Worried about my brother.

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Eliza, May 11, 2011.

  1. Eliza

    Eliza New Member

    Hi, I'm not actually a parent but some late-night research led me to this site; I was trying to find out if there was something 'wrong' with my 16 year old brother based on behaviour that my mum and dad have often just attributed to "growing up" or being the only boy in a family of three sisters.
    For a long time, my brother has been aggressive, abusive and sometimes even violent, depressed, addicted to the computer, rude and stubborn. He is really good at sports/athletics though and I think maybe this could be used to let out some of his aggression. I also read another post that mentioned that their child does not act in the same way outside of home, and this is true- my brother can be polite, restrained and really nice to other people outside of our family, and even with the family too. Small things can change his behaviour and make it really unpleasant, to the point of scary, for the family.
    I'm sorry that this is such a long post and thank you to anyone who reads or responds to it. I was wondering if this kind of behaviour could suggest a behavioural problem such as ODD? And how could I approach my parents or my brother in getting him diagnosed? Often it is so easy to be lazy about this kind of thing because when the fighting has died down it is much easier to pretend it's over for good and that it won't happen again. My parents have been saying "we've had enough" for years. Does anyone have any advice or anything at all that could help me? It would be really appreciated! :)
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi and welcome to the board. You are quite a caring sister. It would help if we had more background on your brother. What country do you live in?

    You can certainly approach your parents, however it is up to them if they actually do anything. I think there will be a breaking point where they will decide to get him help, but it may be too late by then. You can tell them you want to talk to them, sit them both down, and gently make a case for why you feel it would be "safer" for all of you if brother got help NOW. You can also GENTLY point out that he has not stopped his behavior. If you feel frightened sometimes, certainly bring that up. Do you think he uses drugs or drinks too much?

    In the US, ODD isn't a likely a diagnosis one would get by age sixteen. It would be something else. ODD is used mostly for young kids and usually does not stand alone.
  3. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Hi and welcome. From your spelling, I would think you are British? :)
    MWM's advice seems good. Speaking to your parents sounds like a good idea. It is tempting - though not advisable, I feel! - to say it sounds like your brother has ADHD. But no one can say for sure without actually seeing him, of course. Is he restless and agitated, always on the go? Does he talk nineteen to the dozen? Other small signs of ADHD... What kind of school does he go to and how does he get on in school?
  4. Eliza

    Eliza New Member

    Hi Midwest Mom and Malika,
    Thank you for replying :)
    I'm from Australia. My brother seems like a pretty 'normal' 16 year old boy; I am sure many boys get moody and aggressive now and again, and like I said often it is so easy to just indulge in the 'good' moments that we don't want to take the probably necessary action in the bad ones.
    You mentioned a "breaking point", Midwest Mom, and we have had plenty of those, when some authority greater than what my parents can give my brother is obviously necessary. My brother is easily aggravated - once in primary school he stabbed another boy with scissors when he insulted him. Last year he hit my mum and gave her a black eye. It is because of the arguments my brother starts or gets involved in that has made me see my father cry for the first time. Yet no matter how much he is hurt, Dad always wants my brother's company and acknowledgment more than any of his daughters'.
    I'm pretty sure my brother doesn't use drugs or drink excessively. He does reasonably well in school, he's quite intelligent, although the amount of time he spends on his computer not doing work means that his laziness gets in the way and he never reaches his full potential.
    From researching, it was ODD that stood out for me, as through my research it was these symptoms that I could really identify with my brother's behaviour:
    - Is easily angered, annoyed or irritated
    - Has frequent temper tantrums
    - Argues frequently with adults, particularly the most familiar adults in their lives such as parents
    - Refuses to obey rules
    - Seems to deliberately try to annoy or aggravate others
    - Has low self-esteem
    - Has a low frustration threshold
    - Seeks to blame others for any misfortunes and misdeeds

    Whereas the symptoms of ADHD were not so resonant in my brother's behaviour - maybe, if ODD rarely happens on its own, he could have a mild case of ADHD? I'm not sure. I don't know when - or if - I will talk to my parents about it. It never seems like the right time for it. What would a diagnosis of one of these disorders lead to? Would my brother be put on medication?
  5. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Have you considered Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) as a possibility? Having raised one boy and in the middle of raising another, I can see a lot that is familiar. Goto www.childbrain.com and look for the online Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) test. See if it gives you any clues.

    Remember, we can't diagnose here, and neither is it appropriate for you to diagnose your own brother, even if you were fully qualified. But you are doing what I did - searching for answers, ANY answers.

