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 26, 2019 from Davis Dyslexia Association International. Dyslexia the Gift website:  http://www.dyslexia.com/?p=254.

Related Articles

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 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.
Book Cover, Gift of Dyslexia

Looking for a solution? Start here.

The Gift of Dyslexia explains why dyslexia happens and what you can do about it.
Davis Method Provider Directory

Find a Davis Provider near you

(Click Here)


Share this page!


  • Connor

    Me and me mates always joked about being dyslexic, so i decided to do some research. And because i have so many of these points i believe im dyslexic. I read but dont understand, commonly see random words that arent there, mix letters around a lot. I get easily distracted and talk way to much. The only thing is im actually really good at maths, im in year 9 and im in the top 5 of the year, but i struggle to do algebra and mix numbers up all the time. It doesnt bother me to be easily destracted or talk way to much, i can still get at least a B in all subjects, and despite not understanding what i read or reading aimlesly while think about something random, i can write banger stories and get an A in a lot of writting tasks. Im glad to know about symptoms of dyslexia, thank you

  • Jorge P

    I am 30 year old guy. I don’t remember when I first heard the word dyslexia but I known it for years. I am also bilingual about to be trilingual speak Spanish, French and of course English, Spanish is my first language but i’ve always had a problem reading. I guess they failed to catch it k-12 because they though my ethnic background had something to do with it. Hey, Spanish is my first language but since I was a kid I grew up learning both at the same time.

    Anyways I always had difficulty understanding what I was reading or did not understand at all. Like I could read but not understand what I read and I read slow. I’ve had to reread sentences to understand. I started now having to find PDA book to have a my pc read to me or listening to audio books.
    The worst of my issue is with numbers that switch up on me a number would be like 1776 but my brain would read it 1677. This happen every now and then when I would deliver pizza. I gotten fired from jobs for giving the wrong change too. I fear handling money or having to count because of it.
    I am not stupid I am a lot brighter then people with normal functioning brains if you can even say that. I mean having the burden of understanding complex subjects, understanding logic and reasoning, knowing fallacies, ect and having a normal person not able to understand the laws or why what they said is a fallacy.

    I have so many of the symptoms on this list.

    • Jasmina C

      Well sir we all make mistakes don’t ever get major fears on such fields. I’ve had dyslexia all my life without ever knowing not once would I blame dyslexia for your intelligence. We are capable of anything we just need to find the right tools to help us. Future reference just double check your work. We read too fast in general so just reread and you’ll eventually will be able to read at normal speed. Have a good day sir!

  • Maureen M

    How do I help my dyslexic 12 year old boy…. In grade 5….

  • Gerard P

    Well I heard the word dyslexic yesterday probably for the first time and hence I am here and after reading most of the details I have picked up the two very important factors that bring to mind and important situation. “Introvert and Extrovert” There are a lot of pros and cons with delivering desired outcomes with these two personality types. However the most important thing is that both compliment each other and work together and can survive happily to deliver a desired outcome of joyful service in whatever skills they excel at.

  • Cathy V

    My father was dyslexic and a carpenter engineer he was brilliant. He recognized it in me at a very young age and taught me all the go-arounds that normal people take for granted. By the end of my career I was teaching lawyers how to be real estate lawyers. Nobody knew I said this Lexia because I just learn two languages there’s and how I interpret it. So I go to my box of interpretations when I look for words that they use. We all have our ways of developing these skills. But I’m a firm believer that I use more of my brain than most. And since the invention of voice to text my mind has been able to expand in the world in words. Unless of course my voice to text program has worse dyslexia than I do. My problem is I have to read what I say five times before I can pick up my errors. But the people that know me come to me for advice and help on solving problems because I have so many solutions of how to solve problems in my brain for my own need I just transfer that information to them in the language they can understand. I help or not dyslexic people solve their problems than anyone else all the while they’re unaware I don’t speak their language.

    • James S

      im 28 and i have 34 of the traits and no one ever recognized , just made fun of me for it

      • Amy

        I am so sorry for the experiences you had to go through!
        I was diagnosed by my math professor in my last class before I got my associates degree. A little late indeed. I still have the traits, pretty much all of them.
        I always hated reading aloud, I would make up excuses or just refuse to read aloud when I was younger and would get made fun of too. I would take the detention to avoid reading aloud, and everyone thought it was a “behavioral issue”.
        I will have to save this for you husband to read. So much explains that it’s still with you. It’s crazy about the motion sickness and dizziness. I have had those two for a long time. Never knew they were connected. I play memory games, to help with the short term memory loss.

        Thanks so much for this article!! Good luck all, keep smiling. we get through it, it just takes a little longer.

  • Bob

    Don’t worry I am 72 and made it to senior executive and I am still working as a Consultant making business money, I fooled them all using my creativeness to cover up. When the computer came with Google spelling was almost fixed and spreadsheet fix the maths. I can’t catch a ball however, I can build a PowerPoint presentation that blows them away, I can’t spell so I learned the big words by listening to parliament, I write like a doctor so the keyboard fixed that. To cover myself I have everything in business proofed.
    The main thing that saved me was using my memory, it still does not let me down even at this age.
    So again don’t worry just look at Richard Branson and be happy as he is one of us.

Leave a Reply to Cris Cancel reply

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