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 July 13, 2020 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)

Full Davis programs are currently available online from many Davis Facilitators. For more information, see Online Program Delivery (Pilot Program).


Share this page!


  • Michael S

    If reversing letters/numbers or putting letters/numbers out of order is not Dyslexia, what is it?

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Reversing letters/numbers and putting letters/numbers out of order is a common but not universal symptom of dyslexia. We believe it is caused by disorientation and we always provide individuals with tools for addressing those problems in every Davis Dyslexia Correction program.

      As you can see, these symptoms are listed under the “Vision, Reading, and Spelling” section on this page.

  • Kwiringira J

    Am happy finally to discover what I have been suffering from, I have had a challenge with my memory I read or write something and within a second it disappears.
    I hope I will be helped this time a round.

  • Stephen K

    Dyslexia is seen as a problem, and an industry has grown up to eradicate it. From what I see, it was not a problem for thousands of years, and not until the advent of universal reading and writing evolved. Since our schools are language centric, educators see those with dyslexia as being handicapped, and put massive efforts into trying to correct it. This is similar to a once common practice of forcing left handed people to write with their right hand. Today no educator would accept this as needing correction. Given the use of quill or nib pens, the left handed writer would smear the wet ink. With the advent of the pencil, ball point pens, and felt tip pens there was no need to be overly concerned that a person would use their preferred hand. It is a crime that schools put so much energy in trying to “correct” the symptoms of dyslexia, and put NO effort in building on its strengths. We have learned nothing in 200 years of pedagogy.

    • Pedro

      Yikes…for thousands of years humankind didn’t have the means to address vision impairments either. Does that mean people should walk around without glasses? There are programs and approaches that can help reduce the literacy struggles for individuals with dyslexia and allow them to lead fuller lives in a modern society that largely hinges upon consumption of printed information. That doesn’t mean someone can’t listen to audio books or get other assistive technology to help accommodate the deficit, but I believe it’s a disservice to take this kind of hard-line admiration of disability that does not seek to help the individual function at a maximal level within the constraints of the disability.

  • Erossa PS

    hi i just noticed my son’s way of reading and writing is unusual he keeps reversing the numbers 6,5,2,3, and letters L,S,B,D,P which is normally very hard to write but for him that is the easiest way. However he can easily remember locations but cant memorized at school even reading simple words or just to follow instructions is hard for him. I am so worried that he is different from all his classmates. I just don’t have enough money yet to go to doctor to check if this is really dyslexia but when i read all this then he is really dyslexic and I don’t know what to do about it. He is very talkative and curious about many things which keeps him asking a lot of questions. He thinks like an old man about whats happening so i thought there’s no problem with him but when he go to school that’s when he is struggling at.

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      The methods we use are explained in the book, The Gift of Dyslexia. The book is readily available from many different booksellers. So if you get the book, then it will give you specific tools you can use to help your son.

    • mama nai

      If he is in school you need to write a letter to them principal or counselors that you believe he may be dyslexic and they can check for you or put you in right path. I don’t believe you need a DR per say to diagnosis him the school should help you do that.

  • Kat

    I’m 13, and I just took this test. I had over 19 symptoms of dyslexia. I had a hard time reading things because my eyes would hurt so bad. I thought I needed glasses but when I got them they only made my vision worse. I thought something was personally wrong with me and so I retook the test but nothing changed. I also strive to be a perfectionist when I was little and when I couldn’t reach the bar that I had set for myself, I always felt like a failure. I took several of these tests and they’ll show that I was dyslexic. Now I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to tell my parents I think the laugh at me. My name and that means wisdom and they always wanted me to be really smart. I could also never text very fast, and so I always use the microphone. That’s what I’m even doing right now. Or else I couldn’t actually write this .

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Kat, dyslexic people are smart. Dyslexia just means you process information differently than others. All the problems that are tied to dyslexia can be addressed when you learn ways to use your strengths work past your weaknesses. We use the word “wisdom” in a special way — we use it to describe the type of learning that comes from your own efforts or creativity. I hope you will be able to share what you are learning about dyslexia with your parents.

    • Becky

      I learned I was dyslexic around the same age that you are now and it brought to light all the struggles that I had growing up and learning in school. This helped me figure out how to learn the way that I needed to learn things. I am still learning things about my dyslexia and I am now 23. Today, I stumbled upon a beautiful article that I think you will benefit from.


  • Sissy

    I’m 57 and had these issues all my life.
    Except I can read a book, and yet if you ask me about the book?
    I can’t remember most of what I had read.
    Also I’ve always had a big problem recognizing faces?
    Say I went to school with them, if I saw them out of school and they said hello
    I would be lost?
    Also if I met someone and chatted with them all night, a week or 2 I would run into them and have no idea who they were? It’s very embarrassing.

  • Annabel

    I am in tears now because I am 38 and I was suffering all these years without knowing my problem. Things fall from my hands easily (I’m clumsy), when I started working at 26, I was given a data entry role where I made mistakes everyday because I was always entering wrong information. I went for eye test and I was okay but what I see is not what is on the paper, it’s different. I keep misplacing words for example “Sudan” but I will see “Sidon”, “do” but I will see “don’t”, and I am supposed to enter accurate data. Everybody laughed at me during work and they thought I was stupid, I felt so bad and I didn’t understand why I was making so many mistakes, I was demoted at work and felt so bad, I have left the job but I don’t know what to do as I am now looking for a job after many years of being jobless due to fear. I have difficulty reading because I just don’t understand it, the words keep mixing up so I’m tired of trying, I am having difficulty spelling and pronouncing words accurately too. I’m happy I have discovered my problem, I’m happy I am not alone, is there a cure?

    • Tanja

      you poor pet, hope you find the help you need, you are not any of those things you just see things differently don’t give up. Xx

  • 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!

    • Sissy

      I still do that with numbers, say I had a math equation in school, and the answer was 863…..I would write 836…..I would stay after school for extra help before test next day, because I always did bad at math, and I really tried hard..
      I would get my check back feeling good because I did well with extra help..
      But recieve a F
      When I looked at the answers I had reverted all the last 2 numbers again, and I also would forget to add the carry over number…
      It was so frustrating, I felt so stupid, I knew something was wrong with my brain, but the teachers just treated me like I was hopeless…surprisingly When I was 28 I took the test for GED…
      Shockingly out of highest score possible 300, I scored 277? I would if did better except I barely passed math, lol

  • Maureen M

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

Leave a public question or comment:

If you need personal help or assistance, please use our contact forms instead.

All comments are moderated. Comments that are not relevant to the page topic or which contain identifiable personal information will not be published.

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