A Dangerous Son (2018) - full transcript

Documentary following three families each coping with a child affected by serious emotional or mental illness. The families explore treatment opportunities and grapple with the struggle of living with their child's condition.

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Tavi, I can't believe
you just did that.

Well, he... I told you!

All right, forget it.
We're going.

Come on, Elexa, let's go.

You have
to maintain yourself.

Don't ever bring
your son here.

Shut up!

I'm upset! I'm upset!

I don't care!
You don't hit her!

Really! No, 'cause you don't know
what the fuck is why!

Damn it!
Stop it!


Ow. Stop.

- 'Cause I'm not in a good mood...
- Okay!

...is the hell why.

Stop! Stop.

Oh my God. Elexa!

Damn it, Ethan, knock it...
Knock it off now. Now!

No, don't. No, Ethan!

Why don't you guys get
the fuck outta here, dumb-ass!

I'll kick your ass!
Shh! God damn it. Stop.

- ...hit the chair with?
- Shut up!

What did you do that for?

- Stop!
- I'm upset!

Okay. You can be angry
at Uncle Tavi.

You don't need
to be angry at Elexa.

Because I'm not
in a fricking asshole mood.

Okay, but she didn't
do anything...

I'm not in a fricking
asshole mood!

I'd been trying for years
to get help for my son.

I... I was desperate,

and I thought I was the only mother
in the entire world

who felt the way I did,
the only mom.

How can I not get
my child help?

Surely all the other mothers
are getting their child help.

Why not me?
What's wrong with me?

You know, I used
to worry that...

That Gus was gonna wind up
at a jail or a hospital

or... or homeless.

Um, all of those
would be preferable

to the situation I'm in now.

If a state senator,

um, someone who's run
for governor,

whose name's been in every paper
of the commonwealth...

If I can't get the help,

what does that say
about ordinary people?

We don't treat mental illness the way
we treat other diseases,

and so the care
is just not available.

All right.

Somebody once said that
a serious mental illness

is any mental illness that
affects somebody you love.

And in a way,
there's something to that.

I'm not in a good mood!

For people who have serious
mental illness and who are not treated,

there's a tendency to violence,

especially towards the people
that they're closest to

and, most of all,
towards themselves.

And only about half of the children
who have a mental disorder

are going to receive
any kind of care whatsoever.

All I get is people that want to just
sit there and lecture me.

I need to do this. "Do you understand
that your son's gonna do this

and that your son is this way?
Do you understand?"

As if I'm in denial
of something,

as if I might be able to get some extra
help, but I'm just not wanting to.

And it is so frustrating
and so exhausting.

I can only stick
to my guns so far, Tavi,

because it becomes
too dangerous,

and that is why you're right.
Giving in to him in the end... in the end

isn't the best idea, because it does
make him more manipulative

and more worse. Yes, but not giving
into him when he's really persistent

is also just as dangerous.

And that is why
the behaviorist already said

that he doesn't believe that...
Anything I can do at this point,

he doesn't believe
there are any consequence...

He doesn't believe I can do
anything, myself, at this point.

You think that...
Tavi, you think that,

but I hate to say it,
you think that, but it isn't same.

You can train a dog easier
that a child like this.

When he started
being aggressive,

he was only about two and a half, three.
I was worried then.

You ask a doctor, they can't tell you
what he'll be capable of.

They don't know where he's gonna go
or what direction he's gonna take.

I just can't help
myself, 'cause...

it's just what I usually do.

I don't know
how to control my anger.

Gosh, only if someone
was a lifeguard.

What'd you say?

I said if only there was
a lifeguard who could...

help me...

try to control myself.

'Cause you know lifeguards
are good, right?

Yeah, they save everyone,
even when they drown.


Vontae is 12.

Well, he'll be 12 in October.

In the beginning, he was talking about
he just wanted to die.

Now he's talking about
hurting other people.

He don't express
himself verbally,

but he's real good expressing
himself at writing.

So if he gets upset,
and I'll go in the room

and I'll see all these signs
all over the bed...

"I hate myself,"
"I can't control myself,"

and just stuff like,
"I'm no good,"

and "I'm better off dead,"
and stuff like that.

I don't never take stuff
like that as just talk.

I feel like if it's in you and you
saying it, then it's a possibility.

That's how I feel.

'Cause why would you say
something like that?

I'm just doing
my part on my end

to make sure he knows
that I love him

and to know that
I'm there for him.

At the time
of the school shootings,

my son had been in an acute care
psychiatric hospital for two days.

It is the scene of one of the worst
school shootings in the history

of the United States,
and we can report to you

that police have now identified

a school shooter
as Adam Lanza.

Police are trying
to determine a motive.

They say the shooter
killed his mother,

then broke into Sandy Hook
Elementary Friday morning,

killing 20 children
and six women

using an assault-style rifle.

