BBC Three
« Previous | Main | Next »

60seconds Sam meets Kara Tointon

Post categories:

Sam Naz Sam Naz | 15:01 UK time, Thursday, 11 November 2010

Hi everyone, I'm Sam and you may have seen me presenting BBC Three's news bulletins 60seconds. I'm going to be blogging here every so often giving you more insight into news stories and issues. A big part of my job involves reading. I have to get my head round the main stories of the day, so I read the papers, press releases, websites, stories from news agencies...the list goes on. I had no idea how much I took reading for granted until I met Strictly Come Dancing star Kara Tointon. The ex-EastEnder has dyslexia and she's spent the past six months confronting her condition for a BBC Three documentary Kara Tointon: Don't Call Me Stupid. I managed to catch up with her in between Strictly rehearsals.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.

Kara's not alone. The British Dyslexia Association told me 1 in 10 young people have the learning difficulty in the UK - around 1 in 4 of them is severely dyslexic.

Exactly what someone with dyslexia sees when they try to read or write varies from person to person, and depends on what level of the condition they have. But experts agree that spotting it and finding a learning technique that works is the key. So what are some of the main signs?

  • Reversing letters and numbers - 'b' becomes 'd', 'p' becomes 'q' or '6' becomes '9'.
  • Staring hard or squinting at the text.
  • Difficulty with handwriting. Uncomfortable grip on the pen - might hold it in a fist.
  • Confusing left and right, the order of week days, months of the year.
  • Bad spelling.
  • Problems understanding what he/she has just read.
  • Poor memory and being disorganised.
  • Lack of confidence and low self esteem.
There's no cure for dyslexia, but being taught in a different way can help. Kara's now saving hours and hours of her time by using a multi-sensory method to learn her lines for auditions. It involves using shapes, colours and movements to help the scripts sink in. Kara told me she felt lucky to have got the support she needed at such an early age. She was just seven when her parents found out she had dyslexia. The actress is proof that the condition doesn't have to hold you back and she's not the only one. There's a pretty impressive list of famous dyslexics (you can read more about them on the Ouch! website), including Hollywood A-lister Tom Cruise, billionaire businessman Sir Richard Branson and top TV chef Jamie Oliver. Now that's not bad company to be in, is it?

If you'd like to find out more about dyslexia, here are some links:
Journalist Sam Naz presents the 60seconds news bulletins on BBC Three.

Kara Tointon: Don't Call Me Stupid is on tonight at 9pm.

Add your comment.


  • Comment number 1.

    I Just wanted to say thank you to Kara Tointon and the BBC for the program you have just shown on Dylexia, As someone who has coped with dylexia i completely related to you show and will try and make sure everyone i know see it !

    Thank you so much.


  • Comment number 2.

    as a Dyslexia this was a good doc it explaine how it feel and how dyslexia can be helped. go to the web site to find out more

  • Comment number 3.

    I stumbled across Tara's Don't call me stupid when channel hopping, what an amazing programme. I stayed glued to the end.

    The physical pain and frustration she reveals due to her lifelong dyslexia is both moving and enlightening. I will never again view her in the same light.

    I predict that this programme will raise the profile of those currently undergoing the same pain and frustration and give them the support they need. I think what was worse for her was the realisation of how hard she has had to battle to maintain a "normal" life whilst battling peoples pre conceived idea's about her intelligence and how badly it effects a childs outlook.

    Beautifully presented and utterly compelling

    Bravo to a very clever and wonderful lady.

  • Comment number 4.

    what a great programme, i really enjoyed watching. it has given me the inspiration to see if i can encourage schools, work places to have empathy for those who are dyslexic.

    kara congratulations, gosh learning lines, your a star just managing to do that.

  • Comment number 5.

    Thank u Kara, ive always known i had dyslexia but now ive more of an idea in which areas i need to change my learning methods, brilliant program ;-)

  • Comment number 6.

    Why was this on bbc3 and not 1 or 2? why aren't local east midland radio stations and emt interested? This was a really good programme and deserves to be seen by all politicians, councillors, teachers and anyone concerned about education and the welfare of children.

  • Comment number 7.

    It’s great to see so much interest in Kara Tointon’s documentary, especially because the Adult Dyslexia Organisation assisted with the development of the program and therefore would appreciate your feedback which you can do through my facebook (Donald Schloss) or through the ADO’s website where you will be able to see the work we have done for adults and the list of up-and-coming events with a benefit to dyslexics and other service providers to dyslexics. Let me know what else you would like to see on the website

  • Comment number 8.

    What a great program! It really showed all the difficulties that dyslexics come up against in every day life. It's not just about having difficulty reading, there's alot more that goes with it! I work with people that are dyslexic by prescribing tinted lenses to help overcome some of their difficulties,just like the green specs Kara had at the end of her program. They really can change the way your brain processes information, reduce visual stress and make reading easier and more pleasurable. For more info take a look on my website

  • Comment number 9.

    What a great documentary. It would be good to see more information and understanding of dyslexia on the television. I have a 16 yr old daughter who is severely dyslexic and she has had to struggle through both primary and secondary school with very little support. People do not realise how difficult it is for dyslexics not only with reading and writing but with all the associated difficulties that go with it. It was good to see Kara find some new skills in coping with her dyslexia and to see the support that is available. My only critism is that things like coloured glasses and 1 to 1 tutition is something that alot of people are unable to afford, it would have been good to have seen some support that is available which everyone could access. Well done Kara for sharing yours and others experiences of what it is like to live with dyslexia.

  • Comment number 10.

    I completely agree with Darrell. I have recently been diagnosed with dyslexia and im now 31 years old. Life has been confusing up until a few weeks ago, watching tonight's programme had given me a sense of reassurance and somehow i don't feel so alone. I am trying to cope with the stress levels that dyslexia causes and somehow Kara has captured my exact feelings and experiences so perfectly it was scary to watch. I am starting to feel a little bit more confident that if i work with my problems i will find ways around them.
    Thank you , thank you, thank you

  • Comment number 11.

    It was an interesting documentary. I forgot to catch the 24 hour helpline. Can anyone help?sam

  • Comment number 12.

