Common Characteristics of Adult Dyslexia

Karen LoGiudice, New England Dyslexia Solutions,  ©2008 (Reposted with permission)

Most adult dyslexics will exhibit at least 10 of the following traits and behaviors. These characteristics are often inconsistent, and may vary depending upon the day or situation.


  • Employed in job/position that will hide difficulties or not require dealing with problematic areas.
  • Hides difficulties from co-workers, friends and even family.
  • Becomes frustrated at “planning meetings” and sequential tasks – already has the answer and how to do it.
  • Becomes frustrated or overwhelmed with long forms or sequential processes.
  • Thrives in careers where visual-spatial/kinesthetic talents can be realized: For example – Entrepreneurs, Engineers, Trades (carpentry, plumbing, electrical), Artisans, Interior Decorating, Actors, Musicians, Police/Investigation, Athletes, and Business Executives (usually with staff/assistants).
  • May pass up promotions or advancement opportunities that would require more administrative work.
  • Has difficulty focusing and staying on task – may feel more comfortable managing many different tasks simultaneously.
  • Difficulty with tests – passing standardized tests can be a barrier to career advancement.
  • Highly successful/over achiever, or considered “not working up to potential.” Either way, displays extreme work ethic.
  • May be a perfectionist and overreact when they make a mistake.
  • Out-of-the-box thinker or operates with very strict rules for themselves.
  • Learns best through hands-on experience, demonstrations, experimentation, observation, and visual aids.


  • Highly intuitive – known to have “street smarts.” Is often “dead on” in judging personalities of others.
  • May be able to sense emotions and energy of others.
  • Remembers struggling in school.
  • Frequently have dyslexic children and experience guilt when seeing own child struggle. Insecurities arise while reading to own children or helping them with homework.
  • Easily distracted/annoyed by noises and other things in environment.
  • May appear to “zone out” and be unaware that it is happening.
  • Enjoys video games.
  • Misspeaks, misuses, or mispronounces words without realizing it.
  • May have poor balance or is/was very athletic.
  • May have excellent recall of events that were experienced or not remember at all.
  • May confuse past conversations or be accused of “not listening.”
  • Difficulty remembering names of people without tricks, but remembers faces.
  • Difficulty remembering verbal instructions or directions.
  • Poor recall of conversations or sequence of events.

Reading, Writing, and Spelling

  • Difficulty reading unfamiliar fonts.
  • Avoids reading out loud. May dislike public speaking.
  • Will commonly perceive that they “read better silently.”
  • Has adopted compensatory tricks to remember spelling and homonyms (their, there, they’re), or misuses homonyms and has poor or inconsistent/phonetic spelling.
  • Reading fluency and comprehension fluctuates depending upon subject matter.
  • Frequently has to re-read sentences in order to comprehend.
  • Fatigues or becomes bored quickly while reading.
  • Reliance on others (assistants, spouses, significant others) for written correspondence.
  • Uncertainty with words, punctuation, and spelling when writing. Reliance on spell-check and grammar-check.
  • Words out of context look “wrong.”
  • Poor handwriting – masks spelling mistakes.
  • Writes with all capital letters, or mixes capital letters within words. Abbreviates words frequently.

Math, Time Management, Directions

  • May understand higher math, but can’t show it on paper.
  • May excel at math, or may still rely on tricks for remembering math facts.
  • Relies on calculators or finger counting. May have difficulty with making change.
  • Difficulty with left/right and/or North, South, East, West.
  • Gets lost easily or never forgets a place they’ve been.
  • Difficulty reading maps.
  • May have anxiety or stress when driving in unfamiliar places. Relies on others to drive when possible.
  • May lose track of time and is frequently late – or is highly aware of it and is very rarely late.
  • Finds it difficult to estimate how long a task will take to complete.

Behavior, Health, and Personality

  • May have a short fuse or is easily frustrated, angered, or annoyed.
  • Easily stressed and overwhelmed in certain situations.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Self-conscious when speaking in a group. May have difficulty getting thoughts out – pause frequently, speak in halting phrases, or leave sentences incomplete. This may worsen with stress or distraction.
  • Sticks to what they know – fear of new tasks or any situation where they are out of comfort zone.
  • Extremely disorderly or compulsively orderly.
  • Confusion, stress, physical health issues, time pressure, and fatigue will significantly increase symptoms.

If you, your spouse, or an employee displays at least 10 of these common symptoms, an initial consultation would be appropriate to see if the Davis® Program would be a fit.

Citation Information

Why is the Davis Program a great fit for adults?

  1. The Program is facilitated one-on-one and is designed to meet your specific goals and areas for improvement.
  2. The Davis Program is a one-week, intensive program – no weekly visits!
  3. Follow-up work is done independently – on your schedule, in your own home, and with no extra expense.
  4. The program provides tools for focus, mental clarity, stress-management, energy-level management and skills that will ease reading difficulties.
  5. The Davis Dyslexia Correction® program helps people with these characteristics every day. The disabling aspects of dyslexia are correctable and can be overcome.


