You make me smile [always], Ndra

Reading disorder


Reading disorder is a learning disorder that involves significant impairment of reading accuracy, speed, or comprehension to the extent that the impairment interferes with academic achievement or activities of daily life. People with reading disorder perform reading tasks well below the level one would expect on the basis of their general intelligence, educational opportunities, and physical health. Reading disorder is most commonly called dyslexia. Dyslexia, however, usually includes deficits in spelling and writing as well as reading.


Reading disorder is a learning disorder characterized by a significant disparity between an individual’s general intelligence and his or her reading skills. Learning disorders, formerly called academic skills disorders, are disorders that account for difficulty learning and poor academic performance when low performance cannot be attributed to mental retardation, low intelligence, lack of learning opportunities, or such specific physical problems as vision or hearing deficits. Common learning disabilities include reading disorder (often called dyslexia), mathematics disorder, disorder of written expression, and some language processing disorders.

Reading disorder can cause severe problems in reading, and consequently in academic work, even in people with normal intelligence, educational opportunities, motivation to learn to read, and emotional self-control. Reading disorder is different from slowness in learning or mental retardation. In reading disorder, there is a significant gap between the expected level of performance and actual achievement. Difficulties in reading can occur on many levels, and reading disorder may have several causes that manifest in different ways. Common problems in people with reading disorder include:

  • slow reading speed
  • poor comprehension when reading material either aloud or silently
  • omission of words while reading
  • reversal of words or letters while reading
  • difficulty decoding syllables or single words and associating them with specific sounds (phonics)
  • limited sight word vocabulary

Causes and symptoms


Reading disorder was first recognized in the late nineteenth century, when it was called pure word blindness, then developmental alexia. Starting in the 1960s, educators commonly referred to reading disorder as dyslexia, from the Greek word dys, meaning poor or inadequate, and the word lexismeaning words or language. Despite the long history of reading disorder, its cause is not known.

Learning to read is a complex task. It requires coordination of the eye muscles to follow a line of print, spatial orientation to interpret letters and words, visual memory to retain the meaning of letters and sight words, sequencing ability, a grasp of sentence structure and grammar, and the ability to categorize and analyze. In addition, the brain must integrate visual cues with memory and associate them with specific sounds. The sounds must then be associated with specific meanings. For comprehension, the meanings must be retained while a sentence or passage is read. Reading disorder occurs when any of these processes are disrupted. For that reason, the roots of reading disorder have proved difficult to isolate, and may be different in different individuals.

Despite the complexity of reading disorder, researchers have found that the condition is at least partially inherited. In 1999, the Centre for Reading Research in Norway studied a large family with reading problems. By evaluating the reading and writing abilities of about 80 family members across four generations, the researchers were able to pinpoint mutations in specific genes that are associated with reading and writing deficits.

It appears that reading disorder may also have causes other than genetic inheritance, as about half the people with this learning disability do not come from families with a history of the problem. Many theories suggest that functional problems in specific areas of the brain underlie reading disorder. Given the complicated demands on the human nervous system involved in reading, it is entirely possible that there are several different problems in brain function related to difficulty in learning to read. What is known is that 90% of children diagnosed with reading disorder have other language deficits. Still other research suggests a possible link with a subtle visual problem that affects the speed with which affected people can read.


Common characteristics of children with reading disorder include:

  • difficulty identifying single words
  • problems understanding the sounds in words, sound order, or rhymes
  • problems with spelling
  • transposing letters in words
  • omitting or substituting words
  • poor reading comprehension
  • slow reading speed (oral or silent)

In addition to these symptoms, children with reading disorder often have other delays or learning problems. These include:

  • delays in spoken language
  • confusion with directions, or right/left-handedness
  • confusion with opposites (up/down, early/late)
  • mathematics disorder
  • disorder of written expression
Reading disorder is most commonly called dyslexia. Dyslexia, however, usually includes deficits in spelling and writing as well as reading. Symptoms of reading disorder include poor comprehension, reversal of words or letters while reading, and difficulty decoding syllables or single words and associating them with specific sounds (phonics). Here, a child with dyslexia attempts to reproduce a teacher's sentence. (Will and Deni McIntyre/Science Source, National Audubon Society Collection/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced with permission.)

Reading disorder is most commonly called dyslexia. Dyslexia, however, usually includes deficits in spelling and writing as well as reading. Symptoms of reading disorder include poor comprehension, reversal of words or letters while reading, and difficulty decoding syllables or single words and associating them with specific sounds (phonics). Here, a child with dyslexia attempts to reproduce a teacher’s sentence.

(Will and Deni McIntyre/Science Source, National Audubon Society Collection/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced with permission.)


Evaluation of children’s reading ability must be done on an individual basis in order to make a diagnosis of reading disorder and distinguish it from slow learning or low intelligence. The examiner must take into account the child’s age, intelligence, educational opportunities, and such cultural factors as whether the language spoken at home is different from the language taught and used at school. Reading disorder is diagnosed when a child’s reading achievement is substantially below what would be expected after taking these factors into account.

In addition, the reading problems must interfere in significant ways with the person’s schoolwork or daily life. If a physical condition is present (for example, mental retardation, poor eyesight, or hearing loss), the reading deficit must be in excess of what one would normally associate with the physical handicap.

Diagnosis is complicated by the fact that 20%–55% of children with reading disorder have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder(ADHD), a behavioral disorder that aggravates learning difficulties. In addition, about one-quarter of children with reading disorder have conduct disorder. Oppositional defiant disorder and depression also occur in higher-than-average rates in children with reading disorder. Almost all people with reading disorder have difficulties spelling, and about 80% of them have other language problems.

Anyone who is suspected of having reading disorder or any other learning disability should have a comprehensive evaluation, including hearing, vision, and intelligence testing. The test should include all areas of learning and learning processes, not just reading. In school-age children, this evaluation often involves a team of educators, educational psychologists, and child psychiatrists.


Estimates by the National Institutes of Health of the number of people with learning disorders range from 5%–15% of the general population. About 80% of people with a learning disorder have reading disorder. Other studies suggest that about 4% of school-age children have reading disorder. People with reading disorder are more likely to have a parent or sibling with the disorder.

Between 60% and 80% of children diagnosed with reading disorder are boys. For various reasons often related to behavior, boys tend to be referred more frequently to special education classes, which suggests that girls with reading disorder may be underdiagnosed. Some experts think that this disparity comes about because boys are more often disruptive in class.


Reading disorder, like other learning disorders, falls under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Definitions of learning disabilities vary among the states, and some school districts are more willing than others to recognize specific learning disabilities. Any child, however, who has a diagnosed learning disability, including reading disorder or dyslexia, should be eligible for an Individual Education Program (IEP) that provides customized instruction at school designed to address the disability.

Treatment approaches vary from visual stimulation to special diets to enhanced reading instruction. However, it is generally agreed that customized education is the only successful remedy. The American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus have issued a policy statement warning against visual treatments and recommending a cross-disciplinary educational approach.

