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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  • Annabel

    Hi, i am 29 years old i was digonised at a early age with dyselxia and only recently with adhd. I have never had any support in my worklife with either dyslexia or ADHD but i have been told many of times i am lazy, i cant spell or some sort of cristism. I have recently signed up to a course which i know its allot of administrive task yet only because someone told me i cant do it. I have to take and adult dyslexia test now for the course as my 14yr old test doesnt qualify where can i get this and also support in a workplace

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Annabel, Davis Facilitators can offer help to correct the problems you are describing, but we do not offer diagnostic testing services. As you seem to be in the UK, I would suggest that you contact the British Dyslexia Association at They can help provide a referral to someone who can provide the testing you are looking for and also advise you as to your rights in the workplace.

  • Marcia

    I’m over 50 yrs old. My work involves note taking and trying. I forget main points, I listen but don’t to hear or remember what is being said. I make lots of mistakes in writing and often do not complete sentences. I forget a lot or don’t remember what I write and reading is even worst. I’m always behind with my work and I get frustrated easily. I go to work early and leave late just to keep up. I am emotionally and mentally exhausted and afraid to disclose my struggle to my employer.
    I made it through 4 yrs of college and don’t even a single teacher. I also have trouble remembering people faces or names. Help, help.

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Marcia, the Davis program can help adults of any age. A Davis facilitator would work with you individually and provide tools to help with the problems you describe. Some problems would probably improve right away; others might take more time as you did program follow up — but the facilitator would also have given you a plan of exactly what to do after your initial program week. You can find a facilitator using our online directory at

  • Francois A

    Hi, i’m a college student. I read about dyslexia and about the Common Characteristics of Adult Dyslexia. I am showing the listed traits, most of them. Right now i am having a very hard time with my studies. I want to know if i am dyslectic. I tried the tests online but I am not sure if they are true and my friends said that written tests are not always very reliable. If i am i want to know where to get help or counseling.

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Francois, if you are struggling in college and also have most of the traits listed on this page, then that ordinarily means you are dyslexic. Dyslexia is not some sort of disease that requires a medical diagnosis, nor is it something that you either have or don’t have. Rather, the term dyslexia describes a common pattern of learning differences and difficulties. This pattern is variable — the symptoms can be mild to very severe, and they can also vary from time to time within the same individual. If you have symptoms of dyslexia and no other way to explain them, then it is appropriate to describe yourself as dyslexic. Other possible causes of the symptoms might include a specific brain injury (such as a concussion), or vision difficulties– so if you suspect something like that, you can always seek an examination to rule them out.

      When clients come to a Davis Facilitator, we don’t require a formal diagnosis. Instead, we ask two basic questions: Do you know that you have a problem?

      Davis providers also do their own program-specific screening, but that is more geared to determining whether the facilitator will be able to help the person using Davis techniques, rather than attaching a formal diagnosis or label to the person.

  • Ronnie

    All throughout my life certain things have just clicked, first reading at around 14 and later a bit with writing, just enough to get through the normal day to day. The crazy thing is of all the stuff I did to help it turned out to be predictive text that had the biggest impact.

  • Maryvel

    P.S. Doesn’t this new spell check just irk you – make you angry – that it remakes your words for you, so we still seem like a retards… Whatever! !I encourage you to take advantage of this program and take your life back into your own hands. I’m not an advocate for this site but I see that it is empowering, so don’t look back and don’t tell people who never – got you – (understand you)… Protect your gifting (s) This willbe the start of your new self-esteem being built and realizing the people who continue holding you back… Move on and Forward…

  • Maryvel

    Wow my people ! Not a coincidence !!! We’re ending up at the same place at the same time… hmmm…

    I can’t sleep… I’m beyond frustrated. You tell some people your struggles and your punished for it. It’s sickening.

    I don’t tell everyone I have dyslexia and dyscaulcula but I exhibit the symptoms that NOW I KNOW THAT I KNOW the causes that have led to a lot of – some of the people misunderstand me – The othere are as patient as they can be but… if they don’t know anything about HYATT we have had soooo many stuggles, all they can do is lend a kind ear but it’seems short lived for us, WE NEED HELP ! Most people think we’re nuts ! That’s a big ouch ! Nuts and/or retarded… painful.

    I just turned 50 last month. I’ve never stopped going through adverversity. I’m dog tired of it though. I’ve finally hit rock bottom. I either can’t get a job or keep a job ?

    Yet, I’m constantly told how sharp I am… Intelligent ? Very informative and helpful… but not job material ?? Interesting and severely disturbing. But what a refreshing, eye opening experience to come across the truth of what so many in the past never got to know about this debilitating issue. I’m also very tired all of the time ? I’do like to know if you anyone else deals with this as well ? I’m changing my diet as well now. It will make a big difference as well… God Bless you… Move Forward my people, move forward.

    • Larry

      I’m 37 and I think I have dyslexia
      I feel my thoughts are great but to say them or express them don’t turn out right I also like things organized or it makes me confused or irritated
      But I hope there’s a way to manage it and yeah like a diet

      • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

        Larry, there definitely are ways to manage dyslexia – that is what our program is about. A healthy diet can help, but by itself it is not enough.

    • Craig P

      Hi, yes to all of the above. I’m just over 50 now & suffer the same, always told how good & helpfull but never get true rewards for my efforts. I get tried & rock bottom comes often now but I have been so use to getting back up each time I just get on with it, a little slower these days ( I put it down to a AGE thing). Lastly diet helps me, fresh fruit and veggies pluse regular exercise makes a difference. Good luck, CP

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