Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Common Warning Signs of Dyslexia in College Students and Adults

 By National Center for Learning Difficulties Editorial Team 

Have you always struggled with reading, spelling or writing and wondered if you (or an adult you care about) might have a learning disability (LD) such as dyslexia ? It’s never too late to seek help to discover whether LD is contributing to or underlying these problems. Dyslexia is a language-based processing disorder that can impact an individual’s ability to read, write, spell, and speak, as well as their social interactions and self-esteem. The following is a list of common warning signs of dyslexia in college students and adults. This list may describe struggles that have perplexed and plagued you for years!

Everyone struggles with learning at times. Learning disabilities such as dyslexia, however, don’t suddenly appear and features of LD are likely to have persisted over time. Be sure to reflect upon any struggles with learning you’ve experienced throughout your life as they might well point to characteristics of a yet undiscovered learning disability. The following list is a general guide, not a tool to identify dyslexia or other type of LD. Our Interactive Learning Disabilities Checklist is an additional resource to consider. Finally, be aware that some of the signs listed below also apply to Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) , which often co-exists with LD, as well as other learning disabilities.
For at least the past six months, I’ve had trouble:


  •  Distinguishing between words that look or sound alike.
  •  Understanding non-literal language such as jokes and idioms.
  • Picking up on non-verbal cues; participating properly in conversation.
  • Understanding directions/instructions.
  • Avoiding "slips of the tongue" (e.g., a rolling stone gathers no moths").
  • Summarizing the main ideas in a story, article, or book.
  • Expressing ideas clearly, in a logical way, and not getting bogged down in details.
  • Learning a foreign language.
  • Memorization.


  • Reading at a good pace and at an expected level.
  • Reading aloud with fluency and accuracy.
  • Keeping place while reading.
  • Using "word analysis" (rather than guessing) to figure out unfamiliar words.
  • Recognizing printed words.
  • Finding enjoyment and being self-confident while reading.


  • Spelling words correctly and consistently.
  • Using proper grammar.
  • Proofreading and self-correcting work.
  • Preparing outlines and organizing written assignments.
  • Fully developing ideas in writing.
  • Expressing ideas in a logical, organized way.


  • Picking up on other people's moods and feelings.
  • Understanding and responding appropriately to teasing.
  • Making and keeping friends.
  • Setting realistic goals for social relationships.
  • Dealing with group pressure and embarrassment, and unexpected challenges.
  • Having a realistic sense of social strengths and weaknesses.
  • Feeling motivated and confident in learning abilities at school and at work.
  • Understanding why success is more easily achieved in some areas compared    with others.


  • Organizing and managing time.
  • Navigating space and direction (e.g., telling left from right).
  • Accurately judging speed and distance (e.g., when driving).
  • Reading charts and maps.
  • Performing consistently from day to day.
  • Applying skills learned in one situation to another.

If several of these warning signs apply to you, don't hesitate to seek help from qualified professionals. If the outcome of an evaluation determines that you have dyslexia or some other type of LD, rest assured that with proper support you’ll be better able to succeed in school, the workplace, and in life. Print this article, check off the warning signs that apply to you, and share the list with your doctor or with another professional and ask for guidance about a formal evaluation. By taking this initiative, you’re advocating for yourself – a critical skill that will serve you well both personally and professionally.

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