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I have a 58 year old sibling who seems more like 85 at times. Mental health diagnosis was given in the past year or two, but most of the rest of the family considers it just a 'convenient excuse.' The sibling who needs the help is extremely critical of any and all who try to help him -- because we are not helping him the right way, and yet is constantly in a state of financial crisis and near homelessness. I have no previous knowledge to guage when my 'help' is truly helping and when I am just causing more damage or just delaying the inevitable mental break down.

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Ha Haha Mishka! Don't you feel better? We are in good company here. I believe it's Dear Son 1.

I think of Autism and Aspergers as EXTREME sensitivity. And that's why when I dealt with those children in schools and in Scouts, I did so gently. It's very easy for things to bother them, they feel what passes over us. What we learned to ignore as a matter of course, is like fingernails on a chalkboard, salt on an open wound. They didn't ask for it, it just is.
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Haha vstefans and Pamala Sue!! I could totally fall under the heading as well!!!
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Hi surprise-what does DS1 mean? I must have missed that acronym . I know you didn't mean to imply that autism is a mental illness but, in a way it can be , I think. I know that OCD and autism overlap. Like if the is a circle representing autism and a circle representing OCD they overlap each other-does that make sense? At least that is how it was explained to me. It is all so confusing.
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My DS1 was tested as a freshman at a very top college, and was just below the cutoff for Aspie. Many of the kids at this school are on the spectrum or have those characteristics. It seems to be how so many of these brilliant kids think. The rest of my family is so used to DS1's behavior that they see nothing different with the other college kids he hangs out with.

I don't mean to imply that it is a mental illness- it is just that the statement recommended to me, aimed people who stood by and did nothing to help, enables me express that there is something wrong with mthr that is beyond normal bad/lazy/obnoxious behavior. Most people don't understand the quirks of the spectrum, but do have sympathy for mental illness, so we could gain sympathetic behavior from these outsiders without having to educate them ourselves.
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I saw this and rushed right in to see if you were talking about me! I was almost ready to cry. Then I began laughing because vstefans made the same remark! Except for the financial part, I'm a whiz at that, I'll never be homeless. I support two homes. :D

I do think that old age, and for us women, perimenopause and menopause, exacerbates any mental health issues we had before.

If your brother does not wish to be helped, then it seems the only thing to do would be to step back and wait for the crash and burn. Some people have to hit bottom before they will seek help. And then there are others who will live forever in that sort of state, teetering but never falling. It's a drama queen thing. Draw back and save yourselves then. It's impossible to watch without going insane.
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Oops-hit submit too early. I was at Walmart and this couple wasmhaving such a time with their , well, around age 9,I'd say , son-autism. Tantrum on the floor. The Dad was a little rough around the edges and he goes real loud-"this special needs sh*t stinks". I knew why he said it. I knew he wanted others to realize his son was not a brat, not spoiled but had a disability. I approached them- I was alone- they looked frightened out of their gourds as I walked up to them-and I asked if I could help at all- I actually said -"Hi-I got one of those at home and smiled" They looked relieved. I told them they were not alone and we talked as much as we could. They said how often people judged them and I realized then that in some ways my daughter's appearance helps her. She is beautiful just not in your typical way.

Anyway, just, it must have been hard on your Dad and Mom and you. And I think your story would be really interesting and helpful-especially as he was never diagnosed- just to hear how he handled his obstacles-his "invisible disability"
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JessieBelle- it does sound like your father had Asperger's. It is a shame that he went his whole life not knowing - or , maybe not? Sometimes getting a label can be harder. I do know that people with "invisible disabilities "as I have heard -like autism wherever the person looks "typical" but has a disability is often very hard on them and the family in that the public is not so understanding. My daughter looks different and, really didn't think I would say this when she was diagnosed, that has helped her. People have more patience with her in stores and wherenot
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Thank you, Mishka. My father was not diagnosed. He was already in his 70s before anyone even heard of Asperger's. We knew he was odd, though my mother told us he wasn't. When I learned of Asperger's I thought "That's it." It fit my father completely and helped me understand why he was like he was. Children of parent with Asperger's can spend their lives walking on eggshells so they won't cause any disturbance. I'm generalizing here, because I know people will be different in what they can tolerate.

