Child Student Characterisitics 2

Most people with dyslexia or Specific Learning Disorders will exhibit 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 bright, highly intelligent, and articulate, but 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, 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 to daydream.
  • 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 in that they hear 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, trouble-maker 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.

Reprinted with permission | | © 1992 by Ronald D. Davis.