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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.

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.

Sharon MJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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!

HelenJanuary 12th 2009.

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

leighJanuary 12th 2009.

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

HelenJanuary 12th 2009.

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

benJanuary 12th 2009.

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

SiouxJanuary 12th 2009.

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

he's right you knowJanuary 12th 2009.

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

KarlJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

before tricky notices itJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Pete StarJanuary 12th 2009.

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

RobJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Professor IgnorantJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Tom SFJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AdeleJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Nic ConnerJanuary 12th 2009.

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

byslexicJanuary 12th 2009.

what an ignorant tw*t!

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!!!!!

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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?

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!

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 ;)

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

RchirdarJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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 ????

Ashley's Vibrating BumholeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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!!!

LedderwoodJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

Sharon MJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

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.

esquiloJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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?

DellJanuary 12th 2009.

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

please resignJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Jane SJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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!

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?

PrincessJanuary 12th 2009.

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

NickJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

abbyJanuary 12th 2009.

The world has changed. Kids nowdays dont need to do exams like it was in the old days because they understand computers and computers do all the work. the doctor have no need to do exams if she has a good new computer with all the information and she can turn it on and ask it question on the person to see if it have an answer from the chemist or something.

PollyJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

Mrs LeesonJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Jarhead68January 12th 2009.

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

D WilliamsJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Tricky WooJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

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?

cannonball111January 12th 2009.

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

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.

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

PaulipipsJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

DavidJanuary 12th 2009.

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

ChippychapJanuary 12th 2009.

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

teacherJanuary 12th 2009.

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

KarlJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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?

SecretoJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

I 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.

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.

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.

Elin's mumJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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?

KarlJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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?

Dr PointlessJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

Vicky: a dyslexic MSc graduateJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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!

SteJanuary 12th 2009.

Dyslexia is not a moth

weavsallJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

RobJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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!

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.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Juan KerrJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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?

Monsieur ControversialJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

STRANGE WAYSJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Sharon MJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

Kasper HauserJanuary 12th 2009.

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

RihcadrJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

leighJanuary 12th 2009.

Good on you Sharon.

Blue PeterJanuary 12th 2009.

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

NickJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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?

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.

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.

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.

Frank VJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

TieJanuary 12th 2009.

Mr Stringer is showing complete ignorance of this very damaging condition, which does not mean people can't read or write. I was tested 11 years ago, and while my reading and spelling skills are very good, (usually 2 years above my school age) I struggle with verbal instruction, communication & memory. Go back to school Mr Stringer and learn about something before you denounce it.

Jan HJanuary 12th 2009.

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

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Graham NelsonJanuary 12th 2009.

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

CherryFairyJanuary 12th 2009.

"There can be no rational reason why this 'brain disorder' is of epidemic proportions in Britain but does not appear in South Korea or Nicaragua." Perhaps, had MP Stringer done his research, he would realise that one very rational explanation is that different alphabets require different depths of decoding. South Korean reading difficulties would not manifest in the same ways as those in English, hence the '100%' reading accuracy. Dyslexia in a language like Korean would show up in reading RATES rather than ERRORS. Perhaps Mr. Stringer would like to do some reading os his own next time.

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!

AmusedJanuary 12th 2009.

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

ShelleyinHullJanuary 12th 2009.

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

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

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).

scoteeeJanuary 12th 2009.

Bugger off Kevin we voted No!

decision-nowJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Frank VJanuary 12th 2009.

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

bbshropshireJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

PaulyJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Stevenage_saintJanuary 12th 2009.

I am classed as dyslexic and in my case I was not diagnosed until I was doing my A Levels. I have always had poor handwriting, and struggled spelling but nobody ever thought about dyslexia. When tested I was diagnosed with mild dyslexia. One thing that was noted my symptons were made worse when the school changed from Blackboards to White Boards. In many places Mr Stringer talks about how many have white boads or the electronic white boards. After being tested by UMIST in Manchester I now wear tinted glasses and this helps me in my day to day work. Mr Stringer should look in to the problem more and understand how it affects people before making comments.

Jimi CJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

secretoJanuary 12th 2009.

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

gyaiffJanuary 12th 2009.

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

you can take my lifeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

sevenarchespublishingJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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!

Chris LewisJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

i love how everybody is ranting to their own tune!

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Jarhead68January 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

If it wz up 2 meJanuary 12th 2009.

I blm txt spk.

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.

MarkJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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?

Tom SFJanuary 12th 2009.

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

HelenJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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

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.

JimmyBobJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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!

MoJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

answer to benJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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).

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Jez sezJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

ErnaldJanuary 12th 2009.

That's exactly right.

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.

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

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?

Allan WhyteJanuary 12th 2009.

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

foobooJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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!

