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.
Citation Information

Related Articles

Davis Program Average Reading Gains

Davis Program Average Reading Gains

Statistics from Rocky Point Academy Davis Facilitators Lawrence and Stacey Smith have assembled data showing reading level gains for more than 360 clients who completed the Davis Dyslexia Correction® program at their center, Rocky Point Academy , in Calgary, Canada.
Common Characteristics of Adult Dyslexia

Common Characteristics of Adult Dyslexia

Most adult dyslexics will exhibit at least 10 of the following traits and behaviors. These characteristics are often inconsistent, and may vary depending upon the day or situation. Career Employed in job/position that will hide difficulties...
Davis Method Provider Directory

Find a Davis Provider near you

(Click Here)


Share this page!


  • Helpp

    Heyy, im 14 and i think i could be dyslexic but im not to sure. My spelling is horrible. When i was 12 i was spelling like an 8 year old. i dont know if im dyslexic or just dumb. I can kind of read of a book but ill always dase off or ill always forget where i was. I find it really hard to read off the computer. Its hard to exsplan but i mean its like the words arnt there. but they are. i just cant seem to focse on them. When i tell my parents they say i just need classes but i can see quite fine. I find it hard to read out loud and im always pausing for a long time just to say a word. Or ill forgot how to spell really simple words like “use” and “eye”. Both my parents arnt every good at spelling too. Im not to sure what to do. and i have no clue how you can get tested to so if you have it. I will be kinda releaved if i do have it tho, becuase it means im not acutlly dumb and thats why i cant spell.

  • Joy G

    My 7 years daughter has all the characteristics of dyslexia you mentioned but I am so worried about her restlessness, doesn’t sit at a place, always standing or dancing. Always talking even talking nonsense. Sometimes, she takes to writing – meaningless writing – for hours. She likes carrying book and Will end tearing it. She dislikes nap, don’t even go there except it come on her. I am so worried sick and confused. I need help. She is so dear to me.

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Your daughter is still very young, but you may be able to help her with the mental self-regulation tools decribed in the book The Gift of Dyslexia – specifically Release, Alignment, and Dial-Setting. The book is widely available through many international booksellers – you can get more information here: https://www.dyslexia.com/book/the-gift-of-dyslexia/

  • Jill

    This sounds 100% like one of my children and another has a lot of these tendencies as well. We homeschool, so where would I have them tested for dyslexia? Is it a general doctor or somewhere else?

  • Selistan

    Hey um.. I think I am partial dyslexic. Most of what is mentioned above I have and deal with. I’m not entirely sure but eh. Sometimes when I read a book I can come across a word and not be able to move forward or think of the meaning until minutes after. I mess words up sometimes and directions of which way to go. I tend to see and hear things that aren’t there and I’m quite keen but at the same time I’m not.. Haha could someone confirm this..? It would be a big help if so.

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      The symptoms you describe are characteristics of dyslexia, and are caused by disorientation. Disorientation is a reaction to confusion, so there is a cycle: a person gets confused and disorients. Once disoriented, perceptions are inaccurate and the confusion increases, which causes the disorientation to get even worse. See https://www.dyslexia.com/the-cause-of-dyslexia/ for more information.

  • Scott O

    Hi. I’m 58 and dyslexic! I’ve dealt with it my whole life. A lot of the 37 common traits are very much ME! I read at 2nd / 3rd grade level, but I read. I may have to read it over and over before I get it correct, but I read. this web page took me over 2 hours to read, but I did. My own children can read just fine. They have small troubles with numbers but do alright. my Grandkids and great nieces and nephews however display a few of the traits. Anyone with dyslexia don’t despair! I’ve had “I.Q.” tests and score consistently in the 140’s. I also have numerous inventions in a wide range of areas. Idea’s just pop into my head and I can’t help but think them over until I can make them! When I was in school, I wore the “dunce hat” while sitting in the corner. How did that help anything? was also told I wouldn’t ever amount to anything if I didn’t try harder. well, all the people telling me that are broke… I’m a millionaire with a good I.Q.! 🙂 Keep your chins up, keep reading and working with numbers anyway. NEVER QUIT! this has taken me almost 2 more hours to write! Enjoy.

    • Lulu

      Hi all, I’m a 44 year old lady, I can read but can’t spell properly, 37 of those common traits are me, I even have more others. I’m lucky nowadays the phone does the spelling for me. This is the first time I’m talking about my self to anyone none of my family members know about this, I’m so ashamed to speak to anyone. I would like to meet up with any of you and get some help, I try so hard to do everything but it frustrates me a lot. I want to feather my education but I’m so scared. I feel so trapped, I can’t speak or read in public, sometimes when I read I don’t remember what I read I have to read things over and over to remember them very frustrating. Where can I get help please

    • shelly

      Hello, i loved your story thanks. i too have dyslexic and only found out a few days ago, i all ways wondered what was going on for me, at 50 years old, now i understand myself Shelly.

