Test for Dyslexia: 37 Common Traits


Most dyslexics will exhibit about 10 of the following traits and behaviors. These characteristics can vary from day-to-day or minute-to-minute. The most consistent thing about dyslexics is their inconsistency.


two small children with books

Dyslexic children and adults can become avid and enthusiastic readers when given learning tools that fit their creative learning style.

  • Appears bright, highly intelligent, and articulate but unable to read, write, or spell at grade level.
  • Labelled lazy, dumb, careless, immature, “not trying hard enough,” or “behavior problem.”
  • Isn’t “behind enough” or “bad enough” to be helped in the school setting.
  • High in IQ, yet may not test well academically; tests well orally, but not written.
  • Feels dumb; has poor self-esteem; hides or covers up weaknesses with ingenious compensatory strategies; easily frustrated and emotional about school reading or testing.
  • Talented in art, drama, music, sports, mechanics, story-telling, sales, business, designing, building, or engineering.
  • Seems to “Zone out” or daydream often; gets lost easily or loses track of time.
  • Difficulty sustaining attention; seems “hyper” or “daydreamer.”
  • Learns best through hands-on experience, demonstrations, experimentation, observation, and visual aids.

Vision, Reading, and Spelling:

  • Complains of dizziness, headaches or stomach aches while reading.
  • Confused by letters, numbers, words, sequences, or verbal explanations.
  • Reading or writing shows repetitions, additions, transpositions, omissions, substitutions, and reversals in letters, numbers and/or words.
  • Complains of feeling or seeing non-existent movement while reading, writing, or copying.
  • Seems to have difficulty with vision, yet eye exams don’t reveal a problem.
  • Extremely keen sighted and observant, or lacks depth perception and peripheral vision.
  • Reads and rereads with little comprehension.
  • Spells phonetically and inconsistently.

Hearing and Speech:

  • Has extended hearing; hears things not said or apparent to others; easily distracted by sounds.
  • Difficulty putting thoughts into words; speaks in halting phrases; leaves sentences incomplete; stutters under stress; mispronounces long words, or transposes phrases, words, and syllables when speaking.

Writing and Motor Skills:

  • Trouble with writing or copying; pencil grip is unusual; handwriting varies or is illegible.
  • Clumsy, uncoordinated, poor at ball or team sports; difficulties with fine and/or gross motor skills and tasks; prone to motion-sickness.
  • Can be ambidextrous, and often confuses left/right, over/under.

Math and Time Management:

  • Has difficulty telling time, managing time, learning sequenced information or tasks, or being on time.
  • Computing math shows dependence on finger counting and other tricks; knows answers, but can’t do it on paper.
  • Can count, but has difficulty counting objects and dealing with money.
  • Can do arithmetic, but fails word problems; cannot grasp algebra or higher math.

Memory and Cognition:

  • Excellent long-term memory for experiences, locations, and faces.
  • Poor memory for sequences, facts and information that has not been experienced.
  • Thinks primarily with images and feeling, not sounds or words (little internal dialogue).

Behavior, Health, Development, and Personality:

  • Extremely disorderly or compulsively orderly.
  • Can be class clown, trouble-maker, or too quiet.
  • Had unusually early or late developmental stages (talking, crawling, walking, tying shoes).
  • Prone to ear infections; sensitive to foods, additives, and chemical products.
  • Can be an extra deep or light sleeper; bedwetting beyond appropriate age.
  • Unusually high or low tolerance for pain.
  • Strong sense of justice; emotionally sensitive; strives for perfection.
  • Mistakes and symptoms increase dramatically with confusion, time pressure, emotional stress, or poor health.
Citation Information
Davis, Ronald Dell. (1992)  37 Common Characteristics of Dyslexia. Retrieved October 14, 2019 from Davis Dyslexia Association International. Dyslexia the Gift website:  http://www.dyslexia.com/?p=254.

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  • karishma

    My friends son was suffering from dyslexia then, i suggested this test and sent your website link then he got very good result. Now he scored well in his academics and his family is very happy and satisfied. So, this proves that “Dyslexic children are not slow learners. They learn in different ways, and they will learn very quickly when they have the opportunity to learn in ways geared to their natural strengths.”

