Family Matters

Having five siblings means that there is always someone who is being picked on and in my family that happened to be my brother Kieran. He is the third oldest, currently 13, and has always been that one sibling that we have ganged up on because we knew that he was the most sensitive and used that knowledge against him. Until this past year my other siblings and I thought that sensitivity was just annoying and something that he needed to get over. “Toughen up”, were words we used often when we couldn’t deal with his breakdowns and tantrums. Most of those times the tantrums stemmed from him trying to do homework.

When he was younger, maybe six or seven, it was a punishment for us to have to listen to him read because we was slow and would make up words that weren’t even on the page. I was eleven and the other older brother, Evan, was nine and that’s when it all started. It was even worse when he was ten and his younger two brothers were eight and seven and had already passed him in the difficulty level of his books. “Why are you so dumb” we would ask as we sat and helped with his homework and listened to him read.

While my parents tried to be encouraging and reprimanded us when we made fun of him, even they were starting to get annoyed at his inability to read a book for third graders when he was in fifth grade. So before he switched to a new school they decided to have him tested for ADD, ADHD and other learning disabilities; the results came back negative which made everyone even more angry. What could possibly be wrong that he was unable to read simple books and remember the things my mom asked him to do.

As he went through middle school we continued to torment him and he continued to struggle in school. He needed tutors and someone came to our house twice a week to coach him in reading. Although we knew he was extremely insecure about his tutor we were sure to bring it up any chance we could. As my brother Evan and I had been straight A students and had eased through middle school he continued to struggle and we continued to tell him he was just being lazy. After two years had passed, my parents finally decided to have him tested professionally one more time and this time the results were different; Kieran was dyslexic. As my mom told me this I suddenly felt bad for all those times I had treated him badly because of something that he could not control.

She had yet to tell Kieran what was actually wrong because she knew it would hurt his ego even more but I now made the effort to treat him more fairly. Of course as siblings go we still use each other’s weaknesses to harass each other but I have realized I am a much more protective sister than I thought that I would be. Although he is now thirteen I still do not think my parents have given him the actually word of dyslexia as the reasoning behind his struggles, but my siblings and I continue to be understanding instead of unsupportive when it comes to his school work and things he does on a daily basis.

One thought on “Family Matters

  1. I liked reading your story about your brother and the types of research that you and your family have done in order to help him. It definitely is typical for siblings to gang up on each other, especially if one shows a certain weakness like sensitivity. Like you mentioned, it is difficult to know when you should start researching about why someone may be having problems like the ones your brother has. These days people tend to go to doctors for everything, no matter how small or large an impact it may have, so it makes sense that your parents hesitated to take your brother to a doctor early on. It is great to hear that he has been diagnosed and that he is starting to do better in school. Also, to have many siblings that can support him with his struggles, especially as he gets older and enters high school. This type of research is definitely very important and I like the way you integrated your brother’s story.


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