Disabilities rights advocates and health workers alike have been angered by a southern Swedish school principal who claims that anorexia and dyslexia are fabricated diseases.
Sundsgymnasiet High School Principal Gert Akesson, writing in the Spegeln newspaper from Malmo’s Staffanstorp suburb, says that media coverage has prompted the creation of public agencies to deal with the supposed ills of society.
The Local reports that Akesson has caused outrage by likening handicaps and illnesses to those featured on TV comedy shows.
“Sometimes it’s a mix of state, regional, and self-appointed agencies. Examples of the latter are associations and councils created for all of the handicaps and diseases invented after the 80s like allergies, Asperger’s, DAMP, ADHD, anorexia, dyslexia, dyscalculia, oral galvanism, anal magnetism… the limits can only be found in one’s imagination,” wrote Akesson in his column.
Advocates for sufferers of anorexia and dyslexia have criticised Akesson for implying that the diseases were invented rather than clinically diagnosed. “If you know what dyslexia is, you would never express yourself like he does,” said Sven Eklof, the head of Swedish Dyslexia Association. Eklof was acutely incensed that Akesson, as an educational figure, would imply that dyslexia was not real. “It seems completely inappropriate that a principal would speak about dyslexia in such a careless way. It hurts all of his students who are fighting with difficulties in reading and writing, as well as their parents,” he stated.
Akesson’s article was also called “one of the most dangerous things I’ve ever heard” by Lauri Nevonen from healthcare company Capio. Vellinge’s schools committee chair Carina Larsson said Akesson’s statements were “unfortunate” but declined to make further comment until speaking with him personally.