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 24, 2023 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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  • Paul de la Reza aka (Pablo X)

    I always knew they were wrong, we are not ‘disabled’ we are quicker and kinder than the non dyslexics. I hated myself for many years because of how school made me feel Those people wouldn’t know “genius” if it was starring them right in the face.

  • Tree

    I did have dyslexia !
    I forgot because I ran away from home when I was 13
    This explains everything!
    I forgot why I had so all many tutors in school with reading and writing. Now I know.
    I’m 60 years old and I finally know.

    • DawnDay

      I just had such a similar response to reading this. Ask of a sudden my difficulty in writing the wrong letters as a child and laboriously throwing out pages to start again came to mind. I’ve never viewed it this way. A lot of it was trauma based though. Which I believe is why it’s gotten better. It was situational based a lot, so getting away from the environment I was in helped substantially along with deliberate healing. Your comment on running away reminded me of that.

  • Villa Graham

    Omg, I knew something was off with me the last few years I have been mixing up words pronouncing words wrong not understanding why.

  • Skeptic

    So if meeting 10 of these suggests dyslexia I think a minority of the population would be diagnosed. I think anybody could pick 10 if not more that apply. especially when there are things like
    “May have excellent recall of events that were experienced or not remember at all.”
    Doesn’t that pretty much check everyone’s box? What are the other choices?

    • STEVE

      I guess most people could. But them that know see almost all trates within them. In such a strong way (either way). As I’m old, I was just labeled as a slow learner at school but at 15 suddenly the written language clicked and once understand the question was able to excel in all subject. Been an antpraneer most of my life. Only realised I was dislexia when I decided to retire and become a skuba dive master. Unfortunately wasn’t able to teach or remember the exercises such as setting up you scuba tank and equipment. Boat briefing were something I’d dread. All I can say is bpqd. I guess that may make sense to some.

  • PG

    I have always had trouble reading. I can’t focus on reading long books or articles. I’ve turned to text to speech(TTS) which is awesome, I get through a lot with this but I’m still distracted listening most times. With so much TTS, I feel now it’s harder to read actual text as a result — words are getting more jumbled. I don’t often start sentences with the 1st word. I’m also very slow to reading subtitles in movies or reading captions on video games my kids play, for me words race across the screen or I am stuck on one word and then the whole sentence is gone.
    My typing is loaded with typos, luckily auto-correct fixes a lot but I often send out emails that have too many mistakes. I’m 50, a college grad and hold a IT management position (amazing I got this far) and I’ve had this issue perhaps my whole like but now it’s getting worse. Looking for help in NYC. ~Thanks.

    • Johnny

      I think you just described me exactly! I mean exactly. I’m even in my 59’s and working in IT. I have often thought I may have something like i dyslexia but don’t want to see it because of the stigma that comes with it. Just finding a resource at this age doesn’t look like it’s easy and probably expensive as hell without insurance since American health care is about profit. Even looking at this website I question if it is here to help or just label as many people as possible to get them to but a service.
      It’s very frustrating but it is nice knowing someone has the same struggles.

  • Raemelle Ianthe Childs

    I’m an entrepreneur, and my dyslexia is hindering me from reaching my potential. My right side of the brain is functioning quite well, but the left side isn’t.
    I’ve always been an entrepreneur, but now I’m a lot older, and I need someone/s with the leaf sided brain to help me succeed.
    I need to be able to trust them. Steve Jobs, he was fooled out of his business twice. He was dyslexic too as well.

  • Dean

    I’m dyslexic, and I have a stuttering speech disorder. I don’t know if anyone has these two at the same time. All my life I have been emotionally & socially affected. I have been constantly bullied at school & the workplace. It’s a situation where your intellect & understanding are misunderstood by others because they already thought you are inferior to them & you are different, not normal (in their opinions(

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      It is actually quite common for dyslexics to have speech issues such as stuttering or stammering. I think it stems from the same underlying differences in thought processes when it comes to language.

  • What’s In A Name

    Ha! I knew/know I have a slight dyslexia issue. I counted at least 25 of the traits listed. I had no idea some of those could be a result of my simple 3 letter reversal and problems with math. I’m 48 and still have to think before writing p, b, d. (Shoot I even read it wrong just now.) Peace to all!

  • John C

    Took my son to a neurologist for attention issues, they gave him stim med for ADHD, it works for the hyperactive mind and physical. when reading he still gets immediately frustrated when he has to sound out a word even if he already knows the word. At one point I realized he was bruising his arm when taping on the arm when sounding out the word. I think he is dyslexic as well as having ADHD. I have ADHD and after reading about dyslexia I’m almost certain I suffer from the same.
    He’s 6 and very quiet in school and around peers. I’ve observed him interact with peers and have conversations with him I think he feels inferior / not accepted. I know he’s young but I don’t want him to feel this way. I think about this often doesn’t feel great. For me, when I was in grade school I was never treated so you can imagine how this dyslexia & ADHD had an impact on all of my life. The school system seems to be more equipped to deal with this now as opposed to 35 years ago.

  • Felicia

    I have almost all of these. I was never diagnosed as child and was told that I only had anxiety instead of ADD from a psychologist. Never thought it could be dyslexia and ADD mixed until I went to college. My sister said something to me about having dyslexia about a year ago and didn’t believe her until these past few weeks. Now I know why putting together simple sentences/words and my freshman basic English classes seemed impossible. ‍♀️

  • Ben

    Wait, like over half of these symptoms would suggest a comorbidity with ADHD, if not just a full misdiagnosis where ADHD looks like dyslexia. I don’t have a psychology degree or anything, so take this with a grain of salt. But I do have ADHD and dyslexia and I can tell you that things like being bad at estimating the time a task will take, having trouble planning things in sequential order, and almost behavior listed under the ‘General’ header are all telltale symptoms of ADHD. I mean… “Has difficulty focusing and staying on task – may feel more comfortable managing many different tasks simultaneously”??

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Ben, dyslexia overlaps with ADHD. We do not look at dyslexia and ADHD as “diseases” with “comorbidities” — but rather the manifestation of the way the brain is naturally wired. There are many commonalities, and we include basic mental self-regulation tools as a starting point for our dyslexia programs, as well as for our attention mastery programs.

  • Ana

    I have problem in repetitive corrections on the same sheets. I have checked many times but yet when i submitted to superior, there it goes again. Error.
    I didnt have so much of problem when was working at the old place as i was the top leader of the site I purview.
    The new company is smaller and i an reporting to a superior who has high hope to me. I always get scolded from him.
    Shall i meet him and tell about my repetitive disorder@dyslesic? I have a daughter with milsdyslexia
    Help me.

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