Adult Characteristics

Most people with dyslexia, ADD or Specific Learning Disorders will have over 10 of the following traits and behaviours. These characteristics can vary from day-to-day or minute-to-minute. The most consistent thing about them is their inconsistency.


  • Appears intelligent, but has difficulty with written symbols (reading, writing or math).
  • Described as being lazy, careless, immature or as an “over-achiever.”
  • Low self-esteem, fights depression, self-conscious or hides and covers up weaknesses.
  • Talented in art, drama, music, sports, mechanics, story-telling, sales, business, designing, building, computers or engineering.
  • Learns best through hands-on experience, demonstrations, experimentation, observation and visual aids. (May struggle with lectures)
  • Confused by verbal or written instructions.
  • Remembers struggling in school or may have children who are struggling in school.


  • Employed in areas that emphasize use of visual imagery. (Entrepreneurs, engineers, tradesmen, artists, executives, ITs, salesmen or athletes.)
  • Difficulty focussing on the task at hand: may excel at multitasking.
  • Has difficulty with or is stressed by organizing meetings or events.
  • Inability to follow-through, finish tasks or consistently hold a job.
  • Unable to advance in the workplace due to a fear of, or inability to complete written exams.


  • Experiences headaches, stomach aches or stress while reading.
  • Confused by letters, numbers, words or sequences.
  • Unaware that reading or writing shows repetitions, additions, transpositions, omissions, substitutions and reversals in letters, numbers and/or words.
  • Proof-reading is ineffective.
  • Extremely keen sighted, observant, or lacks depth perception or peripheral vision. *
  • Avoids reading aloud; finds silent reading easier.
  • Needs to reread information several times in order to comprehend.
  • Gets tired or bored easily from reading.


  • Trouble with writing or copying, pencil grip is unusual, hand cramps up, handwriting varies or is illegible.
  • Poor spelling; relies on “spell-check” before sending emails, memos or documents.
  • Difficulty filling out forms.
  • Uses only capitals letters or mixes upper case and lower case when writing; combines cursive and print; frequently abbreviates words.
  • May alter word choice when writing – to avoid spelling mistakes.


  • Appears to hear things not said or apparent to others; argues frequently; often accused of “not listening.”
  • Difficulty putting thoughts into words, stutters under stress, mispronounces long words, or transposes phrases, words and syllables when speaking.
  • Easily distracted or frustrated by sounds when trying to focus.


  • Has difficulty managing time: consistently late or too early, difficulty predicting how long a task may take.
  • Dependent on finger counting, calculators and other math tricks.
  • Difficulty counting objects or dealing with money.
  • May show exceptional talent in math.


  • Excellent long-term memory for experiences, locations, faces and specialized areas of interest.
  • Poor memory for sequences, names, facts and information that has not been experienced.
  • Thinks primarily with images and feeling, not sounds or words.
  • Skilled at problem-solving – may have an answer well before others.


  • Difficulty with North, East, South and West; reading a map; confuses left and right.


  • Withdrawn or fearful of social situations which are out of their “comfort zone.”
  • May be loud, boisterous, inappropriate or offensive in social situations.
  • Unaware of others or very empathetic of others.


  • Clumsy (need to hold onto a handrail when descending stairs, difficulty throwing accurately, inability to stand on one foot)
  • Prone to motion sickness.
  • Above average athletic ability.


  • Extremely disorderly (loses keys, glasses, etc.) or compulsively orderly.
  • Fussy eaters or sensitive to foods, additives or chemical products.
  • Difficulty adjusting to changes in routine; follows a strict set of “rules” for self-management.
  • May be an extra deep or light sleeper.
  • Extremely high or low tolerance for pain.
  • Strong sense of justice, emotionally sensitive, strives for perfection; may over-react when making a mistake.
  • Enjoys video games.
  • Reliance on others in areas of writing, organization, book-keeping (spouse, secretary, etc.)
  • Easily frustrated, stressed or overwhelmed – resulting in annoyance, anger or emotional outbursts.

Used with permission | | © 2009 by Rocky Point Academy