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.


  • man with open laptop computerEmployed 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:

  • frustrated woman studyingDifficulty 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
LoGiudice, Karen. (2008) Common Characteristics of Adult Dyslexia. Retrieved September 17, 2019 from Davis Dyslexia Association International, Dyslexia the Gift website:

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.


Related Articles:

Adult Dyslexia and ADHD: Effects in the Workplace

Adult Dyslexia and ADHD: Effects in the Workplace

Dyslexic employees are some of the smartest, most imaginative and highly motivated people in your workgroup -- and your company's management. Employers can easily adapt the workplace to help dyslexic people work more efficiently.
Test for Dyslexia: 37 Common Traits

Test for Dyslexia: 37 Common Traits

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: Appears bright, highly...
Experiences - Reports from Adults

Experiences - Reports from Adults

The Davis program was created by a dyslexic adult, based on discoveries made when he managed to correct his own dyslexia at age 38.  The program was developed through continued research with adult volunteers.  Davis Facilitators have worked successfully wi...


Davis Method Provider Directory

Find a Davis Provider near you

(Click Here)




Share this page!


  • Pam

    Dislexic people are actually brilliantly minded people! Your young and you just don’t know how wonderful and special that you are! I relate because I am dyslexic! We have to try harder and think out of the box because we are not in a box, we are extremely sinsitive people with a lot to offer! Dyslexia never stopped me from being a self starter. I’ve owned/operated many of business I’m amazed at what I have achieved in my life and the incredible things I have Concord! The things that are the most difficult in life are the most incredible and amazing but we just can’t give up! If you fall down get back up! We aren’t average people, at times a blessing may seem like a curse.

  • Nontuthuko

    My son was born at 27weeks gestation just a 1000g birth weight. Was diagnosed with ADHD at school and given Ritalin. He is 24years now and can really get stuck when reading and gets frustrated. He is very reserved but brilliant. This has affected his self esteem and makes him timid

  • Sarah

    I identify with every single characteristic listed. What can I do

  • Kim

    I have a grown stepson that is dyslexic. We had an issue when his dad my husband was in the hospital after a very serious motorcycle accident. He would come to me and say…If you want to go home one of us will stay tonight, I would say no, I’m ok…then his wife was mad at me for a reason that I didn’t know. So after my husband was out of the hospital it all came to a head and she was mad because she thought I wouldn’t let him stay with his dad but that was not the case, I didnt realize he was wanting to stay just that he was trying to give me a break and his wife said it’s because hes dyslexic and I said he wasn’t writing me a letter he was talking to me….so is that a problem…not being able to Express what they are trying to say??? Thanks for your help in advance…and settling an argument.

  • Weljie C

    Hello ! Good day to all! My name is Weljie, and Im not sure if im really dyslexic or not, or maybe im just plainly a slow minded person with no dyslexia. Actually, im struggling with work abroad right now. I have trouble with my speech and listening to instructions. And right now it’s freaking hard to sum up my experience I really dont know why. Im having a hard time using the right words to say or maybe I’ll get misunderstood like i experience almost everyday of my life. Im very tired already, feeling of being laugh about my mistakes, friends seeing you as the dumb person in the group, just because I dont know how to express myself verbally. The worst part is that People in my country rarley knows about Dyslexia. When i share it to them, they wont listen instead they point out to me that i just need to try harder and focus. Well they Aslo have a point, maybe I should. But when i do I get successful but later on comes back again to being dumb. Even my mom told me that im slow minded and blames my anemia for it, lacking of iron, its possible also. I talked to a psychiatrist, i know they are not the ones who I should approach but I really thought she could help, then she told me it’s not dyslexia for the fact thAt i can read and graduated college and all. So currently my status is, perplexed. I try to search for answers and everytime I research about dyslexia, the more I can tell to myslef thAt I am. But really, i need to be diagnose to tell everyone in my country that im freAking dyslexic. Im really sorry for ranting here, Im just frustrated And I cant tell anyone about my case because they dont understand what dyslexia is and how it hits me hard these days esp when im stressed at work. Thank you so much for taking time to read this and I hope I could get any advise. Im really sorry again. And good day to all!

  • romey

    I can not remember the words to one song no matter how many times I hear it. I can only remember my birthday. I can not remember my times tables. I can not say the months of the year backwards, I always have to start at January. If someone tries to tell me their phone number it sounds like a million numbers thrown at me and it overwhelms me unless they go very very slow. When I write a word even when I am thinking of the first letter of the word, my hand will write the second letter. Now that my health issue are worse I find it hard to copy numbers my hand will not write the numbers I intend to write but my hand will write different ones instead. I had a hard time learning to read and I can not spell, thank you spell check. I mispronounce words all the time or just can get them out. This is just some of the stuff I deal with. Note I have never been tested for dyslexia but I am thinking I am, is any of this fixable?

  • Noel B

    I was treated for a learning disability in first grade apparently in kindergarten I wrote some letters backwards The school has lost a record so I’m not sure if I ever was definitely dyslexic or if I just had some of the traits I can read I can write I can read backwards letters look like letters words look like words to me now which could be due to early intervention but I have some of the issues with other things listed and I have a four-year-old boy who has a speech delay doctors are saying he may be high-level autistic he knows his letters but sometimes he’ll read them backwards on a truck passing by i’ve been thinking about seeing if therapist to deal with depression issues because sometimes when I’m stressed I just don’t behave like an adult should could it be that really it’s just dyslexia even though I’ve managed to figure out how to read and write pretty well

    • Lee W

      Sounds like me mate, park car or bish foul rearranging and you get the point left is felt and felt is left only know my left and right because my driving instructor 18 years ago, told me to put a ring or watch on my left hand, if I have forgot I’ve no chance, and short term memory is like a pointless need to write or txt a list every time good job my wife understands, but on the plus point I hold Dow a very good job I think a lithographic printer was hard at first but love my job 5 yeayof training like, there is no cure you just learned different ways of reading and seeing things

Leave a public question or comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *