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MP hopes dyslexia revelation will inspire others

MP hopes dyslexia revelation will inspire others
1st November 2019 Ian Streets

A Labour MP has asked social media users who call him “thick” over his writing mistakes to go easy on him as he is “living with acute dyslexia”.

Peter Kyle, the MP for Hove and Portslade used Twitter to tell followers the platform could be an “unforgiving place for people with unseen challenges”.

He revealed he gets picked up on his tweets every day. He tweeted: “Mostly it’s kindly or humorous which is appreciated. Sometimes it’s sneering or brutal”.

Mr Kyle told the BBC the last time he was formally assessed he was told he had a reading and comprehension age of an eight-year-old.

He said most people were forgiving but some responded by saying “resign and let someone with a brain take over”.

Mr Kyle explained that his learning difficulty meant it sometimes felt as if his eyes were not properly connected to his brain.

He wrote: “Sometimes words are just shapes. However much I try to engage my brain, the connection just isn’t there. I can see the shape but it simply has no meaning. Frustrating, huh.”

The MP left school without any qualifications but said he decided to return aged 25, adding “just imagine the humiliation of walking into that classroom”.

He went on to attend the University of Sussex, where he left with a degree and a PhD in community economic development.

He explained that one of the techniques he employed to help him with his visual difficulties was using cream paper when reading a speech – which resulted in fewer stumbles. It is a recognised practice for dyslexic people.

He wrote: “Above all I know I must work harder than most to achieve the same: prepping, writing, corresponding, reading… everything! This isn’t depressing, it’s liberating. Once you know this you have the tools to succeed.”

His tweets have been widely shared, with fellow MPs among those to praise him.

Harriet Harman said “everyone needs to read this thread”. Yvette Cooper said it was “really inspiring”.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted: “Massive respect to Peter Kyle for speaking out so openly about his dyslexia.”

Mr Kyle told the BBC that he had no idea his post would get such a big reaction but he was excited that it seemed to have connected with people.

He said he was hopeful that speaking about his experience would give someone who was starting out on a similar journey as him “some kind of optimism”.

He said: “Most people from my background don’t end up as MPs, which is tragic.”

Helen Boden, chief executive of the British Dyslexia Association, welcomed the MP “talking publicly and positively” about his dyslexia and applauded him for calling out people who have derided him over his spelling.

She said: “Peter’s frustrations with being assumed stupid by a niche who think grammar is synonymous with intelligence are echoed by millions of dyslexics.”

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