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 July 16, 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.


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  • Angie B

    I’m I too old to be helped? I’m 78

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Your age by itself would not be a barrier to a successful Davis program. Davis Facilitators have worked successfully with individuals who are in their 80’s. However, if you have other health issues that are tied to cognitive decline, that could be a problem — so if you consult with a facilitator it will be important to disclose all health issues and all medications that you are taking.

  • Ronda B

    I’ve been suffering from this from the first grade and I’m 58 now and still crushed by it when I’m in public. It’s held me back all of my life. I still can’t spell nor can I learn timetables. I’ve worked with people for years talked to them everyday and can’t remember their names. I’ve learned how to fake it for the most part. I’m so glad they have found ways to identify this in young children so they may have confidence in themselves and thrive. I and a select few others were just seen as dumb in scool. It still makes me cry to think of how I felt back then and sometimes now , we were just throw in a remedial reading and math classes that had no idea how to help us. A class for the dummies it seemed. We were definitely looked down upon by teachers and peers. Thank god for speak to text because spell check can’t even pickup some of my spelling.

  • K musa

    This site can really be helpful, my boy is now 12 years, but he gets much difficult in reading and interpretation

  • Naresh

    hi, I seriously need your help regarding my problem, that is sometimes i cant understand the paragraph where i read and sometimes i cant able to listen to people who talk to me because my mind divert to different thing without my sense and i am trying my best to overcome but i am failed. The thing is whatever i studied, am able to understand when come to writing means, i cant write it properly which means that my grammer and my vocabulary is not good, i get frustrated when i reading and i am trying to overcome this past 2 years but till now no changes between me, hope u understand that what i trying to say it.

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      You are describing disorientation (“my mind divert”) triggered by difficulty making sense of words. This is the reason for many of the common symptoms of dyslexia. With the Davis approach, we address this by providing simple mental tools for a person to orient themselves, and a more sustained effort to master the meanings of the small function words of language. Ron Davis discovered through his early research that the small words were causing problems because there is no mental picture to go along with them, and dyslexic people tend to think mostly in pictures.

  • Seleny

    I have a few of those I really need help how can you help me

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      A good starting point is to arrange a consultation with a Davis Facilitator to discuss your specific needs. You will find listings at

      • Remi

        I have a few of those .i can read fluently and spell but math is my problem it get mixed up in my head
        I also have to read a question over and over to get it. Im bad at exams and I’m easily angered when I can’t explain myself

  • Osman S

    Well as for me, I find it very difficult to restore what I have read, I easily forget.
    Please let me know your suggestions

  • JC

    Thank you for sharing this valuable information, I will share it with my online friend in Kent/UK. For years she has been telling everyone reading causes her severe headache and makes her sick. She also mentioned she can learn anything by audio and video.

  • Mandy

    I have dyslexia and find my self repeating myself all the time which is getting on my college’s nerves and ideas what I can do

  • Theresa B

    Wow i found this site a few months ago and read the traits and symptoms of dyslexia and i realized that i suffer from this disorder.I was thinking that i had dementia.I noticed that when i am stressed i become more agitated and struggle with word pronunciation.It really upsets me.I hate speaking in front of people.I isolate myself from people as much as possible.I go to church and the store run errands and help an elderly relative.I love associating with elderly people because they do not notice or pay attention to my poor speech.I misspeak and say the wrong words and i have been baffled by my poor writing skills.Can’t remember names and places and i get lost from time to time.At least i know i am not going crazy.

  • Rachel B

    I have quite a few of these from each category, the last two almost every one. I work as a daycare teacher for 1-2 year olds, and I rarely read word for word out loud because I will stumble too much. How much is the course?

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Davis Facilitators are independent professionals who set their own rates and payment arrangements. However, an initial consultation is not expensive– so a good first step is to simply call a Facilitator so that you can talk about your problems and how a Davis program might help. To find a facilitator, visit

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