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 November 27, 2021 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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  • Lillian

    So I have been thinking I might be dyslexic. Just a comment on the font and spacing, it seems like they could have picked a better, more dyslexic appropriate font and spacing.

  • 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 [email protected]? I have a daughter with milsdyslexia
    Help me.

  • Rory G

    I have really bad Dyslexia and have been running from it my hole life. I want 2 help speech out but scared I well lose my job.

    • jeanette d

      dont focus on your own issues, you would be amazed at the amount of people who have probs spelling and with numbers, today with computer/ calculator, and i phone you can use spell check, , there will be some jobs you may not be able to do, i could never work in a bank, due to discalculus,i accept that, but remember many people are in jobs they find difficult, its not just you, look at your strenghs, always, look at the job, is spelling the most important part of the job, have you ever been taken aside and told by manager that you have a problem, if not then maybe its a bigger issue for you, stop the running, all your life, hold your head high, look at what you achieve, also this is a disability, and you do have employment protection at work, dont overthink all this over dyslexia, its more common than you may know, people can be sympathetic, they may know a person close to them who have dyslexia,

      • Nik

        Jeanette don’t sell yourself short. I don’t have a diagnosis but am sure I have discalculus as I have struggled with numbers all my life. I have worked for a high street bank for over 30 years. Banking is not just about numbers, there are so many different aspects to it. Don’t limit yourself. I can see you have a positive attitude and you are so right that employers these days offer lots of support and value difference.

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