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How Can I Help My Brother?

Discussion in 'Help and Support' started by ocjones13, Jan 25, 2021.

  1. ocjones13

    ocjones13 New Member

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    Forgive me as this will end up being long, but I'm (28F) seeking advice about how I can help my brother (29M) who is high-functioning having been diagnosed with Asperger's during our late adolescence. He has always struggled greatly with change in his life usually reacting with anger, depression and withdrawal. This happened with graduation of high school, giving minimal participation in applying for colleges and therefore enrolling in the local university 10 minutes away and living from home and then repeated again with graduating with his bachelor's degree, completely reluctant through the process and resulting in no active job search for two years while still living at home despite everyone's best efforts to encourage him and connect him to resources .

    Eventually through the push from our mother combined with assistance from our local autism support center, he was able to land a seasonal job that while not the best experience did push him to apply and secure a job at Home Depot which he enjoyed and felt valued and continued to live at home. In Fall of 2019, our mother had been preparing to sell our home in MA to move to NJ in our grandmother's home (deceased) to be closer to family, a decision my brother FULLY supported for years as he never held high opinion of our hometown and also wanted to move away....until there was an offer and it officially sold.

    His opinion completely flipped overnight and he became severely adamant and verbally abusive towards our mother (he already had an issue with how he communicated with her and showing respect which she tried to get counseling for him but he was never willing to do and this event turned the dial up 20 times), blaming her for making the worst decision possible and refusing to assist with the move, but also not deciding if he was going to go to NJ with her or stay in MA alone.

    Many of our family members and myself came to help with packing over the course of two months to which my brother didn't participate and very openly showed his disrespect and disdain towards her. My father was also called in to help speak to him which did finally get my brother to make a decision eventually, but not without almost two weeks of talking at him and trying to offer all the ways we would help him if he chose to stay in MA like finding a new place, giving him a portion of the money from the sale of the house, etc. He decided that he would make the move to NJ, but it didn't improve his mindset and understandably upset with leaving his job, but he was able to successfully transfer to another Home Depot location close to our home in NJ.

    There were many plans to go back and visit our hometown to put him at ease, but of course COVID-19 hit which put a pin in any travel back over the last year. In the last year, his condescension towards our mother has been at an all-time-high and he's been depressed which I do understand to a degree as the work environment in his current job isn't as great as his previous position and with social distancing, neither of them have been able to enjoy the activities, eateries or visits to family members as they would be doing right now.

    He's been saying for over a year now about planning to move back to MA, but he's not proactive in any aspect of trying to achieve his goal (which we've all expressed our complete support if that makes him happy) and when offered any advice, he either cusses out (if it comes from our mother) or says "Yeah yeah, I know I know" and doesn't follow through (if it comes from myself or other family members).

    His perception of the situation is very different from everyone else's; he acts like he's being kept in place, like he doesn't have the freedom of choice and while vocally adamant about leaving NJ and not being "babied or nagged", he's also co-dependent from being waked up to go to work, having laundry done, etc. and he doesn't pay rent or utilities, exception of occasional groceries and car insurance.

    In some ways I get where he's coming from, wanting to be treated and trusted as an adult would, how homesick he feels and not wanting to work in a job where he's not appreciated by his superiors, but on the flip side he doesn't recognize the privileges he has (even when told) and seems unable to take the initiative in his own life on both large and small scales. Our mother isn't getting younger and already had a health risk with pneumonia during COVID-19 last year and of course she isn't perfect, but greatly it pains means to see how he's treating her, which he's admitted to being on some level self-aware of how condescending he is to her and while he won't say it out-right, I feel that his personal expectation is that she must make the move back WITH him.

    I've recommended for years that he should talk to an outside source, an unbiased voice from a counselor or therapist so he feels that he has a safe space, but like previous advice given he will not accept it from our mother (she did reach out to a specialist in NJ who works with adults with Asperger's and passed her contact information to him which he's never followed up on) or if it's from me, he says he'll think about it and not follow through.

    I'm really at odds because I don't want to see either of them suffer, but I've been witness to the whole process leading up to today's circumstances and no matter how I try to comfort and advise, he can't seem to seek the help even when all the tools and resources have been mapped out in front of him. How can I help him to take the next step into a direction, ANY direction to help himself?
     
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  2. unperson

    unperson Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Developmental delay, means he's probably like a 12 yr old socially, I know I was, but I got a bit more maturity in my 30s. He's probably not getting enough external feedback from friends or work colleagues, for him to see that it's not just family criticising him.

    You might have to just wait for some more maturity to kick in and/or maybe use positive reinforcement, rather than negative, it does get tedious hearing about one's shortcomings all the time.
     
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  3. Tom

    Tom Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    It really sounds like you guys have really done what you could. He sounds much like many others I have heard of, it is quite a common scenerio. One of the problems is there is no negative consequence for his negative actions. There has always been someone else to provide room and board, and pay the bills. Tbh I think its a case of enough is enough. I would basically kick him out.
     
