– Seeing the whole picture of dyslexia, including dyslexia strengths
Photography: Elisabeth Ohlsson Wallin
Susanna Cederquist has been working for 15 years in various ways to spread knowledge of the "dyslexic strengths" and the whole picture of dyslexia. Susanna is a lecturer, speaker, and educator, using the concept En Bild av Dyslexi (A picture of dyslexia) from Sweden. The main focus is to present the whole picture of Dyslexia; the consequences of problems in reading and writing and to see and increase the knowledge of the dyslexic strengths. She lectures in schools about how teachers can approach dyslexia and create a sustainable and equivalent education for students with dyslexia, as well as in authorities, companies, and workplaces. Susanna is an expert adviser for the Foundation of Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia of Sweden and member of the Board of Education's council for disability issues, City of Stockholm. Susanna leads courses for university students and adults with dyslexia to help them better understand their competencies and find their ways of success, also for parents with dyslexic children. She is the author of the books “Dyslexia + Strengths = True” (2015) and “Dyslexia at school – see the whole picture” (2021). Susanna is also a teacher with supplementary special education certificate. She wrote her exam essay about dyslexia and music, and dyslexic strengths in the beginning of 2000th century.
Chairman of WHOLE - International Dyslexia Strengths Network.
“I present my picture of dyslexia: En bild av dyslexi (A Picture of Dyslexia) based on research and literature as well as my own and others' experiences and thoughts. My concept holds a more complete picture that includes the strengths as well. Problems with reading and writing, I believe, are a natural consequence of a different way of thinking and functioning. Dyslexia means having reading and writing problems, but it does not end there. There are benefits in other areas, common advantages that I call the dyslexia strengths. We have a lot to gain from seeing, understanding and taking the whole picture of dyslexia seriously. We are different and that is the point. The more we understand the whole picture of dyslexia, the better it is for schools, workplaces and our society at large. Dyslexia strengths are in demand today, and we must take advantage of that.”
She is a school teacher and has worked in the school system since 2007 after graduating with a teachers’ degree. Her thesis is based on the subject dyslexia and music; the effect of dyslexia in the field of music. Over the years, Susanna has supplemented her education with independent courses in special education, dyslexia, cognitive psychology, accessibility and linguistics at different colleges and universities. Susanna herself has dyslexia and has, since childhood, noticed the dyslexia strengths as well as differences between dyslexics and non-dyslexics when it comes to the way you think.
Giving lectures and educating in schools has been an important part of Susanna's work. She has been in charge of both shorter and longer courses at primary schools, high schools, community colleges as well as regular colleges.
She has held courses in skills development on the importance of understanding and the approach to dyslexia for all staff at schools around Sweden. Since 2013 Susanna has also been hired as a consultant by universities, to advise and supervise college students with dyslexia. Themes in this work have been self-image and dyslexia knowledge as well as study techniques.
Susanna also trains and lectures in the private and public sector.
“I work to help companies and authorities further understand the value of our differences. How we can, as I call it, "optimize capabilities” more. To increase understanding of the whole picture of dyslexia. Today, the dyslexia strengths are competencies that are in demand in the labor market. The more you as a manager, HR manager, communicator, head of education or recruiter understand dyslexia the more we have to gain.”
She holds courses for employees and entrepreneurs with dyslexia on how they can go from self-doubt to control and efficiency in the workplace, in their professional role and their own dyslexia. She also has programs for graduates and students with dyslexia, as well as guardians of children with dyslexia.
“I also have the privilege of holding courses / programs for people with dyslexia based on their work role; how to go from stress and doubt to control and efficiency. It is great to be a part of the personal journeys where people find their ways, find a greater understanding of their competencies and actually change their view of themselves.”
Since 2015, Susanna has been a member of the Board of Education's council for disability issues, City of Stockholm (for Funktionsrätt Stockholm, nominated by the Dyslexia Association).
Courses for employees and entrepreneurs with dyslexia.
Princess Sofia, Susanna Cederquist and Prince Carl Philip
In 2016, Susanna was asked to join the expert council for dyslexia in the Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia Foundation. Susanna has provided the foundation with information and research and put them in touch with experts and researchers around the world. Susanna has also lectured at the foundation's events and invited the prince and princess to events in London and to the "Dyslexia and Creativity" day in Stockholm.
"Dyslexia and Creativity"
In 2016–2019, Susanna worked as a project manager within the Heritage Fund project VIDD. The goal of VIDD was to create pedagogical support for teachers and leaders to create a wider understanding within culture, aesthetic activities and teaching from the angle of functional variations/disabilities in general.
"Dyslexia and Creativity" was an international conference day which Susanna arranged within the framework of the project VIDD, with which she was working at the time.
Short film from the "Dyslexia and Creativity" day in Stockholm 3 June 2019:
Speakers and lecturers at the "Dyslexia and Creativity" day 2019 in Stockholm, Sweden, were:
- Drs. Brock and Fernette Eide, The Dyslexic Advantage, USA
- Thomas G. West, author and lecturer, USA
- Gunnar Bjursell, professor, Sweden
- Gustav Källstrand, historian and Nobel Prize expert, Sweden
- Susanna Cederquist, One picture of dyslexia, senior lecturer, Sweden
- Dr Helen Taylor, Researcher, University of Cambridge, England
- Örjan Strandberg, chairman of Stockholm's Innovator Circle, Sweden
- Prince Carl Philips and Princess Sofia Foundation, Sweden
During this event an art exhibition on the theme of dyslexia was also shown:
Exhibitors / artists:
- Students from Forsberg Art School with 9 films on the theme dyslexia strengths
- @ochdyslexi / Sara Ahlström and Fanny Laubscher
- @Words_edition / Susanna Cederquist.