    Thankyou so much Kara for being so honest and brave, the program was very moving and so close to home as my daughter is going through similar issues at 13 and related to your difficulties and struggles.
    She was fascinated by how you described your feelings and how disorganised you are,as it was just the same way she feels, she wishes she could chat with you !!
    Wishing you the very beat with your new strategies and it would be so good to keep up with how the changes you are making effect your daily life. You are an inspiration to all young Dyslexics I'm sure.

  • Comment number 13.

    Hi that was well said and i have dealing with it for 40years i was crying, i was thinking maybe someone was living with me that see everthing am doing and how i think and how i did not like to be seen and know. i just people will see people with dislex in another way

  • Comment number 14.

    Thank you so much Kara!!!

    My son displayed signs of dyslexia from the offset of his education. I myself was in adult diagnosed as mildly dyslexic and most my issues are with spelling. ( oh I love spell check!!!). Reading is a passion that I am lucky that my dyslexia as not impacted on with any near severity , though I get the what did I just read thing all the time!

    My son however is severely dyslexic with specific issues in Phonetic chunking and blending. In primary three (aged7) his school with informal testing confirmed he was of a "dyslexic tendency" . I was unhappy and as I had studied during time at university many psychology modules , I knew that t his was not going to assess exactly where his problems lay and which type of support would be beneficial to him. However events in life for Jamie my son took a very bad turn and he has fought a very hard battle. He was diagnosed with Cancer , Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma at the highest risk group with a very low prognosis. He underwent clinical trial treatment which involved severe chemo and radical radiotherapy to his head and neck areas. It is Ironic however that Jamie who on check ups is doing fantastic and is my miracle was given better teaching in the hospital as they tended to be learning support focused. All recognised Jamie's profound difficulties in reading and writing. Their methods brought out the best in the abilities of a creative, fun loving brave boy. It was also through the NHS that my son was referred to finally receive his Educational psychologist assessment , who confirmed his issues were phonetic and that It support was something that would aid him. This was further compounded by an assessment from a Clinical Neuropsychologist in paediatrics who gave an in depth report, attended a school meeting.

    The school however did not seem to be passing this advice on to the classroom environment and as a result of this , the next meeting was observed by an independent advisor. The school acted as if they changed and I have to say that before the end of last term in classroom the teacher with the lack of the It available for my son was trying her best to change her methods. This along with his Additional learning support has shown his potential.

    Jamie receives 2-3 times a week his sessions in a small group and in the writing group he is the star. The teacher scribes and he has use of laptop and software which allows him to let me read the stories in his imaginative mind. Last night was parents evening and from this glowing report I then went to see his new classroom teacher.

    I could have cried, there in his tray was writing , a specific area that Jamie finds hard. I could not understand it, It was full of stuck on targets from his teacher and I voiced to her my unhappiness and how with his dyslexia this was not right . I heard the words" I see no signs of dyslexia" Which has been changed from her now and I now have to be ready to fight with my son another battle for his education. He has not wished to draw attention, he wants to be like everyone else, cancer made him feel different and he does not like that. When he is given the same work and taught in same way as non dyslexic he just tries his best , thinking in his head "what is the point..noone will be able to read it". This was after all the fighting before.

    I let Jamie stay up to watch the show as I wanted him to understand he is not stupid and you have helped him so much, he is a little boy who is to start growth hormones soon also and will be worried enough, you have helped him want to give the strength to not be scared to say I need things different.
    I hope you read your book!!!

  • Comment number 15.

    Wow, I am blown away. Kara showed tremendous bravery and I, for one, have benefitted from it. So many similarities.....This program has given me the courage to go for testing. I am 36yrs old - never too late!

    Two weeks ago I finally got over my fear of learning lines and got on stage (local AmDram but I proved to myself I could do it) . Since then, I've had a nagging feeling that my lack of confidence remembering things was more than intelligence. I qualified as an accountant when I was 24- without reading the books - just went to a college that provided double the classroom time. Frustrated by all so many of the things Kara shared about!

    My daughter turns 10 on Monday and also has many of the struggles with remembering things. If I can learn some of these techniques and share them with her, well, how fantastic that would be?

    Thanks a million Kara and the BBC team!

  • Comment number 16.

    really good programme, i could totally relate to everything Kara said
    i struggle with dyslexia and used to be unable to read a book, so found it hard during GCSE's when having to read "to kill a mocking bird" so i just had to pretend i could read it so i didnt get told off by the teacher for not doing homework. i still find it hard to read in stressful situations like presentations. i am at uni now which shows dyslexia doesnt mean you cant reach your goals.

  • Comment number 17.

    Oh no, not another programmed dumbed down and following a celeb around...No, this programme was imformative, honest and forthright. Thumbs up to Kaira and her family for their straight forward input. And good news that the BBC can tackle this subject. My son is dyspraxic and the journey I took with him from the age of 5 to now, aged 16, was full of misinformation, pain, bullying, and eventually finding the right experts, right diagnosis, and tolerance from others. I am also an actress, a suprising amount of of actors are dyslexic. I am not dyslexic, but identified completely with the memory problem. A script that others can learn in 15 to 20 mins, would take me 4 - 5 hours. I have advanced my own learning techniques, but would like to meet the expert who helped Kaira. Where can we find her contact details?

  • Comment number 18.

    I just wanted to say a huge thank you Kara for doing this programme on Dyslexia. It felt like I was watching a programme of myself and my struggle with dyslexia for last 40 plus years!

    It would be great to see Kara do a follow up programme on how she develops her new copping strategies and how it's helped her quality of life. I'd love to be able to find ways of improving my own quality of life i.e. living with dyslexia.

    I was finally diagnosed officially 3 years ago whilst studying for a degree at University, after 40 years of living with it!

    Well done Kara - you should be extremely proud of yourself for doing the programme. That also goes without saying in respect of your parents and sister for being involved in the making of the programme.

  • Comment number 19.

    I went 2 Edington (the junior school in the programme) and Shapwick it is a very good school and if I did not go there I would of been inside. I cried all the way through that program. no one has ever moved me like that. Kara is like a double of me apart from being famous and a girl.


  • Comment number 20.

