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Basic Skills (Part 2)

When thinking about the problems with basic academic skills that people with dyslexia often have, it’s important to recognize that these problems usually don’t stop at the arbitrary boundaries of “reading and spelling” that the diagnosis of dyslexia implies. Many dyslexic people find various “basic skills” aspects of writing difficult, including handwriting, punctuation, capitalization, and in some cases letter formation or orientation. Many also have difficulties with parts of math such as memorizing multiplication tables, or mastering the rules that govern fractions, long division, or other complex procedures. In fact, many find rote learning approaches in general–using the “repeat it til it sticks” approach–enormously difficult and unhelpful. Although these basic skills challenges lie outside the realms of reading and the traditional definitions of dyslexia, they are as common among people with dyslexia as many kind of reading and spelling challenges. That’s why we need to stop acting as if our definitions should tell us what is and isn’t a part of dyslexic cognition, and start letting the actual experiences of dyslexic people define what dyslexia is really all about.

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