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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  • danielle

    you know lot of dyslexic people may read this and not know what transpositions, omissions, phonetically and inconsistently means like me they just look like random letters bunched up. they mean nothing to me and they make no since to read.

  • Margaret W

    I have been living with this all my life and so has my mother. We have found meditation helps as well as taking frequent brakes. I did not read at grade level till I hit 6th grade and it took a lot for me to catch up and I did struggle a lot. I still do and there are days where stress does make it worse.

  • Megan

    My name is Megan and I am a dyslexic student in secondary or high school my question is what has been done for dyslexics with these learning difficulties and is there any new inventions or systems of learning in place for the future ?

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Megan, the Davis Dyslexia Correction program is effective for individuals of all ages. This was developed by Ron Davis in the early 1980’s and is now used successfully around the world. The program has evolved over the years as the experience base of Davis Facilitators has expanded, but part of the reasons the program does work so well is that we alway adhere to our core principals. So the answer is that we already have an effective program –so our main goal would be to make our tools and experience more widely known and available.

  • Ruthie

    I am visually impaired myself and a friend of many people who are audio readers due to blindness. Either they were never taught braille for one reason or another, or while they learned it, just don’t use it. Because of this, the written word is only provided to them in audio format (through screen reading software). Many of them struggle with spelling, some say they are self-diagnosed dyslexic, some just say they don’t spell well. It’s a problem that affects them in many ways. I noticed that some of them don’t just spell phonetically (a sure sign of reading only via audio format), but will change how they spell words even when written twice within the same sentence. I am no reading expert, but have been looking for some way to help all of them, those who may be dyslexic, and those simply with the lack of having “experienced” words in any way other than through audio. Do you know if something like this exists? Also, I am curious what your thoughts are on dyslexia self-diagnosis in adulthood. Thanks!

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