In the past, dyslexia was primarily thought of as a reading problem whose main characteristic was switching letters around while reading. Some thought that dyslexia only occurred in individuals who wrote letters or words upside down or backwards, while others thought dyslexia was a deficiency in brain activity.

However, today we know that dyslexia is not a genetic flaw or brain malfunction; rather, it is a difference in how letters, numbers, symbols and written words are understood. In fact, many of our current and past most famous and influential people have been dyslexics.

Today, many labels are used to describe learning difficulties in general. These labels include ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), LD (Learning Disability), APD (Auditory Processing Disorder), etc.

Usually, these difficulties are viewed as being separate from one another, although they all have something in common; all can result from disorientation or distorted mental perceptions. So it is possible that dyslexia can remain undiagnosed in individuals who have been diagnosed with a broader label.

Disorientation occurs in varying degrees from one person to the next, from day to day, and moment to moment. Keep in mind, the most consistent thing about dyslexia is its inconsistency.

Below is a list of 37 common characteristics most commonly found among dyslexics. Given that dyslexic symptoms vary from day to day, most dyslexics will exhibit roughly 10 of these traits at a time. Please take a look at the list below, and contact us if you’d like to schedule an in-depth assessment.


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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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).


  • Extremely disorderly or compulsively orderly.
  • Can be class clown, troublemaker, 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.