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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  • Gargee

    Whenever I try to read I lost somewhere many things unrelated to the topic comes to my mind I feel helpless

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      That is a sign of disorientation when reading. It is very common, and we have specific techniques to address that.

    • girl

      does it cost a lots to get tested for dyslexia? Atlanta ga

      • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

        It depends on the type of testing. Formal diagnostic testing can be very expensive– that is what is generally needed when a person needs to prove they have dyslexia- for example, to qualify for accommodations such as additional time on an exam. However, a formal diagnosis isn’t needed to get direct help for dyslexia. Most Davis facilitators provide inexpensive (sometimes free) screening, for the purpose of determining whether they would benefit from a Davis program. So it really depends on why the person wants testing.

  • Olamide

    Hello,I have a sister who’s dyslexic. Has problem with time,gets angry when corrected which seems like she’s stubborn. She’s 24 now. We’re in Nigeria where there’s no aid for learning difficulties. I’ll love to know if there are available centres that can help her anywhere around d the world so she can at least do something for herself. She always feels helpless and has a really low self esteem when she’s with people other than close family members. Thanks

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Would your sister want or accep help from you? Our basic methods are laid out in the book The Gift of Dyslexia – see: — the book contains detailed instructions on how to get started with our key procedures. So if you can get the book, that might be the best option for you in Nigeria. But these methods are only going to work with a person who wants help and who is motivated to follow through.

  • Ashley

    I as well suffer from dyslexia. My spelling, grammar, math and reading level is at a 2nd/3rd grade level. Everything the article describes fits my profile. I’m now in the early 30’s looking at my peers from high school with successful careers. The schools I attended really didn’t put much effort into correcting my disability. I would love to normal and human, my social skills and lack of friends really weights heavy on my heart. if you have any great resources in the Los Angeles area please share. Thank you

  • Anesia

    Dyslexia has effected me my intire life. I was always put in the too hard basket. My first teacher only focused on the smarter children but had no time for me. I developed a behavioural issue and would get angry or frustrated easily. My mum tried to help by playing scrabble and other games with me but i always ended in tears. . I moved schools and i was put back two years but i had an amazing teacher that helped me back to my level again. At highschool i struggled with english but i always did the best i could. i always had a passion for music and dance and sports and passed with flying colours.Im having more issues now working jobs most not more than 6 months at a time. Trying my best to learn fast like the others but they end up being impatient and resent me. Label me as slow or dumb. I end up having social issues and most of the time stay quiet and lose my self esteem. I want so badly to be accepted and understood. Why is it so hard for others to open their eyes and stop being so judgmental and unkind? I find myself some days breaking down. But il never give up on myself. I know one day il find acceptance and happiness.

    • Melaney D

      Hi Anesia,
      I’m sorry you’ve had a rough go. I understand completely your frustrations. I’ve had similar circumstances. When you feel discouraged do you have someone to talk to? Maybe a sibling or friend that could talk for 10 minutes? Maybe you could arrange to chat once a week so that you can vent but also build your self esteem. If it’s only 10 minutes once a week then your confidant won’t feel overwhelmed. Also sticky notes on a mirror or pictures to remind you of your goals and your worth as a person. One day at a time. You can do this!

    • Rodnet

      I really understand how you feel.
      I am now 58 and only realised that I am Dyslexic.
      I thought I might write down my journey and share some off learning.
      There are some great things that can grow
      You need to grasp life with 2 hands

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