How to tell
Most dyslexics will exhibit at least 10 of the following 37 Common Characteristics from "37 Common Characteristics of Dyslexia" (© 1992 by Ronald D. Davis; used with permission). These characteristics can vary from day-to-day or minute-to-minute.
- 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 "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;
- Seem to "zone out" or daydream often, gets lost easily or loses track of time;
- Difficulty sustaining attention; seems "hyper" or "daydreamer" and,
- Learns best through hands-on experience, demonstrations and 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 do not reveal a problem;
- Extremely keen sighted and observant, or lacks depth perception and peripheral vision;
- Reads and re-reads with little comprehension, and,
- Spells phonetically and inconsistently.
Hearing and Speech
- Has extended hearing; hears things not said or apparent to others; easily distracted by sounds, and
- 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, and
- 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, and
- 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, and
- 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 quietly;
- Had unusually early or late developmental stages (talking, crawling, walking, tying shoelaces);
- 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;
- Strong sense of justice; emotionally sensitive; strives for perfection, and
- Mistakes and symptoms increase dramatically with confusion, time pressure, emotional stress, or poor health.