Test for Dyslexia: 37 Common Traits

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Most dyslexics will exhibit about 10 of the following traits and behaviors. These characteristics can vary from day-to-day or minute-to-minute. The most consistent thing about dyslexics is their inconsistency.

General

Dyslexic children and adults can become avid and enthusiastic readers when given learning tools that fit their creative learning style.

  • Appears bright, highly intelligent, and articulate but unable to read, write, or spell at grade level.
  • Labelled lazy, dumb, careless, immature, “not trying hard enough,” or “behavior problem.”
  • Isn’t “behind enough” or “bad enough” to be helped in the school setting.
  • High in IQ, yet may not test well academically; tests well orally, but not written.
  • Feels dumb; has poor self-esteem; hides or covers up weaknesses with ingenious compensatory strategies; easily frustrated and emotional about school reading or testing.
  • Talented in art, drama, music, sports, mechanics, story-telling, sales, business, designing, building, or engineering.
  • Seems to “Zone out” or daydream often; gets lost easily or loses track of time.
  • Difficulty sustaining attention; seems “hyper” or “daydreamer.”
  • Learns best through hands-on experience, demonstrations, experimentation, observation, and visual aids.

Vision, Reading, and Spelling

  • Complains of dizziness, headaches or stomach aches while reading.
  • Confused by letters, numbers, words, sequences, or verbal explanations.
  • Reading or writing shows repetitions, additions, transpositions, omissions, substitutions, and reversals in letters, numbers and/or words.
  • Complains of feeling or seeing non-existent movement while reading, writing, or copying.
  • Seems to have difficulty with vision, yet eye exams don’t reveal a problem.
  • Extremely keen sighted and observant, or lacks depth perception and peripheral vision.
  • Reads and rereads with little comprehension.
  • Spells phonetically and inconsistently.

Hearing and Speech

  • Has extended hearing; hears things not said or apparent to others; easily distracted by sounds.
  • Difficulty putting thoughts into words; speaks in halting phrases; leaves sentences incomplete; stutters under stress; mispronounces long words, or transposes phrases, words, and syllables when speaking.

Writing and Motor Skills

  • Trouble with writing or copying; pencil grip is unusual; handwriting varies or is illegible.
  • Clumsy, uncoordinated, poor at ball or team sports; difficulties with fine and/or gross motor skills and tasks; prone to motion-sickness.
  • Can be ambidextrous, and often confuses left/right, over/under.

Math and Time Management

  • Has difficulty telling time, managing time, learning sequenced information or tasks, or being on time.
  • Computing math shows dependence on finger counting and other tricks; knows answers, but can’t do it on paper.
  • Can count, but has difficulty counting objects and dealing with money.
  • Can do arithmetic, but fails word problems; cannot grasp algebra or higher math.

Memory and Cognition

  • Excellent long-term memory for experiences, locations, and faces.
  • Poor memory for sequences, facts and information that has not been experienced.
  • Thinks primarily with images and feeling, not sounds or words (little internal dialogue).

Behavior, Health, Development and Personality

  • Extremely disorderly or compulsively orderly.
  • Can be class clown, trouble-maker, or too quiet.
  • Had unusually early or late developmental stages (talking, crawling, walking, tying shoes).
  • Prone to ear infections; sensitive to foods, additives, and chemical products.
  • Can be an extra deep or light sleeper; bedwetting beyond appropriate age.
  • Unusually high or low tolerance for pain.
  • Strong sense of justice; emotionally sensitive; strives for perfection.
  • Mistakes and symptoms increase dramatically with confusion, time pressure, emotional stress, or poor health.
Citation Information

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72 comments

  • Deepti Singh

    hi..my son is 2.3 yrs. he started waking late which we supposed was due to rickets. he has just begun to talk..one words. he is very observant..though doest talk much (expresses everything in signs)bt when asked what object is where will be able to tell. he shows no interest in learning letters, doesn’t recognize colors. he imitates words from back to forward, like for jeep.. he’ll say peej.
    I for sure had dyslexia..we r in india..i don’t think we can find any good educational therapists or any support from schools . how can i help my child?

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Deepti, while it is possible to see early signs of dyslexic tendencies in a 2 or 3 year old child, it is not possible to know whether or not the child is or will be dyslexic at that age. All you can see are some signs that show a possibility. But many children who show some early signs do not have any problems at all when they reach school age. I would advise that you think more about noticing and nurturing your sons talent and abilities at this age.