I think about Asperger's different than many. I just consider it a variation of the norm. It makes it easier when people know that it is Asperger's. When they don't know, it can seem like the person dislikes them for some reason or is obsessive-compulsive. Knowing about it can help people accept the personality, instead of taking it personally.
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Wow Jessiebelle- what a wonderful post. I think you really captured Asperger's- though I am by far an expert. It was also a very good tribute to your Dad and his disability. It must have been hard for you as his child but you seemed to come out all the stronger.
Did you ever think to write about your experience ? You have a unique perspective and a good mastery of words, IMO. Sooo many parents with young children facing this diagnosis would be interested in your Dad's ( and your) story. At least find a forum for Asperger's and maybe share your story there. I really think it might help some frightened parents. Just my thoughts. Blessings!
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My father had what would now be called Asperger's. There wasn't even considered up until around 20 years ago. With the increase in its popularity on TV (Boston Legal and Parenthood), it is being diagnosed more frequently now. As sometimes happens, it may be being over-diagnosed.

People with Asperger's can be very different. Some can be very high functioning and can learn to get along with people. Others can have difficulty throughout life in holding a job or relating to people. The aim of professionals now is to teach people with Asperger's to get along in the world.

There are a few things that are pretty much the same for people with Asperger's. They do not bond with many people. They may bond with one person very closely. Also, they do not read people well. They have a hard time understanding the expressions or intents of people. Smiles, frowns, tears are hard to understand. They do understand chaos, though, because it jeopardizes the control of the environment. Loss of control can lead to meltdown, which can be very traumatic to everyone. People with Asperger's often have the need to control the environment to prevent internal chaos and meltdown.

Asperger's is not really a mental illness. It is something a person is born with. Often people with Asperger's are obsessed with one thing and excel in it. Some people say Albert Einstein and Bill Gates have Apsperger's. I don't believe that, because they were/are such caring people. I just think both of these men are geniuses. Geniuses can act a bit odd at time, too.

My father was able to function during most of his life. He never made friends or bonded with anyone except my mother... and I'm not even sure of that. He was able to work, but shunned social life, dreaded his children, and couldn't tolerate his grandchildren. He was a fabulous mathematician who was into labeling and lists. As he grew older, he became more autistic, withdrawing to a single chair. He became deaf and totally separate from the world. He developed mixed dementia, but we didn't even realize it until they did the brain scans on his final week of life. He was so separate from the world that the dementia didn't make much difference.

But strangely enough, he was kind and content. I miss him now that he's gone. Having grown up with a parent with Asperger's, I do know how important a sense of self control is. Someone with the disorder needs to be able to control what goes on around them. We have to fit into their world, because we cannot expect them to fit into ours. It is very hard for them. As written before, loss of control can lead to internal chaos, which is when Asperger's looks like mental illness (meltdown). Asperger's itself does not lead to a nervous break unless there is that loss.
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Whew. I saw the title of this and thought it could be about me and my posts on here...do I have a paranoid narcissistic streak or what, huh? Well, gotta admit, I resemble this remark! I did not even realize that trait would be connected to Asperger's, I thought it was more of a perfectionist thing where a person felt they had to be in control and know it all, because they deep down realized they really weren't perfect underneath that mask.
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I am convinced my narcissistic mthr has been on the spectrum all along. She has always had serious executive function issues, and never was able to make decisions - so she would put off making any decisions until it was a crisis.

BTW, this woman has advanced degrees from a highly prestigious institution. She IS an expert, so she gets mad when docs talk about her mental decline (has dementia). Someone suggested that when I see the neighbors who did nothing to help keep her from abusing other beings in her pile of indecision, that I should say something like, "I'm glad you understood about Mthr's mental illness and tried to help." That should help me, if nothing else.