    I'm also from Australia, and depending on where you are, there can be help for both your brother and parents, regardless of the diagnosis. If you're anywhere near Sydney, I would suggest you try to get him referred to Headspace. Or maybe even yourself, if you feel you could do with some counselling support. A Gp referral is needed, and it opens the door to bulk-billed psychology services. My daughter is currently getting support through Headspace in a very practical way, helping her work on her anxiety issues and overcoming them so she can get a job in her chosen career area. They have a range of services. You have to be under 25. Also worth checking out, is Brain & Mind Research Unit. Both of these are university-based, they are not private practices. Actually, connected to one another.

    Check out your area - if you are not near Sydney, there still may be Headspace or BRMU available in your area. Also check out Beyond Blue - it is all connected, the same research team involved. I normally will not recommend any specific service, but this mob go beyond specific services. They are setting the benchmark for a generic management method across the country, thanks to the mental health funding in our new budget.

    The service is there - use it. But getting your parents on side will be more difficult. Sometimes it's easier to live in denial, than to actually accept there could be a problem.

    I had a similar issue to you, with my concerns for my sister's son. The boy was not doing well and my sister was in denial. My mother and another sister would get their heads together and have a gossip session about him, but I went over and challenged my sister about her son. At first she screamed at me, said it wasn't fair, we were all picking on her and mum and our other sister had put me up to it. I finally said to her, "They did not put me up to anything, I would rather be wrong. But I need to KNOW. I think, at some level, so do you. How about you secretly get him assessed, don't tell Mum, and then when the tests come back negative you can rub Mum's nose in it?"

    She accepted that and began to make arrangements, but realised that she did need Mum's support and began to accept that perhaps there was a problem after all. He was subsequently diagnosed with some mild developmental delay due to oxygen starvation at birth.

    I was still a kid myself, and felt I had no respect from anyone. it is difficult to be an advocate under those circumstances.

  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    If your brother has social problems, I agree with Marg to look into Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). ADHD kids rarely get that extreme. So here's another vote for looking into possible Aspegers. He may also have a mood disorder. Does bipolar run in your genetic family tree? Either way, he should be persuaded to see a mental health professional. The stabbing of a classmate should have been an instant trip to a psychiatrist. This is NOT NORMAL. I've raised three boys to age eighteen...none were ever violent toward others. It is not a "boy" thing. It's an issue.

    I wish you luck with your parents :)
  7. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Welcome ~ it's my firm belief that you must get your parents here to discuss your brother. You haven't the power to do much other than collect information. Are your parents ready & willing to step in & help? How about your brother? Does he like the way he is? Does he want help & can he ask your folks?

    Just a thought.
  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Eliza, Linda is right. But you may be able to lead them to it gently, especially once you feel you have a sense of direction. If your brother is approachable and you feel the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) test fits him, talk to him about it (when he is calm and receptive) and get him to take the test on himself. My younger daughter did this and was very interested in the result. But you have to judge this, we don't know him. Go gently, if this backfires you lose your chance to get him any help.

    What helped me in our family - I always presented Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) as a positive thing, it brings gifts. It can explain why some tasks are so challenging and why others are so much easier than for most people. Also, problems now due to Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) do not necessarily last. It is not a "locked in stone" condition, people adapt constantly, and as they adapt, they find their skill areas taking precedence and their poorer function areas being compensated for. Your brother doesn't rage so much lately - sounds like he is adapting. This is good. But it might help him to know it's not his fault, there is a possible valid reason, and there is a lot of support available. My daughter went through school with zero supports because she had no diagnosis (other than mild ADD) but now she's in TAFE and has just enrolled in an external uni course (via SEEK) she is finding a lot of support, and using it. She values her individuality, but also wants help with the various issues she is struggling with. Support at tertiary level is marvellous. Support at secondary level is a shocker. But it is there, and there are alternative directions to take in a career path. We are currently following an easier educational path with difficult child 3 who sounds a lot like your brother - glued to the computer, has his pockets stuffed with just about every hand-held game available and can make them sit up and sing "Waltzing Matilda". difficult child 3 is being directed down a path towards qualifications in computing and electronics. Even though he is still at school, he already has his first TAFE certificate, obtained through school as a Year 11 course. Currently working on his next one.

    The other angle is with your parents, and the possibility of getting some free counselling for your brother, or for you. You could ask for it for yourself. If you are old enough, you don't need your parent's involvement. Then your success could help start things off with him. Like the cockatoo on the edge of the flock, when it moves off, so do the others.

    Another point - be wary of feeling like you have to be the one to rescue everybody. This is not your job, although it is a common thing in a family with a dysfunctional person. Kids often feel a strong sense of personal responsibility and want to fix things. Be wary of this becoming a pattern in your life - it is easy to become a person who always rescues others, who only values their contribution if they can make an impact. We need to value ourselves just in being - a hard lesson for a lot of us here on this site! I freely admit to being a rescuer, myself.