37 Characteristics of Dyslexia

Ronald Davis, author of The Gift of Dyslexia, has created a list of

thirty-seven common traits and behaviours of people who have the gift of dyslexia. If a person possesses nine or ten of these traits, this program would be helpful in correcting the problems associated with dyslexia.

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


  • 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.

  • Employed in positions that hide difficulties or not required in dealing with problematic areas.

    Will hide these from co-workers, friends and family.

  • Will avoid promotions that require to face these problematic areas.

  • High I.Q., 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.

  • Difficulty sustaining attention; seems "hyper" or considered "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.

  • Extremely keen sighted and observant, or lacks depth perception and peripheral vision.

  • Reads and rereads with little comprehension. Avoids reading out loud. Finds reading


  • 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.

  • Poor memory of verbal instructions be accused of “not listening”.



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.



Math and Time Management

  • Has difficulty telling time, managing time, learning sequenced information or tasks, or being on time. May find it difficult to estimate how long a task will take to complete.

  • Computing math shows dependence on finger counting and or calculators; knows answers, but can't do it on paper.

  • Can count, but has difficulty counting objects and difficulty with money and counting change.

  • Can do arithmetic, but fails word problems; cannot grasp algebra or higher math.

  • May experience anxiety when driving in new places and relies on others to drive when

    possible. May get lost easily and finds it difficult to follow directions.



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.

  • Highly intuitive.

  • May be known as having a “short fuse” or easily angered.

  • May appear as a “perfectionist” and overreacts when a mistake is made.

  • Prone to ear infections; sensitive to foods, additives, and chemical products.

  • Can be an extra deep or light sleeper; bed-wetting beyond appropriate age.

  • Unusually high or low tolerance for pain.

  • Mistakes and symptoms increase dramatically with confusion, time pressure, emotional

    stress, or poor health.

If you demonstrate more than 10 of these character traits and would like support contact Jane

2019 Dyslexia Learn 

Jane Severinsen

Dyslexia Learn

Central Otago, New Zealand

027 294 2433


Professional services described as Davis™, including Davis Dyslexia Correction®, Davis™ Symbol Mastery, Davis™ Orientation Counseling,  Davis™ Attention Mastery,  Davis™ Math Mastery, and Davis™ Reading Program for Young Learners  may only be provided by persons who are trained and licensed as Davis Facilitators or Specialists by Davis Dyslexia Association International.

Davis Learning Strategies® is a trademark of Ronald D. Davis. Commercial use of this trademark for the purposes of training and mentoring teachers requires licensing by the trademark owner.