The first researcher to identify and study dyslexia, Samuel Torrey Orton, developed the core principles of such an approach in the 1920s. The work of three of his followers—teachers Bessie Stillman, Anna Gillingham, and Beth Slingerland—underlies many of the programs in use today, including Project READ, the Wilson Reading System, and programs based on the Herman method. There are many successful programs to address individual reading needs. In general, all good programs are:

  • Sound/symbol (phonics)-based. They break words down into their smallest visual components: letters and the sounds associated with them.
  • Multisensory. Good programs attempt to form and strengthen mental associations among visual, auditory, and kinesthetic channels of stimulation. The student simultaneously sees, feels, and says the sound-symbol association. For example, a student may trace the letter or letter combination with his or her finger while pronouncing a word out loud.
  • Highly structured. Remediation begins at the level of the single letter-sound; works up to digraphs (a pair of letters representing a single speech sound); then syllables; then into words and sentences in a systematic fashion. Repetitive drill and practice serve to form necessary associations between sounds and written symbols.


Many famous and successful people have suffered from reading disorders, including at least two Presidents of the United States. How well a person compensates for this disorder depends on the severity of the impairment and the type of educational remediation that he or she receives. Generally, people who are identified as having a reading disorder before grade three and who receive intensive reading education can do well. There is, however, a great deal of variation among people in intelligence, educational opportunities, and the will to overcome a reading disorder, as well as in the type and severity of the problem. All these factors combine to determine the ultimate outcome of this disorder. The prognosis is usually good if the condition is diagnosed early and the person is enrolled in a good remedial program. Strong self-esteem, together with supportive family, friends, and teachers also improve a person’s chances of overcoming this disorder.


There is no known way to prevent reading disorder. Early intervention is the key to preventing the associated symptoms of low self-esteem, lack of interest in school, and poor behavior that often accompany low academic achievement.



American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.4th ed. text revised. Washington DC: American Psychiatric Association, 2000.

Hales, Robert E., Stuart C. Yudofsky, and John A. Talbot. The American Psychiatric Press Textbook of Psychiatry.3rd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press, 2000.

Sadock, Benjamin J. and Virginia A. Sadock, eds. Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry.7th ed. Vol. 2. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2000.


Bower, Bruce. “Dyslexia Tied to Disrupted Brain Network.” Science News153 (7 March 1998): 150.

Matvy, Mike. “A Silicon Bullet for Dyslexia: A new Solution for an Old Problem.” The Exceptional Parent30 (November 2000) 52-56.


Learning Disabilities Association. 4156 Library Rd., Pittsburgh, PA 15234. (412) 341-1515. <>.

National Center for Learning Disabilities. 381 Park Avenue South, Suite 1401, New York, NY 10016. (212) 545-7510. <>.


Dyslexia Resources on the Web. <>. Extensive links to dyslexia resources; updated frequently.

Tish Davidson, A.M.
Child Learning Disorders – Audiblox corrects the deficits that cause learning disabilities. (

Learning for Children – Fun games that test for Autism and Dyslexia. (

The Listening Program – Official Site for the TLP Method listening therapy for all ages (


ABC’s to helping the dyslexic student in the regular classroom

Frequently in the regular classroom dyslexic children suffer. Due to lack of understanding of the students learning process the educator may see the student as slow and unmotivated. These misconceptions may lead to low self esteem of the dyslexic student. Once there is understanding of the dyslexic student and the learning process there are some ways to help the dyslexic student in the regular classroom. Here are five quick tips that help both the educator, and the student.A – Accentuate the positive:
Accentuating the positive increases the dyslexic student’s motivation. Dyslexic students learn differently. If there is a certain assignment that is completed, yet not in the exact way as instructed, be sure to accentuate the positive. This will help you instruct the student’s completion of the assignment in a motivating way. By letting the student understand the requirements in a positive way this will give the student corrective instruction without frustration.

B – Be Understanding:
Understanding your students needs is important. Many times the dyslexic student may appear unmotivated or slow. Due to lack of understanding these misconceptions can lead to frustration and low self-esteem. If the educator understands the learning process in a dyslexic person, this can help the student’s esteem knowing that their teacher understands their particular circumstance.

C- Communicate with your student:
Communication leads to academic improvement. Schedule frequent meetings with your student. Talk about their improvement, and where they may need improvement. Ask your student what learning techniques may work best for them. Communicating with your student helps their confidence and motivation.

D – Develop a Plan:
Developing a plan can help the student set goals. Sitting down with your student, and developing a plan will help the student achieve their goals. Helping your student achieve their goals this will help the student realize their capabilities and increase motivation for learning. These four tips will help the dyslexic student’s experience in the classroom. If the educator understands the dyslexic student and incorporates these tips there is a possibility of improvement with the student.

E – Encourage:
Encourage your student. Having a learning disability can be a frustrating process. We all know a little encouragement can go a long way.

F – Follow up:
Schedule a time with your student so you can evaluate their progress. During this time allow your student to express concerns about learning and class work. Make sure they conduct a self evaluation. This will enable them to understand and analyze their learning process.

G – Goals:
Set goals for your student, and allow your student to set goals for themselves. Once the goals are set give your student a timeframe. Once the goals are met, meet with your student and discuss their progress. This will allow your student to develop the importance of planning, goal setting, and organization. Set both long term and short term goals.

H – Homework:
Do your homework. Dyslexia is a learning disability be sure as an educator you do your research and understand the learning process of the dyslexic student. Don’t limit yourself to the age range that you are teaching, understand that you are helping your student develop into adulthood, this is part of your responsibility along with the parent to nourish and educate a successful individual.

I – Intelligence: Explain to your student the different types of intelligence. Emphasize the strong points of the particular type of your students intelligence. Allow your students to complete projects geared toward their intelligence. This will boost your students self – esteem.

J – Journal: Journaling can help everyone. Tell your students to journal. Ask them to write about their goals, accomplishments, and fears. Teach them that their journal is their safe place to express themselves without fear, judgment, or ridicule. This will improve their writing and creativity. Journaling also gives students a safe place to express themselves.

K – Knowledge: Knowledge never ends. Encourage students to think outside of the box. Tell them that knowledge never has or will have a stop sign. There is always room for growth and knowledge.

L – Love: Teach your students to love themselves, and know that they are loved. At a young age children tend to judge themselves by their grades, encourage their talents and character development as a person. Tell your student that it is important to do their best but at the same time, a letter defines no one, encourage parents to teach this at home.

Yvelette M. Stines

Gejala Disleksia yang Harus Dikenali Dini

RECOGNIZING DYSLEXIA SYMPTOMS IN A DYSLEXIC PUPIL OR STUDENTA short list of possible symptoms would include some, but not all, of these in a dyslexic child:

• a noticeable difference between the pupil’s ability and their actual achievement;

• a family history of learning difficulties;

• difficulties with spelling;

• confusion over left and right;

• writing letters or numbers backwards;

• difficulties with math/s;

• difficulties with organizing themselves;

• difficulty following 2- or 3-step instructions.


A discrepancy between the pupil’s ability and their actual achievement

If you notice that a child who appears to be average or bright when they are talking to you is struggling to read, spell or cope with math/s, this may be the strongest indicator that they may be dyslexic. It is very common for dyslexic children to be quite able, especially in the areas of creativity (art, drama, drawing, etc) and physical co-ordination (physical education, swimming, sports, model-making, etc.). However, there are differences in the neural links in their brain that makes it hard for them to deal with text (and often with numbers) without extra support. A reading age or grade level of two years below what you would expect from them is a sign of possible dyslexia. Obviously, this could also be caused by other factors such as lengthy absences from school due to illness.

