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Can someone with dyslexia learn punctuation?

(33 Posts)
Niceweather Sun 02-Dec-12 16:01:05

DS is Yr8. Despite his difficulties with writing, he is a good writer and has a flair for language. He has written something for English that I doubt will get above a Level 4. If he could only put in the punctuation correctly, it would probably be a Level 6 - the content and vocabulary is good. I don't think he can ever be a good speller but can he learn punctuation?

CecilyP Sun 02-Dec-12 17:31:36

Yes he can! It depends on what form his dyslexia takes - but if he spells poorly because he has poor visual memory, there is no reason why this should stop him punctuating correctly or at least well enough for most purposes. Likewise, if he is a poor speller because he struggles with phonics, this should not impact on his ability to punctuate. If the poor spelling is because of something else, then I don't know. If his punctuation needs work, this can be done separately from trying to improve his spelling.

breadandbutterfly Sun 02-Dec-12 18:49:51

Of course he can. But he needs to prioritise remebering it - no point learning it if he refuses to proofread to check he's actually used it correctly.

Niceweather Sun 02-Dec-12 19:06:53

Thank you. He has eye tracking issues and poor phonic knowledge which impact on his spelling. Not sure about the poor visual memory. He tries to ignore his problems rather than tackle them head on. Telling him that he could go from a Level 4 to a Level 6 in just 5 minutes is a tactic I am trying.

I asked him to read aloud what he had read, he paused in all the right places and the commas then went in. I am going to copy, paste and remove the punctuation from texts of interest and then try to get him to put some commas in.

He also very much needs to proof read as there are spellings and wrong words that could be spotted if he tried.

Wish his teachers were on his back too as he might be more willing to listen to them.

breadandbutterfly Sun 02-Dec-12 19:13:28


Lots of resources out there with missing punctuation for him to fill will save you time!

He - and you - might enjoy this one:

CecilyP Sun 02-Dec-12 19:17:24

I think it might be a good idea to really get on top of the punctuation without worrying about the spelling for the time being. Making that the single focus, rather than worrying about everything at once. I would add that trying to add removed puntuation in other people's writing is much harder than putting it in your own, as you don't then know the intention of the writer. However, there may be books of sentences you can buy to add punctuation to, that have been specifically designed for that purpose.

Coconutty Sun 02-Dec-12 19:17:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SherbetDibDab Sun 02-Dec-12 19:17:52

He sounds like my sister who is in her 30s and has never got it. I don't think it's got anything to do with proof reading.
We've always helped her with job applications etc, just adding the punctuation. The content is always bob on.
She's a successful woman with a good job.

breadandbutterfly Sun 02-Dec-12 19:18:17

And yes, he can jump up a level or two in 5 mins BUT ONLY IF HE USES WHAT HE HAS LEARNT IN HIS WRITING! Knowing how to use it, when pointed out, is not enough. Any child with dyslexia needs to work that bit harder and to be aware of the danger zones for them, so they can avoid them. But they can then do as well or better than others who have not got in the habit of double-checking. My dd has eye-tracking issues - I taught her to double-check and as a result she is now top of her class in maths (she used to regularly transpose numbers) and getting level 5s in English (she's year 6). So it can be done!

breadandbutterfly Sun 02-Dec-12 19:20:58

Agree with others that it needn't hold him back in any way and that I wouldn't try to focus on punct and sp at the same time. I'd say spelling is actually less important - spellcheckers will help a lot. There are also a lot more spellings to learn than there are punctuation marks!

Niceweather Sun 02-Dec-12 20:11:15

Thank you! Sometimes I feel like there is just too much to tackle so I don't know where to start! Thanks for the links. Yes, he does need to work that bit harder and address these issues but at the moment he tries to ignore them. I think he would be more likely to listen to a teacher than me. He is in complete denial about the spelling and it would be a mountain to try and tackle it. I think we might have more chance with the punctuation. If he can overcome this then I have no doubt that he will leap up the levels because beneath the mistakes lies good writing.

PlaySchool Sun 02-Dec-12 20:18:16

Proof reading is very hard for a dyslexic. There is software that can help though. Could he do his work on a computer?

Niceweather Sun 02-Dec-12 20:39:59

Yes PlaySchool, all this was written on his laptop. He uses it at school but many of the mistakes remain. He rushes through the spellchecker and often replaces the mis-spelt word with a wrong word. Since starting to use the laptop, his handwriting has become totally illegible.

LRDtheFeministDude Sun 02-Dec-12 21:01:12

I agree, yes, and he may well be able to learn spelling as well, or at least to learn which words to watch out for and look up each time (not so time consuming these days, with a spellchecker or a computer, if he's allowed them). But I can see why you'd not want to prioritise that right now.

This may sound daft, but does he know the grammar when he's speaking? Does he speak in grammatically correct units (ish - no-one does it perfectly all the time). If he doesn't, it might be why he's finding it hard to know where to put the punctuation, because of course the punctuation is basically there to mark the grammar and help you work out how to read the text so that it makes sense. I just wondered because I know some people find grammar really difficult to learn and need to think a bit harder about why they're putting in a full stop or a capital letter, because it's not immediately obvious to them that there's a natural ending to the grammatical unit, or the beginning of a new one.