    • Peter

      Thank you for this. 40 years old, been dealing with this for years. Im also very successful, and this gift is manageable. You just need to take the good with the bad, and keep winning.

  • Lillianne

    So tell me, am I a dyslexic or am I just a Left handed person with a minded setting opposite to all these Right handed mayority?

    I work in sales and am now 34 years old.

    Today when i was working this lady said i was dyslexic because i read the numbers backwards. It was 426 but i said 462. She said her son is dyslexic and very intelligent and does the same thing all the time. I found it strange to be called dyslexic and never thought of myself as one. I am a left handed person so i sow it normal for left hander to read backwards at times or even write backward, let alone say something like a number list off rarely. Because left handed people always seem to have a opposites presective to things. I can say things and they understand me by a different peepective.

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Lilliane, the rate of dyslexia in left-handed individuals is believed to be higher than the rate among right-handed individuals. Dyslexia stems from differences in brain development, particularly with the process of left-hemispheric lateralization. The brain hemispheres are crossed, so that the left side of the brain is tied to functioning on the right side of the body, and the right side of the brain is tied to functioning on the left side of the body. So left-handed people tend to have stronger right hemispheric connections. Dyslexia is related to the way the brain processes language, and for most people, the language processing is mostly lateralized to the left side of the brain. In some left-handed people, the brain lateralization is reversed –their language centers will develop in the right hemisphere. But in many individuals the brain processes are not as strongly lateralized, and that seems to be a pattern that holds true with dyslexia.

    • z

      I feel you… every Friday we have spelling test in school… and I feel so shame with my score… luckily I have auto spelling in my phone so I was able to reply…

  • Kim

    My son was diagnosed with auditory dyslexia at college. We was not given any strategies to help support him other than give time to process. He is very sociable and works in sales. My concern for him is that he makes mistakes as he can miss information and his desk looks chaotic, and I want to know how I can help him to overcome these areas. He knows when we point things out, and gets excited about ideas but doesn’t know how to organise himself. I do sympathise as I feel I also have auditory issues, I find following information difficult and have to ask people to speak in a language I understand or demonstrate the message. However in my work I am very tidy and organised to the point of being ocd. I am not too worried about myself as I have learnt to cope but I want to help my son develop his skills and get the recognition he so deserves. Thank you for taking the time to read my post.

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Kim, we have strategies to address whatever problems your son is having, whether it is due to dyslexia or to organizational skills. The best way for him to find out more would be to make an appointment with a Davis Facilitator to discuss his goals and needs. You can use this web site to find a facilitator nearby: http://www.davismethod.org

      • Kim

        Thank you Abigail. I just hope I can persuade my son to make contact as he cannot explain where he has difficulties as to him he doesn’t, recognise any problems. The times that he does recognise are when things have gone wrong in work and it has been highlighted to him.
        Many thanks ,

  • shirley a

    All of us need to get together and protest the lack of any help for these wonderful, talented bright people.
    I need to know how many are out there having these problems with the school. My young man struggles everyday with this. He is now a sophomore in a state Univ, they will not test him verbally, and his tutor has refused to continue helping because he knows all the answers, she suggested he ask for verbal testing, they will not do that.

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Shirley, your son needs to work through the office of disability services at his university to arrange appropriate accommodations. Generally, they require appropriate documentation of any learning disability; once that is done, they will work with your son for a plan with appropriate accommodation for his needs – but ultimately the university has power to decide what to offer.

    • Sandra

      You have some work to do.
      The greatest advocate for your child is you .
      Best of luck – you can help him .

    • RICKY T

      Let the little guy live. As long as your showing him proper guidance and growth as a human being that’s all that matters. “Give a child direction and that child shall follow”



      I agree the education system should recognize that not all people fit on the same mold and that people with different needs should be educated the way they can easily understood. And unfortunately no country yet has think like this.

  • Paula

    Hi. Can someone give me a consult about my friend’s case? My friend at the of 18, has almost have all of the traits given sample here about dyslexia. My concern for her is very high. I’m very worried. When she had a test for a school, she was rejected because she is not qualified for her IQ is very low. She is getting rejected often by schools due to her IQ is not qualified. She is 3 years stuck in 6th grade with the age of 18. She is not lazy. She works physically. She is lazy when it comes to her academics. She has no concern about her studies. Can anyone help me with this? Her family doesn’t know about her condition. I’m very sure she has dyslexia. All of the samples here of a person who has it has within her too. Can it even help if I suggest by opening her problem to her parents? I’m afraid by telling it may cause to her even worse. Can someone even reply how can I face this kind of case. Thank you very much for your concern.

    • Court

      Honestly when I found out I had dyslexia recently from school I was relieved and sorta happy. I thought I was dumb compared to other people and didn’t know what was wrong with me. I got help with my dyslexia and knowing that you have it can help a lot. If she’s having trouble with tests (as I did) she should definitely check that out. Sometimes they’ll give students extra time on tests or even modify it if the student tells the teacher they have dyslexia. If she does then it’ll help her out a lot. I’d suggest bringing it up.

Leave a question or comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *