03 September 2005

Dyslexic? You Are Just Being Hysterical My Dear.

Professor Julian Elliott a pyschologist at Durham University has said that dyslexia is largely an "emotional construct" seemingly because "There is no consensus as to what it is and how to diagnose it. People describe all sorts of symptoms as dyslexia. And if you do diagnose it, it does not point to any intervention in particular."

I find this extremely insulting because I am dyslexic.

I exhibit the classic poor spelling, messy slow handwritting and transposition of letters that most dyslexics have, reading aloud is a trial although reading silently for me isn't too hard the words do not dance across the page for me which many dyslexicx describe, although I have to re-read things several times to get the full sense, mind you many people have to do that.

What this man does not seemed to have considered is that Dyslexia is not like a broken leg a condition that has one or two obvious cures. It is entirely possible that there are multiple causes that produce the same symptoms and just because there isn't one obvious cure or intervention does not mean that the condition should be dismissed and sufferers described as having some form of emotional construct. Highly Highly insulting and believe me if that was true I would be not be blogging this I would be down the pyschoanalyst talking about my relationship with my first goldfish in an attempt to get rid of dyslexia because I would rather not be a dyslexic it would make my life easier. These some of proffesions a dyslexic cannot do - Nursing, be a medical doctor, pilot, air traffic control, pharmacy. Oh there are probably dyslexics doing some of those but I bet they were either undiagnosed at the time or they kept very quiet about their condition at the interview. I never tell anyone I'm dyslexic when I've gone for job interviews because they would immediately think oh can't do this job then.

Dyslexia the term is perhaps wrong it should be rephrased as dyslexic spectrum or something like that.

I do agree that there is a dyslexia industry the British Dyslexia Association charge to do diagnoese and then to provide help. But I was diagnosed through the school system and help was provided (patchily in England but that is another blog) through the school system.

He says he is not confident in diagnosis why not? bad handwriting written work at variance with verbal work and understanding transposing letters all obvious pointers. My brother at his first A level Chemistry lesson sat next to a new lad took one look at his notes and suggested to him that he could be dyslexic and should get himself tested. The lad was.

Another thing that winds me up is when dyslexia is a middle class desease - the excuse to explain away why little Henry or Oliva are not doing well at school rather than admitting they are thick. Middle class children tended to get diagnosed more often than say working class ones because middle class parents tend to the know more about the ins and outs of the educational system and are less likely to accept the school saying that their child is thick and know where to go for a second opinion. Cleverer dyslexics tend to get diagnosed more often than stupid ones because the dyslexia stands out more.

But I can hear people crying I'm reading your blog, I've done so for a while (ok that bit is a bit less likely) I can't spot too many spelling mistakes, it's readable well that is because I'm typing it not writing it I can touch type which eliminates the transpostion problem to a great extent and the glories of spell check and being able to edit without leaving an obvious trace. I did get help at school, I practise writing and I work at it, in my job I have to write a lot. I wish my scanner was up and running then I could show you a sample of my written work the difference is striking. For one thing my handwriting can change style dramtically and it's not the long words that really give me difficulty it's the short ones, where, when, went is a nightmare, I want to spell it whent most of the time, who and how often get confused because of transposition. I was eight before I could spell my surname, 13 before I could spell my middle name and I still frequently mispell my first name when writing it down Jaen that's embarrasing when signing letters.

Anyway I've decided for a change not to spell check this (it will be the one post ever wehn I make no spelling mistakes) and I'm not going to the usual painstaking proofreading in order to give you a flavour of the real writing thrill that is my world.


Cross of Cambridgshire

BBC NEWS | Education | Row erupts over dyslexia 'denial'


  1. You may be dyslexic but I'll bet you're bloody good at anagrams.

  2. Would it be in bad taste for me to repeat the old joke, "Dyslexia rules, KO" ?

  3. Selina - I wish I was problem is I usually don't know how the word should be spelt normally :-o

    Don - ah the old ones are the... old ones and the number of times I've turned up to a toga party as a goat is just tragic. :-)

  4. A goat! Bwahahaha. Verrry good. That's either a brilliant product of your fertile and witty imagination or an old one that's somehow passed me by.

  5. Stegbeetle - It's the latter

  6. At my age the memory starts to go, dontcha know! Nothing to do with lifestyle choices obviously *cough*!

  7. Liz here from I Speak of Dreams in California. Elliott's correct in one sense -- there is massive misunderstanding of what dyslexia is -- tremendous variation in diagnosis rates, acceptable treatment / remediation, etc.

    From my point of view, dyslexia treatment in the UK is rife with non-effective methods (the DDAT method, colored lenses, etc.) and teacher training is still very weak.

    I wish he had said that instead of the "myth" hook.