Dyslexia Symptoms in Teenagers and Adults

May 04, 2016

The information contained on this page is aimed at secondary school and university students and has been extracted from the British Dyslexia Association.


Dyslexia is a combination of abilities as well as difficulties. It is the disparity between them that is often the give-away clue. The person who, despite certain areas of difficulty, may still be creative, artistic, sporting or orally very able and knowledgeable. However, alongside these abilities, will be a cluster of difficulties - individual for each person.


1. Written Work.

  • Has a poor standard of written work compared with oral ability;
  • Has poor handwriting with badly formed letters;
  • Has neat handwriting, but writes very slowly indeed;
  • Produces badly set out or messily written work, with spellings crossed out several times;
  • Spells the same word differently in one piece of work;
  • Has difficulty with punctuation and/or grammar;
  • Confuses upper and lower case letters;
  • Writes a great deal but 'loses the thread';
  • Writes very little, but to the point;
  • Has difficulty taking notes in lectures;
  • Difficulty with organisation of homework;
  • Finds tasks difficult to complete on time;
  • Appears to know more than can be committed to paper.



2. Reading.

  • Is hesitant and laboured, especially when reading aloud;
  • Omits, repeats or adds extra words;
  • Reads at a reasonable rate, but has a low level of comprehension;
  • Fails to recognise familiar words;
  • Misses a line or repeats the same line twice;
  • Loses his place - or uses a finger or marker to keep the place;
  • Has difficulty in pin-pointing the main idea in a passage;
  • Finds difficulty with dictionaries, directories, encyclopaedias.



3. Numeracy.

  • Finds difficulty remembering tables and/or basic number sets;
  • Finds sequencing problematic;
  • Confuses signs such as x for +;
  • Can think at a high level in mathematics, but needs a calculator for simple calculations;
  • Misreads questions that include words;
  • Finds mental arithmetic at speed very difficult;
  • Finds memorising formulae difficult.



4. Other areas.

  • Confuses direction - left/right;
  • Has difficulty in learning foreign languages;
  • Has indeterminate hand preference;
  • Has difficulty in finding the name for an object;
  • Has clear processing problems at speed;
  • Misunderstands complicated questions;
  • Finds holding a list of instructions in memory difficult, although can perform all tasks when told individually.



5. Behaviour.

  • Is disorganised or forgetful e.g. over sports equipment, lessons, homework, appointments;
  • Is immature and/or clumsy;
  • Has difficulty relating to others: is unable to 'read' body language;
  • Is often in the wrong place at the wrong time;
  • Is excessively tired, due to the amount of concentration and effort required.

If you see a cluster of difficulties together with abilities in specific areas, the young person may be dyslexic.

Your next step should be to consult the school Special Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) immediately and be given appropriate and immediate support.


6. Practical Aids.

  • Whiteboards and whiteboard markers
  • Highlighters
  • Post-it Notes
  • Pastel coloured paper/exercise books
  • Coloured overlays and reading rulers
  • Write and Wipe Pockets
  • Wooden letters: upper and lower case.






Resources others found helpful

Intro about Dyslexia

This resource gives us a general overview of dyslexia and is a useful starting point for those who want to learn more about it.

11+ English exercises for home

Here is a list of a few little exercises to follow at home to help with creative writing and building synonyms.