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Dyslexia is not a 'cruel fiction'

14th January 2009

Cassandra Jardine explains why dyslexia is not a "cruel fiction".


MP Graham Stringer's remarks about dyslexia being a "cruel fiction" inevitably brought forth some furious responses, and from some people who were better with words than others.

Dyslexia exists, up to a point, and I don’t doubt that people’s brains are wired differently.

It is an overused term covering all kinds of processing difficulties, though there is a need for some sort of description for children who have difficulties with words and find some aspects of learning harder than their classmates.

But these labels can be exploited.

Stringer made the point, for example, that money is wasted on giving out free laptops.

His mistake, however, was in discarding the notion of dyslexia in order to "argue that children don't have to be illiterate".

A child will not benefit simply by "attacking the concept of dyslexia".

Children can be both dyslexic and illiterate.

While some parents seek help, often quite successfully, the MP suggests the solution of the synthetic phonics taught in West Dunbartonshire, where standards of competence have risen significantly since the programme was introduced.

But rather than being a simple solution, it is part of a 10-stage programme including early testing of children and one-to-one teaching.

This is a concerted, complex approach that works and is a prescription less easy to bandy around than the single words dyslexia or phonics.

It is only when all children have the confidence to believe that literacy problems are soluble will we no longer need the term dyslexia.


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Article Information

Title: Dyslexia is not a 'cruel fiction'
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 9824
Date Added: 14th Jan 2009


The Telegraph

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