    Hi what what a proggramme loved every bit and shed a few tears as I too have dyslexia not all is lost I was never given any oportunity as at the age of 20 I struggled had to teach myself how to read and write my last few days at school at the age of 15 was taken to a class with a kind teacher who spent time teaching me to write my name while he explained that I would require to be able to sign my name to be able to access the benefit syatem little did he know that I never have needed to claim any unemployed benefits and I am proud to say Iam still employed at the age 66 in a job I love however each day I need to give 150 percent
    Motto it's hard work being me Thanks Kara love your acting skills and you a fab dancer will be watching and giving you my vote for all the people who have to work hard to be themself H.

  • Comment number 21.

    This was a very difficult program to watch because of all the emotions it brought to the surface once again. Watching Kara was, in many ways, like watching myself and I was close to tears on more than one occasions.

    This isn't the place for emotional venting, but if you're interested in how watching this felt I wrote a blog entry.

    And this is the beginning of my journey to understanding what it means to be dyslexic.

  • Comment number 22.

    What a brave girl Kara is. I only tuned in because I fancy her - but I realise now she's so much more than a pretty face. She's got such genuine feelings about other people - that's why she kept getting tearful - what a big heart she has.
    And to tell the truth I have never really believed dyslexia was real. That sounds awful now I've seen how hard dyslexics have to work to overcome it. I cannot believe Kara wrote out her lines over and over and over - that is total dedication to her art.
    But was that bit at the end real? Her reading was so fluent with those tinted glasses - I'm so cynical and distrustful I wondered if that was just done by the tv people for effect. Could the change really be that instant?
    And has anyone else heard of Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (or RSVP)? It's an app that displays one word at a time (but it feels mechanical reading it). It doesn't work well yet, but there may be ways to make it change the scrolling speed to make the flow sound better as you read it. I am always looking for ways to read faster and this might help everyone.
    And isn't it annoying how people judge intelligence by so few criteria. Kara has to be way more intelligent than most of her cast mates to overcome this using her own methods and determination. Is there any evidence that dyslexics have brains that run at much higher speeds than ordinary folk? Surely everyone has experienced those times when someone puts you under pressure and your brain races and you just cannot read anything in front of you?
    Thanks Tointon. You persuaded another sceptic. Take a look at Art Garfunkel's website sometime. He lists every book he ever read!

  • Comment number 23.

    this show real helped me feel ok about my Dyslexia.
    at school they refused to help me with my school work and exams as i had teh reading age one year above what they fort people needed help with. at the age of 14/15 i had the reading age of a 10 yearold. and they would only help me if i had teh reading age of 9 or below. so i struggled and still struggle every day and i never realised till your show but i find it hard to keep track of my stuff and i forget simple tasks two mins after i have been told them

    thnkyou for this show it has gave me a undersatnding of what i have been goin though and wil help me in teh furture

  • Comment number 24.

    Thank you so much for doing this TV program Kara, i only found out i had dyslexia during my 2nd year at uni, i found out i had a bad case of dyslexia( can't spell the word i mean) which made me change cousre to one that i had always wanted to do. I know now after Watching your program there is much more ways i can get around dyslexia in everyday life, the first thing i want to do now is read a book all the way though when i look into getting a pair of colored glasses which i'm going to and find where does them tomorrow.

    I also want to now help people that think they are stupid but are in fact dyslexic but just don't know it. The reason that i never found out i was dyslexic until i went to uni was all down to funding and money. It shouldn't matter the money should be there for everyone who may think they are dyslexia no matter if your rich or poor. I have had to fight my way though school and exams and even Uni to get where i am now, but i know i'm not as far i need to be, i still have a high wall to climb to get where i want to be and to be able to think i'm stupid sometimes.

  • Comment number 25.

    Jimmy James,

    The coloured filter is real and it really can make a huge difference. It's called irlen syndrome, if you're interested in finding out more.

  • Comment number 26.

    God i know this feeling i went to a village school and never found out i was dyslexia until high school. With in a few months they knew i had something wrong.
    At primary school i was called stupid and was so behind.
    once i was in high school it was really helpful once i learnt i had this problem. My teacher A.T Lawrie helped so much and help me find my passion in live which is music. I hated school and having my music to come home to was so helpful. Because i was one of those kids was just causing trouble in classes. I hated it i could do anythign right.
    Now i'm working in the music industry.
    but still i cant help but feel stupid. When on the train reading i always feel people are watching me read and thinking it is taking that guy ages to read.
    And the fact i have my own business now and the fact i have to relay on spell check. Tara is right why in our launage do we have all these hidden words. With random letters for f sack ..... dyslexia how ironic is that... come on.

  • Comment number 27.

    Wonderful to see it highlighted how school can so destroy children who are dyslexic! It still goes on today. And it is one of the reasons why so many parents are withdrawing their children from school. Through home educating they have turned their child's failure to achieve in school into an educational success. It is shocking that children's needs are still so neglected in what we're supposed to believe is a personalised education!

  • Comment number 28.

    What a fantasic program... I am Dyslexia and still to this day don't tell anyone, not even my work know and i am 31 years old.
    I will be calling the British Dyslexia Association today ..... Thanks Kara

    Chris from Reading

  • Comment number 29.

    This was a fantastic programme, when I was at school a forward thinking teacher identified that I may have a problem, dyslexia was not really recognised as this is the late 60 early 70's so really no help was available, I was had to have an assessment by a child psycologist, they said I had dyslexia but no real explaination of what it was and I was left to carry on, no support, I have done alright for myself as I don't believe I have really severe dyslexia. But what a revelation this programme was, I could identify with so much of what was said, my short term memory is poor, I am disorganised to a degree, although I do read book but something that really stuck me was that after I have read a chapter if I was to ask what has happen I couldn't tell you, but if I picked up the book a year later I remember the plot as soon as I start reading. What I have found is that I have suffer from low confidence and self esteem thinking Im stupid howfully this programme will open people eyes to the fact it isnt lack of intelligence but the way we process information and that stupid/thick tag can be removed. I am now 48 and would have hoped thing would have change, but obviously not
    Thanks Kara and BBC

  • Comment number 30.

    Thank you for all your comments about the programme and for sharing your own personal experiences of dyslexia.
    For afasco and anyone else who missed the details about the BBC Action line you can visit the Action line website.

