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.
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  • Irene S

    my 5yr old granddaughter is very bright has a long term memory like an elephant! however she CAN NOT write her name for a year we have tried everyday to have her write her name she CANT do it after a year she gets most of the letters but cant place them in order she starts writing from the rt side of the paper to the left. she is left headed . she can not read site words now she becomes exstreamly frustrated now when asked to write her name!!she is very sensitive to sounds smells motion (driving in a car)!i know there is a problem there is a problem why would i have to wait until she is 7 and totally behind and frustrated!!!!!!pls help!

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Irene, we really recommend using the Davis Young Learner’s kit for working with a 5 year old child — you can find more information at https://shop.dyslexia.com/dylkit

      Your granddaughter does have common symptoms of dyslexia, but many of the problems are also very typical for a 5 year old child. If you have been trying to get her to write her name for a year that would mean she was age 4 when you started – and that is just too young for most children to be expected to be able to write with a pencil or crayon. Small children need to have a foundation of a many skills that precede reading and writing, and that is a matter of brain development. If you push a child to do something before her brain has developed enough to handle the task, then even though your efforts are well-meaning, you will end up making the problem worse. You are seeing this happening already in your granddaughter’s frustration.

      Our kit is geared to the developmental needs of younger children. No paper, no pencil, and absolutely no pressure. Your grandaughter will develop the ability to make sense of the letters of the alphabet through play and using clay, and will learn at the pace she is is comfortable with.

  • Mj

    Hey ..I believe my older brother has dyslexia… I just wish he was tested earlier..I have never heard of this condition until I came across it today while reading a novel.. and I had to Google it… .am 19..last born(5th born) in my family…my brother is 27(3rd born). ..yet he is in his last year in highschool …me and my sister(4th born she’s 24) we kinda got born and passed him while he was in school…since he was a kid..he has had a problem of learning..challenged even by the simplest subjects…even spellings..all the symptoms fit him from what I have read above…I grew up knowing its a curse or birth defect or something but am shocked to know who he is..what he has ..I just hope his future is bright ..though he is very good in handy things .like farming..wood work..mechanics. .I just wish we knew earlier maybe we would have taken him to a different school ..instead of him thinking he is stupid—we’v transferred him from MANY schools..he has repeated classes a lot and medications/suppliments,tutions,..maybe we would have engaged him more in sports..more in handy works.. now he is in a normal school where everyone thinks he’s stupid because he gets E’s/..in all subjects since he started learning..what will he do in future?where does he start after highschool???army??National youth service(NYS)??polytechnic??work??mechanics?? Farming??What do people like him do for a living??what do their future end up like??will he ever own a family?? Kids??.I have tons of questions..can’t wait to educate my self on this type of condition. Well..he can’t come to university like me or normal jobs like my siblings. !..but am so happy to know what the problem is…happiest day ever .He’s been through hell and finally I get to understand him.. He’s odd ..but am sure all get my answers and help him take a step towards the right direction..that’s my experience..can’t wait to atlist try make life better for him…

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      MJ, I am glad that you found this site. I am sorry that your brother has struggled so long — but he can overcome his limitations even at this age, if he wants to. There is a licensed Davis Faciliator in your country and if your brother would like help, then he could arrange a consultation. You can go to this web page to browse through international locations: https://www.davismethod.org/davis-facilitators/locations/

      I do understand that at this age your brother may be so discouraged and tired of failure of school that he may also be resistent to efforts to help with his dyslexia. But you’ve listed many of his talents (farming, wood work, mechanics) and certainly it is respectable to work in any of those areas as well. Perhaps once he is no longer in school he will gain confidence doing work where he can feel successful.