Even before the shooting,

Adam Lanza, seen here in a photo
taken seven years ago,

was known in the neighborhood
as a troubled child,

with an overbearing mother.

My son played with him
when they were young,

and... in her home, I know
she was very particular.

I just think she...

maybe had too high
of standards or something.

That day of Newtown...

something broke. I...

I sat down,
and I wrote my truth,

the truth that my family was living...
That I was living...

That I was afraid of my son.

And the mother
of a mentally-ill child

getting backlash for a blog posting
with the title,

"I am Adam Lanza's Mother."
The post went viral.

In it, Liza Long says her aim
was to describe the challenge

or raising a child who she says is
seriously disturbed.

Most people with autism
and most people with schizophrenia

are not inherently dangerous,

but we do ourselves
a grave disservice

if we deny the fact
that some people

in these communities
behave in ways that are traumatic,

and I think we need
to support their families.

I knew right where
the dialog was gonna go.

They were gonna say,
"This was Nancy Lanza's fault.

"Why didn't she get
her son help?

Why didn't she this?
Why didn't she that?"

But I felt immense empathy
for Nancy Lanza.

I think people insist
on the narrative of blame.

In part, because
they want to believe

that these things were caused
by poor parenting,

because if it's caused
by poor parenting,

then you can know that you're a good
parent and it won't happen to you,

and I think that's
a false comfort.

Where is he going?
I'm going to the room.

Let's go upstairs
and play with Ethan.

- Can you...? Okay.
- You want -me to go with you? All right.

Elexa, come upstairs.

- Murray, out.
- Go.

Murray's a good boy.

All right, well, then you
keep him contained.

You're the good boy.

- You wanna sit down, Ethan?
- Really... he really bothers everyone.

No, he's not
bothering everybody.

- I know, but he... see...
- Hi!

Will you just tell Murray to leave?

Oh my God!
I love this song!

- You like Ozzy?
- No, I like this song.

- =What song is this?
- It's Ozzy.

- No, it's...
- Pink Floyd.

- It's Pink Floyd.
- I was gonna say this is Pink Floyd.

Yeah, I was thinking
of another song.

Oh yeah, I-I-I...
I love this song.

Is this Is this Dark Side of the Moon?
Seriously, I like this song.

- No, not the Dark Side.
- No, shush, you guys. I like this song.

- She just wants you guys to listen.
- Shut up.

- Stop!
- Stop.

- Shut up, Elexa!
- Stop. We're not gonna yell.

- All right?
- I hate her! That's why.

- That's your sister...
- Shut up!

Shut up!
I will kill you!

Ethan, do you wanna
go outside, honey?

Shut up!

God damn it, I will...
I'm gonna...

I'm gonna fricking punch you,
Elexa, if you don't... stop.

- No, you stop it!
- Stop. Now.

Elexa. Elexa, move.

- Whatever! Go! Go! Go!
- Stop.

- Damn it.
- I don't want to be touched!

I just can't
handle this.


I don't know what to say.

One wrong word sends me
into a psychotic rage

where I've got no control
over myself,

and it's like...
watching myself...

do things that
I didn't want to do.

And then afterwards, I...
I either completely forgot,

like I'd block
all the memories,

because it was
too painful to remember,

or I would remember
and that would be even more painful,

because I would have memories
of myself doing it,

even though I didn't want to,
even though I had no control,

I still accused myself
of doing it.

There's just been countless
episodes with him,

and I just see, uh, the anger
and the, um...

the violence getting
progressively worse.

Can he turn to family?
Well, sure,

but when he acts
like that, no.

I can't have my child
exposed to that,

and I have to be protective
of my child.

I think my... my nephew needs
professional help.

I don't even know if it's anything Stacy
can do anymore.

I can't keep defending him.

I can't... I can defend him so far,

but I can't expect
the rest of the world

to not get upset or just forgive him
or just deal with it.

I can't expect that,
I never did.

He constantly threatens
he's going to kill somebody,

and when people hear that,
it sends them into a mode.

You don't know if he's serious.
If somebody

comes up to you
and gets mad at you

and tells you,
"I'm gonna effing kill you.

I'm gonna beat your ass.
I'm gonna find a gun and shoot you,"

whether he would do it
or not, you don't know.

But the fact that somebody
would say that to you,

and you're sitting there wondering,
"Are they capable of it?"

"Mom! Come here!"

"Hold on!"


"Be quiet, Ethan!"

"No, you!"

And he hits me,
and he pulls my hair...

and he kicks me...

and he...

pulls my arm...

to the wall,
and he pushes me to the wall.


he beats me up...

like that.

And one time...

um, Josh, my mom's boyfriend,

he got really mad at him...

Ethan, he got really mad at him,
and so...

um, Josh has guns that he hides
only from bad guys,

and Ethan found one,
so he picked it up.