  • Comment number 31.

    Hi I work with undergraduates who have been diagnosed as dyslexic. On Wednesday I was working with a group of students, using an eyetracker as part of the process, where I calculate the optimal background colour for that student, on their computer screen. Yesterday, I was analysing some of that data, and there appears to be a clear difference in the way in which the eyes collect visual data on a white background compared with the optimal which we calculate for them.. The eyes are more fixed, unable to move as freely, scanning the text, during the picture taking when the back ground is white. As if there is more muscle tone in the eye muscles. This suggests that the persons head is moving more for the dyslexic student than a person without difficulty.. Just thought I would add this..
    It could be why dyslexic people often have a time limit on how long they can read for before the process would become pointless. The build up of tone/ muscle tension is progressive...

  • Comment number 32.

    Wow Kara that was so heart warming. The BBC have just got to show that again on BBC I and do two or three follow-up with you. You are exactly the person that we can all relate to. I am 56 and only found out myself that I have dyslexia a few years ago when a read a book at a friends house called, The Gift of dyslexia. I knew it was me. I had an assessment through an FE College and Dyslexia was confirmed, however, they do not measure it against your IQ. I had spent over 50 years believing that I was dumb and trying to hide that, despite the fact that I had a postgraduate degree and postgraduate diploma. If I had had the assessment at school I would have been labled dyslexic and dumb because of the ignorance of Education in the UK. A couple of years later I had an assessment with an Educational Psychologist, which will cost over £400. The outcome of this assessment was that my working memory and processing speed was very low - 37 percentile and 47 percentile, but if you remove those from the assessment my IQ is 98 percentile, which makes me very superior, yet I have spent a lifetime being shown by the education system and society that I was dumb. This is as a direct result of a discriminatory educational system and society. Let us hope with the new Equality Bill and a few court cases, that this will begin to change.
    I can remember around 1970 when the BBC interviewed Susan Hampshire and she explained that she had Dyslexia and what it was. 40 years have passed since then and very little has changed in the United kingdom in terms of understanding, support and change.

    Dyslexia is not just about reading and writing, it affects a persons whole life in how they do things. Many dyslexics are visual thinkers so their thought process is in pictures as opposed to words. I see a map and I have the whole map ingrained in my mind,so I can get to my destination without stopping, but I cannot follow a set of word instructions. I can see a picture of a bookcase and all the parts on the floor and can put it together in minutes, but I cannot follow the instructions. The qualities we visual thinkers have far out way the word thinker who has to follow instructions which take hours and even then they have one piece in the wrong place. We can just see where it needs to go. In the workplace life can be tough for everything is geared for the word thinker without a thought for the visual thinker. There are lots of things you can do to help yourself like change the colour of your computer screen to yellow, green etc to meet your comforts, ask for documents in hard copy which is printed on coloured paper, have a flip chart for you to put important info visually near you so you can remember etc.
    In the new Equality Bill organisations need to know what ajustments they need to make not sit and wait for an employee to ask, so they need to be more educated in the field.
    BBC you have you have the power to educate, you have the power to change peoples lives, you have the power to give people a better quality of life. Please use that power and put this programme on BBC 1 and do further follow-ups with Kara to show how education and organisations can improve the quality of life for those with dyslexia and others who are visual thinkers.

    Kara I see you in a new light, I cannot process dance steps quickly so I will never be able to do your dances. You are just wonderful on Stricktly and I will vote for you throughout. Thank you Kara

  • Comment number 33.

    Hi Sam, please can you tell Kara she is amazing!
    I saw the programme last night and I've just watched your lovely interview with her. I'm so pleased she's now enjoying reading thanks to those glasses, I can't believe what a difference they've made for her. I'm going to find out more about them for my 12 year old daughter.
    Kara was so brave for doing the documentary, what an inspiration to young people.
    Thank you so much Kara. And thank you Sam and everyone who made the show. I really think you've educated a lot of people. Please do more programmes like this BBC!

  • Comment number 34.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 35.

    Yes I agree was a great programme, It actually burst into tears because most of it described my 7 year old daughter who is having difficulty at school, both academically and socially, I have been to the school untold times because of many concerns, other children do not treat my daughter nicely and take the mickey out of her, she is on a lower level of reading and always mixes her p's and b's and 9's and so much more. I brought up the subject to her learning mentor and was told to chill out, dont say that infront of my daughter which I actually havent. Im soooooo stuck, dont know where to turn. This school is supposed to be one of the best schools in Hackney!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I loved Kara's programme as I said but one comment I really didnt like was that she was ok because she had her parents support, I give my daughter as much as I can continuously but hard when Im not sure what to do, the school think im a nusence, If I knew what to do and had the support I would most definately do it, taking money into consideration.

  • Comment number 36.

    I just like to thank you Kara for sharing your world of dyslexia. I found it very informtive. As a dyslexic/actor myself I wanted to know abit more about the ways she has handle going for acting audition. I think that is really challenging as actor who is dyslexic has to cold read a script for the first time in front of people knowing that you are dyslexic. So well done Kara for working on Eastenders and learing lines the way she did and without the other cast knowing exactly what you are doing and how hard you had to work in order to learn your lines. You are great and weldone : ) It would like to know if you could send me theinforamtion of the tutor Kara is working with. Thanks again for this documentray.

  • Comment number 37.

    I rang the helpline on behalf of my grandson and although I was able to note the details down, I feel the message was to rapid for my grandson and other sufferers to have had time to take notes. Perhaps the contact details could be delivered at a slower pace and repeated.

  • Comment number 38.

    Thanks Kara we need more programs like this. I'm aged 61 years old, just diagnosed with Dyslexia this week,I'm still trying to get to terms with it. Perhaps one day I'll have your courage.

  • Comment number 39.

    Fantastic documentary it's given me a lot to think about, I'm very pleased to see famous and successful dyslexics open up about their dyslexia in a way that is easily stumbled upon. This is no longer a condition which is hidden away, which I think is a very good thing. However the documentary failed to show some aspects of dyslexia I feel as a dyslexic shouldn't be over looked, like increased analytical and logical abilities, that some get, opposed to the creativity which some dyslexics miss out on which was mentioned. This said I will be looking at my functional problems with dyslexia more closely, like my inability to remain organised and the way I learn and I hope that this documentary might be followed up as I don't think this is a closed issue.

