Monday, February 1, 2016

Prince Louis Talks Struggle with Dyslexia

Prince Louis talked to Tageblatt about his struggles with dyslexia. He was diagnosed at the age of 10 with the learning disorder. As Louis is one of the members of the family we hear so little about (in their own words), we decided to provide a translation of the interview. The German original is available at Tageblatt.

Photo: Hana Noguchi / Cour grand-ducale
When did you notice that you had problems with reading and writing?
I recall having spelling tests in German. The tasks were rather easy for me, as I had help at home. Then I thought that I wouldn't need help anymore, because I felt certain and did well. When we got our next exams back, however, the whole page had red lines [meaning that there were many mistakes].

How does it feel as a teenager if one struggles with learning while others do well?
You have a big desire for normality, something that won't be fulfilled. If you start to accept your dyslexia and the problems that come with it, the frustration develops into a strong and independent personality. 

Did you face disadvantages in school? Does it explain that you continued your studies in Switzerland? 
I decided to enter the American schooling system, entering the American School of Luxembourg, as the American system has a better understanding of dyslexia. When I went to high school, the Luxembourgish schooling system wasn't very well prepared for students with learning disorders. Today, we understand better but it's still a long way to go until we have reached the same level as in the Anglo-Saxon countries. 

You finished university with multiple degrees. Can you confirm that teenagers with learning disabilities are especially driven and have a strong will to succeed in other areas?
Children with learning disorders have strong wills as they often had to face failings. These failings due to the learning disorders become normal and at some point you lose the fear of failing. It makes you stronger and you develop a strength regarding what you want and you won't give up easily.

How did your parents, Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa, handle your problems?
My parents helped me a lot, especially my mother, who made sure my dyslexia was diagnosed. Most people around me didn't know how to help me and many gave up to find out what the problem was. My mother, however, never gave up to look for information, to ask questions and search for explanations. Due to her insistence, I was finally diagnosed with dyslexia.

You are a father yourself. Do you think that you are especially sensitive towards possible learning disorders of your children? And can you help them with their homework?
For me it's easier to understand what my children go through. But it's difficult for me to help them as I still struggle with spelling. Reading aloud, I'm only a little faster than my sons. I can support them morally but not practically. I hope though that my imperfection will help them to understand that perfection isn't necesarry any- and everywhere.

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