To the sibs, the diagnosis may be a convenient excuse, but it gives you all a better handle on how to treat the person to make a difference in their life. You can't fix stupid, but if stupid is not the problem, it can be helped! Best wishes!!
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Hi again, Asperger 's is a very hard diagnosis. I have a child with a syndrome and, though she does not have Asperger's, I know some the kids in her class that do. I can see where an adult could have that his whole life and just now get diagnosed as the whole Autism spectrum is so much more talked about and understood. From what I understand about Apserger's Syndrome is that most people with the syndrome are very smart but very socially disbabled-or , as we parents like to say things "people first"-they have a social disability. I do know of a father who has a son with Asperger's and he talks about how very very hard it is -how anxious his son is and that suicide is a big fear. Not to scare you. I imagnine you brother (is it brother?) probably has some OCD like issues-with wanting/needing things a certain way and needing order. I think if you want to be a part of your sibling's life it would be wise to get educated as much as you can about th syndrome and how to fit yourself in and stay sane. And see about getting county help for your sibling. With a diagnosis he should be able to get county help for having a disability. My daughter has a lot of autistic like behaviors and some very trying challenges ( she is 16)- I know how hard it can be to stay calm and patient and I am her Mama. Prayer helps me get through a lot. And setting her up for success. I mean, we so often want her to fit into our world that it is a relief when we decide to bend to hers-for instance I took her to one of her favorite stores-Ollie's Bargain Mart -not for anything I needed but just for her to have fun and I followed her lead. We looked at the boooks for a loooong time, and we rode on the lift chairs for , ummm, about 1/2 an hour-back and forth , up and down and she insisted on checking out in her own aisle with her own money ( she has mental retardant as well, btw) and , though I knew it would be quite the experience for the cashier, I let her go-the cashier figured it out and helped her with her money- and , she JUST BEAMED! So , maybe, set up times where you can let your sibling be himself and join in his world for awhile. Do something he really enjoys and just relax and enjoy him-even if it is letting him tell you how brilliant he is. And then maybe when he has to try and "be normal"-if there is such a thing-he can have more success. Like, if he wants to spout off about something , maybe, remind him that you are coming for a visit on such and such a day to talk about that but today you all have to--fill in the blank.

I am throwing things out here, taking guesses. If this deosn't make any sense for your situation-I apologize!!! But, good luck and God bless!!!
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Thank you for the helpful answers. The diagnosis is Aspberger Syndrome which seems unusual (to other siblings) to be diagnosed so late in life. I understand that onset of general aging has reduced his ability to cover-up the disability -- he's not as good at 'faking normal' anymore. The mental and psychological stress of the years has taken its toll, but so many of his beliefs about the world and what the world owes him and how stupid everyone is for not being able to see how brilliant he is...well, I know where it is coming from, yes. It still gives me a migraine to listen to it and I truly do not know the best way to respond, especially when he asks for money to buy stuff he doesn't need and can't afford.
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Hi RachelF, Without knowing the actual diagnosis it is hard to give you advice- through Jeannegiibs is very good! I know that , with my own OCD diagnosis I feel that my family could be more understanding BUT I also know that it is up to me to make sure I take care of my illness. Just like diabetes where one needs to be sure to take the proper meds and go to the proper doctors I am responsible for making sure I am doing all I can to manage my illness- whether it is meds( which, for me, it is) , therapy( yup- as much as I can afford at least. ) , and diet and exercise ( ummm, wellll, not so good as of late). It is just hard when I DO fall down and relapse -(get obsessed over a certain worry and freak out -for lack of a better phrase) which can happen no matter how hard I try to keep it together- and my family thinks I am over- reacting or being dramatic or whatnot. I don't know how many times I have heard -"just relax". *sigh. But it is a hard thing to deal with - I don't get mad at them. I know it is frustrating to the outside world looking in. I DO wish they would take Jeannegiibs advice, though, and read up a bit. I have forced my husband to and he was so surprised at how much of my "idiosyncrasies " we're typical of my mental illness AND he was surprised at how common his reactions were. It helped us both. Good luck!!
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I found it immensely helpful to read up on the mental illness a family member was diagnosed with. I was surprised to learn that some of his behaviors I considered annoying were common symptoms of his disease! That put a different spin on things for me.

Whatever your sibling has, I'll bet there are caregiver/family member support groups for it. And professional advice readily available.

Good luck!
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