesn't want to go to school. It took until my daughter went to college and 18 yrs to get her dyslexia diagnosed and her university assessment to help me identify my own dyslexia, diagnosed at age 48, My greatest stress in life is from smart alecs who will not accept that some of us work differently. G.S is clearly misguided in his assumption that Dyslexia is poor reading and writing, it is much more complex. It doesn't make an individual a criminal, many of these have also been failed by the education system and probably a genetic inheritance from parents who weren't helped either. As a health visitor I see many families where these experiences are being perpetuated by young parents who themselves received poor parenting.

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?

john greenhalghJanuary 12th 2009.

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

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

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?

UxterJanuary 12th 2009.

this guy is obviously a tawt!

scoteeeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

leighJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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

oops. x

KarlJanuary 12th 2009.

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

ShelleyinHullJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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!

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.

Mrs EdgsonJanuary 12th 2009.

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

RobJanuary 12th 2009.

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

HelenJanuary 12th 2009.

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

HelenJanuary 12th 2009.

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

MeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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?

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....

Elin's mumJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

Thoroughbred MancJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

Dr PointlessJanuary 12th 2009.

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

NickJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

DellJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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!

Wizard of OzJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

Student TeacherJanuary 12th 2009.

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

paulipipsJanuary 12th 2009.

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

stunnedJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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....

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!

sashaJanuary 12th 2009.

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

pobyl cwmJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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!!

Secret4uJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

cannonball11January 12th 2009.

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

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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!

Alan ArtusJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

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.

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!

Just Use Spell Check!January 12th 2009.

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

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