      • Jim S

        just checking this site out again for another friend with dyslexia. growing up my best friend was dyslexic. when we were 11 and 12 years old, we started building chopper bicycles. we would study the proportions and Engineering designs of Harley Davidson Choppers and then scale the parts down to what we needed for our bicycles.my friend’s mother was fortunate enough to find an educational therapist who worked with him. the therapist did a case study on him which was later published into a book called ‘ Reading Writing and Rage ‘. I believe you can still find it online. my friend went onto become a phenomenal welder working with tolerances the thickness of a hair. For the last 25 years he has worked for a major Aerospace defense contractor and is in charge of a division that does manufacturing using lasers.

  • Charles Walker

    I will be 80 next birthday. When I was at primary school in England in the 1940’s no one had heard of Dyslexia. I was ashamed I could not read, so I used various methods to cover-up this problem, which fooled even my teachers in primary school. In those days when children were 11 years old they sat an examination to decide if they were clever enough to go to a Grammar School. Only the top 10% or so passed this test, the rest went to a ‘Secondary Modern School. The teachers
    at my primary school thought that only myself and a girl called Audrey Walmsley would pass this test (after 70 years I can still remember her name and most of my teachers names, which proves Dyslexia isn’t a memory problem). In most of the
    maths, history and science tests etc. I would be ‘top of the class’ or near the top if I wasn’t required to write the answers down. Fortunately I did learn to read when I was 14. In my late teens I was only one year away from obtaining a degree,
    because I went into the British Army, where I served for six years. I have also been successful in business in my adult life.
    I am writing this to show younger people that DYSLEXIA doesn’t mean you will fail in adult life. However, one thing I must mention, to write the above I still need a dictionary at hand.

  • Terry

    Hi, I wouldn’t wish dyslexia on anybody, I’m 72 and it’s held me back all my life
    I’ve never been tested for it but I new as a kid I was different,
    I’ve just read the simtems above and I probily have more than tow therds of them.
    Love and peace

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      It’s tough for someone like you who grew up at a time when dyslexia was not widely understood and schools had no obligation to provide specialized services. Fortunately we now have tools to enable dyslexic children and adults to use their natural gifts and talents and overcome the barriers that hold them back.

  • Lola

    I believe my 6 year has dyslexia but the school doesn’t rest until third grade. I see him showing the signs like not being able to remember site words saying things backwards like paper toilet .. His dad has dyslexia and I my self have it but I was never treated or digonised… I hate to see him struggle like I do on a daily basis.. How can I get him tested now instead of waiting two more years..

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Lola, we would not encourage testing of a 6 year old. Childhood dyslexia is developmental– that is, it is not something that a child either has or doesn’t have, but it is an inborn tendency that develops over time. We feel it is better to give young chidren the learning tools they need to avoid falling behind in school. We have developed early learning programs geared to children age 5-7, and also developed a kit for home use: https://shop.dyslexia.com/dylkit

    • Sue

      Lola, you absolutely can & should have your child tested. It is YOUR RIGHT as a parent. Also, the school has to provide you all the information about testing and a copy of your rights, in writing. Don’t wait until your child becomes withdrawn, frustrated or behind. The struggle causes emotional distress. My son is 30 now. I am greatful someone told me about my rights. Schools don’t want to pay for outside, independent testing, so they don’t always readily share, you need to ask. This site may have some great tools to help, but find out what the issues are first. I hope this helps.

    • Stacey

      My son is 7 and just gone into year 3!
      When he was in reception class I noticed something wasn’t right he couldn’t blend his phonics! Was behind on his reading and writing by the time he got into year one!
      The school had noticed and sent me to get his hearing checked which was all fine and I tested his eyes the poor boy couldn’t see!
      I left him to catch up thinking now he had glasses it might improve which it did a little but not enough for me. I asked the school to test him for dyslexia when he was in year 2 to which I was told he had to be in year 3 to be tested because he had to be 7!
      My sons birthday is in Dec so he was 7 for 6 months of year 2 i usd that as my arguement and they did a screener test which came back as moderately dyslexic. Now he is in year 3 waiting for a full assessment just push for it! There are some tests online that you can do but they are not official tests and state that the child should be 7 for results to be accurate but do them give yourself peace of mind! Good luck with it all and don’t worry too much about it lots of very successful people are dyslexic…… google it !xx