A family history of learning difficulties

Dyslexia is most often inherited through the genes. It can also be caused by early ear infections. In both cases it is harder for a young child to distinguish the difference between similar sounding words. The numbers of boys and girls who are dyslexic are roughly the same.

Difficulties with spelling

Spelling is the activity which causes most difficulty for dyslexic children. Noticing spelling errors in short, simple words is the way in which most dyslexic children first come our attention. Examples of words which cause particular difficulty are: any, many, island, said, they, because, enough, and friend.

Other words will sometimes be spelt in the way that you would expect them to be spelt if our spelling system were rational, for example does/dus, please/pleeze, knock/nock, search/serch, journey/jerney, etc.

Dyslexic children also experience difficulties with ‘jumbled spellings’. These are spelling attempts in which all the correct letters are present, but are written in the wrong order. Examples include dose/does, freind/friend, siad/said, bule/blue, becuase/because, and wores/worse. ‘Jumbled spellings’ show that the child is experiencing difficulty with visual memory. Non-dyslexic children and adults often use their visual memory when trying to remember a difficult spelling: they write down two or three possible versions of the word on a spare piece of paper and see which spelling ‘looks right’. They are relying on their visual memory to help them, but the visual memory of a dyslexic child may not be adequate for this task.

Confusion over left and right

A fairly quick way to establish this type of confusion is to ask a child to point to your left foot with his or her right hand. If you try similar instructions – in a non-threatening environment – you will soon be able to see if this causes difficulties or not. (Try it on a colleague – who is not dyslexic – and you can see how a non-dyslexic person is able to sort out the left and right elements quite readily.) You may also notice difficulties with east and west, or in following directions like ‘Go to the end of the road and turn left, then right, etc’.

Writing letters or numbers backwards

You will have noticed some children who mix up ‘b’ and ‘d’, or even ‘p’ and the number 9. These letters are the same in their mirror image, and cause regular confusion for a dyslexic person. Some pupils make a point of always writing the letter ‘b’ as au upper-case or capital ‘B’, as they find this much easier to remember in terms of the direction it faces.

Difficulties with math/s

One feature of dyslexia is difficulties with sequencing – getting things in the right order. Math/s depends on sequences of numbers – 2. 4. 6. 8. etc. Whilst many people are aware that dyslexic children and students have problems with reading and spelling, they do not know that math/s can also be a real challenge. This is mentioned quite often in Dot’s Diary.

Difficulties organizing themselves

Whilst you may quite reasonably think that all children live their lives in a mess, this is particularly so for dyslexic children and students, who may have genuine difficulties with planning and thinking ahead to when a book or pen might be needed next. They can really benefit from help with organizing papers and folders under a simple color-coded system. (See Finding My Own Solutions.)

Difficulty following 2- or 3-step instructions

‘Go to Mrs. Brown and ask her if Peter Smith is in school today. Oh, yes, and ask if I can borrow her dictionary’ – such an instruction is just too much! It involves both sequencing and memory skills, and you would be very surprised to see a dyslexic child return with the dictionary and information about Peter Smith! Dyslexic children love to take messages as much as any other child, but it has to be a less complicated instruction, e.g. ‘Ask Mrs. Brown if I can borrow her stapler’.



Meeting Andy

When Andy’s mother first brought him to me to consult regarding tutoring to help him improve his skills in reading and math, he was reading at kindergarten level despite being a Grade 3 student. When I asked him to read for me, he picked up a beginning reader and read it even though the book was upside down.

When I tested his letter knowledge, he reversed b and d, p and q and c and f. The numbers 3 and 7 were also reversed. His formation of the letters r, n, and z was reversed, starting from the right to the left but the finished letter was correctly formed.

Upon checking his ability to sequence letters, he could not say the alphabet but resorted to singing it and returning to”A” each time he lost his place. He inserted an “N” after “Y” and before”Z” in his alphabet song.

When reading, he experienced most difficulty with two and three letter words such as on, in, at, and saw. He experienced difficulties sequencing letters when spelling even though all the letters ! were there. When trying to decode words and when speaking, Andy often reverses syllables even though he knows what he wants to read or say.

He prefers to print with his notebook sideways on the desk and actually has difficulty with the transition to cursive writing.

In math, he tends to add and subtract from the left column and from the bottom to the top. He needs constant repetition to retain his multiplication tables and sight vocabulary.

His general knowledge is excellent and he can speak at length about a variety of topics. He is athletic, bright looking, and very artistic.

Trouble with spelling

Andy has obvious difficulties with spelling. He is unaware that the spelling of certain words is not correct. The spellings of words he has not studied are not even close approximations and would be unable to be corrected using a spell check on his word processor, even though I have taught him the correct vowel sounds.

Examples of misspelled words are:

snow – snoue
with – wach
friends – frens
do – dow
live – lave
when – win
favorite – fret
place – plice
because – backes
why – way
peaceful – pacefeal
soft – sotf
pitch – phitch

Difficulty copying from the board

Andy finds copying from the teacher’s board very frustrating.

He said that he looks at a word on the board and then looks down to write it. When he looks up again to write the next word, he can’t find where he was in the note and spends time searching the whole board for it.

He said it’s easy to copy when there are just a few words on the board and when the teacher prints.

It is easier for him when he is in a class with a black board and not a white board on which the teacher uses markers. A chalky, dusty board makes it hard to read because, “My eyes go different and I have to focus again.”

Andy said that it is really hard to copy when there are distractions in the classroom or when he has to copy while the teacher is explaining the lesson at the same time.

Once in a while, he gets everything copied. Usually, he doesn’t and the teacher makes him stay in at recess and noon until it’s done. If it’s still not finished, he has to work at it all day everytime there is free time.

Flora E. Gillis

Flora Gillis is a student on the Dyslexia Certificate course.


Disliking school

Every morning, Alice will think of all means to avoid going to school by feigning sickness. This battle has been going on ever since she started school two years ago. Her mother has to walk her to school everyday to ensure she goes into the classroom.

Alice always sits at the back of the class, slouches on her chair and daydreams. Her book will be placed on the desk, unopened, as she felt confused looking at the letters “jumping around”.

She is convinced that she is beyond hope as her teacher and classmates have subtly labeled her as “stupid”. She dreads English and will lower her head and slide further down her chair, hoping the teacher will not notice her.

A couple of times, she was asked to read aloud. She froze in her seat, perspired profusely and stammered as she tried to make out the words. The whole class burst into laughter.

The only activity she looks forward to is the music lesson as she feels good every time she gets to perform playing on the piano in front of the whole class.

Her report

In the Semester report to parents, Alice’s teacher commented: “Alice doesn’t seem interested in the class. She yawns and always looks tired. She draws aimlessly on her textbook during the lesson and copies her classmates’ work instead of trying out the homework herself.

The teachers spent extra time coaching her during recess and after school but there’s hardly any improvement.”

“Her work appeared slip-shod and many teachers can hardly make out what she wrote despite giving her many writing exercises. She was indifferent to correction from the teachers and we couldn’t tell whether or not she understood the concepts. For her own good, we recommend the parents send her to some special school because we feel she is not ready for the pace of our school curriculum.”

Melanie Chong

Melanie Chong is a student on the Dyslexia Certificate course.