      If he is speaking one word at a time at age 2, he is on a normal developmental track. Just encourage his language development by interacting verbally with him as much as you can, and reading aloud to him so he become more sensitive to the flow of language.

      Of course he is not interested in learning letters – he is far too young! While it is fine to expose a two year old to letters with toys such as alphabet blocks, there is no reason to expect a child to be able to learn letters until age 4 or 5. Follow your child’s lead, but do not push or prod.

      Here’s an article on our site with some suggestions for activities that are more appropriate for a 2 or 3 year old child, and will help them build the mental connections needed to become ready to learn about letters and reading: Head Start Activities for the Home

  • Dess

    Hi to whom shall i seek an advise to help me diagnose if my 6 years old daugther is dylexic or not?…she is showing some signs but I wanted to confirm..Kids at her age in school already knows how to read but she can’t even read letters and she easily forgots them..

  • Joan

    This has been very helpful! I discovered I may be dyslexic while doing basic research on dyslexia in college. I have struggled with dates, sequences, reading and writing since high school. It got a lot worse when my parents moved to Japan and I had to learn Japanese, a language that uses three alphabets. I still have problems writing Chinese characters. When writing in English I often write letters in the wrong order, for example, starting from the second letter not the first, or mixing up the order, and so on. I’ve had some problems in grad school (studied management) but managed to graduate with decent results. My dream since kindergarten has been to get PhD in education. My undergrad thesis was on activating learning ability in dyslexic students, but I struggled with the dissertation, especially writing the last chapters. I literally felt sick. Couldn’t sleep at all. Would you know of any adults with dyslexia who hold a PhD? Is it possible for me to do research with this learning disability?

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Yes, there are many dyslexic adults who have earned a PhD. Just off the top of my head, here’s a few: Paul Wellstone (former US Senator; PhD in political science); Dr. Matthew H. Schneps (PhD in physics, founder of Laboratory for Visual Learning; Carol Greider (PhD in molecular biology; Nobel prize winner).

      But I think the more important point is that dyslexia can be corrected, and the tools we use are very effective for adults. So if your goal is to earn a PhD in education, it might be worth your while to meet with a Davis Facilitator and discuss a Davis program. Writing a dissertation is going to be hard work, no matter what – but you don’t have to suffer through feeling physically ill because of the difficulty you experience trying to concentrate on reading and writing.

      • Joan

        Thank you very much. I’ll try to make an appointment and perhaps go with my niece. My niece has dyslexia too and she struggles at school despite her being brilliant and creative. I’m wondering if she has to go through the same hell at work as I do. Dyslexia makes me a perfectionist and I’m too thorough and slow. Plus, my “unique way of thinking” has been a problem because I see and hear beyond what is being said and always focus on the big picture. My niece has had problems with teachers because she does more than she was told too. She is “too creative” and “doesn’t follow directions”. I sympathize with her. She is 15. Is there any support group for teenagers with dislexia?
        Regarding my PhD, I’ll do my best, thank you.

  • Crystal Ray

    I have a relative who is a young mother of three. The oldest, age 6 is showing signs of dyslexia. With few financial and schedule options, what is the best course of action to take, as the child is in first grade? The state says they cannot test her until age 8.

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      We would recommend the Davis Young Learners Kit for Home Use. The kit is specifically designed to help parents work with their young children (age 5-7) to build up basic skills. Purchasing the kit is a modest investment. The kit is appropriate for all children, whether or not dyslexic – but the techniques explained with the kit manual are specifically geared to address problems that are associated with dyslexia, and it builds on strengths that are not usually fostered within a traditional school curriculum.

  • Quincy Harman

    I think I may be dyslexic. The longest book I have ever read is go dog go. I am 25 years old and have not been able to read a book from start to finish. Sometimes I have to read a paragraph 10 times before I can grasp what it is saying. As far as my mathematical abilities go, I am currently mastering the calculus. My spelling and writing is atrocious. My writing is very unorganized. I hate how difficult reading is for me. I truly hate it. Is there any way to cure this problem and is possible that these symptoms are a cause of something else?

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Yes, you definitely seem to be dyslexic — you pretty much have all the symptoms.

      And yes, dyslexia can be corrected. A Davis program can help. Please consider using our provider directory at http://www.davimethod.org to find a Davis Facilitator near you to arrange a simple assessment and consultation.

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