  • Fiona P

    My son who’s 17 was diagnosed with dyslexia he struggles an awful lot with studying for exams is there a method for him to study

  • Grace F

    i have been diagnosed with processing disorder when i was in kindergarten. now im going to be a freshman and i was wondering if i have a minor form of dyslexia. i have shown at least 16 of the symptoms listed on here. for example i tend to daydream and zone out easily and my attention span is low, but my attention is a better when the teacher just talks to me alone or just with a few kids. i usually am the class clown or the goofball but is also quiet. my self esteem is very low when it comes to learning and im usually labeled as the dumb kid and whenever i get a question everyone makes it into a huge deal and makes my self esteem low again. my poorest subjects are math and science. i would really like to know if i have a form of dyslexia before school starts for me.

  • Susan

    I believe my 9 yr son has dyslexia – how to teach him when doing his homework. he can memorize but to write it is a challenge.

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      A good start is to read the book The Gift of Dyslexia— it can help you understand your son’s learning style and provide specific techniques to work with him. See https://www.dyslexia.com/book/the-gift-of-dyslexia/

    • Stacey

      My son has dyslexia and has real trouble spelling he can read words but couldn’t then spell them to you.
      I have been giving him 5 spellings a week and getting him to copy them down over and over (like doing lines)
      He manages to retain them in his head and can then spell them. Trying to do it phonitically just does not work for him at all!
      Maybe you could give this a try x good luck

      • Sue

        Stacy, thanks for your comment. I have a five year old in first grade and he can read pretty good. He also aces all of his site word tests, but sounding out words is impossible, along with blending. His kindergarten teacher once told me funnily that he couldn’t blend to save his life lol. But she understood how he learned. And you are right about the repetition. I think that I am going to focus on more of that instead of the phonics aspect because he just isn’t comprehending it. Also, although he reads well and does extremely well in math, his writing is atrocious and he hates to write. I have been trying to get occupational therapy for him since kindergarten but since he was doing so well in other areas the school wanted to take the wait and see approach. We’ll, we waited and what I see is that despite working with him over the summer, his pencil grip is just as awkward and his writing has improved minimally. I put him in a montessori school for first grade, but you know they still write there and homework is still a nightmare even if it’s just tracing the letter a. I’m definitely a bit frustrated because I’m not a professional and I don’t know how to help him. But as him mom I know there is something going on when he is constantly making backwards 3’s or 7’s or J’ s when he spells his name. And then the other kids are writing like pros.

  • Shamesha C

    Could it be possible to read really well as a child, and adapt in school? I dropped out in the 8th grade, and received my GED 5 years later without further classes. Now at 40yrs old I have found myself for the last few years switching letters when I read, write, and type. I also switch syllables when I talk such as “dog toy” into “tog doy” I didn’t do this as a child, but I do now. I am attending college and maintain a 4.0 GPA, but just feel like I need to know if I should be more concerned about my situation.

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Shamesha, it is possible for a person with mild dyslexia to not notice symptoms as a child, but first experience them as an adult, especially if in a more stressful or demanding environment. All of the symptoms of dyslexia get worse under stress. However, there are also other medical issues that could cause a person to develop symptoms for the first time, so it’s a good idea to talk this over with your medical doctor, especially as you have only noticed this recently.

  • Anonymous

    I think I have dyslexia I tested negative for it when I was younger I display several if not all of the symptoms my parents ask the school to test me but they haven’t I don’t know if I want tested I (also have difficulties learning other languages) know I would end up being taken out of a class if not 2 If I test positive one is my favourite class.
    All help appreciated……..

    • KitKat22

      If you feel you have this talk to your parents to help you. If you are a student in a public school the school should help you with getting tested free of charge.

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