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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  • RJ

    as an 8 year old, i was diagnosed with Dyslexia, but i didn’t believe it

    time skip to now (age 15), i decided to look it up out of boredom, aside from the can’t read or write well and the vision issues parts, everything else checks out for me, thanks for proving my old doc right good sir(s)/ma’am(s).

  • Rachel

    My son is 10 and has had a very hard time learning to read. We homeschool and so he has had plenty of one on one instruction.he is super smart and remembers anything I read to him. He listens to audio books way beyond most 10 year olds level. Yet when he tries to read his eyes start to water and he has to sound out every word. His eyes really bother him but we have had his sight tested and it’s 20/15. He has excellent vision. I believe he has some dyslexia but I have no idea how to help him. We live in El Salvador so it’s up to me to help him since there’s no where I know of to take him. Any advice is appreciated

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Rachel, as you homeschool I would suggest that you start by reading the book, The Gift of Dyslexia. The book has detailed step-by-step instructions on how to guide a child through the learning the key Davis techniques.

  • Aubrey

    My 6 year old matches a good amount of these signs. We haven’t wanted to resort to dislexia because, let’s be honest it can sometimes feel like a cop out of why my child isn’t progressing like the others. She just started reading and we have seen with her numbers she gets them backwards example 14 to her is 41 but with reading we have words like “them” that she mistakes for “me”. She’s ending the year in kindergarten and I’m wondering if this is something I should address to the teacher or just continuing working with her.

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      With a 6 year old child, and the symptoms you describe, we would encourage the parent to work with the child using the Davis Young Learners Kit. The problems you describe do seem like early signs of dyslexia, but younger children are also in a phase of just beginning to learn to read and work with numbers. So the problems can often be addressed simply by providing the right tools early on.

    • Jill

      Trust your instincts. I saw signs in my now 3rd grader back in kindegarden. When I discussed it with his teachers they said they didn’t see any problems. He was reading and testing on level. So I decided maybe I was trying to cause problem where there wasn’t one. In second grade his grades and test were good but I noticed his self esteem was dropping. I could not figure out what was going on. I now know he was starting to realize that he was working so much harder than other kids to keep up. So he assumed he was dumb. Third grade hit like a ton of bricks he could no longer keep up. Finally I acted on my instincts and had him tested. He is dyslexic. Now we are starting interventions that would have saved him alot of heartache. If we would have started them 3 years ago. Just remember you are your child’s best advocate.

  • Rebecca

    i think im borderline dyslexic, but i dont know how to address it, or how to speak out, can anyone help? im 15

  • Nontyatyambo

    I struggle with understanding comprehension and very bad at reading and spelling. I’m 34 years old based in the westrand Johannesburg

  • Sarah

    My child has just turned 11. When she writes she makes quite bad spelling mistakes but if i ask her how to spell it she she writes it correctly (most of the time) I noticed yesterday she even spelled her name wrong. In grade 1 and 2 with sight words she could repeat the words but if i asked her in a different order she couldn’t tell me, she was just guessing. I am a bad speller so thought she took after me, but when i read her homework she has made so many spelling mistakes with words i know she can spell. She is very creative girl and loves art and drama. Very well behaved at school but often daydreams. She has always been quite emotional. Great sleeper since a baby. Just discovered she has a dairy intolerance. I am starting to worry as going to high school next year. Is she just lazy or does she need help? any advice appreciated.

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Sarah, difficulty with spelling is a common and persistent sign of dyslexia. In your daughter’s case, it is very likely caused by disorientation. So no, your daughter isn’t lazy — however, it is not clear from your psost whether she has any other significant problems with reading or school other than being a poor speller. A Davis program could help your daughter if she wants the help.

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