  • Comment number 40.

    Thank you BBC 3, Kara and all the other dyslexic's that tock part, it was a wonderful programme and to echo others here regarding it BBC 1/2 etc... I really hope it gets rebroadcast on BBC 1/2 at some point soon.

    I to was diagnosed with dyslexia, I think I about about 6/7 dyslexia then affected me in both reading & writing. My dream as young boy going to air shows, wanting to become an RAF pilot, after seeing the jet fighter and bombers dancing around the skies, soon came to an end when I sat my GCSEs but my passion for flight is still with me to this day.
    Before my GCSEs I always had a reader and writer for my end of year exams, when it came to the GCSEs the exam boards granted me extra time & a reader but not a scribe. I sat my exams feeling confident about the questions being read and scribbling my answers down, not even contemplating the thought will the external examiner be able to understand what I have written? My school reports and year exams had been ok in the past but a real and deep shock was about to come when my GCSEs results fell off a cliff edge! I was not prepared for that. Looking back now, no external marker would have a hope in hell trying to decode my answers.
    I read my 1st book from cover to cover at 18, my reading is ok now, it's just the spelling. I followed my dream to become a pilot.
    I've passed...
    - All 7 Private Pilot exams + flight test a few years ago now.
    - Flown around Finland & up to the Arctic Circle.
    - I then passed all 14 Airline Transport Pilot exams.
    - Commercial Pilot flight test + Instrument & Multi Engine Piston flight tests too.
    It took ten years of saving and planning, also there are no dispensations being dyslexic for the written/flight test exams.
    I could have just given up at the age of 15/16 after my GCSEs, but I have my family and close friends to thank for supporting me.

  • Comment number 41.

    Thank you Kara what a fantastic programme. I cried as you described what it felt like to be dyslexic at school - what an eye-opener. My 8 year old son has dyslexia and had no support at his old school and HATED it. I used to have to drag him to school kicking and screaming every morning. I have shown him the start of the programme and he can't believe that someone he has seen on the telly found reading hard too - he said 'so I'm not stupid then am I?' Let's hope the department of education is watching and realises that it is currently failing many schoolchildren.

    Thanks Kara you have already helped lots of dyslexics!

  • Comment number 42.

    Having read these posts and looked at the news item with Duncan goodhew June 2009 what really upsets me is that in the year 1999/2000 Every state school was sent a dyslexia friendly toolkit. The special needs code of practice provides advice and if Individual Education plans have Specific, Measurable,Achievable,Relevant and Timebound targets it can help identify which methods any child responds best to in a learning situation. Dyslexia Awareness week was last week BUT HOW MANY PEOPLE VIEWING THIS PROGRAMME AND READING THIS BLOG KNEW THAT? If we are to get more awareness more programmes like this are needed to remind schools that EVERY CHILD MATTERS and BARRIERS to learning must be removed. Inclusion training for teachers covered Dyslexia over two years ago. How many dyslexia friendly schools are there? Where are they? Local radio and regional tv need to be asking these questions if schools are to improve.

  • Comment number 43.

    Wow what a response there's been to this programme. I really agree that it should be shown on BBC1! I just wanted to say that I wish I had known what some of the signs of dyslexia were. Everyone should be told about them. My daughter has been reversing her letters and doing a lot of the things on that list for a a number of years, but I thought she would just grow out of it. She was diagnosed last year, but I wish I had known sooner so that I could have helped her. I really hope the programme and blog will make people stop and think.

  • Comment number 44.

    Thank you Kara and all concerned for this programme.

    Kara I think you must have been incredibly brave to come out about your Dyslexia in such a positive and open way. Not only dose dyslexia have an uncomfortable public profile, last year one MP very openly thought it acceptable to deny its existence, but also I know that when 10 years ago with a great deal of support from a helpful employer I declared myself to be dyslexic, in order to get support from access to work. It did me in. the emotion unleashed and the recollection of some very uncomfortable school experiences was so intense. The support I have received from access to work has however proved hugely valuable and has enabled me to progress my career and operate at a much higher level than was the case before.

    Things I particularly identified in the programme were

    -The point that Dyslexia cant be cured and that it has an impact in adult life. (The programme was also very good in saying that with the right support the impact it can be mitigated, dyslexia dose not need to be a barrier to success and that dyslexics also often have strengths which are positive assets.)

    -That it is hard to understand the boundaries between dyslexia and the rest of ones life. I have not got a clue which aspects of my behaviour are related to dyslexia and result from other factors. I know that because I am dyslexic I have had some very negative experience not least blatant workplace discrimination and bullying, but I am also aware bad things happen to non dyslexics also, and that I am no angel and I am not above upsetting apple carts.

    -That the impact of Dyslexia goes way beyond reading and writing. I so identify with Kara over being thought of as being untidy (my this has led to rows in my life) My Sat Nav is a real god send I used to spend my life getting lost and being late for meetings. I always felt ashamed as I would always appear to dress scruffily. Support in understanding the wider impact of the condition I feel is just as important as focusing on literacy, I also wish I had more support in building on my strengths and spent less time compensating for weaknesses

    I very much hope that this programme will act as launch pad for a new agenda about Adult dyslexia, (as although allot still needs to be done for children and young people, schools colleges and university are becoming more dyslexia aware). Despite the work of Dyslexia Action, The BDA Dyslexia Mentouring initiative and the Adult Dyslexia Association, Support for adult dyslexic as far as I am aware is often quite limited and basic skills focused. Things I would welcome are

    1) Opportunities to meet socially or possibly in a facilitated environment with fellow adult dyslexics and share experiences. Support groups for parents of dyslexics seem to fulfil this role but groups of adult dyslexics themselves appear to much more rare (I am almost thinking of something like dyslexics anonymous although it needs a better name)

    2) Professional networking , and perhaps a on line service which would help people find fellow dyslexics and role models progressing careers in as wide range of field.

