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Brett makes room for younger brother

January 6, 2015
Family counselor Ashley Snedeger (left) with Brett (center) and Cole.

Family counselor Ashley Snedeger (left) with Brett (center) and Cole.

Brett was living on his own when he was forced to make a quick decision about Cole, his younger brother.

Cole was put into a group home after repeated negative behaviors at home and at school. Cole’s parents were out of the picture. Defiant and physically aggressive, Cole had run out of placement options. After breaking a table in the school lunchroom, he was put on probation.
Brett, 23, wasn’t real close to Cole, but they were family.

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“I guess it just happened,” Brett said. “Cole was living with a lady and she couldn’t handle him and he was dropped off at social services to be put into foster care.”

At the time, Brett was a preacher and had living quarters provided by his church.

“I wasn’t going to let my brother go into foster care,” he said. “So I moved out of the parsonage and found a place.”
Ashley Snedeger was the counselor for the family. When Ashley visited, her first priorities were to assist Cole and Brett in establishing more structure and routine in the home.

“At first it was hard because Cole wouldn’t listen and I wasn’t teaching him well,” Brett said. “Then over the winter Cole missed his community service and violated the terms of his probation from breaking that table at the school.”

Ashley found that Cole’s aggression stemmed more from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and being impulsive rather than from emotional issues. She showed Cole how to take perspective and see how his actions affected others.

“They’ve been so great to work with,” Ashley said of Brett and Cole. “Once we established the structure at home and helped Brett with other parenting skills, we then focused on the school environment.”

Dealing with a school was a challenge. Brett and Cole are from a small, tightly knit community. And while that has its benefits, it can also be a hindrance.

“Cole had messed up some in the past … well, a lot,” Brett said. “But in their mind at the school, they’re not going to put up with it. I had those teachers not too long ago, and I’ve preached in their churches.”

Brett took Cole back to the school and spoke with his old teachers. Cole explained himself and his actions. They both explained how to make the school environment more productive.

“Brett stepped in right away,” Ashley said. “He was prepared every time he went to the school to meet with the teachers and administrators. He also called the school a few times a week to check in.”

By the beginning of the spring semester, the groundwork began producing real results. Cole’s grades and behavior improved. He tried out for his school’s football team and auditioned for a play at the community theater.

“When I first started preaching, I didn’t know much,” Brett said. “But I learned. I was questioned about my ability as a parent, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure. But I learned. When Ashley came in she really helped me a lot. Cole and I learned about structure and rewards and consequences. She showed me how to stick to my guns and be that consistency that Cole needs. In return, Cole has improved immensely in so many ways.”

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