And it had no bullets in it,

but he picked it up.

The very last thing
that I want to do,

that any parent wants to do,

especially at 10 years old,

is think about or have to put
their child in a...

in an institution or in a home,

to give him up.
That's not what I want to do,

but I am at the point,
and it is as bad

that if... if nothing else,

I don't know
that I have a choice.

It's becoming more
than a safety issue.

I have a daughter. I have
to protect her, and I can't.

The whole deinstitutionalization process
was driven by two things:

One, we wanted to save money,

and, second, we wanted to restore
people's civil rights

and treat them
in the community.

Well, we closed
the institutions down,

but we didn't really
adequately follow through

with ensuring that there
are adequate supports in the community.

And the problem
is we don't...

We just don't have
enough beds right now.

We went from
about 600,000 beds,

today there are less
than 60,000 public beds

for people with serious
mental illness.

It's raised the question about,
"Does there need to be a new

kind of institution?" Maybe not like
the old asylums, but places where

kids, young adults, or even older adults
could go for short periods of time

to get more
comprehensive care.

I think there aren't enough options
available to people.

There is the sense
that rehabilitation

is a luxury for people
who have a lot of money

or who live in states
in which there are

particularly good programs
because we have regional networks,

and in some places
there's rehabilitation

and in some places
there's almost none.

William. This is the first time
that I've gotten a chance

to meet with you in...

we determined the other day,
like since January. Like months.

Yeah, months.

Gosh, you have had
a really...

- a very busy year, huh?
- Rough time.

It has been a rough time.
It's been a really rough time.


- Yeah.
- And you really wanna get back

to kind of a more
normal life, huh?

- Yeah. Why can't I?
- Yeah.

Well, you know what?
That's a very good question.

I met William
at the age of 12.

He has a mild
intellectual disability,

and also, in addition, a mild
autism spectrum disorder.

He's also diagnosed
with a schizoaffective disorder,

and that is the condition
where he can,

especially when really emotional

and really elevated, and...

well, we also say

he can really start
to lose touch with reality

and have some pretty
delusional thinking,

can experience
auditory hallucinations.

Since January,
you've been down to...

It was first Children's Hospital,
and then Jefferson Hills,

and then Denver
Children's Home,

and then Denver Health,
and then El Pueblo.

Wow. That's a lot.

Yeah, that's been
a rough time, hasn't it?

- Yeah.
- Yeah.

'Cause I wasn't
eating anything at all.

I was getting skinny
to the point of mal...

All I was doing was
watching my videos,

staying up all night.
I was in horrible shape.

By the time I got there,
they noticed I was skinny...

Dangerously skinny
to the point of malnutrition.

What was going on

that made all of those trips
to Children's Hospital

and El Pueblo
and Denver Children...

Why were all those
places necessary?

'Cause my behavior
went downhill.

- Yeah, what kind of behavior?
- Damaging property.

- Cops had to come over.
- Yeah.

I was constantly kicking
and screaming and hitting.

Yeah. Yeah.

I was scared
to death.

We end up calling the police
when he is so out of control

that he's not listening
to reason anymore

and he's becoming, um...

dangerous to himself or us.

Or his sister.
And so, when he starts throwing lamps

or throwing the TV
or things like that,

then we have to call the police.

So, remember when we, um,
when we were at Children's?

- Yeah.
- And we said from Children's,

we were probably gonna step
down to a residential?

- And then work our way home?
- Yeah.

So, we started that process
when we were at Children's.

And when you got out of Children's,
the home wasn't ready.

- Yeah.
- It became ready.

- What do you mean?
- That the home that's right before

you staying home with us
is ready for you now.

It's available.

- And it's... a good thing.
- I'm going?

Yeah. It's the best thing
for right now.

It's the step down
from going to Children's

to staying home...

- Okay.
- And it's really close to home, William.

- It's very close to home.
- What is it?

It's a... it's a house.
You have your own bedroom.

- What is it?
- It's a home.

I don't wanna go.

What... what is it that
you are worried about?

I'll behave at home.
I've been doing great.

- I really don't...
- You have been doing really well...

You've been doing better.

But there's still some things that need
to mature and get completely safe.

- Question.
- Yes.

Why are you trying
to make my parents more strict with me?

Strict? Am I trying
to make them more strict?

- Yeah.
- What does strict mean?

What are they doing
that mean... that's strict?

I don't know, but...
But you've been doing this

since we've started
seeing you.

- Yeah.
- Can you tell me why?

This is big news, huh?

- Yeah.
- I'll do anything not to go.

You've been working
really, really hard.

We know you've been
working hard, William,

and I know your intention
is to behave.

There's just still some things
that you can't quite help,

and they're there to help you with that.

- I don't wanna go.
- I'm gonna ask you

- to do something, okay?
- What?

I want you
to trust us...

'cause right now...

- you...
- Don't make me go.

