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What Are The Indications Of Dyslexia In Adults?

man reading a book
Photo by Amey Evans

The shifting focus of definitions of dyslexia continues to alert us to the fact that we are dealing with more than a reading, writing and spelling problem, particularly in adults.  Recent definitions pinpoint difficulties with organisation, memory, word retrieval and speed of processing. Sir Jim Rose’s definition stresses that the condition exists on a continuum ranging from mild to severe; thus we are unsurprised that all dyslexics are not identified in the early years. It is encouraging that most recent definitions emphasise the abilities and strengths of dyslexic profiles.

So, our picture of indicators of dyslexia may be different at different stages in the education or employment history of people with dyslexia. The lesson we learn from our increased understanding of the condition of dyslexia is that Information about cerebellar difficulties prompts us to check out complications with timing, sequencing naming speed and general levels of automaticity of skills over and above literacy difficulties. The environment will determine when and where these difficulties become apparent.

The following checklist is for adults to consider where they may experience difficulties. There may be co-occurring difficulties such as dyspraxia or ADHD. Difficulties may differ in different contexts whether study, the workplace, or life in general.

Checklist for Adults

These difficulties do not necessarily confirm the presence of dyslexia especially if few apply.


inaccuracies, e.g. misreading instructions 

poor speed

poor skimming and scanning

having to re-read over and over

difficulty in getting the main idea

recalling what has been read


verbally may be good, thus a discrepancy between oral and written skills

word retrieval problems

difficulty in acquisition of technical words

slow to answer questions

reluctance to speak or present in public 


persistent spelling difficulties 

difficulty organizing  and structuring written work such as reports

difficulties with form filling

difficulty in spotting errors when proof reading

problems with legibility and speed of handwriting, and presentation  and difficulty with punctuation


problems with note-taking or taking minutes, unable to listen and write at the same time

difficulty in following more than one instruction at a time or taking messages especially whilst on the telephone

difficulty with concentration and attention


poor organisational skills, e.g. problems with time¬keeping and meeting deadlines

problems knowing how long a piece of work is going to take


difficulties with memory 

often better at practical activities with reduced  reading and writing

not understanding why certain activities are more difficult than others

low self-esteem, leading to a loss of motivation at work or study


Read our Frequently Asked Questions for Adults

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