Thursday, 29 October 2009

37 Common Characteristics of Dyslexia

Article written by: Ronald D. Davis, 1992.

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.


  • 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.

Common Signs of Untreated Dyslexia

Early Years (ages 4 -5)

  1. Trouble remembering the names of the days of the week and months of the year.

  2. Trouble following directions (especially multiple instructions).

  3. Has speech problems (usually, but not always, had many ear infections in their first few years of life).

  4. Trouble making up rhymes.

  5. Trouble memorizing words to songs.

Middle Years (6-9)

  1. Reverses letters and numbers (normally 'b' and 'd', '6' and '9).

  2. When reading, may skip words (strangely, it is usually the smaller, easier words that get skipped).

  3. When reading, may substitute a word that has the same or similar meaning. For example, they may see the word "gigantic", but may say "big" or "large".

  4. When reading, may see the first letter of a word and take a wild guess, out of context, based on that first letter; for example, they may see a word like "prairie" and say "palace".

  5. When reading, will change letters within words, such as "calm" to "clam".

  6. Forgets to add prefixes or suffixes when writing. For example, they may forget to add the 'ed' to make a word past tense.

  7. In the classroom, may have trouble copying from the board.

  8. Doesn't always write sounds from left to right; for example, may spell "to' as "ot.

  9. Poor reading comprehension.

  10. Trouble memorizing math facts.

  11. Delayed in telling time (on an analog clock).

  12. Switches their dominant hand for some tasks; for example, they may write with their right hand, but do cartwheels left-handed.

Later Years (10 to adult)

  1. Takes poor notes in the classroom.

  2. Has trouble articulating; jumbles up words or has trouble searching for the right word.

  3. Avoids reading, or reads very slowly in a monotone voice.

  4. Has difficulty with foreign languages.

  5. Writing is very simplistic, handwriting is usually messy.

  6. Trouble organizing.

messy handwriting

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