Common Characteristics of Adult Dyslexia

Author
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.

Career:

  • 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.

General:

  • 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 January 17, 2021 from Davis Dyslexia Association International, Dyslexia the Gift website:  http://www.dyslexia.com/?p=295.

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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316 comments

  • Steve

    For years I thought my inability to remember what I had just read, was down to ADD. But recently, and I can’t remember why, dyslexia came to mind, prompting the ever faithful Google results list, the primary source for snippets of texts containing roughly what I was im looking for and didn’t require a long read. So far, memories of school struggles (but never addressed) right up until today with what I’ve found…I tick almost every box. Behavioral traits. You name them, I’ve got them and the holes in walls to prove it. Dangerously short fuse. But also possess the finer things associated. Judgement of character, surroundings etc. creativity and find solutions, so long as a cup of tea is involved and I somehow manage to not think about the problem at all…a solution will appear ever time. Weird one that.
    Employment. Casino croupier for a long time. A job which involves a picture-based mathematical system for calculating bets and a “gift of the gab”.
    Writing. Always had compliments on my italic joined up style. Even as a kid. Now though, same artistry but my hand moves faster than what my brain is trying to say. Works for Doctors and their prescriptions..who am I to complain?
    My adult life has largely been unaffected and I dread to think where I’d be if I could read, passed exams etc. Probably not living my life now in Thailand for the last 20 years keeping bees, that’s for sure! I do know the inability to read properly, inherently makes you unsusceptible to any and all BS ideals forced upon by the media. Eternally grateful for that on its own.

  • RobF

    I have never been test for dyslexia I share some of the characteristics listed above. The most common trait that I experience is word replacement, for example instead of typing everyone, I type everything. Unfortunately, even after reading an email several times, I do not catch the mistake until after I send emails to colleagues. I’m over 50 and work in highly technical professional environment. Reaching out, because I tired of feeling like an idiot in the workplace.

    Any suggestions.

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Rob, have you tried using a text-to-speech reader to read your emails aloud to you before you send them? I personally find that a good tool for proofreading, because then I will hear the mistakes I didn’t see.

    • Steve

      Just tell people. And if they laugh, tell them to read a book, or at least a little research on the subject. Maybe they’ll see some tell tell signs and they’ll walk away with a sense of accomplishment in learning something new. I’m 48 and sadly too many stop laughing at this age. Embrace it. Use to justify to whoever feels they need your validation. Screw them. It’s who you are.

  • Kate

    This has really made me think. I’m and English 18 year old and in university. My mum told me she thought I had dyslexia as a kid because my spelling was so bad. Like I couldn’t even spell the word baby. I also rely heavily on spell check to this day my phone saves me so often. I tend to miss out letters or mush words together. Some of the things here if I was dyslexia make so much sense. One of the examples is I can’t read maps at all. It’s just like a bunch of lines to me and when I say I don’t understand it they say well learn then as if I haven’t tried. It’s always made me feel so stupid and I’m glad that I at least know I’m not the only one that can’t do it. I never test well and have issues with maths literally having to count off my fingers because I can’t do it at all. I’ve had people asking if I’m autistic or have ADHD in the past. Now looking through the list I’m thinking this might be the answer because I can say multiple bullet points in each section match to me and this makes everything make a bit more sense. I’m just so happy to maybe have an answer that makes sense

  • I’d rather be anonymous

    I think I got like a good 90% of these. And I’m still undiagnosed.
    Mum has dyslexia too, more on the number side though. I think however it’s rather hard to do this since it’s overlapping with adhd as well.
    I’ve got adhd and autism, ptsd and general anxiety, and can recognise all symptoms in this article, you should specify that anxiety disorders and other neurological disorders can effect many of these traits.

    • I’d rather be anonymous

      Should also point out that I can write down 10 points that would all not come close to giving me a dyslexia diagnosis. But rather an anxiety disorder or adhd.

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      We don’t see the various diagnostic categories you list as necessarily being separate — they can all be manifestations or traits that develop from the same set of underlying causes. For example, there is a recent scientific study that shows that regions of the brain that are activated by dyslexic children during reading tasks are also associated with greater emotional reactivity, including higher rates of anxiety. There is also such a high overlap between symptoms of ADHD and dyslexia that it doesn’t really make sense to view the labels as representing distinctive conditions. No matter how many labels you have been given over the years, you are one person, not a collection of diagnoses. At the same time, you are a unique person, different from anyone else, and your particular traits have been developed over time, stemming in part from general ways you think, learn, and perceive your environment, overlaid with a lifetime of experiences that if influenced your developing brain.

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