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Old March 18 2009, 07:44 PM   #1
Barbados Slim
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Is It Possible To Be Able To Read And Not Write?

I'm starting to suspect that one of my closest friends since high school can't write. But he reads novels all the time. We trade books all the time, and I know he reads them because he knows the plots.

But here's the thing: In the 18 years I've known him, I don't remember him ever writing anything. Ever. He's included in emails all the time about parties and outtings and group vacations but he never has responded to them. And one time, he wanted to do this love-letter birthday thing for a girl so another friend and I were asked to help him brainstorm ideas. We ended up writing the entire thing. He used to say it was because he doesn't have a computer but he does have one now. We'll talk to him on the phone (home phone because he has no cell but that's another issue) and he acknowledges checking his email but has never, ever replied to anyone. Now we're doing an American Idol pool and same as in past years, he's calling me to ask me to type up his choices and put it in the email to the group.

The final Chazz Palmetarri starring at the corkboard thing for me is his Facebook page, which was set up by another friend's 13 year old daughter. Going on his page, he adds people as friends but has never written on someone's wall or posted a status.

What is this? Technophobia? Some learning disorder where people read and not write? Or just laziness?
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Old March 18 2009, 07:57 PM   #2
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Re: Is It Possible To Be Able To Read And Not Write?

How strange that you ask this, because just moments before I read this thread I was thinking, can someone write but not read? I thought no, that's not possible, you'd have to know what you're writing. But then I remembered being in foreign language classes in high school and only being marginally aware of what I was putting down on paper sometimes, so I guess it is possible.

Anyway, as for the opposite, I would guess so. I would think that if they could read but not write maybe they don't have the proper motor skills. Writing can be very difficult when you can't hold a pencil properly. Does he have other motor skills problems, like while playing video games or other such things?

On the other hand it could be a mental thing. Honestly I would just ask him if I were you. If there is a problem, he may be grateful for the opportunity to open up about it because he was too embarrassed to bring it up himself. Or he might get defensive and not want to talk about it, in which case you can just ignore it. Or he might actually offer a logical explanation.
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Old March 18 2009, 08:02 PM   #3
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Re: Is It Possible To Be Able To Read And Not Write?

I don't know about not being able to write at all, but it would be very easy for someone to be able to read but not feel comfortable writing - if they're unsure of spelling words etc. If something's already written down then it's possible to work out the words carefully, but writing yourself requires you to know what order the letters come in - and a lot of people have trouble with that.
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Old March 18 2009, 08:07 PM   #4
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Re: Is It Possible To Be Able To Read And Not Write?

Spot's Meow wrote: View Post
How strange that you ask this, because just moments before I read this thread I was thinking, can someone write but not read? I thought no, that's not possible, you'd have to know what you're writing. But then I remembered being in foreign language classes in high school and only being marginally aware of what I was putting down on paper sometimes, so I guess it is possible.
Actually it was really common in the middle ages for illiterate monks to copy the bible. Because they had no idea what they were writing you'd find mistakes all the time.
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Old March 18 2009, 08:07 PM   #5
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Re: Is It Possible To Be Able To Read And Not Write?

Yeah, I was just thinking it could be a dyslexia type problem, where it would just take too much work for him to work out the words himself. It's amazing how many people have a disconnect between a word they read or hear and what they write down. Even when you instruct someone to slowly sound out a word to get it right, they end up with crazy letters thrown in that weren't sounds in the word at all. I've always been an excellent speller, but for some people they just can't connect the sounds and what they write.
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Old March 18 2009, 08:08 PM   #6
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Re: Is It Possible To Be Able To Read And Not Write?

I imagine having to have both hands taken off would make it difficult to write, but wouldn't stop you from reading.

And as for the reverse, there's an older gentleman they were interviewing with his doctor on NPR not too long ago who had his ability to record new long term memories destroyed by surgery when he was in his late teens - more than 40 years ago. He can remember plenty from before that, but can't tell you where he was an hour ago.He and his doctor collaborated and wrote a book about it. So he can write, and yes, I guess he can read - but since he won't remember what he read very shortly thereafter, that kinda counts, in my opinion.
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Old March 18 2009, 08:41 PM   #7
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Re: Is It Possible To Be Able To Read And Not Write?

I had a friend in high school who could read well, but for some reason, he couldn't spell anything, so his writing was unreadable, even to him. He had an aide assigned to him for anything that needed to be written. He'd dictate and she'd write.
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Old March 18 2009, 08:55 PM   #8
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Re: Is It Possible To Be Able To Read And Not Write?

I think it's definitely possible, at least to an extent.

I volunteered for quite awhile at a literacy center. One of my favorite students was a middle aged man who could read simple things, especially with some help. He was much more at a loss when it came to writing however, and I had to help him fill out even simple applications.

