‘Dyslexic: My Secret Past’

Never thought I’d say this about a pop star – but what a courageous man Shane Lynch of Boyzone is!

Heartfelt thanks go to him for taking the enormous and emotive step of publicising his struggle with reading in the programme on Channel Five last night; Dyslexic – My Secret Past. (http://www.channel5.com/shows/my-secret-past/episodes/shane-lynch-dyslexic)

We need far more like him to make it not a secret. And to make it nothing to be ashamed of.

It’s school’s fault it was considered shameful. For years those of us who can read easily put down those who couldn’t, considering them to be not as intelligent.

But thanks to the gallant attempts of people like Shane, highlighting the problem, maybe us readers will be put in our place a little bit.

For maybe it is us who are the unintelligent ones – especially some of the teachers – who have assumed that children who can’t read are stupid or lazy. Because it’s a stupid assumption on our part to think that kids who can’t read would choose to sit in a classroom not being able to do what thirty of their other mates can do and take the humiliation because of it. No one would choose that.

Look at it another way; would brilliant singer/song writers like Shane call us stupid or lazy because we couldn’t sing or write songs? Of course not. Yet reading is a skill just like singing – it is NOT a reflection of a person’s intelligence. Reading is a skill that needs certain conditions in the way our brain interprets print to be present. Singing is a skill that needs certain conditions – like an acute ear for pitch and good vocal chords for a start – to be present. That’s all…you see where I’m coming from.

Singing is a skill – not an indication of how clever we are overall. Reading is a skill just the same. We are NOT unintelligent because we can’t sing. We are NOT unintelligent because we can’t read.

The trouble is, learning and education in schools has been heavily reliant on print. You’d think in this day and age they could do something more variable. But because of that approach school has become an increasing nightmare for many children, thousands of dyslexics among them.

And that’s why many parents with dyslexic children are turning to home education.  Home educating means that you can approach a child’s learning in so many other ways which do not rely on the printed word and which are more suited to their needs. Experimental ways, practical ways, experiential or conversational ways, visual or image heavy – rather than print heavy – ways. There are so many different approaches you can take to learning, other than through reading and writing. Home education gives you the opportunity to turn a dyslexic child’s education from a nightmare in print to a fulfilling success. We need the same choice of approaches in schools and to lose the stigma attached to non-reading.

Thank you Shane for continuing to highlight the difficult and emotive issue of not being able to grasp the skill of reading in a school setting. For it is only in a school setting that it really impacts on education.

Dyslexics, like all of us, have other incredible skills just like Shane and his singing and song writing. It’s those which need focussing on, not one small inability to read. And it is only the inability in the rest of us, teachers among them, to see that which makes it such a problem for so many children.

Useful links on Dyslexia from the web:









13 thoughts on “‘Dyslexic: My Secret Past’

  1. Pingback: A Student Teacher’s Perspective (guest blog) | Crossbow Education's Blog

  2. I haven’t seen the programme yet, but I do agree with your comment that literacy, like all other skills needs certain conditions within the brain. Speech and language acquisition is just the same, and language disorder (difficulty with acquiring spoken language) is another hidden disability that doesn’t get spoken about enough, and can lead to a lot of negative experiences in learning if good, positive intervention isn’t given. Helen

  3. Thanks for this Ross. I am always interested to hear anything in relation to Dyslexia and/or Discalculia. Both my husband our our 11 year old daughter are certainly wired this way. I wrote this a year ago on my home educating blog about our own happiness with home educating as a positive route for our daughter. http://themasterplanandme.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/decides-to-read-books-at-age-10-so.html. Probably should write another this year to show just how much further she has come now too without those prescribed extra reading lessons at school!

  4. As a mum of a dyslexic child I sadly have to say that little has changed. My son was placed on action stage plus but the school used the money that would have been allocated towards special need children for those that were disruptive or worse. He got no help despite fighting for him for years. We paid for his assessment and then private tuition and this year he started in University on a highly competitive course which required top grades. In school he was always made feel that he wasn’t academic despite having an IQ in the top 5per cent in the country. I told him he was capable with hard work and self belief that he could do what he wanted to do in life . He put his head down worked so hard. It took him twice as long to do things but he got there. From an early age we got him involved in sport to help with his coordination and falling over and to build his confidence as he demonstrated a flair for swimming. I still remember to this day the kids who told him he wasn’t clever, the school open days when he was the only one with no work on the viewing board. How he must have felt. Well the clever ones were so sure of themselves took life easy, and now they and their parents were the ones when A level results day arrived and their children didn’t get into University were left with open mouths. Praise your child, find something they are good at be it sport, IT build their confidence. It will take hard work and input on your behalf and research. Let them know it can be done and point out all the people who have succeeded in life being dyslexic. Churchill, Richard Branson, Shane to name but a few. Love them unconditionally .

  5. This couldn’t have come at a better time as I have been pondering getting assessment for my DS2 for a while now as, although he reads fine, writing and spelling (and maths) are extremely difficult for him. There was a dyslexia Newsround special on CBBC too yesterday. As we had a major paddy about handwriting practice this morning (first day “back” at home-school!) this is all perfect timing for us, and I have contacted our local Dyslexia Action for further advice. Thanks for posting this Ross!

    • Thanks so much for your comment Rachel and taking the time to leave it. It’s interesting that some dyslexic kids do manage to read early on but hit a kind of plateau later which they cannot surmount. So do be aware that Dyslexia takes many different forms and challenges different children in different ways. BWs x

  6. Looking at Twitter last night, I saw that there was a fair bit of criticism aimed against Channel 5 (who made the programme) for showing the negative side of dyslexia. However, by using Shane Lynch to tell his story, I thought it showed a very positive side to dyslexia – you can succeed and do well in life with dyslexia! Ok so we’re not all going to become a multi-millionaire best-selling pop star who has the fans fainting at our feet, but dyslexia doesn’t have to hold you back in life. In fact, if Shane wasn’t dyslexic, would he have been so successful in life? It was very brave of him to be filmed whilst he was being assessed for dyslexia – it is so stressful to be assessed.

    Main stream schooling want just one type of student – sadly, being on the spectrum of moderate to severe dyslexic simply doesn’t fit into that type. It’s fantastic that dyslexia is being spotted more often and earlier, but now schools have to learn how to teach such children. They can spot them, but then they don’t know what to do with our dyslexic children.

    Well done to Shane and Channel 5 for making the programme. I would now like to see another celeb with dyspraxia step forward to tell their story – Daniel Radcliffe would be fantastic as a role model for our dyspraxic children.

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