Do You Have the Gift of Dyslexia?

This checklist provides a guide to help a parent/educator determine if a child has symptoms of dyslexia. Of course, there are no two people alike and one would not have all the characteristics listed. Different people have different characteristics to different degrees.




37 Characteristics of Dyslexia


  • Appears bright, intelligent and articulate but is 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, tests well orally but not in written form.
  • Feels dumb, poor self-esteem; covers up weaknesses with compensatory strategies; easily frustrated and emotional about school reading or testing.
  • Talented in art, drama, music, sports, mechanics, storytelling, 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”.
  • Learns best through hands-on experience, demonstrations, experimentation, observation and visual aids.

Behaviour, Health, Development, Personality

  • Extremely disorderly or compulsively orderly.
  • Can be class clown, troublemaker or too quiet.
  • Had unusually early or late developmental stages (talking, walking, crawling, tying shoelaces)
  • Prone to ear infections, sensitive to foods, additives and chemical products.
  • Can be an extra heavy 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 and emotional distress or poor health.

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 feelings, not sounds or words (little internal dialogue).



Maths and Time Management

  • Has difficulty telling time, learning sequence 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 level maths.

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, unco-ordinated, 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.

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 repetition, adding words, transposing, omission, substitution, reversal of 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 re-reads with little comprehension.
  • Spells phonetically and inconsistently.



© 1992 by Ronald D. Davis. Reprinted with permission



  Professional services described as Davis™, Davis Dyslexia Correction®, Davis Symbol Mastery®, Davis Orientation Counseling®, Davis Math Mastery® and Davis Learning Strategies® 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.