37 Common Characteristics

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

© 1992 by Ronald D. Davis - used with permission


  • —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 "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 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).

Behaviour, 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.


The Davis Dyslexia Correction® program helps people with these characteristics every day.

The disabling aspects of Dyslexia are correctable and can be overcome.


Professional services described as Davis™, Davis Dyslexia Correction®, Davis Symbol Mastery™, Davis Orientation Counselling™, Davis Math Mastery™, Davis Attention Mastery™, Dyslexia the Gift® and Gift of Dyslexia® may only be provided by persons who are employed by a licensed Davis Specialist, or who are trained and licensed as Davis Facilitators by Davis Dyslexia Association International.