Dyslexia is a myth?

Labour MP Graham Stringer says dyslexia is a myth:

Graham Stringer, the MP for Manchester Blackley, said the condition was a “cruel fiction”, and “no more real than the 19th century scientific construction of ‘the aether’ to explain how light travels through a vacuum.”

“The sooner it is consigned to the same dustbin of history, the better,” he added.

In a column for an online Manchester magazine, Mr Stringer wrote: “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.”

The MP said his argument could be proven by comparisons of international literacy rates.

“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 per cent,” he wrote.

“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 have suspected myself that “dyslexic” is code for “thick but from a middle-class background”. Or as psychologist Julian Elliot puts it:

“[parents] don’t want their child to be considered lazy, thick or stupid. If they get called this medically diagnosed term, dyslexic, then it is a signal to all that it’s not to do with intelligence.”

Are Stringer and Elliot right? I suspect they may be.

(via Little Man, What Now)

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4 Responses to Dyslexia is a myth?

  1. Jennie says:

    Do you know, this is the first post I have seen on this blog which has made me facepalm at your ignorance? Well done! You lasted a LONG time.

    I have lived with a dyslexic. It’s not lies. There are ample scientific studies into its causes and treatments. Most importantly, dyslexics actually tend to be MORE intelligent than average, at least by some measurements; they just learn in a different way, and find spelling difficult.

  2. Graham says:

    What are the rates of dyslexia found in children educated via synthetic phonics (his favoured method – and I have no personal problem with it, I should say at this point) versus other methods? If he has any actual information on this, then he hasn’t shared it with us.

    I suspect – and to an extent this is based on reports of his previous pronouncements – that he’s a bit of a flake. There seems to be a body of evidence showing real differences between people with and without dyslexia, including genetic data and functional brain imagery, and I’m less willing to write this off as nonsense than he apparently is.

  3. MatGB says:

    What Jennie said. Evidence of over-diagnosis is not evidence of non-existence.

    Dyslexia exists, whether it’s one condition or several linked conditions is still being investigated. That some countries (using different languages and spelling/grammar rules) have less of a problem is not proof there is no problem.

    Sure, some kids get diagnosed dyslexic as a sop. That doesn’t mean that all those diagnosed don’t have problems in some way or another. Let alone all those that never get diagnosed, and despite being palpably smart live their whole life thinking they’re stupid because they’re spelling is off.

    The stupidities of the English standardised spellings is linked to this, but it’s not directly relevent.

  4. modernityblog says:

    have to agree with 1, it exists, but it is a spectrum type disorder and so varies from person to person

    I suspect a lot of older dyslexics just learnt to cope with it and wonder why that in many areas they are, say, above average, but when it comes to CERTAIN types of language skills they were very poor

    I found out very late in my adult life, but that funny combination of poor short term memory, poor hand to eye coordination with noticeable traits when I write (making the same mistake 100s over in different documents) seems to be consistent with others who have dyslexia, not identical, nor could that be the case as all of our brain chemistry is unique but similar

    then again there are many benefits in other areas

    in the end it is knowing what you can do, naturally and with ease, and other areas where you might have to work or take extra care

    it is all about how certain people, in certain circumstances, process information and deal with the outside world

    dyslexia is not a curse, far from it but the ignorance surrounding it, is a bit tedious at times

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