Sixteen million kids under the age of 18 have been diagnosed with a mental disorder or behavioral problem. Nothing can be more challenging for a parent than dealing with a child with severe emotional or behavioral problems. One mom is opening up about her experience with her son in the hopes of helping others. Dawn Davies, author of Mothers of Sparta, knew there was something different about her youngest child.
“He really had trouble understanding spoken language… and he was really struggling all the time to make sense of what was going on around him," Davies told Ivanhoe. His behavior was becoming more alarming as he got older, killing animals and then developing an obsession with online pornography.
“The nature of some of the stuff he was looking up would have sent him to prison”, Davies said. Her son was diagnosed with ‘conduct disorder’ characterized by aggressive behavior. Davies didn’t know where to turn for help.
“Psychologists, psychiatrists, school administrators, school counselors”, she listed. No one offered any answers, but dawn refused to give up on her son. “You can give up on a job, you can give up on friendships, but you can’t give up on a child,” Davies said. She finally found psychotherapist Randee Kogan who told her she was not to blame.
“If I’m feeling shame about my children then other people are going to see me as shameful so that’s something we want to stop,” Kogan said. She told dawn it was ok to set boundaries. When her son turned 20, she moved him out of state to live with three roommates and a mentor who checks on him daily.
“You want them to have the skills that allow them to be successful in society,” Davies said. Her son has a job now and is doing much better but prefers to remain off camera. Davies wrote a book about her experiences called
“Mothers of Sparta.” Kogan told Ivanhoe, “She is showing people there is hope and that you don’t have to give up.” Letting other parents know they’re not alone and don’t have to suffer in silence. Experts say conduct disorder can be caused by many factors including brain damage or trauma. Davies says her son suffered cyanotic episodes right after he was born, and she believes that may have contributed. She hopes her story will help other parents open up and seek help. For more information on dawn’s story and children with conduct disorder, click here.