Common dyslexic symptoms in children and adults:

Dyslexics are uniquely individual - no two dyslexics have identical problems. However, some, or many, of the problems listed below are found common to the dyslexic child and adult who is struggling with the written word.

Symptoms: Do you or your child experience:

Frequent dizziness
Frequent headaches
Frequent stomach aches
Sore, bloodshot or itchy eyes
A pain in your eyes or behind your eyes
Confusion with symbols letters, numbers or words
Dislike reading and try to avoid it
Need to read and reread to make sense
Sounds distort – either by getting softer or louder
Have extended hearing
Developed survival tactics – class clown, too quiet, trouble-maker
Malform letter to disguise spelling problems
Difficulty putting ideas down on paper
Difficulty putting thoughts and ideas into words
Difficulty telling time, managing time or being on time
Difficulty with maths – know the answer but can’t put it down on paper
Difficulty learning the times tables
Can repeat times table but with little understanding
Reverse numbers
Difficulty making change with money
Difficulty balancing a chequebook
Cannot grasp algebra or higher maths
Feel dumb or stupid
Poor self-esteem and little self-worth
Talented at art, drama, music, sport, mechanics, storytelling, sales, business, designing, building or engineering.
Excellent long-term memory for experiences, locations and faces
Poor memory for sequences, facts and information that has not been experienced
Think primarily with mental images and feeling, not sounds or words

Observable signs:
Appears bright, highly intelligent and articulate but is unable to read or spell at appropriate level
Daydreams or drifts off into own private world
Scores high in in IQ tests yet may not test well academically
Forgets easily, particularly recent things, but may have a good memory for things which happened a long time ago
Isn’t ‘behind enough’ or ‘bad enough’ to be helped in the school setting
Tests well orally, but not in written exams
Finds it difficult to deal with more than one instruction at a time
Easily frustrated and emotional about reading aloud at school, sitting exams or testing
Difficulty in sustaining attention
Can be very stubborn
Seems ‘hyper’ or ‘hypo’
Doesn’t like change
Can be quite, withdrawn and anxious
Has tantrums
Easily distracted
Seems to zone out and easily loses track of time
Appears not to listen
May lack co-ordination and spill things or knock things over
Prone to motion sickness
Has behavioural problems
Has poor self-esteem and little self-worth
Has unusual body movements or tics
Can’t sit still for any period of time
Learns best through hands-on experience, demonstration, visual aids, experimentation and observation
A child might seem to be completely different when attending school to how they were pre-school
Complains of dizziness, headaches or stomach aches while reading
Complains of feeling or seeing non-existent movement while reading, writing or copying
Substitutes words, or leaves out words
Seems to have difficulty with vision, yet examinations don’t reveal a problem
Extremely keen sighted and observant
Computing maths shows dependency on finger counting and other tricks

Lacks depth perception and peripheral vision
Makes mistakes when reading out loud
Has problems with exam questions and anything technical
Can read perfectly but does not understand what has been read
Skips lines
Loses place
Leaves out, misreads or substitutes small words such as ‘in’ ‘was’ ‘where’
Can read a word on one page and not recognise the same word on another
Reads a page of text one day, struggles to read the first couple of lines the next day.
Trouble with writing or copying
Handwriting varies or is illegible
Pencil grip is unusual
Difficulties joining letters
Presses very hard with pen or pencil
Often confuses left from right
Writing process very tiring and highly stressful
Writes ‘up the page’
When writing stories has difficulties getting started
Difficulties putting ideas down on paper
Sentences get muddled
Frequent crossings out
Messy presentations
Finds writing a slow process and will involve many drafts if frustration doesn’t set in first
Small words missed or used wrongly
Can’t see mistakes
Story content pictured as a whole but unable to get it down sequentially
Writing disorganised
Finds writing immensely frustrating and will be avoided where possible
Some punctuation is used, but used inappropriately
Never writes with punctuation
No understanding or sense of where the marks should go
Speaks in halting phrases
Leaves sentences incomplete
Stutters under stress
Mispronounces long words
Transposes phrases words and syllables when speaking
Can count, but experiences difficulty counting objects
Experiences difficulty with money
Loses track when following procedures eg long division
Can do arithmetic but fails words problems
Gets confused with maths symbols
Directional difficulties eg instead of going from right to left subtraction will work the other way
Can get the answers but can’t show the working out
Computing math shows dependence on finger counting and other trick
Words spelt as they sound
Strange spelling producing unrecognisable words
Letters repeated: ‘rememember’ for ‘remember’
Letters transposed; ‘brid’ for ‘bird’
Mistakes made with small words; ‘thay’ for ‘they’
Spelling learnt for tests but can’t remember them the following week.
Spelling learnt but can’t apply them in writing
Extremely disorderly or compulsively orderly.
Unusually early or late developmental stages (talking, crawling, walking, tying shoelaces)
Can be difficult to wake and function in the morning hours


Catherine Churton

Professional services described as Davis™, Davis Dyslexia Correction®, Davis Symbol Mastery™, Davis Orientation Counselling™, Davis Math Mastery™, Davis Attention Mastery™, Dyslexia the Gift™ and Gift of Dyslexia™ 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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