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 August 13, 2020 from Davis Dyslexia Association International. Dyslexia the Gift website:  http://www.dyslexia.com/?p=254.

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  • Learto M

    Hi, i am 30years and I have dyslexia from childhood,though I am still learning about it. You mention dyslexia been a gift! How so? Please explain that concept for me please?

  • Brandon

    While I haven’t had great trouble reading and writing I do find that without noticing I will omit/make up words while reading, write down made up numbers during a test when the real ones are written in the question, and often have to reread things a couple times for full comprehension. I’m 22 now but I noticed these issues in high school but passed with relatively good grades so I didn’t think anything of it, now I’m university I find I’m failing tests for misreading questions or incorrectly writing things down. I usually have the mindset that I’m always rushing through things since I usually finish with time and that’s what my grade school teaches told me I was doing. At this point what can I do to try and better my situation? Should I just try and stick to online resources and try and be more careful or would it be worth it to try and let my school know? Thanks for any advice!

  • Kelly

    I am thinking I have dyslexia, I tend to have a hard time retaining information, completing sentences/explaining what I mean, tho I’m 16 I still have a horrible at spelling, staying focused. I tend to get dizzy and vision getting blurry if I’m reading small text or text in a big block.

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Kelly, the symptoms you describe are very consistent with dyslexia. We do have specific techniques to help with focus and the sense of dizziness — we call that disorientation.

  • Kevan B

    Does colours lenses in glasses help with dylexia

  • Nilaakshi K

    Something i have wondered about later parts of my life. I am 42 and a few days a go someone told me that i could be dyslexic. My only reason so far as not to take it seriously has been the main reason that a lot of people get diagnosed through reading. I am an avid reader,quick too and good at comprehension…
    But the rest of the stuff fits like a glove.

  • David

    My name is David have been l have been diagnosed with dyslexia, when l read articles regarding dyslexia it says (the gift) l have struggled my whole life with this ha ha gift

    Or l just haven’t found my gift on dyslexia just yet

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Hi David. I have a question for you. Some people think mostly in pictures. Some people think mostly in words, always hearing a voice inside their heads. Some people are a mixture of both, and some people are not consciously aware of their thoughts. How would you describe your own thought process?

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