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  • Joe S

    I dont tink I have dislexia, but my wife and kids have it. my Wife get lost alls over our sity. I bouth her a gps just so she can get back and fourth to Work. she never remember our talks corectly, and is easiley Upset when our Kids make a lot of noise in the house. My kids cant tale left from right. And they are bad at all sports. I think they get it from her, because I dont have eny of the problems you have on the Lists. But I want help wit my family. thank you

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Joe, if you would like help for your family, I would encourage you to talk with a Davis Facilitator. Many of the symptoms you describe are caused by disorientation; our program teaches children and adults how to recognize and control disorientation, as well as resolving the underlying cause of disorientation. You can look for a provider near you at our online directory at

  • Sheri Moran

    I’ve worked in special education for 16 years so I’ve been able to hide my dyscalculia well. I’m also highly intuitive, which is also very helpful in my line of work. But I get lost in a city I’ve lived in my whole life. Driving anywhere? Forget that! Thank goodness for MapQuest, until it takes me on the weirdest/longest route,, then panicked sets in. I knew math and directional issues were related but I could never find any info!! I want to study to teach, but i can’t pass the math. Is it possible for someone who is so, so, SO list in even basic math? I can add subtract multiply.. That’s it advice?

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Sheri, you could explore the possibility of a Davis Math Mastery program with a facilitator. The program is focused on eliminating the barriers that stand in the way of understanding math operations and concepts.

  • Tessa Trujillo

    In 4th grade, my teacher said I was dyslexic. I didn’t fully understand what that meant, I switched schools (elementary) and I was never tested again. I went through elementary, middle, and high school, most of the above applies to me but there’s also a lot that doesn’t. I love reading to my kids, love reading out loud. Yes of course sometimes I have to read it over again or spell check every thing. I believe having dsylexia, has made me more aware of other kid’s difficulties. I know live through my kids and feel such happiness when my son get’s a 100% on spelling. Of course I feel the frustrations of not being able to help on some of my kids subjects in school or making sure every word is spelled correct. Bottom point is we should except every one as being different or learning different. What fun would it be if we all thought the same.? Thank you for this article:)

  • Karen

    I am a Senior or citizen. I have most if no all of what is mentioned above. When I was in school I struggled terribly. I have learned to, as you say, use tricks. I still do not call people by name, but I always remember their faces, but remembering names is horrible. I get distracted extremely easily. …and always do at least a half dozen things at one time, then push to complete all. I will not stop, no matter how long it takes me to finish all . I also have a routine and if I deviate from that, I’m uncomfortable. I could go on forever with examples. I may be a senior citizen, but I’m still working. Hope you can help these younger generation that they can get the help they need and not struggle like I have. It also makes you very introverted. Thanks for the ear (eyes).

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Thank you for sharing. I’d note that the Davis program is effective for adults of any age; Davis Facilitators have worked successfully with individuals in their 70’s and 80’s.

  • Daryl renshaw

    its not a bloody gift. its a massive wall the you have to clime over every day.

    I don’t have a mild case of dyslexia am all of the above and more.

    am struggling to find a carer path.

    the opportunities ant out there for me.

    if you just get your Bs an Ds back to front then there are little thing to help you but its far from a gift in 2016.

    sorry for the rant.

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster


      Of course when you are experiencing the difficulties listed on this page, life is discouraging and frustrating.

      But the point is — these issues can be fixed. Almost all of the day-to-day barriers dyslexics experience are either caused by disorientation, or are symptoms of disorientation. The disorientation is caused by mental confusion, and of course when a person is disoriented, the confusion only gets worse.

      But fixing the disorientation is easy. It only takes a few hours to learn the basic mental techniques to resolve disorientation. The harder part is identifying and resolving the underlying sources of confusion, but once you are able to control your own orientation, you can use learning techniques geared to your own strengths and abilities to do that.

      From your post, you obviously are painfully aware that you have a problem. So the only question is whether you would like help to overcome that problem.

      If so, then the next step is to simply talk to someone to explore your options. Here’s a link you can used to find licensed Davis Facilitators in the UK:

  • Vivek

    I want to study theology – can someone help me – I am from India and there are no theology schools or colleges where I can learn in a manner conducive to my conditon.
    I am 33 years old
    I have completed my bachelor’s study
    I got to know if my condition this year in March. And am not able to find much help.

  • Gavin

    I have a grave problems. I’m 26 years old but I can’t read and write proper. I finish my grade 12 and my N6 course still I can’t read. please I need a help

  • Esther Laporte

    This was very helpful. Thank you! Where can I get tested for dyslexia?

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