Low self-confidence

David used to be a very social child and this was the part of school he enjoyed but he has started to notice that he learns a different way to the other children in his class, and his peers have started telling him that he cannot read, that his writing is too big and wobbly and that he reverses some of his letters.

They also call out to the teacher “David is copying me again”.

Because of this David has lost all his self confidence and has become shy and withdrawn and his teacher also approached me about this as she is becoming quite concerned.

David has started fighting at school with children who were previously his friends and has been made to stand on the yellow line in the yard/playground as punishment.

He told me he hurts them because they laugh at him. Just before the summer holidays began David cried for two hours before going to bed two nights in a row and begged me to teach him at home or send him to a new school.

Posture and pencil grip

David is right handed and he has always had trouble holding his pencil correctly. He holds his pencil with his thumb and three fingers.

David sometimes sits with his head on his arm when he is losing concentration or if he finds the work he is doing too difficult.

Both his teacher and I have showed David many times the correct way to hold his pencil but he always reverts back to the old way unless he has someone constantly watching and reminding him.

I tried a ‘pencil grip’ (a triangular rubber grip which makes it easier for a child to hold a pencil) but this did not seem to be of any use to David, as he still found a way to hold it incorrectly.

After many weeks of reminding him he now seems to remember to hold the paper with one hand and write with the other. I think a lot of it is not being able to remember as he has a very bad memory.

Confidence building exercise

I made two lists with David – one of things that he is good at, and the other of things he has trouble with.

Things I am good at:

Building with Lego and K-Nex
Riding my bike
Making people laugh
Being Kind
Using my imagination
Helping Mummy tidy up
Playing golf
Making things with clay

Things I am not so good at:


I showed David how the list of things he was good at was much greater than the list of things he was not so good at.

You could see that he felt much better about himself straight away and even told his Nanny, when he saw her, all about it.

David also finds comfort in the fact that his dad, uncle and cousin all have dyslexia. He realises that he is not the only one and chats with his cousin who being five years older, tells him how best to handle the children at school when they are nasty to him.

I think it would be a good idea if children with dyslexia could meet at a group a couple of times a year so they can see there are others the same.

Michelle Ward


Apakah murid saya disleksik?

Saya guru kelas empat dengan seorang anak yang berusaha keras sekali. Dia dan ibunya berusaha membaca 10 kata setiap minggu. Dia bisa mendapatkan 8 dari 10 secara baik. Dia biasanya mendapatkan huruf tepat untuk kata tertentu, tapi tidak dalam urutan benar (misalnya, “pohon” menjadi “ponoh”). Dia telah diuji dan hasilnya menunjukkan ketidakmampuan belajar. Fasilitator ujian itu merasa bahwa anak ini hanya menebak untuk itu ia menghentikan ujian itu. Ia membaca seperti anak kelas 1, bisa matematika tapi harus bertarung untuk membaca. Dia juga mendapatkan kesulitan dengan pengalian (angka). Saya ingin membantunya, dan begitu pula keluarganya. Apakah ia disleksik?

JAWAB: kesulitannya dengan pengucapan “berloncat”, masalah kata-kata dan kemampuan mengurut dalam perkalian adalah indikator kuat anak itu disleksik. Sebaiknya hubungi psikolog profesional untuk memastikan. (John Bradford)

Megan (USA)

Saya didiagnosis disleksik di kelas 1 setelah mendapatkan 180 dalam tes IQ dan tidak dapat membaca. Saya akhirnya harus menghabiskan waktu di sekolah untuk kelas khusus belajar. Saya dinyatakan spesial tapi pada umur 9 setiap anak ingin menjadi orang bisa dan tak ingin menjadi spesial, saya membenci kata itu hari ini. Saya adalah anak yang tak pernah mengikuti pentunjuk bukan karena saya tak mendengarkan tapi karena saya tidak mengerti apa yang ditanyakan.

Bertahun-tahun saya belajar untuk mengikat sepatu dan ibu saya selalu meletakkan sepatu kiri saya sehingga saya bisa mengerti mana sepatu kiri dari kanan. Saya ke kamar mandi setiap hari saat harus membaca keras di kelas, saya mengambil ujian lisan dan harus meminta orang lain membacakan soal ujian. Saya bisa matematika tapi tak bisa mendapatkan kata-kata yang tepat untuk menyelamatkan diri saya.

Hari ini usia saya 26 dan tetap membaca seperti kelas 5. Saya kuliah karena mendapatkan beasiswa sepakbola. Jika saya mendapatkan nilai A adalah mata kuliah Logic, apa lagi? Saya belajar dengan gaya saya dan bisa lulus kuliah satu semester lebih awal dari yang lain. Saya tak dapat melanjutkan ke S2 karena tidak dapat meyakinkan guru bahwa saya perlu pembaca untuk membantu ujian saya. Guru itu dipecat dan saya lulus dengan cepat. Ibu saya berpikir bahwa saya akan menjadi guru hebat karena saya telah mengalahkan sistem yang ada, tapi jujur saya pikir bahwa lebih baik menjadi guru yang bisa membaca dan berbicara dengan baik.

Sekarang saya adalah pekerja sosial, dan senang menolong orang seperti yang telah dilakukan guru-guru saya dulu. Hidup saya lebih mudah daripada sekolah. Saya dapat mengubah huruf, dan ucapan saya tetap payah. Namun saya belajar mengikat tali sepatu, dan tak perlu mana sepatu kiri mana kanan. Saya tak peduli membaca keras-keras selama tak ada orang yang mendengarkan.

Maria (Irlandia)

Saya berusia 17 tahun dan saat berumur 7 saya mengetahui saya disleksik. Saya tak tahu artinya tapi itu berarti “lain” dari orang lain. Waktu saya di kelas 5, ketakutan utama saya adalah membaca. Saya bukan pembaca buruk tapi sekarang masih takut ditertawai. Saya masih punya waktu setahun lagi di sekolah ini, dan saya takut karena saya tahu tak punya apa-apa.

Jenna (Canada)

Putri saya harus duduk di kelas satu selama dua tahun. Dia tak dapat belajar membaca. Saya membawanya ke dokter mata, dokter THT dan spesialis anak lainnya. Kita tak dapat mengerti masalah yang ada sampai akhirnya saya mengetahui dari keluarga bahwa putri saya mengalami ketidakmampuan belajar, dan ia harus dites apakah disleksik. Hasilnya, dia mengalami disleksia.

Dengan pertolongan beberapa guru yang peduli dan juga saya, dia mengikut terapi SMT disleksia. Saya harus akui terapi ini bagus sekali: putri saya dapat membaca dalam setahun dan sekarang sudah masuk kelas tiga tanpa bantuan siapa-siapa. Prestasinya masih berada di belakang siswa lain, dan saya memahami bahwa akan semakin berat baginya tapi dia bisa melakukannya atas kehendaknya.


Robert berusia 11 saat mempelajari perbudakan untuk tugas sejarah. Dia mengalami disleksia berat dan sulit menulis, dan membaca adalah tugas menyulitkan. Namun ia menyukai diskusi di kelas dan menonton video. Jika disuruh ke perpustakaan, dia langsung mundur karena semua buku mengharuskan kemampuan membaca.

