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 February 17, 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!



    My son has dyslexia and he is 8years old , how do i deal about it

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Suguna, the methods we use are described in detail in the book, The Gift of Dyslexia. The book has specific instructions in how to implement the core tools that we use.

  • Carlene

    I’m 43 and left school at the age of 14. I excelled in school with music, drama and art. I struggled with maths and also English, I just could not grasp the subjects and subsequently switched off and at times joked about. As punishment for my lack of understanding and the teachers not having enough time to show me a way to grasp the subjects, I had music and drama pulled away from me, no more being in school plays or music concerts. So I lost my motivation for the only few classes I loved.
    I felt low and a failure at such a young age and hated the struggle. I was allowed to leave school at age 14, I started working at the local stables grafting hard and went on to sing in various bands for many years… finally!
    Fast forward – age 35, I had my son and felt I needed to have a career and support him but with no school qualifications how could I?
    I was drawn to the world of psychology and counselling and found that I was able to apply for a foundation course that would entitle me to apply for the degree course, but feeling scared and intimidated by the education system it took a lot of courage. I spent a year and passed my foundation course to apply for university.
    I applied I happy to say I got accepted. A year in one of the course tutors pulled me in for a meeting and asked if I had been tested for dyslexia, what?? Are you joking me? After a chat she convinced me to book in for an appointment with a doctor that specialises in dyslexic testing a registered body that the university uses. I had to pay £100 toward this and the university paid the rest.
    I spent 3 intense hours with this doctor who was wonderful with patience and empathy.
    I sailed through some tests and scored above average but struggled hugely with number recall and solving the cognitive puzzles. I recall a sheet with numbers written on it and I had to say each number out aloud.
    Super fast at this, she pointed something out about my adopted strategy, I counted with a rhythm pattern, almost a drum beat.
    At the end of the assessment i found out I was indeed dyslexic. Overwhelmed, I burst into tears. It made sense, my life at school years previous.
    I received wonderful support during my degree years and at times just felt like giving in but I can happily tell you that I passed my psychology and counselling course with a first class honours and distinction.
    I’m now employed by a secondary school counselling adolescents and I still sing with a band gigging at weekends.
    Don’t give up even when it all seems pointless.
    It may take you a little longer to retain information but once you do, then feel very proud.
    Understand that everyone is different and never feel ashamed or worthless.
    Take care.

  • Nate

    School thinks my 7yr old is dyslexic. We had his eyes checked and i noticed during the exam that when reading the letters using only one eye open he read them normal, when using both eyes he read them backwards. Is this a common trait in dyslexic people?

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Nate, this could indicate a vision problem, perhaps in combination with dyslexia. It would be a good idea to have your son evaluated by a developmental optometrist who will test for vision tracking and coordination problems as well as visual acuity. We find that the Davis orientation tools often resolve some apparent visual processing problems, but vision involves both the eyes and the brain. Davis tools help with the mental processing part.

    • Julie

      My son was diagnosed with dyslexia when in 3rd grade. I took him to a behavioral optometrist and i worked one-on-one with him doing mind/eye exercises and in a year he no longer had dyslexia. He completed 7th grade this past year with no problems, no tutoring and with no grades lower than b.

  • Aditi

    I’m not sure if I have dyslexia. But some of the symptoms like a slow learner/reader/writer, jumbling with spelling while writing in hurry, thinking too much forming a sentence, daydreaming, talking in short/half finished sentence.
    Processing something which is spoken by someone for a long time, getting bad grades from 2nd, also that I can’t understand something without imagining things when taught by teacher or anyone.

    Am I having dyslexia?

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Dyslexia is defined or diagnosed by its symptoms. All of the problems you list are common for dyslexia.

  • Ojonugwa

    I am 25 years old, creative in writing but have difficulty in putting them out. As a rapper I foind it difficult freestyling cos I can’t think as fast to match the rhythm of Te song but after I spend so much hours writing, I present better lyrics.
    As a boy I have been called names like too slow, dullard etc. I had wanted to play football as a kid but I lost interest because I could only play perfectly in my head or playing alone but never with a team.
    I’ve lost interest in sport presenting, script writing, poems, music, etc, now public speaking simply because I easily forget words (especially grammars). And it’s making it difficult for me to choose a career choice.
    Now as an adult I think I’m having more problem because whenever I find myself in places these talents are needed I always want to act but the fear of memory failure makes me refrain and then causes me health deterioration.
    Please help me because I am not different from an alien; judging by my society’s view

  • Gloria

    With this it’s pretty obvious my 7 year old boy is dyslexic. However, he is quite good in mathematics, how do I help him?

  • Imed E

    This hit home . And made me confused wether i should happy for being different or sad for having a mental disorder.

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Dyslexia is not a “mental disorder.” It is a difference between the way the brain processes information. Most of the problems associated with dyslexia are because of the expectations of society (schools and employers).

      We know that the gift of dyslexia is also the gift of mastery — a dyslexic person is capable of doing anything, but the process of learning is not going to be the same as for non-dyslexic thinkers.

  • MadHat Syndrome


  • Dan

    Seems like there is more of a genetic component to dyslexia than what studies suggest, our family has five kids and all five has varying degrees of dyslexia with only one parent having it.

  • Dylan

    Holy Christ. Almost all of this hit home base for me. I cant even hold done a job with how bad this is

Leave a public question or comment:

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