Other other thing might help - if you can possibly turn off the autocorrect function on the laptop that capitalizes the letter 'i' when you write it on its own, or capitalizes the first letters of sentences automatically (so do this, some don't), that would probably be good! It'll make it harder for him to realize he's making mistakes if the autocorrect is correcting some of them.

Mutteroo Mon 03-Dec-12 06:12:59

Two DC with dyslexia and a husband who was diagnosed shortly after the children. Eldest was 15, youngest 12 at diagnosis. Both neglected punctuation, capital letters etc but with excellent support, both are now able to remember the rules and write quite well. DD gained a grade C in English Language GCSE and DS B/B in Language and Literature. In fact DS was just reassessed at his sixth form and the improvements he has made in the past four years are outstanding! Reading age is up from age 8 (at age 12) to 2months below his chronological age. I'm sure on another day it may be higher...then again it may be lower.

DH is currently doing a GCSE in English and while he's finding it hard, he's succeeding. he took an NVQ 1 and 2 in English last year and this is where he learned the punctuation rules. He's so good at it now that his tutor hadn't guessed he ad dyslexia until she saw how bad his shirt term memory was!

There's always hope OP whatever age they are.

Niceweather Mon 03-Dec-12 06:41:46

Thanks again. His speaking is very good - I think his English Speaking & Listening Level will be high. He makes the odd mistake but he is very articulate so they are often lost amongst the verbosity. I think there is a correlation between speaking and writing, which is why, I think he is a good writer if you take out the mistakes. He got a Level 3 Writing in his KS2 SATS but he's been moved up to 2nd Group English because of good talking and comprehension I guess.

We turned off the autocorrect function for his last English assessment and he wrote a lot of gibberish and couldn't spot simple mistakes when he proof read. I don't know what mark he got for that.

Most of the posts here have given me optimism but there are a couple that talk of people just not getting it and I think his Dad is a bit like that.

I really appreciate stories of dyslexic kids who have done well and triumphed in the end. Thank you.

I think it's vital that he decides to address this himself.

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 14:32:12

Good luck to him, and you. smile

GrendelsMum Wed 05-Dec-12 15:05:29

I have several close family members who have more or less severe dyslexia, and all have jobs which involve substantial amounts of writing professional documents, reports, etc - as I think most jobs do.

Most of these dyslexic adults read a lot for pleasure, and all of them produce entirely professional written materials - no spelling errors, grammatical errors or punctuation mistakes. One even does creative writing as a hobby!

We do wonder whether reading and reading aloud helps? My grandad, for example, is really severely dyslexic but his mother made him read aloud to her every night for years, and she used to swear that it was that that helped him improve his reading and writing.

Copthallresident Wed 05-Dec-12 15:48:22

Niceweather As reassurance, Dyslexics DDs have A* and A in English Language at GCSE. Their punctuation isn't perfect and spelling little better but at school and at home we just keep banging on about it. Remember Dyslexia is a learning difficulty, it makes it more difficult to learn, a longer learning curve especially when it comes to the written word, but not impossible. One DD is now doing 4 essay subjects at A level because those are the subjects she loves. I despair of her grammar, spelling and punctuation sometimes but it is all relative, I went to a very formal traditional Grammar, so poor grammar and spelling wasn't tolerated. It was a miserable experience, I am dyslexic too and I still can't spell, or proofread, but I do understand what you are supposed to do hmm. I managed a career in Marketing, and I'm now doing a PhD in an essay subject.

losingtrust Wed 05-Dec-12 16:24:30

So glad I can across this thread as my dd has slight dyslexia and it was punctuation that worried me most. Our family are not severe both me and my sister mild but we both got As at O'Level and my job involves a lot of report writing but spell check is amazing and sister is editor. You get extra funding at uni apparently so worth keeping diagnosis. My dd only year 4 but I was concerned about her knowing when to put a full stop as her writing is really creative but the punctuation does affect her levels. It is good to know it can be managed and I have been looking up ways to help her best.

jonathansmith Mon 10-Dec-12 12:09:23

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

PlaySchool Mon 10-Dec-12 13:41:55

I suggest the PR person for the Unique Private School brushes up on his grammar!

breadandbutterfly Mon 10-Dec-12 14:33:32

Gee, a 'grind' school. That may be what they are known as in Limerick (?), but I believe the common name must be a crammer and it does not really appear to be what the OP is looking for.

Who came up with the name 'grind' school?! How very, very unappealing. Reminds me of Struwwwelpeter - into the mincer with you...! shock

MariscallRoad Tue 25-Dec-12 18:00:29

DC is Dyslexic and has 4 other SLDs. He has done great at University and is very popular.

PlaySchool Wed 26-Dec-12 11:39:37

That is good to know, Mariscol. Did he do a science based course?

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