dyslexia and punctuation

I just worked with a DVWRI 41 student (YVCC has three levels of pre-college writing: DVWRI 41, ENGL 70, and ENGL 75). He asked for punctuation help, so I went over his two-page “why I came to college” essay sentence by sentence. At the end of it, I felt like not much of what I’d said had sunk in (though hopefully I’m wrong).

He would put commas and periods in off-the-wall places, like “so my parents went to see. Her and she told them…” Other times he would put them where he found himself pausing to think, as in “but, I thought…” I was at a loss to help him not do the former. Re the latter, he told me that he’d been told to put commas where he paused, so I told him that that method doesn’t work that well and suggested he not use it anymore. I encouraged him to come back so we could spend more time talking about punctuation (or anything else).

Anyway, it was his random punctuation that kind of interested me. I guess it’s a symptom of dyslexia, but it’s still curious — putting periods between verbs and objects. That seems like the one surest spot everyone would know not to put one, whether they knew why or not.

I noticed too that he was like a Gen 1.5 writer when he would leave off the past-tense endings (-ed) — something he did on at least half his verbs. I assume he’s doing that for the same reasons that Gen 1.5ers do it — because they don’t hear the endings. But it could be another part of his dyslexia. Not sure.

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