Dia kemudian menemukan cara membaca dengan menggunakan indeks. Saat ia mengurut secara alfabetis, dan menemukan topik yang disukai, ia mencatat halamannya dan mencari datanya. Dia bisa kehilangan alasan utama mengapa ia berada di perpustakaan. Gurunya selalu memperlihatkan materi CD ROM dan multimedia lain. Dia harus pergi ke museum sejarah perbudakan dan menemukan artikel yang diinginkannya. Dia memberi tanda dan memindainya ke dalam komputer.  Dia mendengarkan segala informasi dan menentukan apa yang ia ingin simpan dan buang. Dia menghabiskan waktunya mengedit dokumen dan membuat tugas yang penuh detail yang menandakan dia sangat antusias dan berpengetahuan.

Liz (UK)

Liz tidak dapat membaca saat bertemu saya. Gerak tubuhnya menandakan depresi anak usia tujuh tahun. Dia mulai berputar di kelas daripada mengerjakan tugas kelasnya. Orang tuanya juga tak mengerti mengapa ia selalu begitu. Seluruh keluarganya normal secara IQ tapi Liz seperti tak pernah diam.

Saat saya berbicara dengannya dia menyatakan menyukai seni dan lukisan dan pendidikan fisik, tapi ia selalu bermasalah di sekolah. Dia membenci hari Jumat saat ada kelas membaca dan mengeja kata.

Setelah beberapa kali menemui saya, saya melihat betapa resah dirinya dan saya tanya apa yang baru ia makan. “Tak ada,” jawabnya, “saya baru minum jus jeruk dan apel.” Saya bicara ke ibunya tentang diet Liz. Ibunya merasa bahwa tak ada salahnya memberikan jus jeruk murni. Saat Liz mengubah pola minumannya, perubahannya lumayan besar. Setidaknya ia lebih kalem di sekolah dan bisa membaca dalam waktu 4 bulan. Dia bukan disleksia, tapi seorang anak yang hanya alergi terhadap makanan dan minuman tertentu. Ada berapa banyak anak yang seperti dirinya?

Gina (USA)

Putri saya mengalami disleksia. Dia lulus tahun 2001, tapi harus bertarung terus selama sekolah. Sesekali ia ingin mundur, tapi saya selalu meyakinkan dirinya bahwa ia telah berusaha sejauh ini. Sekarang ia ingin melanjutkan ke jurusan ekonomi dan telah mampu mengatasi kesulitan membacanya.

Terapi Disleksia Memantau Gerak Otak Anak

(HealthDay is the new name for HealthScoutNews.)

Setelah menjalani terapi membaca intensif selama tiga minggu, anak penderita disleksia mulai menunjukkan pola aktivitas otak yang cocok dengan pola pembaca normal. Kemajuannya sangat signifikan dan efektif. Penemuan ini muncul dalam jurnal Neurology tertanggal 22 Juli.

“Kita tahu bahwa otak harus berubah saat belajar sesuatu, tapi untuk melihat sesungguhnya perbedaan kegiatan otak adalah satu hal yang menarik,” ucap Gordon Sherman, direktur eksekutif dari Sekolah Newgrange dan Pusat Kemajuan Pendidikan di Princeton, NJ.

Disleksia adalah ketidakmampuan belajar yang mempengaruhi hingga 15% anak sekolah di Amerika Serikat. Anak dengan disleksia mengalami kesulitan membaca dan mengucapkan kata-kata. Secara khusus, mereka mengalami kesulitan mengerti suara, mengenali arti setiap kata dan pengucapan. Periset mempercayai bahwa kesulitan ini timbul karena anak yang disleksik memproses informasi bahasa dalam area otak yang berbeda dengan manusia tanpa disleksia.

Penelitian terakhir juga menunjukkan peran morfologi dalam disleksia (bagaimana bagian dari sebuah kata menghasilkan arti).

Kajian sekarang didesain untuk membandingkan bagaimana proses morfologis dan fonologis dalam otak bekerja. Fonologi untuk mengetahui hubungan suara dalam satu kata dengan bentuk tertulisnya. Penulis kajian ini pun melihat tipe khusus setiap instruksi yang dihubungkan dengan pola kegiatan otak, seperti yang tampak pada gambar resonansi fungsional magnetis (functional magnetic resonance imaging, fMRI).

Sepuluh anak disleksik dan 11 anak (berusia 11 dan 12 tahun) dengan kemampuan membaca normal melalui proses pemindaian (scanning) fMRI untuk memetakan pola kegiatan otak mereka di saat mereka melaksanakan dua ujian membaca. Di titik ini, anak disleksik menggunakan area otak yang sama untuk memproses bahasa seperti pembaca normal, namun tingkat kegiatannya lebih lemah.

Anak disleksik kemudian melalui terapi fonologis dan morfologis selama tiga minggu. Dengan pendekatan morfologis, sang anak diajarkan untuk mengelompokkan keluarga kata-kata (“bangun” dan “pembangunan”) dan kata-kata yang tidak dalam satu kelompok/keluarga (“tawa” dan “bawa”). Hal ini dijelaskan oleh Todd Richards, profesor radiologi dari Universitas Washington, Seattle. Sementara semua temuan ini menjadi rekomendasi untuk Panel Membaca Nasional, cara menyambung kepingan menjadi satu adalah unik, tambah kajian Virginia Berninger, direktur dan penyelidik utama dari Pusat Ketidakmampuan Belajar di Universitas Washington. Pusat kajian ini dibiayai oleh National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

Selanjutnya, kedua kelompok anak ini kemudian melalui pemindahan otan kedua yang disertai dengan tugas mental. Seperti halnya pemindaian fMRI yang pertama, mereka ditanya tentang dua buah kata dan apakah salah satu huruf dalam kata-kata tersebut ada yang memiliki suara (pengucapan) sama. Mereka juga ditanya apakah pola huruf dalam kata itu menciptakan arti tertentu yang berhubungan.

Pemindaian kedua menunjukkan bahwa pola kegiatan otak anak disleksik menunjukkan kemajuan. “Tidak berarti bahwa dalam tiga minggu Anda bisa mengajar anak disleksik membaca atau berubah total, tapi otak mereka telah berubah secara perlahan,” tegas Sherman. “Dilatih terus untuk mengerti apa yang terjadi pada diri anak disleksik. Dilatih terus untuk menambah kajian yang tuntas dan kemudian menjadi bahan ajaran anak untuk belajar membaca. Semakin awal digunakan, semakin efisien dan baik hasilnya, dan akan berguna untuk seumur hidup si anak.”

Sesungguhnya hasil terapi ini tidak mencerminkan proses penyembuhan, karena tingkat perubahan cukup mengejutkan penulis kajian ini. “Memang ada kemajuan drastis dalam aktivitas otak dalam tiga minggu,” ucap Richards. “Namun saya tidak menekankan hal ini sebagai perkembangan besar.”

Teknik fMRI menjadi satu titik awal riset untuk ketidakmampuan belajar. “Dengan fMRI, kita melihat otak bekerja dalam kerangka pemikiran bahasa,” imbuh Richards.

Satu hari nanti, gambar fMRI akan menolong kasus yang terberat. “Jika kita mendapatkan sekelompok orang disleksik dan melihat satu bagian dari kelompok ini lebih resistan terhadap terapi, kita akan bisa membayangkan bagaimana aktivitas otaknya dan membandingkannya dengan anak lain,” ucap Sherman.