In 2015 Susanna wrote Dyslexi + Styrkor = Sant (Dyslexia + Strengths = True). It’s a book that gives a broad picture of dyslexia and is an in-depth study of dyslexia strengths where research, literature and Susanna's thoughts on dyslexia are presented. We are introduced to the fact that there is a large number of people around the world who work with dyslexia from this broad perspective.Praise for “Dyslexia + Strengths = True”:
”I want to tell you how impressed I am with your book Dyslexi + Styrkor = Sant.
I am certain that your book will have a great positive impact on individuals with dyslexia in Sweden. You have cited and quoted many of the great researchers in the field — those who understand that along with the difficulties come many varied and distinctive talents and capabilities. These talents need to be identified and developed early. This is why your book is so important. It helps children, parents and dyslexic adults to understand that they often have hidden talents rarely identified in schools — but are important in life and work, whether in art, design, technology, scientific discovery or entrepreneurial innovation. The high-level creativity, visual talent and big picture thinking that many dyslexics have are already being recognized as of increasing value in the new digital world — while machines are doing most of the low-level clerical tasks that dyslexics have trouble with. Increasingly, as they follow their talents, we are seeing dyslexics leading the way into this new world.
Your book is helping to clear the path forward.”
— Thomas G. West, USA
In 2021 her second book was released: Dyslexia I skolan - se hela bilden (Dyslexia in school - see the whole picture). The book's main target group is teachers and school leaders, but also parents and other interested parties. The purpose is to increase the understanding of dyslexia in a school context and give teachers concrete tips for teaching, etc. Another purpose is to point out obstacles that may exist, and the consequences a text-based environment can have for students with dyslexia, as well as the importance of dyslexia strengths to be seen and developed already in school.
So far, the book is only available in Swedish, but I hope that an international interest can lead to it being translated.
More information do you find here Dyslexia in schools
International Dyslexia Strengths Network
For a long time now, Susanna has had contact and collaborated with many researchers and experts internationally. She is part of a number of international networks in dyslexia and neurodiversity. At the beginning of 2020, Susanna took the initiative for WHOLE - InternatiOnal DysLExia StrengtHs NetWork, an association of researchers and experts on the broad picture of dyslexia around the world.
You find more information about WHOLE - International Dyslexia Strengths Network here or at www.wholedyslexia.com
In 2019, Susanna received the Dyslexia Prize for her work in the field of dyslexia.
In 2020, Susanna received Dr Per Uddéns Prize for her long work on the dyslexia field during many years.
In Susanna's work with accessible text, she noticed that a certain technology was missing. She has therefore been involved in the work of producing Blipsay Lyssningskoder (Blipsay Listening Codes), a product that makes it possible toear read/listen to text directly from printed books and printed written information. As a text producer, you can then reach more people with your message. More about the listening codes and how to order them for your own text can be found here: www.blipsay.com
Susanna Cederquist in social media:
On social media, Facebook and Instagram, Susanna goes by the name @enbildavdyslexi
- CV Susanna Cederquist (1) in english
- Short biography Susanna Cederquist in english
Comments on Susanna's work internationally:
Susanna was one of the lecturers at the BDA conference 2021 on the theme: "Dyslexia and strengths - see the whole picture". Also on a dyslexia conference in Singapore and in Netherlands the same year.
As a speaker at Vision for Dyslexia 2020:
”Susanna, you were great. I have had calls from dyslexics who said that you "just got them!". Your understanding the dyslexic brain is brilliant. Thanks so much for sharing.”
Dyslexia Institute UK
Head organizer for International Dyslexia Conference: Vision for Dyslexia 2020
”You are engaged in an important task
— helping people to understand dyslexia and avoid stigmatizing people with dyslexia. I applaud your efforts to help people to understand that dyslexia involves a different organization of the brain and the visual field, not a deficit. It produces not only disadvantages most evident in difficulties with reading but also advantages from different patterns of visual organization, including talents in detecting patterns that include the whole visual field. It was a pleasure to meet you and to learn about your important efforts to gain better treatment of people with dyslexia. I think that is a great thing you are doing and I appreciate that.”
Ph.D. Director of Mind, Brain, & Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA, USA (2013)
”Understanding is the key.
The work you are doing to help people in Sweden learn about the many strengths of those with dyslexia is vitally important. Understanding is the key. And so I urge you to press on with this excellent work.”
Dr. Matthew H. Schneps, LVL Director
Research Professor, UMass Boston, Computer Science , Laboratory for Visual Learning
KIPP Infinity Middle School here in Harlem
Susanna, It was such a pleasure meeting you at KIPP Infinity Middle School here in Harlem, New York. Thank you for giving up your generous time to meet with our students who have dyslexia (although they were absent those days!). Both Kate and I learned so much from our short time with you. I have actually implemented some of the ideas that you gave me on how to help those with dyslexia. And the progress and motivation of one particular student has been amazing! Thank you again for sharing your resources, your knowledge, and your time.
Speech-language pathologist, KIPP NYC