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Automatic (Part 2)

Individuals with dyslexia often show difficulties mastering automatic skills. For some, these problems affect only language-based learning, which includes most of the familiar basic academic skills, like decoding, spelling, math facts memorization, and written mechanics like punctuation and capitalization. For others, motor-skills can be involved, and these students can struggle with primarily fine motor skills like handwriting and eye-movement control, or gross motor skills like coordinated whole body or limb movements. Skills that aren’t yet automatic must be performed consciously and thoughtfully, and this steals space from conscious processing or working memory.

Recognizing how this slower development of automaticity can impact reading and other academic skills is important, because it will help us think to think more clearly about things like how we should instruct dyslexic students, and when we should allow them to use assistive technologies.

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