Berninger juga menekankan bahwa hasilnya tidak mencerminkan perbaikan cepat. “Saya menyadari bahwa yang terjadi di dalam otak saat sang anak diajari untuk belajar dan akhirnya saya juga menyadari tentang pengetahuan bahasa dan sistem membaca,” ucap Berninger. “Sekarang bagaimana mengubah pengetahuan yang implementatif. Kami akan berupaya mengajarkan metode ini ke guru, dan harus menyampaikan informasi ini ke luar.”

More information

For more on dyslexia, visit the International Dyslexia Association. For information on the wider field of learning disabilities, visit LDonline.


Anak yang terganggu kemampuan baca atau tulisnya, biasa disebut kelainan disleksia, ternyata tidak berarti terbelakang atau bodoh. Penanganan dini dibarengi ketekunan serta motivasi yang kuat akan mengatasi kelainan itu.

Bakal calon presiden AS, George W. Bush dari Partai Republik, belum lama ini diberitakan sebagai penderita disleksia. Pasalnya, banyak kata yang diucapkan Bush selama masa kampanyenya salah. Misalnya, ia ingin menyatakan AS sebagai negara peacemaker (pencipta perdamaian), namun mengucapkan “pacemaker” (alat pacu jantung), yang tentu sangat berbeda artinya. Tariffs and barriers (bea dan cukai), diucapkan “terriers” (jenis anjing terier) untuk kata barriers.

Ada beberapa kata lagi yang ia ucapkan secara salah. Kabarnya, pengungkapan kata-kata maupun kalimat salah tadi dilakukan secara konsisten, yang notabene bisa menandakan ia menderita disleksia.

Pernyataan yang dipublikasikan sebuah majalah Amerika itu tentu bisa mengurangi nilai pencalonan Bush sebagai presiden. Maka tim kampanyenya terus berusaha menepis tuduhan itu.

Gajah jadi “jagah”

Kata disleksia diambil dari bahasa Yunani, dys yang berarti “sulit dalam …” dan lex (berasal dari legein, yang artinya berbicara). Jadi, menderita disleksia berarti menderita kesulitan yang berhubungan dengan kata atau simbol-simbol tulis.

Namun, sepanjang seseorang hanya mengalami disleksia murni saja, menurut dr. W. Roan, psikiater, pada umumnya ia hanya mengalami suatu gangguan perkembangan spesifik pada tahap usia tertentu. Pada saat pertumbuhan otak dan sel otaknya sudah sempurna, ia akan dapat mengatasinya. Namun selama mendapat gangguan ia memerlukan pelatihan khusus untuk mengejar ketertinggalannya.

Disleksia bukan aleksia. Yang disebut belakangan ini merupakan gangguan kemampuan membaca atau mengenali huruf serta simbol huruf akibat kerusakan, infeksi, atau kecelakaan yang mengenai otak atau selaput otak sehingga otak kiri korteks oksipital (bagian belakang) terganggu. Padahal bagian otak ini berfungsi mengenali semua persepsi lihat. Karena terjadi gangguan sambungan otak kiri dan kanan, pemulihan aleksia menjadi jauh lebih sulit.

Bentuk klinis disleksia bisa macam-macam. Pertama, sulit menyebutkan nama benda (anomi) amat sederhana sekalipun seperti pensil, sendok, arloji, dll. Padahal penderita mengenal betul benda itu. Gangguan bisa juga dalam kemampuan menuliskan huruf, misalnya b ditulis atau dibaca d, p ditulis atau dibaca q atau sebaliknya.

Bisa juga salah dalam mengeja atau membaca rangkaian huruf tertentu, seperti “left” dibaca atau ditulis “felt”, “band” dibaca atau ditulis “brand”, “itu” ditulis atau dibaca “uti”, “gajah” dibaca atau ditulis “jagah”.

Yang menarik, disleksia ternyata tidak hanya menyangkut kemampuan baca dan tulis, melainkan bisa juga berupa gangguan dalam mendengarkan atau mengikuti petunjuk, bisa pula dalam kemampuan bahasa ekspresif atau reseptif, kemampuan membaca rentetan angka, kemampuan mengingat, kemampuan dalam mempelajari matematika atau berhitung, kemampuan bernyanyi, memahami irama musik, dll.

Repotnya, gangguan disleksia adakalanya diikuti dengan gangguan penyerta lain seperti mengompol sampai usia empat tahun ke atas, nakal dan suka mengganggu teman serta mengganggu di kelas.

Tuduhan terhadap Bush tadi mungkin berkenaan dengan gangguan ketidakmampuan mengungkapkan bahasa ekspresif. Namun, penderita disleksia terbanyak adalah dalam belajar membaca dan menulis.

Seringkali kurang disadari bahwa fungsi pengenalan membaca, huruf, dan bahasa merupakan kesatuan yang melibatkan begitu banyak bagian di otak kita, yakni daya perhatian, daya persepsi pancaindera khususnya indera lihat, dengar, raba, perspektif, daya motorik atau gerak sebagai manifestasi menulis ucapan dan bahasa. Sebab itu bila ada gangguan disleksia, menurut dr. Roan, kita tidak bisa hanya menyalahkan satu bagian kecil otak, karena hal itu merupakan koordinasi dari banyak hal terkait.

Menurut para ahli AS, gangguan emosional ditambah cacat kecil visual para penderita menyebabkan mereka gagal “melatih” otaknya tentang apa yang disampaikan. Adakalanya mereka mampu mengeja huruf-hurufnya tapi sulit membaca rangkaiannya. Entah apa alasannya, tapi sekitar 90% penderitanya adalah kaum pria.

Tidak seperti penyandang cacat mental, intelegensi anak disleksia umumnya normal, bahkan acap kali di atas rata-rata. Walaupun sulit membaca kata-kata, biasanya mereka tidak menjumpai kesulitan dalam membaca angka atau not balok musik, kecuali kalau mereka menderita disleksia angka. Jadi, jangan menganggap anak disleksia anak terbelakang atau bodoh.

Pria dan menurun

Banyak orang terkenal seperti Sir Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965), mantan perdana menteri Inggris, Sir Isaac Newton (1642 – 1727), ahli fisika yang menemukan gaya tarik Bumi, Albert Einstein (1879-1955), ahli fisika lain yang menemukan beberapa teori penting tentang kosmos, dianggap anak bodoh sewaktu mereka kecil karena kurang berprestasi. Namun, di kemudian hari malah dielu-elukan dunia karena prestasinya.

Prof. John Stein dari Universitas Oxford dan Prof. Tony Monaco dari sebuah pusat penelitian tentang gen manusia, telah menemukan tiga gen sama yang berhubungan dengan disleksia dalam sampel darah para penderita. “Penemuan ini membuktikan bahwa disleksia memang karena faktor keturunan atau bawaan,” kata Prof Stein.

Penelitian dilakukan dengan mempelajari sampel DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid atau sel inti) yang terdiri atas materi genetik berupa darah dari 90 keluarga.

Anak dengan kelainan disleksia, menurut penelitian, dilahirkan dari keluarga dengan kesulitan kronis dalam membaca atau mengeja, sekalipun intelegensi mereka cukup tinggi. Selain itu para peneliti menemukan bahwa susunan kromosom kaum disleksia berhubungan erat dengan sistem kontrol imunitas. Ini menunjukkan, para penderitanya rentan terhadap serangan dari antibodi.

