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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 September 2005, 23:42 GMT 00:42 UK
'Battle to help my depressed son'
Charlotte Dodds
Charlotte Dodds' son developed problems at five
The stress of dealing with a depressed son has taken a heavy toll on Charlotte Dodds.

Not only has caring for Sebastian left her exhausted, she blames it for the break-up of her marriage.

It was clear from an early age that Sebastian had problems.

"I have got two children," said Charlotte. "My daughter is a little bit moody, but she does not really get depressed.

"My son is totally different. When your child has said how he feels worthless, he wants to kill himself, and there is no point in living, as a parent you do take notice and think where can I go for help."

The stress of dealing with a child who is depressed is ongoing, it is 24-7 and it is exhausting
Charlotte Dodds

Charlotte, 44, from Manchester, said her son was only five when he started to become very aggressive, and get into trouble.

After a trip to local GP Sebastian was referred to the child and adolescent unit at Withington Hospital.

Disputed diagnosis

He was diagnosed with a condition called developmental dyspraxia, symptoms of which include a lack of coordination and behavioural problems.

Charlotte took her son out of the state school system and transferred him to a private school, where children were taught in much smaller groups.

However, he still failed to progress - and the school disputed the diagnosis made at the Withington.

The problems actually pinning down the reason for Sebastian's condition continued for several long and frustrating years.

Charlotte found that the advice she was given by health professionals often seemed contradictory.

It was only two years ago, when Sebastian was 12, that he was correctly diagnosed with Tourettes Plus.

This is a condition with elements of many disorders including Attention Deficiency Disorder, developmental dyspraxia, dyslexia and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

In addition, Sebastian suffers from low self-esteem and depression.

He is now given the medication Risperidone, which helps his tics as well as diminishing the obsessive side of his illness.

Sebastian's psychiatrist was reluctant to give him anti-depressants because they may prove more harmful than helpful.

Specialist care

He is now educated at a specialist school in Cheadle which she said Trafford Borough Council pays for and he is getting the care he needs.

But Charlotte said she did not think she would have achieved such care if she had not battled to help her son.

"I do not think this would have happened if I had not fought so much," she said.

"The problem is getting it recognised and taken seriously. I have gone round the houses quite a lot, and had different diagnoses.

"But once you have some sort of diagnosis it is a lot easier to deal with it.

"The care is good now and I have the support."

Charlotte believes the fact that she suffered with post natal depression may have confused the issue.

But she also blamed poor communication between the schools, social services and primary care trust - and a lack of information for parents.

"When I was seeing my child psychiatrist quite regularly there was absolutely nothing in the clinic explaining what child depression was, and nothing in the GP surgery either."

She added: "Life has certainly not been a bowl of cherries. The stress of dealing with a child who is depressed is ongoing, it is 24-7 and it is exhausting.

"A lot of people will try to understand depression but you find it takes time, it is very difficult."


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