Page last updated at 17:29 GMT, Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Is dyslexia a myth? Your views

boy taking test
Labour backbench MP Graham Stringer has claimed dyslexia is a myth invented by education chiefs to cover up poor teaching methods.

He added that children should be taught to read and write by using a system called synthetic phonics.

But Charity Dyslexia Action said the condition is "very real" to the six million people in the UK affected by it.

BBC News website readers have been reacting to the story and describing their experiences.


I am 37 years old and was first told that I had dyslexia when I was eight. My brother and mother both are dyslexic also. I am sick to death of small mind people telling me that dyslexia is not real. They should try living in my shoes for a day.
Julie Hewett, Leicestershire

Here is another myth that people with dyslexia must have low educational achievement. I am dyslexic, but have achieved with the right support an honours degree, and am about to embark on my masters degree. Therefore I, and many other dyslexics do not appear to have suffered from 'poor teaching methods'. A very real condition which when recognised and supported correctly does not have to hold one back.
Emma, London

I am dyslexic and was only diagnosed five years ago when I was 40. I can read and write fine, maybe with a few spelling mistakes, and my grammar is poor but that's through poor education from the 60s and 70s and the end of the 80s. As a dyslexic, my problems are not reading and writing, but concentrating, listening, and taking in information and retaining it as well as migraines - the list goes on.
Maz Marriott, Brighton

My daughter is severely dyslexic to the extent that she could not read. She has recently started to wear tinted glasses and for the first time in her life can see text that is not 'fuzzy' and does not 'dance across the page'. She is reading for the first time at the age of seven. Please do not tell me that this condition does not exist! Shameful ignorance.
Ruth , Belfast

My son is dyslexic, he was taught to read using synthetic phonics, but still finds reading harder than his intelligence would suggest. He struggles with spelling and writing. This MP is an idiot, dyslexia is not bad teaching, there are underlying neurological issues, which show up on MRI scans.
Christine, Guildford

I have two dyslexic children. Life is tough enough without someone who is meant to be in authority coming off with such nonsense. Dyslexia is not just about being able to read. One of my children now reads very well but he is still dyslexic and it affects many more aspects of his life. If only it was as easy as changing to a particular reading system. If it was, I would be in that queue.
Sandra Graham, Hillsborough, Northern Ireland

I don't mean to sound horrible but I agree with MP Graham Stringer. Three people I know claim to be dyslexic but coincidentally it seems, they have all had a bad upbringing and left school early. That says to me that they just didn't learn to read or write properly. I believe the synthetic phonics teaching system should be given a chance to prove itself. If dyslexia remains a problem then he was wrong and no harm is done. If he is right however, the change in system could benefit the country as a whole.
Rob, Peterborough

The main problem with dyslexia classification in this country is that it has become a catch-all for a huge variety of learning difficulties. If a student struggles with their reading and writing, they seem to be automatically branded as dyslexic. However, there are many genuine dyslexics out there, myself included, who need assistance and support. This MP shows a crass incompetence and he'd be wise to seriously consider investigating issues further before making such comments.
Ben, Cardiff

Perhaps the recognition of dyslexia is really just a recognition that a one-method-fits-all approach to teaching does not work. I agree with the point that Mr Stringer makes. Though you cannot deny dyslexia's existence, if it is so commonplace, perhaps we should not be treating it as a "special case" or "disability" but adjusting our teaching and what we consider to be the norm. Financial support seems to me to be the lazy option that provides no long-term benefit to the individual nor the country.
Rob, Basingstoke

Completely agree with him. An MP making a REAL statement? Wow. Didn't see that one coming. He is absolutely correct though. It seems to be a common excuse today for kids who can't read and write. It affects six million people in the UK? My foot it does. Just like the way Tourettes suddenly became a popular 'disability/disease'. Rubbish. These lies are costing the economy.
Jay, UK

He's right... it's fiction. Some people find it hard to read and write, and need help, but it's not an illness.
Steve Jones, Cambridge

Although I don't entirely agree with Mr Stringers comments, I do think some children are labelled as dyslexic because they are slower learners when it come to reading and writing and from my experience it is down to lazy teachers. I was told my five-year-old daughter was dyslexic and needed extra help, so I took her to another school where she is fine and shows no sign of any difficulties in reading! But I also have a friend who does have dyslexia and knows how to overcome various difficult situations, so it does exist.
Rachel Edwards, Surrey

Branding children dyslexic is just a quick answer to 'pass the buck.' No physical, scientific tangible proof has been produced and till then it should be forgotten and we need to start looking at different methods to teach these people. Branding children dyslexic is silly and gives them an opportunity to use it as an excuse for not completing work and that then fuels their lack of interest in doing anything.
Mustafa Habib, London

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