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  4. Thinx

    Thinx Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Yes time for this guy to fly the nest, he's got a job and seems very functional. It's often hard for adult children to live at home, and he needs to adjust his behaviour which it does seem has no consequences.

    You may find it hard to get your mother on board with any decisive action too. Have a look at all the dynamics here and what is keeping this situation in place.
     
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  5. SusanLR

    SusanLR Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Sounds exactly how I grew up.
    Socially around age 13 most of my life.

    Some things did change and grew a bit more mature in my 30's also, but, still never wanted
    to leave home or live on my own.
    I've known other Aspies that your description fits besides myself.

    There were certain things, looking back, that I just could not handle.
    Change is a big one.
    Reacting with anger.
    Needed and expected those helpful wake up calls or being accompanied to places.
    Not socialising. Rarely went out with others to do things.
    Difficulty getting along with co-workers.
    It was a not much could be done except let me be situation.
    I worked and brought home money to help the three of us. And I had my freedom to do as I wanted.
    It was just a group of three people that lived together and that's how I wanted it.
    Problem is it just doesn't prepare you for later in life when those supports are gone.

    Mom was told to just kick me out also.
    But, for the most part, except for a sudden anger flare, everything was good.
    I'm paying now for not "growing up" socially, but, had I been kicked out there would
    be H to pay, so I'm glad I had a life of 50+ years I was content with.

    If he is like I was, there isn't much to do except talk realistically and don't scold.
    Hope some emotional/social growth will still happen.
    Life for an Aspie with that delay in maturity is a roll of the dice.

    One thing I would change if I could go back?
    Prepare for the seniour years. Get an insurance policy that grows and you can cash it in
    later. Look into other ways of investing for the future financially.
     
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  6. Wolfgangus Faldestolius

    Wolfgangus Faldestolius Little notes from an armchair

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    Great to have you join in. I zig zagged between adventurousness and sticking in the mud. A job offer got me off Mum & Dad's hands.

    Does your brother have hobbies he has been told (by anyone) to drop, or a scene or crowd where he feels affinities? I know those were things that got me through.

    I was aware people (and not just family) found me a problem but it wasn't the only thing on my horizon, I could see there were ways people didn't find me a problem, too. And, when I overcame shame to return to secret loves (words and facts) ways I didn't find myself a problem.
     
  7. unperson

    unperson Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    What was the degree in OP?
     
  8. Exbrewer

    Exbrewer Member

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    I can certainly empathize with your situation. It does sound like the best solution is for him to move out because the longer the current situation exists, the harder it will be to break and if it does break because your mother can cope no longer, you will have a bigger issue.

    I would not kick him out but, in answer to your question, I would try to find a way to help him move out willingly, maybe to a small place of his own not too far away so you and your mother can help him settle in and understand what looking after himself really means. Could you sell the idea on the basis of having his own space and freedom to do what he wants when he wants - moving forwards rather than backwards and giving him the chance to prove he can be independent? It would no doubt need a lot of patience and effort on your part to break it down into baby steps rather then him seeing it as a mountain to overcome, and lots of alarms and phone calls to get him up for work etc, but something along these lines may be worth considering. Good luck.
     
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  9. GadAbout

    GadAbout Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like your whole family needs to accept that he is, and always will be, autistic. That means change is totally disorganizing and introduces more adjustments than he is able to make. It also means when he feels stressed, instead of a rational appraisal about why he is stressed and what to do about it, he lashes out at others.

    He needs to go live on his own somewhere. Since he has employment, he needs an inexpensive apartment. He needs the entire family to sit him down and say he is going to move out, and no, we are not backing down. The verbal abuse toward your mother can well be shortening her life, so I don't see this as negotiable.

    As long as he is catered to emotionally for his immature maladjustment, it will continue forever. So this approach is both necessary for your mother and your family, and benevolent for him. The fact that he completed a degree and holds down a job means he really CAN master those independent living skills. He's ready. Now make him do it.
     
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  10. Nervous Rex

    Nervous Rex High-functioning autistic V.I.P Member

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    In short, you can't change him, but he can learn some coping techniques if he wants to.

    Two things that have helped me deal with changes and choices:

    1) When a decision that I didn't choose is suddenly thrust upon me, it is very jarring. It doesn't even have to be a big decision - it can be something as trivial as me anticipating making one thing for breakfast and then finding that someone else has made something else for breakfast for me and now I'm expected to eat it so I don't insult them. When I feel trapped like that or feel like I have no choice, I have to take a moment and consciously decide to accept the situation as if I had chosen it myself. It's weird to phrase it like that, but it helps me not feel trapped.

    2) For me, the anxiety of change is in the unknowns. I cope best with large changes by planning them out in detail and addressing all the unknowns before the actual change. Then, when the time to make the change comes, I follow the plan.

    Please note: These are things I have to do. No one else can cope for me. If your brother is willing to try these, I hope they work for him. If he is not willing to try different ways to cope, you really can't do anything except protect your own mental health.
     