In terms of foreign languages, Bengali is a language I have some understanding it, and it's definitely easier for me to read than to write. It's a completely different alphabet so I'm not very good regardless. But with reading, I can sound out parts of the words to myself, and fill in gaps by looking at the context (surrounding words). When it comes to writing in Bengali, I'm generally at a loss. It's much more difficult to recall the proper word (and form), then recall how it is spelled, and also to recall how exactly to write each of the characters.
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Old March 18 2009, 09:01 PM   #9
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Re: Is It Possible To Be Able To Read And Not Write?

he may be dyslexic, but when you talk about "writing" I do it so infrequently, that when i have to take down info, i draw the charaters backwards, and i have to think on how to draw some of them properly
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Old March 18 2009, 09:08 PM   #10
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Re: Is It Possible To Be Able To Read And Not Write?

May 20 wrote: View Post
I had a friend in high school who could read well, but for some reason, he couldn't spell anything, so his writing was unreadable, even to him. He had an aide assigned to him for anything that needed to be written. He'd dictate and she'd write.

That's weird. I always assumed that the more one reads, the better the speller one would become. That certainly was the case with me. Having said that, i am a good speller, but when i write, it's rather illegible ...
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Old March 18 2009, 09:09 PM   #11
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Re: Is It Possible To Be Able To Read And Not Write?

There is a disorder, I think it is called disgraphia, or something like that, that causes a person to be able to read but not write properly.

I will try and find some info on it.

Edited to add: Wikipedia article on dysgraphia.

My son, who has cerebral palsy, also has motor dysgraphia but he can overcome it by using a computer instead.

Last edited by Miss L. Toe; March 18 2009 at 09:32 PM.
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Old March 18 2009, 09:16 PM   #12
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Re: Is It Possible To Be Able To Read And Not Write?

ShamelessMcBundy wrote: View Post
May 20 wrote: View Post
I had a friend in high school who could read well, but for some reason, he couldn't spell anything, so his writing was unreadable, even to him. He had an aide assigned to him for anything that needed to be written. He'd dictate and she'd write.
That's weird. I always assumed that the more one reads, the better the speller one would become. That certainly was the case with me. Having said that, i am a good speller, but when i write, it's rather illegible ...
That's true for most people. Good readers tend to be good spellers and writers because they see good writing modeled for them in their reading. But there was a disconnect of some kind in my friend's brain. It's been over 20 years ago, so I don't remember what his condition was called. His brain couldn't tell his hand what to write. And, yes, it was very weird.
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Old March 18 2009, 09:22 PM   #13
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Re: Is It Possible To Be Able To Read And Not Write?

Here is another site that talks about dysgraphia

Among things it says at this site is the following


Dysgraphia is a difficulty writing coherently, regardless of how well an individual can read, think or verbally express their thoughts and opinions. Those identified with dysgraphia often have a higher than average IQ, but find combining the complex mixture of tasks needed for a satisfactory written result remarkably difficult. They can also lack basic spelling skills and can tend to write the wrong word when trying to formulate their thoughts on paper. In young children, the disorder begins to emerge when they are first introduced to writing. They make inappropriately sized and spaced letters, or write wrong or misspelled words despite thorough instruction and adequate planning. Children with the disorder may have other learning disabilities; however, they usually have no social or other academic problems.
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Old March 18 2009, 09:31 PM   #14
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Re: Is It Possible To Be Able To Read And Not Write?

Dysgraphia may be the issue. I'd bet if he weren't too keen on writing by hand, it would freak him out from also typing on a computer.
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Old March 18 2009, 09:44 PM   #15
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Re: Is It Possible To Be Able To Read And Not Write?

Barbados Slim wrote: View Post
I'm starting to suspect that one of my closest friends since high school can't write. But he reads novels all the time. We trade books all the time, and I know he reads them because he knows the plots.

But here's the thing: In the 18 years I've known him, I don't remember him ever writing anything. Ever. He's included in emails all the time about parties and outtings and group vacations but he never has responded to them. And one time, he wanted to do this love-letter birthday thing for a girl so another friend and I were asked to help him brainstorm ideas. We ended up writing the entire thing. He used to say it was because he doesn't have a computer but he does have one now. We'll talk to him on the phone (home phone because he has no cell but that's another issue) and he acknowledges checking his email but has never, ever replied to anyone. Now we're doing an American Idol pool and same as in past years, he's calling me to ask me to type up his choices and put it in the email to the group.

The final Chazz Palmetarri starring at the corkboard thing for me is his Facebook page, which was set up by another friend's 13 year old daughter. Going on his page, he adds people as friends but has never written on someone's wall or posted a status.
I can imagine it being very possible. Pretty sad if true. Poor guy must be desperately embarrassed. Tricky thing to ask delicately about too.
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