Pembaca Setia

29 July 2009


Dyslexia, the inability to learn to read fluently. No single definition of dyslexia is accepted by all reading specialists. In the United States, federal law governing special education classifies dyslexia as a “specific learning disability” or as a “specific reading disability.” The World Health Organization labels dyslexia a “specific reading disorder,” and other sources label it a “specific language disorder.” However, a central feature of all definitions is an unexpected and substantial difficulty in learning to read. The lack of a commonly accepted definition of dyslexia has caused some educators, physicians, and researchers to avoid using the term altogether.

Because there is no clear and widely held definition of the problem, estimates of the number of persons with dyslexia vary widely. Most researchers have suggested that dyslexia is rare, occurring in 1 to 2 percent of the world’s population. However, others contend that 10 to 20 percent of the population have dyslexia or display dyslexic characteristics. Those arguing for the higher incidence levels also suggest that dyslexia can appear in differing levels of intensity, affecting the reading achievement of some individuals more than others. Dyslexia is usually identified during childhood, but it continues to affect individuals throughout their lives.
Before about 1970 most explanations of dyslexia held that the root of the problem lay in visual difficulties. For example, many experts believed that dyslexic children saw letters backward or in reverse order. Since then, however, much research has shown that children with dyslexia are no more prone to reverse letters while reading and writing than are other children.

Most dyslexia research now focuses on problems distinguishing the various sounds, or phonemes, that make up speech. Available evidence suggests that dyslexics have substantial difficulty decoding the phonological system of words—that is, they have problems breaking words into their various constituent sounds. For example, dyslexics may have difficulty breaking the spoken word hit into the three phonemes that correspond to the letters h, i, and t. Because they cannot segment hit into these three sounds, dyslexics often do not associate those sounds with the corresponding letters that would enable them to read the word. About 20 percent of all children experience some difficulty in distinguishing the individual sounds of spoken words. However, most of those children benefit from specialized instruction to treat reading problems early. Only 1 to 2 percent of children exhibit continuing reading difficulties after they receive such instruction.


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