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  11. OkRad

    OkRad μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος οὐλομένην V.I.P Member

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    Change for Aspies can feel catastrophic, even if they agree to it and plan for it.

    And it CAN be catastrophic, not just mentally. If the new place has sensory issues or noise or relentless stimuli that cannot be avoided and will be forever, it can be destabilizing.

    It depends on how many co-morbidities he has. We can talk all we want about acceptance and CBT and stuff, but if you have a constant and relentless stimulus that will shred someone neurologically, it is not a psych issue.

    So I can't say which is which because I don't know if the new place will be a safe one for him and I guess no one knows till they move.

    SO many stories of tough love used on people who don't have boot straps with which to pull themselves up.

    One of the top three cause of death for Aspies is suicide.

    Insist all you want. If he can't do it, he can't do it. You can try hit or miss and see if he is one that can make it. Some do as a lot on here prove.

    But a whole load don't as evidenced by the mortality gaps in ASD and extreme suffering. Agree with @SusanLR If you really wan to help, make sure he has enough to live on without having to be crammed into conjugate living with people who will not understand him at all. Financial.
     
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  12. Skittlebisquit

    Skittlebisquit Hope is faith rewarded in advance

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    This is me you describe in a way,or it was once. The issue is beyond the abilities and training you have. Your intuition about needing family counseling is i believe spot on. I suspect a few things about your bro, as yet unsaid here. Think on the several ppl says here; in his mind he is like 14 or so,thats important. "I know, i know" is not what it seems.
    Real insecurity comes from accurate self assesment. I dont date and dont want to mostly. It is insecurity based on facts, dating ruins my life. If i know there is something dangerous outside, i stay indoors. Likely bro dude is correctamundo in his assessment that he will fail at independent living, and so logically, doesnt try. This is beyond your skills to rectify. An impartial highly trained specialist deals with failure to launch issues(dont use this phrase, its mean).it needs pro level support, because a good amount of the assumptions you have about his "beliefs" may well be in error. Does bro dude wanna " go back home?" What the _____ for? There is this whole world out there just waiting. There is a home depot here in oregon, if thats the "only one" job for him (unicorn thinking)
    I qualify for counseling paid for by the state, just like i get food stamps, and i dont work, because i am a total loser. There is fancy talk for it, but that dont matter. Maybe bro dude can qualify for some of the same services. Its a popular topic here as many of us are not high functioning.
    The reason i brought up the state provided health care," medicare" in my case is that gets me free counseling. So here it goes down the rabbit hole. Bro dude gets into therapy. All the uptight conservative, "better than" nonsense stops. The therapy is the important thing, it needs to happen, by any means necessary. Critcism of the process can ruin it sometimes.
    A juvenile in therapy, the therapist works with parents. This is not you. They will shut you out of the loop, its the law. If you can maybe get a private practice, hired as a family therapist....
    I dont know enough sorry, besides oregon is not new jersey...
     
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  13. Wolfgangus Faldestolius

    Wolfgangus Faldestolius Little notes from an armchair

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    Don't just push. Propose tools, perhaps ones we've learned the hard way ourselves. It took till my 50s to infer, converse, plan without wanting to fall through a crack in the floor. Somehow the "system" tolerated me but it might not have done.

    Chunking down, visual aids, step by step. People left me to give time time and that's why I'm better now. There are loads of threads here about OT-type issues. Has he already given clues about how he likes to problem solve?

    Lining objects up, tastes in colours? When my workplace coach arranged for me to colour code my work trays, the NTs wanted to copy it and THEIR productivity went up even more than mine. We all have common ground.

    An autie's need for method isn't different from NTs'. Above all take the heat off. Space is a key to time and time is a key to identity. Make living in the now more feasible.
     
  14. WolfSpirit

    WolfSpirit Not a dictionary. Or a search engine

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    Change is hard. REALLY hard. And there are many other people who have had valid points here that I'll not reiterate, except to agree that your brother's treatment of your mother is wrong. Everybody, no matter what their issues, needs to learn how to treat other people with respect.

    The only additional thought I have to offer is perhaps the book Unf*ck Your Adulting, by Faith Harper might help? It's not specifically for those on the spectrum, but for new adults in general. IT seems to be aimed mainly at the millenial generation from what I understand. It's really straightforward and commonsense (for lack of a better word), IMO (I know, I know, many of us on the spectrum are said not to have 'commonsense'). There is a lot of swearing in her books, but if you can handle that, she's really good at explaining complicated things simply and memorably without 'dumbing it down'.

    Okay, one other thought, on further reflection. Is there any way that you can perhaps get your brother to agree to write down (or otherwise express) his concerns and worries and fears about the situation he finds himself in, and why he doesn't want to take any effort to improve his life? Maybe if he is able to express it in a nonthreatening fashion, without any time pressures or interpersonal pressures, he'd be able to explain to you guys why he's so obstinate about so much of it? Communication frustrations often lead to difficult behaviour in autistics (and others). And if he's full of fear, then he won't be able to think straight.

    Good luck.
     
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