6 Common Signs of Dyslexia in Adults

In the United States alone, approximately five to 10 percent of the population has been diagnosed with dyslexia, a learning disorder that affects a person’s ability to read, write, spell and speak. While mixing up letters while writing or mispronouncing words when speaking are common, there are many other indicators of this learning disorder, which vary with age.

Although it is commonly identified in young children, for some it may go undiagnosed until adulthood. In such cases, there are several common signs of dyslexia—including these six.

1. Avoid Reading

In order to hide their disability, those with dyslexia will often avoid any activities that involve reading—such as reading to themselves or aloud to others—as their struggles are a source of shame and embarrassment.

For some, these tasks may prove so challenging that they seek out employment in positions or fields that conceal or help them avoid dealing with their difficulties. As a result, these individuals may be “underemployed,” meaning their roles are well below their capabilities.

2. Slow Reading and Writing

If required to do tasks that involve reading or writing, those with dyslexia may take an unusually long time to complete them. When reading, this is often because a person will have to re-read sentences several times to fully understand. They may become tired or bored very quickly.

Writing, on the other hand, can prove laborious due to a lack of confidence when it comes to choice of words, spelling and punctuation.

3. Poor Spelling

Dyslexia makes it challenging for a person to associate letters with the specific sounds they make, which can lead to poor spelling. This may cause tasks like taking notes and copying content to be difficult and frustrating.

As a result, those with dyslexia tend to rely on tools like spell-check, or they may ask others to help them with written work. Even a person’s handwriting can be affected by the disorder, causing them to write in all capital letters, or frequently mix upper and lower case letters within words.

4. Difficulty Planning and Organizing

Struggling to estimate the time required to complete a task makes planning very challenging for those with dyslexia. As a result, they may have issues meeting deadlines.

Organizing is another skill that is difficult for people with dyslexia to master. At school or work, this may become apparent when trying to organize the structure of an essay or report, or effectively expressing one’s thoughts within such a written document.

5. Difficulty Memorizing

Although people with dyslexia tend to have excellent long-term memory for experiences, locations and faces, they tend to struggle with memorizing sequences, facts or things they were not personally involved in.

According to Dyslexia Victoria Online, this includes things like “[the] alphabet, counting, days of the week, months of the year and in order, the seasons of the year, names and dates in school work, people they meet or know about.”

6. Speaking Challenges

When speaking, someone with dyslexia may experience several challenges, such as struggling to retrieve the proper words. This may lead to frequent pauses in a conversation—where gaps are often filled with plenty of “ums”—or the use of words like “stuff” or “things” if proper names cannot be recalled.

Dyslexia can also cause people to incorrectly pronounce the names of people and places, or confuse words that sound alike. They may also stumble over parts of words as they say them.


Rachel Despres