    3) An expansion of the Dyslexia Mentouring Scheme which I think has huge potential

    these comments focus on the workplace which is at the front of my mind at the moment, but I think the issues about the social impact of the dyslexia and the dangers of isolation and exclusion are also incredibly significant and could be tackled through similar mechanisms.

    This is kite flying but if these thoughts resonate with anyone,I would be delighted to work with others to make it happen, I don't know if this site enables people to get in touch but I am sure their must be a way

    Once again many thanks to Kara and the team at the BBC for raising the issues in such a constructive way

    Best Wishes


  • Comment number 45.

    I have not as yet been diagnosed as dislexic however my screening has shown a high probability of it. This is the first time I have been concidered as a possibility of being dislexic I was in university but have recently been thrown off my course and I didn't really think I was dislexic until I saw this program and I honestly cried.

    Alot of the problems that were highlighted in the program I could relate to. I never thought that I had a problem as I did not struggle in secoundary school too badly and had made it to university.

    I want to say thank you to Kara because I couldn't imagine how hard it was to tell the world of the problems you experiance, it must have been very scary to be so open.

    eye of the divine x

  • Comment number 46.

    I'm dyslexic and was angry with this program. I found out later in life and read a book a week. Kara found out when she was about 6 years old and learnt nothing about it. It just seemed she was learning every thing for the frist time. I needed to know everything about dyslexia when I found out. She's got not reason not to be able to read and learn like every one else, she's had long enough to retune herself.

  • Comment number 47.

    Kate I can understand you being angry. Iam positively incandescent but NOT with Kara or the programme. I think she has been extremely brave and the programme was excellent. When Kara was 6 the school was the place of learning and clearly was not Dyslexia friendly. The programme made it very clear from interviewing others that dyslexia friendly schools or multi sensory learning are still rare occurrences.What makes me angry is that even in Awareness week schools still do nothing about it.

  • Comment number 48.

    WOW what a programme..both my sons are Dyslexic my oldest is slightly affected my youngest is very severe. He has been tested and tested by numerous people and upset so many times because he cant keep up or do the work or even remember anything. We are lucky that the school picked it up very early and have shown no end of support, my sons still struggle... after we have all watched this together my youngest son has decided he cant give up trying ...we are going to try the tips in the show and see about changing the tints in his glasses.
    Thank you so much Tara you have given me and my sons new hope about coming to to terms with Dyslexia...thank you


  • Comment number 49.

    My name is Ben Travers, I work for City Year London as a Programme Manager for Islington. City Year is an organisation that gives opportunities to young people aged 18-25 the chance to volunteer full-time in primary schools across the Shoreditch area. I am managing two teams in schools in Islington. Having launched in September with 60 young people. We aim to work with all children across the Key Stage 2 curriculum, with children of all educational abilities. At the same time we are eager to be skilled and equip our volunteers with the training to help children with dyslexia and other learning difficulties.
    I sat watching the programme last night with such interest, not only because of the fantastic journey Kara gave us insight into but by the subject and the intrigue I have to learn more.
    If you could also advise me on how I could pass this email onto Kara Tointon or her management, I would be excited to see if she would like to become involved in our charity.

  • Comment number 50.

    I watched this and cried - I've got two dyslexic children, the eldest wants to act and the frustration Kara feels in learning her lines rang terribly true. My daughter has experienced isolation and rejection at school, although she has had amazing support from her teachers, and the challenge as a parent is to try to shore up your child's self-confidence - it can all be pretty hard. I just wanted to thank Kara for her courage in making the programme, and to wish her the best success.

  • Comment number 51.

    Fantastic documentary. A genuinely interesting story and very brave of Kara to take part along with her family. I'm lucky enough not to have dyslexia (I'm half deaf so not perfect!) and love reading so I really feel for anybody who struggles to read, spell etc. The statistics are scary and I really hope that we as a country get better at supporting dyslexics. Well done Tara, you're a true star!

  • Comment number 52.

    Thank you kara for this program iv strogeld to learn anything and seeing this program has given me the confiedens to try harder seeing how far you have goten make me feel that i can do the same and the bit about reading i suffer from the same problam with the white bits thank you for this program kara i hope this program helpd so many other people like me

  • Comment number 53.

    kara am dyslex to you have help me lot
    i have speling truble as well and reading truble
    i going to collage to help me
    thank kara and bbc 3

  • Comment number 54.

    been watching dont call me stupid on bbc3
    i have got reading writing trouble and spelling
    some times it hard when you cant spell its silly words i get wrong
    thank you so much kara and bbc

  • Comment number 55.

    I found this fascinating, not just because I am dyslexic and can relate to the difficulties that she has but, as a Dyslexia Specialist, I see these difficulties every day. This was an excellent programme of such a high standard.

    It makes me very wary of the increasing cuts in education. In FE, funding cuts are getting ever closer to reducing specialised support to help dyslexic adults to read and write. There is very little funding available to help people to read better, but even less funding available to help train teachers/ tutors how to TEACH reading and spelling skills (phonics without schwa).

    There are no statistics stating how many people in this country have difficulty reading because of poor teaching or Dyslexia: it would be difficult to obtain such results. However, the amount of students that I support in FE and HE every year, with poor reading skills, is shocking. Something needs to be done about this problem. It can’t be ignored. Thank heavens for the BBC and for fabulous people like Kara and Michael, from Nottingham, who can stand up and say that they have these problems. They are an inspiration.

  • Comment number 56.

    Thank-you so much Kara and BBC for this programme. We saw it almost by accident but it has changed my daughter's life. We followed through with some of our own research into the coloured glasses and they have transformed my daughter's life! Thank-you for sharing your dyslexia this can only be positive for all dyslexics out there - go on try the glasses!!

  • Comment number 57.

    Hi all,
    I was diagnosed with dyslexia today, aged 19. And I can't thank you enough. I feel incredibly relieved to know that what I have experienced in school (and life) is not unusual and that I AM NOT THICK! I felt incredibly touched watching this programme and want to thank Kara and the BBC from the bottom of my heart. I would have never gone to get diagnosed if it wasn't for the programme. I feel like I have ownership of myself and my abilities again. I am currently at university, training to be a primary teacher. I want to prove to my teacher that I was never stupid or lazy and that I'm more than capable of succeeding.
    Thank you so much, my self-confidence has been restored and my life turned around.
    Katie xxx

  • Comment number 58.