Begitu seorang anak ditemukan mempunyai kelainan disleksia, berikan terapi sedini mungkin. Latihan remedial teaching (terapi mengulang) dengan penuh kesabaran dan ketekunan biasanya akan membantu si anak mengatasi kesulitannya. Memberikan motivasi seperti pujian atau hadiah kecil setiap kali ia berhasil mengatasinya akan sangat membantu.

Untuk mereka yang memiliki gangguan penyerta, bisa ditambah dengan terapi perilaku. Atau, tambahan terapi wicara bagi mereka yang disertai kesulitan wicara. (Nanny Selamihardja)


Alexander Faludy, baru berusia 14 tahun tapi sudah berhasil masuk ke Cambridge University, sebuah universitas kebanggaan orang Inggris. Keberhasilannya ini mungkin tidak dianggap luar biasa kalau saja ia seorang anak normal.

Alexander seorang peyandang disklesia berat, karena kemampuan menulisnya sangat terbatas dan tulisannya seperti cakar ayam. Dalam satu menit paling-paling ia hanya bisa menulis dua kata dan hanya dia sendiri yang mampu membacanya. Tapi daya ingatnya luar biasa. Ia mampu mengungkapkan di luar kepala artikel-artikel teologi atau sejarah kebudayaan serta kesenian.

Kesuksesannya ini bukan berkat talentanya yang luar biasa saja, tapi juga berkat jasa orang tuanya yang terus berjuang agar kemampuan yang menonjol tadi terus dipupuk.

Orang tuanya, Andrew Faludy dan istrinya, Tanya, keduanya guru bahasa Inggris di Hampshire, berjuang agar putranya diizinkan meninggalkan pelajaran yang kurang dikuasai seperti matematika dan science ketika usianya mencapai 11 tahun, agar ia lebih berkonsentrasi pada pelajaran yang menonjol saja.

Mereka menyadari Alexander anak “ajaib” setelah anak mereka, ketika itu berusia tiga tahun, mendengarkan cerita Thomas the Tank Engine melalui kaset. Ternyata, ia dapat mengingat kembali secara utuh kata demi kata. Demikian juga dengan cerita-cerita lain.

“Pada usia lima tahun, kemampuannya semakin menakjubkan. Sesuatu di luar kemampuan orang normal ada di kepalanya,” kata ibunya. “Mungkin otak disleksianya diisi dengan sesuatu yang tidak dimiliki orang lain,” tambahnya.

Semula memang ia tersisih di sekolahnya karena kurang terampil ditambah ketidakmampuannya menulis. Namun, pada usia sembilan tahun ia menjadi orang termuda yang berhasil lulus bahasa Inggris dengan nilai rata-rata B dalam ujian akhir SMU untuk O Level.

Pada usia 11 tahun ia mengikuti ujian SMU lagi, kali ini A Level, yaitu jenis ujian tingkat SMU yang lebih tinggi ketimbang O Level, sebagai persyaratan untuk masuk universitas. Ia lulus dengan nilai B untuk pelajaran sastra, yang berisi analisis tentang Shakespeare, Milton, dan karya penyair metafisika dalam bentuk kaset rekaman. Tetapi, ketika ia sering dikucilkan teman-teman sekelasnya yang lebih besar, orang tuanya menarik dia dari sekolahnya dan mengikuti kuliah di Universitas Terbuka jurusan sastra yang bisa dipelajari di rumah.

“Kemampuan matematika saya memang di bawah normal karena saya demikian benci pada pelajaran itu. Rasanya, tidak ada gunanya untuk mempelajarinya lagi,” demikian alasan Alexander.

“Tulisan saya juga benar-benar tak terbaca tetapi apa yang masuk ke otak saya langsung dapat saya sampaikan lewat kaset rekaman. Dengan demikian saya dapat menguasai pelajaran yang tidak mampu saya lakukan di atas kertas.”

Orang tuanya berkeliling Inggris untuk mencarikan tempat yang mau menerima putranya. Akhirnya, ia diterima di Milton Abbey, sebuah asrama kecil khusus pria di Dorset. Di situ ia dibimbing oleh bapak asrama Andrew Day dan istrinya Yvette.

Dalam tiga tahun Alexander berkembang tidak hanya dalam dunia akademisnya tetapi juga pendidikan sosialnya. Pikir orang tuanya, sudah saatnya ia bisa masuk ke Universitas Cambridge.

“Sebelumnya kami pikir sebaiknya ia tumbuh dalam lingkungan yang sesuai usianya karena usia 11 tahun masih terlalu muda untuk masuk universitas,” kata Ny. Faludy.

“Kini pribadinya sudah siap untuk menghadapi perdebatan-perdebatan dalam kehidupan akademis yang tidak diperoleh dalam kuliah korespondennya.”

Martin Golding, seorang tutornya mengatakan, “Kami mengetes dia dengan teliti agar ia dapat diperjuangkan untuk masuk universitas itu karena kami yakin, ia sangat berbakat.”

Dengan tinggi 182 cm, Alexander kini tampak begitu canggung saat mengenakan stelan pantalon hijau dari bahan corduroy, dilengkapi vest dan dasi. Namun, dibandingkan saat ia masuk ke asrama di bawah asuhan Andrew dan Yvette tadi, kini ia sudah tampak lebih dewasa.

Kini Alexander menghabiskan sebagian besar waktunya di Milton Abbey dengan mendengarkan “buku audio”-nya dan mencoba mengikuti beberapa pelajaran terutama teologi dan sastra.

“Banyak orang dengan berbagai macam minat ilmu datang menemui Alexander untuk mendisukusikan apa saja: politik, sastra, sejarah, dll.,” kata Ny. Day. “Benar-benar menakjubkan melihat seorang anak berusia 14 tahun sudah mencapai tingkat intelegensi yang lebih tinggi walaupun ia penyandang disleksia. (TST/Nn)

Ketidakmampuan Membaca dan Menceritakannya Kembali

Disleksia terjadi pada 5%–10% dari seluruh anak di dunia

Penyebab disleksia adalah faktor genetis, yaitu dari garis keturunan orangtuanya (tidak harus orangtua langsung, bisa dari kakek-nenek atau buyutnya). Disleksia sering kita kenal dengan ketidakmampuan mengenal huruf dan suku kata dalam bentuk tertulis, atau dengan kata lain ketidakmampuan dalam membaca.

Apa yang sebenarnya terjadi pada penderita disleksia? Penderita disleksia sebenarnya mengalami kesulitan untuk membedakan bunyi fonetik yang menyusun sebuah kata. Mereka bisa menangkap kata-kata tersebut dengan indra pendengarannya, namun ketika harus menuliskannya pada selembar kertas, mereka mengalami kesulitan harus menuliskannya dengan huruf-huruf yang mana saja. Dengan demikian, dia juga kesulitan menuliskan apa yang diinginkan ke dalam kalimat-kalimat panjang secara akurat. Anak yang menderita disleksia memiliki kemampuan yang sama dengan anak normal lainnya, hanya dia memiliki kesulitan dalam membaca.

