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Advice on how to help my brother

piddifpiddif Member Posts: 2 Listener
Hi Everyone,

I have a brother (he is in his mid-twenties) who suffered brain damage when he was born. The damage was to his cerebellum, which has resulted in his speech being slurred and his balance and fine motor movement being quite bad.

Today he has achieved a lot in his life. He has a BA in graphic design and a level 8 in Web Development. We live in Ireland.

However there is one significant problem - he is quite unhappy. He was bullied in high-school right after the death of our father (he went to a different high-school to myself and the other brother, we had no idea at the time) and has failed to make friends at university and to this day his only real friends are his family.

The problem is that he is very shy and afraid of social interaction. He (somewhat rightly) believes that people judge him to be mentally handicapped based on his speech impediment and so avoid social interaction with him. This has happened in shared accommodation and at university. 

My brother is convinced that he must improve his voice, which will allow him to socialise and so his problem will be alleviated. I believe that his voice can be improved, but I'm not sure how significantly. I have tried to tell him that yes, he should try to improve his voice/speaking/pronunciation, but that he should also be trying to improve his social skills in general. He does not agree.

He is also carrying a great deal of anger over the reason he has a disability - the hospital were at fault when he was born. This resulted in court proceedings being issued and the hospital settled out of court. My mother is also not the best emotional support (but fantastic re: taking care of legal proceedings etc) for this sort of thing and that is another source of contention for him.

We are three brothers and we are all very close. I love my brother to bits. He is a normal man who is trapped by his disability (speech impediment) in a way that he has not come to terms with yet. He has at times mentioned suicide.

My question is this: How can I help him? I wan't him to be independent, to be able to source help on his own and to overcome his disability in order to get out into the world and socialise. He can do all these things, but he has extreme negative thought patterns which are are debilitating.

Are there councillors out there for people with disabilities likes this? Are there any books by people with disabilities who have over come their problems successfully?

My family are trying their best to help him without being too overbearing. He does not want to listen to any advice I have because I don't have his disability and therefore cannot understand his situation. I agree with this and have suggested researching into speech therapists and councillors. I have also suggested he join different groups in the city, like reading clubs, improv sessions, social anxiety groups etc. Perhaps I was wrong to do this?  I would like to know how I can help him without being mean about it... which I sometimes feel I am. Please, if you can offer any advice, I would be eternally grateful.

Thank you.

Replies

  • MarkmywordsMarkmywords Member Posts: 418 Pioneering
    All you can do is point out what options he has. He has to decide what he wants to do.

    Whenever anyone says "You can't ever know because you aren't . . . " it's done to silence and devalue the other person's point of view.

    No-one has the right to pass judgement on another's quality of life. Any comment on what they should do is an attempt to impose external values on them. The Samaritans don't do that.

    Listening and providing options to a hurting person is the only way or they will completely switch off.

    Depression is a natural response when a person feels they have a life they can't bear. Although there can occasionally be medical causes, what most people need is a way to change their life for the better.
    This has to be done before they carry so much suffering that they don't even want things to get better any more.
  • piddifpiddif Member Posts: 2 Listener
    All you can do is point out what options he has. He has to decide what he wants to do.

    Whenever anyone says "You can't ever know because you aren't . . . " it's done to silence and devalue the other person's point of view.

    No-one has the right to pass judgement on another's quality of life. Any comment on what they should do is an attempt to impose external values on them. The Samaritans don't do that.

    Listening and providing options to a hurting person is the only way or they will completely switch off.

    Depression is a natural response when a person feels they have a life they can't bear. Although there can occasionally be medical causes, what most people need is a way to change their life for the better.
    This has to be done before they carry so much suffering that they don't even want things to get better any more.
    Thank you for your kind reply. I am taking this on board and will do my best to give my bro all the support/listening I can. It's tough as hell for him... sometimes I feel like I am not in a position to advise or to help, but as you say perhaps I only need to listen and provide options, rather than suggest what decisions to make... thanks for taking the time to reply to my message, it means a lot to me.

    Patrick
  • TopkittenTopkitten Member Posts: 1,263 Pioneering
    Many disabled carry the anger of it into everyday life. In time most lose it but a few never do. The anger makes it hard to accept the situation and move to the next stage. There are many books and other sources of explanation that cover the stages we need to go through. I had no anger myself as it was nobody's fault but it still took me 8 years to accept what had happened and start moving forward. Even now I go through periods of slipping back and wanting to get it over with, I think I will have to fight against that always.

    Perhaps you could look into getting him around other disabled people. It might be therapeutic for him to realise that there are others worse off than him (there always are). If he is at all like me he may well find that he ends up encouraging those people and, in doing so, help himself deal with his own problems. It would also help his social skills.

    It isn't always a good idea to concede to his every idea (like my mum did) but nor is it better to argue every point. Balance and encouragement are the way forward to help anyone disabled.

    TK
    "I'm on the wrong side of heaven and the righteous side of hell" - from Wrong side of heaven by Five Finger Death Punch.
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