37 Common Characteristics of Dyslexia

Test for Dyslexia – 37 Common Traits (© 1992 by Ronald D. Davis; Used with Permission)

These 37 common characteristics of dyslexia can vary from day-to-day or minute-to-minute. The most consistent thing about dyslexics is their inconsistency. Most dyslexics will exhibit about 10 of those listed below. This is not a formal test however, if you look through this list of common characteristics and find at least 10 that relate to you, it is highly likely that you have the gift of dyslexia.


  • Appears bright, highly intelligent, and articulate although unable to read, write, or spell at age level.
  • Labelled lazy, dumb, careless, immature, “not trying hard enough,” or “behaviour problem.”
  • Isn’t “behind enough” or “bad enough” to be helped in the school setting.
  • High in IQ, however may not test well academically; tests well orally, but not written.
  • Feels stupid; has poor self-esteem; hides or covers up weaknesses with ingenious compensatory strategies. Is, furthermore, easily frustrated and emotional about school reading or testing.
  • Talented in art, drama, music, sports, mechanics, story-telling, sales, business, designing, building, or engineering.
  • Frequently seems to “Zone out” or daydream; 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.

Maths and Time Management

Has difficulty telling time, managing time, learning sequenced information or tasks, or being on time.
Computing maths 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).

Behaviour, Health, Development and Personality

Extremely disorderly or compulsively orderly.
Can be class clown, troublemaker, 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.

Moreover, mistakes and symptoms increase dramatically with confusion, time pressure, emotional stress, or poor health.

These 37 Common Characteristics of Dyslexia can give you an idea of whether you may be dyslexic.

You may then wish to contact a Davis facilitator and discover how to use the positive aspects of those 37 Common Characteristics of Dyslexia to overcome the difficulties.

Understanding Dyslexia
Davis Young Learner's Programme My Child Dyslexic
Dyslexia in Young Adults
ADHD in Children
Dyslexia Training
My Child Dyslexic