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 September 17, 2019 from Davis Dyslexia Association International. Dyslexia the Gift website:  http://www.dyslexia.com/?p=254.

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  • 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….

  • 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.

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