Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Dyslexia Blog - Should the term dyslexia be ditched?

For those of you who have read my dyslexia blogs before, you may wish to skip this paragraph as it is just the background. If you haven't read my dyslexia blogs before, here is a little preamble and introduction, so you know who I am and what I do and why I write this stuff. For those of you who know the story, skip to the end of the paragraph for todays installment. Let me give you a bit of Background so you know who I am and what I do. I was born in 1962. I didn't start talking until I was 4 years old (at all, not a single word). My parents thought I was deaf. My reading age at eleven was 5. When I was fifteen I started a rock and roll band called the False Dots, the band is still going strong. When I was 16 I started a business called Mill Hill Music Complex (although then it was simply called the studio), a rehearsal studio, as we had nowhere to rehearse. The business has grown into a very successful enterprise, one of Londons biggest and most well respected independent studios. We now have 16 studios and a music shop and also have a photography/video studio and a dance studio. I also have done IT work, mostly on a freelance basis since 1983. In 2012 I also moved into film production, producing two highly acclaimed documentary films, both of which had screenings at the House of Commons. When I was 31, a friend suggested I had a dyslexia test. To my surprise I was told I was moderately dyslexic. This made me interested in the subject. To my amazement, what I have learned over the years is that my lack of educational aptitude, my feelings of anger and injustice and the core of my personality have been formed by the fact I cannot read words in a linear fashion.

So I awoke this morning to hear a report on BBC London saying the term "dyslexic" should be abandoned. They were interviewing a certain professor Joe Ellis who stated that the term was meaningless and was not scientific. As ever with this debate, I rather suspect that professor Ellis has not had to struggle with the issues raised by the condition. The biggest problem I have with people like Professor Ellis is that they have no understanding of the issues associated with dyslexia. They seem to think that if people learn to read, all of the problems will go away. Like many people rather too clever for their own good, Professor Ellis complains that the term is "too wide" and "too ill defined". I suppose he'd prefer it to be replaced with 30 different terms. Lets just suppose for one second we took up his suggestion. Just suppose that as of today my condition, which represents 2% of the dyslexic spectrum is called "Wyecrundiance". All of a sudden I'd have to go through all of the challenges I've had explaining dyslexia to an indifferent world, but as I'd be part of a smaller club and few people would have heard of Wyecrundiance, no one would have a clue.

The existing label may not be perfect, but at least we have a clue what the issue is. Lets focus on dealing with the issues, not debating the label. If you thing it is not an issue, then to be honest, you haven't got a clue.

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