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37 Common Characteristics of Dyslexia

© 1992 by Ronald D. Davis. World rights reserved. Used with permission.

These articles are taken from the library at

Most dyslexics will exhibit about 10 of the following traits and behaviours. 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 appropriate level.

Labelled lazy, stupid, 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, yet 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; 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.

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