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

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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  • Angela W

    Hi I don’t have money I have a reading problem and I haven’t learned to spell or write is it any help for me

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      The book The Gift of Dyslexia describes the basic Davis techniques and gives instructions on how to implement them. This is not something you could do by yourself, but if you have a friend or family member willing to spend time with you to help, then that person could read the book and guide you through the Davis exercises.

  • Lee

    I’m looking for career advice. I was professionally diagnosed with mild/secondary form of dyslexia when I was 10. I finished my BS in computer science, with a lot of effort, but the experience forced me to just get better at reading and coping in general with my dyslexic shortcomings. I’ve had a successful career as a software developer, but now i’m almost 40 and finding myself unable to perform as well as everyone else on the team. What I can’t seem to find anywhere, is a form of testing for dyslexics to find out what I’m naturally good at, that I could possibly justify a career change, or maybe help cope with challenges in my current industry. I ran across a book called The Dyslexic Advantage, which talks about strength you could have as a dyslexic person, but couldn’t find professional services that offer aptitude testing for career advice related to dyslexics. I love what i do, but I can’t help but feel like i’m not the best at it, and if there was something else I could do that played to my best strengths I’d like to know. I’ve noticed that 99% of dyslexic centers and info, only focus on children and teens and getting them to pass school, but to my disappointment there not really anyone focusing on helping adults cope with it in careers and relationships. It’s good that we are helping kids be successful in school, but if we’re not helping them be successful in life going forward, then it feels like we’re failing those with dyslexia anyway. Thanks for any advice or info!

  • J khan

    I thought for 36 years that I just had a stammer however November 2017 I got my forty told which at the time I thought was crazy. I was told I had dylesxia that I had trouble reading, but I actually have trouble speaking so thought this was ridiculous.. after reading on dylesxia it’s not just reading that it affects it affects speech too. I actually have most characteristics on this page.
    I have difficulty, great difficulty reading it’s like silent reading word’s are even slow to put together in my head. I need to go over words and sentences a good few times to get what exactly it is. In exam’s it takes me ages to finish anything and i need to go over the information lord of times her it makes sense in my head. When people are speaking to me i mostly have no idea what they are talking about, I’m not daft at all so I don’t understand this. Infact I’m quite clued up and very bright otherwise. I’m quick at putting an image into my head of what I want to happen and everything else that I do in-between that helps make that happen.
    I hate being around new people and get quite anxious.. I have difficulty getting my word’s out.. which I just thought was a stutter, still might just be that.. it’s like in conversation the words aren’t there it’s like I’m not in my body and there’s nothing in my brain the words just go and everything comes out broken, eventually when it comes out that is
    . however reading aloud is easier for me cause the words are there infront of me.. I do struggle with certain sound but if I try image the words , the story it sometimes helps and the words come out easier.. what is the cure, if any? What helps. I will say reading aloud helps get my brain going which is strange..any help would be great..

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Dyslexia stems from a difference in the way the brain processes the sounds of language. Most dyslexics think primarily in pictures. Reading and/or making sense of spoken language can be slowed down when the person needs to take the added step of translating words into images in their mind.

      The solution is to improve the ability of the mind to make a connection between the spoken word and images. That’s why we use clay modeling for the small, abstract function words of language – words like “of” or “at” that aren’t naturally connected to mental images.

  • Hal

    I am 56 years old and my job is a teacher. 4 years ago, I had a stroke and wasn’t able to talk or pronounce any word correctly. After treatment, I am able to talk and pronounce the words correctly but still struggling with my speech. When I try to explain something to students and I want go far with my ideas, my brain it shutting off (I can’t continue my my thinking) or I am afraid to talk with a group of people or taking professional development test, etc. Please Help!

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Hal, Davis Facilitators have reported some degree of success using Davis methods with stroke victims. Usually this has been working with their own family members, as it does take time and patience and each person is different. But if you live near a Davis Facilitator this may be worth exploring.

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