Dalam beberapa kasus, anak-anak disleksia memiliki kemampuan dan kepintaran lebih tinggi dibandingkan anak normal lainnya, dalam hal yang tidak berkaitan dengan membaca. Apabila anak yang menderita disleksia ini diberi soal-soal dengan cara lisan (dibacakan dan menjawab pertanyaan secara verbal), dia akan menjawabnya dengan benar. Ini juga merupakan salah satu ciri anak disleksia, yaitu apabila diberi soal dengan cara lisan, dia mampu menjawab dengan cepat dan benar; namun apabila anak tersebut diberi soal berupa tulisan, ia mengalami kesulitan.

Sebelum menjelaskan lebih lanjut mengenai disleksia, mari kita melihat terlebih dahulu unsur-unsur yang diperlukan seseorang ketika dia sedang membaca.Ketika seseorang sedang membaca surat atau buku, sebenarnya dia sedang melakukan beberapa langkah berikut:

  • Membaca cepat (scanning) huruf demi huruf yang menyusun kalimat yang ada dalam tulisan tersebut dengan urutan yang benar,yaitu dari kiri ke kanan;
  • Memindahkan huruf-huruf tersebut ke dalam otak dalam waktu yang singkat;
  • Mengenali pengelompokan huruf-huruf yang berbeda yang membentuk satu kata tertentu (hal ini melibatkan identifikasi terhadap masing-masing huruf), dengan berbagai macam bentuk font atau model tulisan tangan yang ada;
  • Membandingkan pengelompokan dengan cara seperti di atas dengan kata-kata yang sudah dikenali yang tersimpan dalam memori otak untuk mengenali bunyi dan arti kata-kata tersebut secara keseluruhan;
  • Mengingat arti kata-kata tersebut dan menghubungkannya dengan kata-kata pada kalimat berikutnya untuk memahami seluruh isi tulisan;
  • Menyelesaikan seluruh proses tersebut dalam hitungan detik, seiring dengan perpindahan pandangan mata yang beranjak dari kalimat satu ke kalimat-kalimat berikutnya.

Proses di atas adalah proses yang dilakukan seseorang (yang normal) dalam membaca. Namun, jika ada salah satu saja proses atau langkah di atas yang terlewati, seseorang akan mengalami kesulitan dalam membaca. Bagi para penderita disleksia, masalah utama dalam membaca terletak pada menghubungkan antara kumpulan huruf dalam sebuah tulisan dengan katakata yang hanya mereka ketahui melalui pengucapannya. Tanda-tanda disleksia tidaklah terlalu sulit dikenali apabila para orangtua memperhatikan anak secara cermat.

Misalnya, apabila Anda memberikan sebuah buku yang tidak akrab kepada seorang anak yang menderita disleksia, dia mungkin akan membuat cerita berdasarkan gambar-gambar yang ada di buku tersebut, yang mana antara gambar dan ceritanya tidak memiliki kaitan. Disleksia akan diketahui setelah Anda meminta anak tersebut untuk memfokuskan perhatiannya pada kata-kata dan membacanya dengan suara keras lalu Anda memintanya untuk menceritakan ulang atas teks-teks yang telah ia baca. Apabila ia tidak bisa melakukannya dan malah bercerita berdasarkan interpretasinya atas gambar-gambar yang ada di buku tersebut,kemungkinan besar dia mengalami disleksia.

Kekurangan anak disleksia dalam membaca, yakni:

  • membaca dengan amat lamban dan terkesan tidak yakin atas apa yang ia ucapkan,
  • menggunakan jarinya untuk mengikuti pandangan matanya yang beranjak dari satu teks ke teks berikutnya,
  • melewatkan beberapa suku kata, kata, frasa atau bahkan baris-baris dalam teks yang dibaca,
  • menambahkan kata-kata atau frasa-frasa yang tidak ada dalam teks yang dibaca,
  • membolak-balik susunan huruf atau suku kata dengan memasukkan huruf-huruf lain,
  • salah melafalkan kata-kata yang sedang dia baca,walaupun kata-kata tersebut sudah akrab,
  • mengganti satu kata dengan kata lainnya, sekalipun kata yang diganti tidak memiliki arti yang penting dalam teks yang dibaca,
  • membuat kata-kata sendiri yang tidak memiliki arti, mengabaikan tanda-tanda baca.

Ketika belajar menulis, anak disleksia akan melakukan hal-hal berikut, yakni:

  • menuliskan huruf-huruf dengan urutan yang salah dalam sebuah kata,
  • tidak menuliskan sejumlah huruf-huruf dalam kata-kata yang ingin ia tulis,
  • menambahkan huruf-huruf pada kata-kata yang ia tulis, mengganti satu huruf dengan huruf lainnya, sekalipun bunyi huruf-huruf tersebut tidak sama,
  • menuliskan sederetan huruf yang tidak memiliki hubungan sama sekali dengan bunyi kata-kata yang ingin dia tuliskan,
  • mengabaikan tanda-tanda baca yang terdapat dalam teks-teks yang sedang ia baca.

Apabila seorang anak tidak bisa membaca, belum tentu dia mengidap disleksia.Penting untuk tidak mengambil kesimpulan secara dini dan gegabah tanpa melihat sumber permasalahan yang ada secara cermat. Karena itu, ada beberapa hal yang perlu diperhatikan sebelum memvonis anak menderita disleksia, yaitu:

  • Apakah anak tersebut mengalami kendala dua bahasa antara di rumah dan di sekolah?
  • Apakah anak tersebut memiliki gangguan fisik (misalnya: gangguan penglihatan, pendengaran, epilepsi, lumpuh, dsb) sehingga membuatnya kesulitan membaca?
  • Apakah anak tersebut memiliki kemampuan yang secara umum memang berada di bawah anak-anak lain seusianya?
  • Apakah anak tersebut sering berpindah- pindah sekolah?
  • Apakah ada problem rumah tangga yang dialami di keluarga anak tersebut?
  • Apakah kualitas pengajaran yang didapatkan anak tersebut buruk?
  • Apakah anak cukup mendapatkan fasilitas untuk membaca?
  • Apakah anak memiliki motivasi yang cukup untuk membaca?
  • Permasalahan-permasalahan di atas dapat menyebabkan seorang anak mengalami kesulitan dalam hal belajar membaca, tapi ia bukan disleksia.

Selain itu, usia anak juga perlu diperhatikan. Seorang anak dapat dikatakan mengidap disleksia apabila ia sudah berumur 7 tahun ke atas, namun belum dapat membaca dengan benar.Terapi untuk anak yang mengidap disleksia yang selama ini telah terbukti keberhasilannya adalah remedial educational approachdan phonic lessons.Apabila orangtua dan guru mulai mencurigai bahwa anak mengidap disleksia, hendaknya segera berkonsultasi dengan psikolog atau klinik/sekolah pengajaran khusus (special education) untuk mendapatkan informasi mengenai cara penangan yang sebaiknya dilakukan untuk membantu anak dalam meningkatkan perkembangan membacanya.

Anak disleksia tidak selamanya tidak mampu membaca dan menulis. Apabila mendapat penanganan yang tepat dan intensif, anak disleksia akan dapat membaca sama seperti anak normal lainnya.

Jovita Maria Ferliana,M. Ps, psikolog anak, volunteer di Komnas PA, lulusan Magister Psikologi Universitas Tarumanagara Jakarta