3. ‘She could see something that other people could not’
For people with dyslexia, there is a good probability they have an an “unusual aptitude in visual-spatial relations,” Saltz said. “It has to do with the wiring that makes it difficult for (a person) to read and do things in a very particular way. That same wiring permits a certain kind of ability in (a person’s) peripheral vision and processing and visual-spatial processing and pattern recognition.”
In her book, Saltz profiles high achievers who are severely dyslexic, such as Dr. Beryl Benacerraf, a clinical professor at Harvard University who developed a genetic sonogram that changed Down syndrome screening during pregnancy.
Throughout secondary school, Benacerraf struggled on standardized tests. The only way for her to get into medical school was to target a school that didn’t require the Medical College Admission Test. Once there, she managed to win acceptance to Harvard Medical School as a transfer after her father made some calls on her behalf.
It was during medical school that she quickly realized that she was more successful absorbing information by studying charts and graphs than by reading the text.
At the end of a radiology rotation during her residency, her professor told her, “I’ve never seen a gift in imaging and pattern recognition like you have. It’s uncanny,” Saltz writes in her book.
That led Benacerraf to enter the field of radiology, where she discovered a critical fetal indicator for Down syndrome.
“She could see something that other people could not see on the visual-spatial perspective, and she explained to me how things kind of jump out at her in a way that almost seems like magic, but she sees them,” Saltz said. “She thought everybody saw them until a radiologist pointed out that, in fact, they don’t.”