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.


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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  • andrew h

    I’m 51 and I have dyslexia I hate it can’t drive out of town or I’ll get lost…i can’t let anyone get close to me not even my wife….

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Andrew, help is available at any age. Ron Davis overcame his on dyslexia at age 38, and the tools we use today were developed based on working with adult dyslexics. There is no upper age limit — just a need for the person to be motivated to learn and use the Davis tools.

  • Nadeshiko

    How can I know without my mom knowing?

    I noticed awhile ago that words danced off the page with certain colour combo’s, noticing patterns, and remembering faces. I have a hard time following verbal directions. I’m also left handed.

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      How old are you? Why are you reluctant to talk to your mom about this?

      • Nadeshiko

        I’m only 13 and I’m so reluctant because she makes a big deal about everything.

        • Nadeshiko

          I also don’t want her to worry.

          • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

            There’s nothing to worry about — it just means that you learn in a different way. Is there another adult in the family you can talk to? Or perhaps a teacher at your school?

  • me

    How can you know without telling your parents?

  • Scott C

    Dang, I had to read this three times, never realized I had Dyslexia…

  • Reed N

    I got it all, so i guess im screwed . had to rewright this 2 or 3 times.

  • Isa

    I used to struggle reading and I always stutter and have trouble forming words and occasionally I misspell words really wrongly and even though I am I dedicated reader and writer I still struggle. Yet I’m the fastest reader in the grade any advice?

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Isa, how is your reading comprehension? When you read material do you understand it fully the first time you read it? Or do you find that you miss important details or need to re-read it several times? I’m asking in order to get a better understanding of the symptoms you describe.

  • Amanda

    I feel that this article was written about my son! He went to a public preschool then to kindergarten in the same school, by the end of the year I knew he wasn’t ready to move on. When I went to his teacher she agreed but disclosed that because he was meeting his benchmarks(just barely) she legally couldn’t request to hold him back(or even convey her concerns to me) but because he was only 4 when kindergarten (he turned 5 a week after) started we requested it based off his age.

    The following year around December I expressed some concerns over my sons inability to read the same sight words from the previous year and she said that I shouldn’t hold him to a higher standard and I should consider it as a new kindergarten year for him. Around February or March she requested permission to get some testing done for him and then we rolled into an meeting about IEP services and without the support of his assistant principal telling the woman that worked for the district that he needed services he wouldn’t have gotten them because he meets or just barely falls below his benchmarks… His IEP was drawn up and started and shortly after his first grade year we moved to another state but thanks to his federally protected IEP his new school implemented it seamlessly and I am very happy with the resources he has received and the progress he has made… however even on his IEP while it states he has problems with phonetic spatial recognition and when I asked if it was dyslexia the moderators of the IEP meeting said “well yeah but we can’t call it that without an official diagnosis” which I thought was weird.

    But other than IEPs other things that my son has shown signs of, he has only recently chosen a dominant hand (he switches still and uses his left hand for most other activities besides writing), he has extremely low self esteem because he understands that his peers read better than he does &he recognized that all of his friends went to 1st grade while he did another year in kindergarten. He use to be really good at hiding his dyslexic by memorizing what the teacher was reading in order to recite back to them.

    Stay strong and keep advocating!!!

    • Kathy

      This sounds exactly like my son. This is his 2nd yr in kindergarten and still not much progress. Now school wants to wait till first of the next school yr for testing but I wanted to go into first grade with a plan. I’m at a loss and unsure how and what is best for him. But he does all the same as ur son and now I see how it is effecting him emotionally. He doesn’t feel good enough. Everyone else can do more than him.

  • Jay B

    A lot of this sounds like me, sometimes I reverse letters when writing or speaking and my handwriting is pretty bad. I’ve always been really good at math though, even word problems. I’m a very slow reader and have to reread a lot but I don’t feel I have any problem speaking in general.

    Is this maybe mild dyslexia? A lot of this applies but a good bit doesn’t as well.

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Jay, you might want to run through the assessment at https://www.testdyslexia.com

      It is based largely on the same traits listed on the 37 Common Traits list, but gives you the option to differentiate between traits that are experienced consistently and those that occur only some of the time. In the end it will give you a graphic indication of various areas of difficulty, from “slight” to “moderate” to “severe”. So that is a good way for you to get a sense of where your own symptoms might fit.

  • Greig

    I’m 30 in the next couple of months and desperately looking for any guidance or support.

    I recently attended a job interview which included a written exam. I spent hours learning everything I needed to for the exam and have no issues with recalling information verbally, but when it came to reading the questions, processing the information into structured answers and writing them down it was the same old story its always been with written exams, I no where near finished the exam in the given time and my hand writing was terrible.

    I was deeply embarrassed when the HR admin came to collect my paper and saw what little I had managed to do. I still feel ashamed thinking about it because I studied hard and really wanted the job I was being interviewed for and my whole office was of the opinion I’d be an obvious choice for the position given my skills and experience.

    On the drive home I was thinking back to my time throughout High School trying to remember just one written exam I ever finished, but I couldn’t even recall one. At the time, I had spoken to my teachers but my concerns fell on deaf ears. For my final English exam, I based my discursive writing piece on the subject of time limiting written exams and how through my experience I felt this was not an appropriate way to measure intellect. Guess who wasn’t able to finish their final exam and got a ‘D’ for my troubles …I didn’t even get a comment on the irony!

    I’m anxious to progress with my employer because I’ve been in the same post for nearly five years now (3 years was my personal limit), and I would love to apply again if a similar post to the one I previously applied for came up again, but I’m now so embarrassed I don’t even know if I could face putting myself through that experience again.

    I consider myself to somewhat intellectual, I have always been good at art, managing and analyzing large volumes of information, identifying patterns etc. But now I feel completely deflated and a little depressed my life choices are being limited by the duration of the time which it takes me to focus my thoughts, formulate them into written answers and write them in a tidy manner at a pace where my hand writing doesn’t start off tidy then descend into chicken scratches and hand cramp.

    Additional considerations may be that I’m left handed, my writing is joined as writing individual letters takes even more time, I’m red/green colour blind and noticed a long time ago that words and letters dance on a page or anything with a blue background and red writing or vice versa. When I write, I have to block out all noise and it’s easy for me to drift off into a day dream like the flick of a switch.

    Can you offer any advice or link me with any services I could access here in the UK?

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Greig, please use this link for a full list of facilitators in the UK: https://www.davismethod.org/loc/uk-ireland/

      The problems you describe – words and letters dancing on a page, needing to block out noise, drifting off into daydreaming, the deterioration of your handwriting during the writing process – are all symptoms of disorientation. The problems can be resolved by first providing you with the ability to recognize and control your state of orientation, and then finding and eliminating the triggers that cause you to disorient. The first part is easy– you can learn to orient and re-orient yourself within a matter of hours. The second part takes more time and effort, but a Davis Facilitator would be able to help and guide you. Based on your description of yourself and your symptoms, I am very confident that a Davis program would go a long way toward resolving your problems.

    • robens

      go read the power of different
      the link between disorder and genius by Gail salts, M.D.

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