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.

Magpie 11January 12th 2009.

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

Kathryn HilesJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Tom SFJanuary 12th 2009.

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

leonaJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

hippleJanuary 12th 2009.

otsser

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.

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"

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?

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!!!

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

PaulyJanuary 12th 2009.

Mr Stringer, could I just take a moment to point some 'illiterate' dyslexics.....Richard BransonAgatha ChristieJohn LennonNigel KennedyCherTom CruiseMuhammad Ali - and we've all seen what happened when he thought a certain Yorkshireman called him 'illiterate!!! ;)Sir Steve RedgraveJackie StewartAlbert EinsteinKeanu ReevesZoe WannamakerHenry FordJamie OliverOrlando BloomSteven Speilberg also here's a couple for you to take note of Mr Stringer......George WashingtonJohn F. KennedyHow do you like them apples......?

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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?

TrickyJanuary 12th 2009.

OK. Forget dyslexia, would Graham Stringer like to puff out his chest and write a column about why his government spends so much on education up to the age of 21 or more and yet university graduates like "Gobsmacked" still do not understand apostrophes. It's just not good enough. It's appalling, in fact.

CrisisSurferJanuary 12th 2009.

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

CONTROMANJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

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 :-)

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?

AndyJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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......

STRANGE WAYSJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Marilyn GuyJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Blue PeterJanuary 12th 2009.

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

Kevin PeelJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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?

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.

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.

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?

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!

GWDJanuary 12th 2009.

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

SaraJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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.

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

HelenJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

John TippingJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

TRTJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

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.

Regen08January 12th 2009.

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

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

you are an idiot.

PeteJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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!!

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.

MikeJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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)

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

CaliburnJanuary 12th 2009.

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

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.

CrisisSurferJanuary 12th 2009.

There are three points I would like to make.Firstly the minister is right that poor teaching methods are a serious issue. He is also correct to challenge the concept of Dyslexia. Here is why.Dyslexia is probably a term for many different kinds of neurological conditions which are all different but all show up as a difficulty with reading, writing or spelling. As such it could be argued that Dyslexia doesn't exist, but is a name for a collection of conitions, some of which are not properly understood yet.To take an example a mechanic can diagnose tht a car won't start, but what really matters is why? Is it the fuel system the air intake or the battery that is to blame. Unfortunately as humans we are a lot more complicated than a car!The key is to understand the type of difficulties each indivudual is experiencing. This means expert assessment, and I do not see the education system, politicians or sadly the Dyslexia lobby fully developing this debate.There is a for more disturbing point upon wich the minister may be right albeit by accident. We teach writing at a very young age in the UK. Young minds are very open to the memories and patterns of the world they encounter. Bad teaching and sloppy diagnosis may lay down poor patterns possibly irretrivably. I see it his way. Inany class of 6 year olds, ten to twenty percent may not be neurologically ready for the level of challenge that they experience in the classroom. reading and writing are neurological complex tasks. Given the risk of bad patterns being laid down can we honestly say in the UK that children with dyslexia are not a product nof our teaching system. The answer is that we can't be sure. Not yet. The question demands our urgent attention.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

This man is clearly an opinionated idiot.Yes – the education system is falling apart since many parents no longer see education as partially their role, teachers are paid pathetic wages which dissuade articulate and well educated people from doing the job, every pupil has rights but the teachers apparently none etc…Yes – those that do not get the appropriate help and support do fail in the education system and find alternative entertainments – thus leading them down the slippery slope to social decline…But NO – you cannot make sweeping judgements about a disability that you know nothing about. I think if you take a close look at maths, physics and engineering courses in the UK, you will find a huge number of people who suffer with dyslexia. For these fortunate people, they have found an avenue for their intelligence that does not revolve around the written word. Many of these people have been diagnosed and helped in the form of additional schooling in order to overcome its effects. To suggest that dyslexia is a label for the lazy is insulting and absurd.I suggest that before writing an article of this nature in future… you get your facts straight!!

mumofdyslexicJanuary 12th 2009.

OK, how about a column from an acknowledged expert in dyslexia next week ManCon -as a responsible news site, there should be a right of reply, not this daft response thread. You could do worse than go to Manchester Uni, where ophthalmologists have been carrying out research into this condition and helping hundreds of children every year with special coloured spectacles -no, not a joke. Some children with dyslexia (like my daughter) can't make sense of the pattern of black print on a white page. The glasses help. My daughter, now 18, could not read at age 8 - she pulled up to her normal reading age in SIX months with the glasses, no special teaching methods used at her short-sighted (ha) school. She's now an A level student, but still struggles to make sense of a printed page when she is tired or stressed. My ex husband (PhD despite it) had a similar problem. How about the right to reply, editor??

Tim RJanuary 12th 2009.

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

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2009.

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.

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

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