  • Hannah

    I was smiling as I read down through the signs of dyslexia. I’m always confused between my right and left hand, whenever I am baffled, I raise my hands, I think which hand is used for writing and once I get the answer I will be able to determine which is which. Having hard time also reading analog watch, poor health — always have ear infection, too emotional, perfectionist ever since, keen sighted, always reversing letters ei to ie, uo to ou in words having those letters and always late in school LOL. But I don’t tell anyone, I think no one will believe me and I don’t know what to do with it

    • Mary

      I feel so ashamed of myself, I don’t like to go out or make friends because I don’t want people to know what I am going through, I have almost all the symptoms here I cry to sleep sometimes am scared of going to school and everyone around me expect so much from me, the worst of it is that the person I called my boyfriend seize every opportunity he has to insult me because of my condition, I feel like no man will ever accept me for who I am, I feel believe that he is ashamed of me, I know I want to do better but I can’t, I which there is a cure for this.

      • trina

        Mary don’t be so hard on your self! I have had dyslexia all my life and had no idea until I was 23. I am now 35. I have a husband two child a successful nursing career even though professors said I would not make it writing the way I did. The right person will love you for you. Once you figure out why you have all these symptoms it’s like a weigh is lifted off the shoulders because you’ve discovered the cause. Sounds like you would benefit from a support group. Look on social media IG, Facebook to talk with others. Some of the most successful talented people have dyslexia. You can find a way to mange it if you are willing to research and do the work. We are born this way just like someone with asthma they can mange it so can we. Good luck dear 🙂

      • craig

        Hi Mary.

        Sorry to hear you feel that way. I too have most of the symptoms on here and when young felt the same way.

        Agreed, it can be hard feeling like you don’t fit in. More so when young, as the natural thing is to want to be accepted and be like everyone else. It can also feel like no-one understands.

        I didn’t think my life would turn out good. However, as time has shown, In time we find the people who we relate, understand us and love us for who we are. It is not constructive to spend time with people who want to put you down. They do this to hide an insecurity they have with themselves. It is not a reflection on you and you should not let it continue. The game is to rob your self-esteem so you look to them to give you permission to feel good. They then get some kind of benefit from keeping you not feeling good. It’s a bad game where no-one wins.

        Life is a gift of which we should all enjoy and be appreciated for the uniqueness of who we are. Imagine if we all looked the same, acted the same, dressed the same. Boring huh. And who wants to be the same as people that are mean to others.

        You’re special, as are we all. We all deserve to be loved for being who we are.

        Yes you have challenges, but that is also what makes life worth living and can make it interesting.

        Tough as it feels now, in time we come to understand we are all different. I would not change who I am now, yet desperately wanted to when I was young. I hope you find this in yourself too.

        If you are able, speak with your parents about how you feel. Do they understand how you feel? They should love you for who you are and support you. If there are issues there, is there another adult you can talk to like a teacher? It can be surprising how supportive people are when they understand how you feel.

        I found out today my 8 year old is dyslexic. I want him to understand he is a gift. His different way of thinking and seeing things will also make him unique. Uniqueness is what people come to love us for. If they don’t, then they are not the right fit. Like a jigsaw, if the pieces don’t fit, no amount of pressure will make them and you will never find the right one whilst with the wrong one. Try to accept and enjoy being who you are. We can’t be anyone else:-) Being here is the greatest gift.

        Stay strong, life is good (even if it feels tough now) and it gets better.

        Sending love.

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Keep in mind that a Davis program can help individuals at any age — and the program does much more than address reading problems. If you work with a Davis facilitator, they will begin by going over your problems and goals and will structure a program geared to your specific needs.

  • Sue I

    How can i go about getting my son assessed?
    my son is now 15 years old and is terrified of having to do exams next year. I have asked at the school several times as my son has many of the above characteristics and states that he has lots of ideas/thoughts in his head but can’t get them down on paper. The school told me that although he was behind for his age it was just because he needed to work harder. I also mentioned it the the Doctor, who said that Health visitors used to be able to help with this but they don’t get involved with things like that anymore and just said it would have be the school that got him assessed.
    I feel that over the last 4-5 years he has been completely let down by the school and the other systems.

    Please can you advice the best way of getting him assessed.

    Many Thanks

  • Wendy F

    Can someone with so many of your stated dyslexic characteristics, but who had no trouble reading or writing, also be dyslexic? Is it a spectrum?

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Yes, dyslexia does occur along a spectrum and it is very possible for a person to have many characteristics that are tied to dyslexia without specific difficulties with reading and writing. Sometimes this will be labeled differently — for example, if the person has primary difficulties in math, it might be called “dyscalculia” — but the underlying cause may be the same.

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