Is my Child Dyslexic? – How to find out.

Is My Child Dyslexic?

Most dyslexics exhibit about 10 of the following traits and behaviours. These characteristics can vary from day-to-day or minute-to-minute. Thus the most consistent thing about a dyslexic profile is its inconsistency. If you have arrived at a place where you are asking the question, “Is my child dyslexic?” this checklist can give you a starting point.

37 Common Characteristics of Dyslexia

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

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. 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.

My Child-Dyslexic? Testing for Dyslexia

Screening, assessment, diagnostic testing

Dyslexia is not a medical condition; blood tests, biopsies and X-rays cannot, therefore, be used to diagnose it. Tests or evaluations measuring a person’s learning characteristics and the severity of symptoms are thus the basis for dyslexia diagnosis.

Because dyslexia is not a medical issue, medical training does not cover it; as a result, when you ask the question, “Is my child dyslexic?”, doctors know little about it so you are unlikely to find answers there. Moreover, the NHS provides no funding for its assessment or diagnosis. Dyspraxia, ADHD, Autism–other  aspects of SpLD–are regarded as medical conditions. Thus the first port of call for diagnosis for those issues would be your GP; hence, there would be funding for diagnosis through the NHS.

Occasionally, unrecognised dyslexia is seen as a significant underlying cause in a serious mental health problem. In such a case, assessment might then be arranged and funded through the NHS.

Is My Child Dyslexic/Am I Dyslexic

So, you are asking yourself, “Is my child dyslexic?” or, perhaps, “Am I dyslexic?” and, additionally, you feel you want some concrete answers. There are 3 types of testing for Dyslexia.


Checklists, like the one on this page, list characteristics and behavioural traits that many dyslexic people have. A checklist is not a formal tests but will give an idea of whether or not there is a possibility that  your child is dyslexic. While a checklist will not provide a formal diagnosis, it can help you understand your child better, indicate the possibility for further assessment needs and begin to answer the question: is my child dyslexic?

Screening Tests

Screening Tests are designed to flag up possible learning differences. They are not a formal diagnosis and are not always 100% accurate. You can purchase some computerised screening packages to use at home. There is detailed information about various computerised screening tools on the British Dyslexia Association website.

The advantage of these tools is that you can do the screening for yourself or your child without the need for a professional qualification. You can get a preliminary answer to that question, “Is my child dyslexic?” in order to decide whether anything further needs to be done.

There are also screening tests that can be administered in schools or dyslexia centres by teachers trained in their use. Some simply give an idea about whether a person may have dyslexic differences. Others offer a more detailed profile of strengths and weaknesses, which can help with planning an appropriate teaching strategy.

Diagnostic Assessment

A formal assessment for dyslexia is carried out either by a specialist dyslexia teacher or by a chartered educational  or occupational psychologist. A specialist dyslexia teacher will have a post graduate Diploma in Specific Learning Difficulties and an assessment Practising Certificate.

In both cases it will assess verbal and non-verbal intelligence, overall cognitive functioning, reading, writing and spelling ability and working memory; though a psychologist will use different tests. Thus, psychologists can also, frequently, identify issues such as Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia, ADHD or Autism, often  co-occurring [1]with dyslexia.

These assessments are likely to take roughly 3 hours. Following which, you will be provided with a detailed, written report including recommendations for support and accommodations.

The cost can vary dramatically. If you have a local dyslexia helpline or association, contact them for advice on where to find an assessor, or contact the British Dyslexia Association.

A higher education institution or workplace will need a report like this to make the reasonable adjustments and accommodations for your dyslexia required by the Equality Act 2010. The report will need to have been produced after the 16th birthday.

School may have little interest in a full diagnostic report.

Your child’s teacher is expected to respond to the needs demonstrated by your child in the classroom. Based on those needs they must set up support strategies. Strategies such as extra time to complete classwork and homework, use of a word processor or computer software, someone to read or write for them.  Your child’s school will record these strategies as their normal way of working. Thus, when it comes to sitting exams or doing assessments, any reasonable adjustments required will be based on these normal ways of working.

Examination Boards do not require a formal diagnosis, either at level 2, (GCSEs) or at level 3 (A levels), to put accommodations in place. They need evidence of normal way of working from the school.

You may have concerns about your child that have not been picked up at school. In that case, the results of a checklist test or a screening may be useful. It may draw the school’s attention to characteristics they have not noticed.

Bright, motivated children, eager to please, who manage to achieve at about the middle of the class, may not set bells ringing for their teacher. However, your child may experience serious stress in such a situation. They are likely to be working very hard, both to achieve and to hide the difficulties they have. Their self esteem may be falling, they may be losing confidence in their ability. The results of a screening might allow school to assess the situation and put support in place.

You might then want to consider a Davis Programme.


Please Note:

If you are considering a Davis programme and also want testing to prove that you qualify for the accommodations and adjustments granted by the Equality Act 2010, we recommend that you arrange for separate diagnostic testing from a qualified professional before undertaking a Davis Programme. The positive results of the programme can often make it more difficult to “prove” that someone has a ‘learning disability’ such as dyslexia, however, there may be situations and occasions when your child will still feel that they want continued support of some kind.

It is common to find that support is no longer needed or wanted after a successful Davis programme. However, each individual will progress at their own pace. Thus, it makes sense to get the testing before embarking on the programme.

Furthermore, there have been cases of individuals formally diagnosed as having dyslexia prior to a Davis programme no longer being  diagnosed as dyslexic when tested some time after completion of a Davis programme. The dyslexic gift has not gone; but the negative baggage that came with it has been eliminated.




[1] Co-occurrence is no surprise to Davis Facilitators, who know that all SpLD arise from the same Gift

Understanding Dyslexia
My Child Dyslexic
Dyslexia in Young Adults
ADHD in Children
Dyslexia Training
My Child Dyslexic