Smart Start Dyslexia Correction Center :: Servicing The Whole Child

37 Common Characteristics of Dyslexia

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 characteristic about dyslexics is their inconsistency.


  • Appears bright, highly intelligent, and articulate but unable to read, write, or spell at grade level
  • Labeled 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
The Davis Dyslexia Correction® Program helps people with these characteristics every day. The disabling aspects of Dyslexia are correctable and can be overcome.

© 1992 by Ronald D. Davis (used with permission)
© 2019 Smart Start Dyslexia Correction Center. All Rights Reserved.   619 5th Ave. Suite 5  Brookings, South Dakota   Ph: 605-692-1785 (W)  605-692-2842 (H)
Professional services described as Davis®, Davis Dyslexia Correction®, Davis Symbol Mastery®, Davis Orientation Counseling®, and Davis Math Mastery® 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.
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