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Lori Gephart
Lori Gephart, Licensed Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 259
Experience:  Licensed Psychologist and Hypnotherapist 20 years of experience helping clients of all ages.
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Hello, I have a 9 year old (turning 10 in a week) brother

Customer Question


I have a 9 year old (turning 10 in a week) brother who is having a lot of trouble in school. He's a sweet boy--he's nice, considerate of other people's feelings, just an overall sweet boy with his family. The trouble is that he is a C/D student. He sits down and does his homework as soon as he gets home from school, and he does all of it. But he never does any of it correctly. When we ask him what's going on--does he get it? He says yes, gets really frustrated, angry, and runs off. Or cries when we try to help him. It's obvious he's embarrassed/frustrated at the fact that he doesn't understand the work and that he needs to get help from teachers/siblings/parents. He's in the fifth grade, and this is the first year in which it will actually count whether or not he passes the end of grade tests. He failed his EOGs the past two years and was allowed to continue to the next grade because of effort. This year, that will not be the case.

He also seems to be somewhat of a loner. It seems at times he's in a dream world. My mother lets him watch a lot of television--and he has since he was a baby. He doesn't read much (his reading comprehension is really bad), and sometimes he says, out of the blue, certain proverbs/sayings that he most likely didn't get from anyone at school, from us, from a book, etc. it all comes from TV. Anyway, continuing with the fact that he seems like a loner, he always says stuff like "i just met so and so (at a park, at the store, at a restaurant), and so and so is my best friend." When in fact he doesn't really have many friends. No one comes to his birthday parties, but he continues to say he has friends, but in reality his teachers describe him as being shunned by other students in school despite his good natured attitude. My mom thinks he's terribly insecure. I've also noticed he seems to speak in a very childish way. The way he talks, I think I'm talking to a 6-7 year old instead of someone about to enter middle school.

Now my mom has said she's tried everything. She's taken him to a psychologist, she's put him on Metadat, and in fact, he's about to start a heavier dosage next week. We just don't know what to do. The psychologist says that he may be in denial or reverting to a more childish age because of his family history. My brother was born when i was 12, in 7th grade. We lived in a very financially precarious state at that time. My mom and my former stepfather (my brother's father) were having terrible problems at the time, and they divorced when my brother was about 2 or 3. That same year, my little sister was born, and the year after both my older sister and I went to college and boarding school, respectively. We never returned to live with my mother, and the psychologist says this had a lot to do with my brother's mental development. When he would visit with the psychologist, she claims that this is all he ever talked about. And because he yearns for what he used to have (all of his family surrounded by him), he, in a nutshell, acts that age. My mother says he gets very depressed every time we leave--for two weeks after I leave (I come for a couple of weeks, holidays, a month at a time every couple of months), he doesn't eat, he cries, he doesn't want to talk to anyone. And this worries me especially since it seems he doesn't have any friends in school, and because he's struggling in school and might be left back this year.

Please help me. I don't know what else to suggest to my mom to do to help my little brother. She claims she hasn't asked around, and to me it seems she hasn't asked around enough. Does it seem his problem is psychological? Something that can be worked through with psychotherapy? Is it a cognitive problem? At the psychologist he used to visit, he was given a series of tests, my mom claims, that proved that he doesn't have a learning disability. He seems like a visual learner--he likes to describe things in vivid detail instead of writing them. And he enjoys watching movies and grasps every detail of them as well as video games instead of reading. He also has a great interest in singing--and he sounds very good. But whenever my mother tries to get him involved, he always says no at the last minute because of insecurity--so says my mom. Could you help??

He gets help in school (he gets pulled out for reading comprehension), there's no summer school in our county, and we don't know what else to do to help him.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Lori Gephart replied 6 years ago.
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Lori Gephart :

Hello, I'm happy to talk with you. I am working on your question now.

Lori Gephart :

Thank you for contacting JustAnswer.


I am sorry to hear about the problems you are experiencing with your brother. It can be very difficult to see such symptoms in someone you care about. Your brother is lucky to have such a concerned brother in his life, even if you are not living in the home. While I certainly cannot diagnose your brother without seeing him, I might suggest he be evaluated for a condition known as Aspergers. Some of the symptoms that you describe are suggestive of this disorder, while others are suggestive of possible Attention Deficit Disorder, Learning Disorder or anxiety.


The following link to the Autism Society of America may be helpful to you in locating resources:


Aspergers is a pervasive developmental disorder that is in the Autism spectrum. Symptoms include problems with social skills, repetitive behaviors, unusual preoccupations or rituals, difficulty with communication, limited interests, and coordination problems. Despite these problems many patients with Aspergers possess particular skills or talents.


Given what you have described, I would encourage you to speak to your mother regarding scheduling a meeting with a psychologist who specializes in Aspergers to either rule out or obtain an accurate diagnosis of your brother's condition. Whatever the issue is, I would doubt that it is simply due to you and his sister leaving home.


I hope this answer is helpful. Please let me know if I can clarify further.

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