    I have never write on a blog or wrote in before, but as someone who has cope with dyslexia from school to now my work place, I would like to say thank you to Kara and the BBC for showing this programme, I always felt behind at school but as time has gone on, I now learn in my own and how I understand and have a great memory thank you once again.

  • Comment number 59.

    Thanks for the programme BBC and Kara. I feel raising the profile of dyslexia is hugely underestimated. I am fortunate that I went to university as a mature student with a relatively good understanding of myself and hence my dyslexic condition and I was amazed how much more I learnt about my condition with specialist support during university. It gave me the confidence to stand up against people’s ignorance. I work in the health care profession and generally I have support if I ask for it. However the support I receive is mostly due to my nature and openness about my condition. I find most people are helpful when I feel it is in my/their interest to inform them. However I find the vast majority of people view dyslexia as a condition that means you cannot read or spell properly. People are not aware that spelling and reading is just a symptom of the way a dyslexic brain processes information and language. The more people are exposed to programmes such as this documentary the better. With 10% of the population suffering with the condition it really should be better understood. Thank you again and please feel free to contact me if you intend to produce future programmes.

  • Comment number 60.

    Im fifty three and found out I was dislexic in my mid forties.I changed my life and went off to acting colledge at central..I told them I was dislesic and it was the worst decision I ever made,I asked for extra help and the staff never turned up for our sessions..there was no practical help although dislexia is rife in the school!my self esteem took a battering and I became terrified to perform in musical theater.Im pleased I did this to find out I simply was not cut out for acting...a director took my completed cv and showed it to the class and laughed just like school days,very cruel.
    please do not see a label as an answer it just is people judge the label as they do the condition.
    I was told I would never go to university because I had no memory,not by my school but on interview by a very nice university principal who thought it was correct I knew what the school were saying about me!
    I started to learn after finishing school with no qualifications..I became a chartered accountant and went into business but always however succesful never believed in my ability.
    I hate being judged today and would never open myself to that type of abuse again....I got a diploma in guitar at the institute more recently but find it so hard to earn the notes tunes etc etc but they were much kinder.
    Ive written a song about my experiences called" my hands don,t write the same as yours"if youd like it ill send it to you just ask me on my email r[Personal details removed by Moderator]as it sums up my feelings and I hope others growing up through dislexia.
    I am so moved by kara going public about this...thank you so with dislexia is very tiring on many levels ..but funny and unique as well...sometimes I just know the answer but no idea how to explain it! Im very lucky to be dislexic but lonely as well at times....

  • Comment number 61.

    I forgot to mention ill post my song on my myspace website robbwallis for anyone to listen to,my hands dont write the same as yours.
    after I recieved my results and feedback I was told I had mastered my dislexia and could come lecture them rather than needed further help...I felt nicely stroked but I realy did do need help in short term longterm memory recall ...Ive just given up now getting so nervous about forgetting lines ...the song etc etc...cara is so courageous about battling her demons,and still acting,I never got the nerve to even go for an audition after I left...Un usualy I am a good reader but remembering my lines..anyone who can is like a god to like living in an elastic band soon as I become full of confidence to try something my inability pulls stronger in the opposite direction and leeves me just exhausted....Ive sort of accepted this now and keep my head below the sight line...I had a sneaky suspision Id be a good actor ,singer performer from very young , actualy I cant even get anywhere near the stage or that stage!kara has such a wonderful openness and character..natural beauty..she is the bravest tv personality Ive ever seen...gosh im blushing old enough to be her dad!

  • Comment number 62.

    Im great full to the BBC and Kara for the program. You never stop learning I find being dyslexic. I learnt a couple of things from the program that i didnt think were to do with dyslexic. Ive been lucky to have family and frends that have help me. It is Frustrating having to rely on others at times and dose make you fill second best. one thing I have found is every body expects you to be able the read and write. They dont under stand how hard it can be, so i hope the program has done some help for all of us.
    many thanks again

  • Comment number 63.

    I don't watch eastenders nor do I know kara from TV, but kara's dyslexia story was amazing as I can relate to your struggles, many thanks.

  • Comment number 64.

    Thank you to Kara and the BBC for joining the efforts of so many of us that are trying to educate sosioty about dyslexia and other assoiated learning and behavioral disabilities.

    As you can probably tell, spelling is not one of my strong points and as a dyslexic indavidual this realy counts agenst you in the corprit world (eg: job applications, produsing reports where you are not sure which is the correct spelling for curant and the length of time it can take to proses written information)

    I feel that there is still a lot to be done in our sosiaty in educating the powers that be about dyslexia and and the support they need and the benifits our grait country stands to gain if this is acted on.
    So many times I have the expresion "we just need a fresh pear of eyes" or "we need a fresh perspective on this". By default we dyslexics see and prosses life and information diferantly and thanks to pioners such as Sir Richard Branson and Jamie Oliver to name only a few have so eliquantly demonstrated that thinking and perseving information differantly is a tool for succes and all you need is to nurcher this, sumetimes un-realised and missunderstood potential.

    The future of our contry would graitly improve if the following was acted on:
    1) to provide more support and training for techers so that they can pick up on any learning or behavioural issues and be able to either provide the support the indavidual would need or to refer the individual to someone who does have the training and support to provide this support.

    2) to provide training and support to parints with childeran who have a learning and or dehavioural dysability so that the child can get the support they so desperatly need from home as well and that the parints dont fell powerless and know how to support thier childeran.

    3) for the generations that have missed out in this support who are doing thier utmost to cling on to a job, I fell that more support should be made available to inform businesses and corperations how to support thier staff who have thiese conditions and how to help thier staff reich thier potential and I have a feeling this will only happen if the government is preperd to make the investment in this nations future insuring sustainability and a more stable and growing comursial sector.

    4) providing support [dignosis of any learning dysability or behavioural dysability and providing the support and chewition needed] for indaviduals in prisons as this could have a profound affect on re-afences as I spoken to a few people in the prison service who have told me that a lot of the inmates lack basik skills such as reading and writing. When an indavidule is treted as thick or "slow" in school then it can happen that the indavidual would seek an invironment where they can contrabut to and be a part of and unfortunatly sometimes this belonging can be found in the criminal elament. (sounds good doesn't it "stop crime, educate our kids and help us help them")

    I applaud all the hard work our teachers are doing to support our dyslexic childeran and I am sure that they could do with more support in every form.
    I applaud all the frustrated pearants who are tierlessly doing thier best for thier childerin and who could do with some support and gidance as to what else the could be doing for thier dyslexic child.
    I applaud every one in the public eye who has given voice to this cause.
    I applaud all the oganisations who have dedicated your efforts on helping people with dyslexia and educating the public about dyslexia.
    I applaud all the companies that go the extra mile in helping and supporting thier dysabiled employees.
    I applaud all the organisations and volinters who selflesly do all they can to help and support Indaviduals like me.

    I would like to say to every dyslexic person that you are NOT stupid! You just proses information diferantly, you have the added advantage ov seeing things in a diferint light that posably no one has done before so the world is your oister.

    Thank you for your time and pations.

    With kind regards,


  • Comment number 65.

    i think this doc was amazing. i only found out i had it about to years ago and watching kara speak about it really helped me to understand more about the condition. i will hopefully be able to use some of the techniques that were shown to help me. the doc was truly helpful and kara is truly inspiring.

  • Comment number 66.

    What a great programme and thanks to Kara for her complete honesty. I have a teenage daughter who is dyslexic and for many years as her parents we have fought VERY hard for the help in school. She has learnt to read using the multi sensory technique Kara observed and she completely sympathised with her frustrations. However of late she has noticed her short term memory has become a problem. For us it was enlightening to see this was a symptom of dyslexics, though she found it heartbreaking. She is at present studying for her A2 and recently sat a few exams, which she struggled with. She is desperate to improve her learning techniques and we would love to meet someone like the dyslexic coach who helped Kara improve her memory in learning her lines, can anyone out there advise us??
    Thanks again to the BBC for running this show again!

  • Comment number 67.

    I would just like to say to, "Kara, thank you". I was a young child my self when I found out that I have Dyslexia. I have got the glasses and have had them for many years and they can be great to use. I would have to said that I did find some of the things that Kara looked at very hard and started to cry as I could relate to them. It was good to see new thing that you can try. I still find that some people are close mind to Dyslexia and have to work very hard to get them to understand. I am in a very good job and some people can find it hard to get the heads around this but my thing is to never give up!!!

    thank you, Frankie

  • Comment number 68.

    I think this programme has been a huge eye opener in showing people's real difficulties when they are faced with Dyslexia. I have only just found out this year at the age of 25 that I have Dyslexia, this was only after my boyfriend highlighted when proof reading my assignment that I missed out several words throughout the text. He also so believed the hours I spent writing assignments was an unthinkable amount of time. After school, collage, my first degree and now half way through my second degree my Dyslexia went undetected. I have now had a screening, I was told my Dyslexia was quite severe and the educational psychologist didn't know how it had never been picked up before. Fortunately I managed to work hard throughout my education to achieve everything I have so far with out even knowing I had Dyslexia, however had I known much earlier I may have been able to achieve the results I needed to study Physiotherapy as my first degree, however I'm on the right path to achieving this and will hopefully be qualified at the age of 27. I just hope that other people's Dyslexia can be discovered much earlier on in life, so they are not left to struggle and get the support they need. Thank you Kara, you have shown me some tips that I will be able to use to aid my revision. This will also help people with Dyslexia to find ways to suit their learning and that they are not thick or stupid just different.


  • Comment number 69.

    Being dyslexic myself, it was a huge relief to find that many adults feel the same way.

    I'm very competitive and push myself so easily get frustrated when i'm unable to select the words i need despite visualising them. E.g. the simplest of things, like when someone asks you what film "is this from"... I can vividly visualise the entire film but i can't remember the name, same with actors, i can remember their physical features in detail but just not their name. I discovered i had (almost) a photographic memory and figured out how to put it to good use.

    Throughout school, i was always told i wasn't trying hard enough, always got average grades, excelling in some subjects, mainly arts and tech. I decided to go into computers and choose to go to college and achieved distinctions throughout the course, I enjoyed computing. I went to university and one of the modules was cognitive learning. I adapted a technique from this module to change how i learn.

    My method of learning changed from the traditional listening and taking notes to visualising new material and turning it into a story, sometimes not even taking notes. I'm very visual and have lots of ideas firing through my mind at a million miles an hour and i would take a new subject and learn the material by turning it into my own story. I could easily relate to the material by re-running the story in my head. Adding in other senses like touch and smell into the story where applicable, often choosing to learn the material by moving around the room. When reading books (which word by word is practically impossible and extremely painful) i choose to skip read, line by line, sometimes paragraph by paragraph and i fill in the bits with my imagination. I do this by picking up sensory words so i get a feeling of emotion etc. Of course this won't work if you need to learn precise detail.

    The upshot is, i achieved a 1st Class Honours degree in Internet Business Management, in the top 8% in the country and nearly 10 years on I'm running my own business. I'm still terrible at writing, spelling, reading and short term memory. It is very frustrating at times but nice to know others feel the same.

  • Comment number 70.

    I would like to say a big thank you to Kara! I always knew my daughter was dyslexic but her teachers were not at all helpful, I was told not to give me daughter a label! However when she watched this programme it was amazing how much she opened up and said that happens to me!!

    Since then we have we have had a battle getting her assessed and getting people to listen but we are winning! She has just been assessed for blue lenses and they have been ordered, this has happened on the NHS but you need to fight and ask lots of questions to get what your child needs. It helps to do lots of homework before hand, there is lots of information on line.

    Thank you Kara you made a difference! Your next programme could be helping teachers to spot problems early! There is no extra help for my daughter in primary school and she is severely dyslexic I'm not sure teachers or class room assistants actually understand the basics at all. My daughters reading has never flowed probably as she couldn't see the words yet no one realised, she is now 10 you think a teacher should have noticed, it's not rocket science and I didn't need to be specially trained to realised something wasn't quite right.

    Sorry finished my complaining, but thank you so much to the BBC and Kara!


More from this blog...


These are some of the popular topics this blog covers.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.