I want you to just trust that we're
making the best decision.

I'm gonna act up there
and get restrained.

This is the step
that we need to take

to get home.

Okay? We're almost there.

And use your skills
right now, okay?

'Cause we want you
to remain safe.

We'll just give him
a little bit of a break.

- That's a lot.
- Let him digest a little bit.

He needs somebody there
24 hours a day

to help him through the emotional
roller coasters he goes through.

You know,
we can only do so much.

We have... you know, work,
and we have a daughter,

and other things
to tend to, and, um...

He needs this amount
of care right now.

Residential treatment
is, sometimes, the only option,

and I think
the hard part for parents...

I've watched some of my own friends
go through this...

Is to accept it again,

to say, "No, this isn't that
you were a bad parent.

This is the appropriate
treatment for your child."

In the very worst cases,
sometimes states will require you...

Nobody likes to hear this. Sometimes
states will require you to sign

your child over
to the state, so you're...

You're giving up your child,

just so your child
can get care.

I'm here, and we wanted
an update on that case you talked about.

Our bureau responds to all

the critical incidents
in LA County.

The most commonly known
thing that we have

is our psychiatric
mobile response team,

which provides
evaluations of individuals

who are suicidal, homicidal,
or gravely disabled.

But he's also talking
about killing himself, right?

Yeah, yeah. No, no.
Yeah, he's...

- Hi, Ms. Cora. How you doing?
- Hi. Fine.

- Can I come in?
- Yes, come in.

Great, great, great.

This is Vontae.

- What's his first name?
- Vontae, with a "V."

Vontae, how you doing?

- Do you know who I am?
- No.

Never met me. Me neither.
My name's Tony.

Well, the reason
we came by is that

we're really, uh, interested
in what's going on with you

and trying to figure out
how we can help you and your mom.

Maybe we can start
by you telling me,

- what's going on.
- Nothing.

Everything's okay?

Well, that's not what
we heard, and that's why we're here.

I feel like he's a kid with so much
bottled up inside of him,

so much anger, and some of the things
he writes in the letters

and on the paper is saying, "Okay,
something is wrong. I need some help.

There is something going on with me.
Somebody please help me."

Yeah, your mom said that you got
a lot of anger inside.

- You think that's what it is?
- No.

- I ain't got no anger.
- What do you think it is?

- I don't know.
- Maybe a lot of hurt?

- Probably.
- Yeah, miss daddy?

- Yeah, of course.
- Yeah.

That's tough, you know?
You've been through a lot.

What... what worries
you the most?

You know,
what worries me the most is...

I don't want...

to see him on the news
as one of those kids

that didn't get the help
that he was supposed to get

and... and it leads
to destruction.

Just... that's what
I don't want to happen.

I mean, that's
what I'm afraid of.

He didn't really
know his father,

but I think his father has
such a great impact on me and the kids.

Well, it wasn't a shoot-out.
The police shot him,

though he wasn't...
He didn't have no gun.

His father went
to the fish market

on Crenshaw
and... Manchester,

and I guess he fit one of the profiles
of a gang member,

and they had him...
Had him get against the car,

had his hands on the car,

and he turned around and told them that
he didn't like wearing belts.

And he was a pretty big man,
so they told him...

Well, he was telling them that
he needed to pull his pants up.

And when he pulled 'em...

When he was reaching
to pull his pants up,

I guess they thought he had a gun,
and then they started shooting.

And then when they went to look,
it wasn't a gun.

He was pulling up his pants,
and he was like... he was...

He had some alcohol in a bag,

but it wasn't alcohol,
it was a soda.


He does have a lot
of strikes against him,

so there's
no doubt about that.

But the question becomes,
what can we wrap around him,

so that he can have
the right kind of guidance

as things get
a little more complicated?

Well, he has the predisposition
of substance abuse as well.

Yeah, the whole thing.
He's got everything.

So, he's got the dad's death in his head

and the ultimate solution...
Suicide by cop. Right?

You know, one of the things
that we are going to push

is for... in September,
for a more...

I would say, comprehensive
assessment of Vontae.

I don't know if there's some kind
of psychosis or not.

Right now, he's got
the diagnosis of bipolar,

but, you know,
it's still something that

they really need
to tease out.

- Hey, William.
- What?

What? I've been doing so good at home!
You're being unreasonable!

- William. Hey. It's only...
- Okay.

Why do you want me
to go so bad?

Be re... be...

I've been doing
so good at home!

Yes. Yes.

I'm not going.

No, you're...


We know this, that illnesses

that involve psychosis,

where people become irrational,
they may become frightened,

they may become highly,
highly paranoid...

They can be dangerous.

That's part of the disorder.
We understand that.

That's why it's so important
that they be treated,

because when
they are treated,

there is a profound
reduction in risk.

And in fact, at that point,
it's much more likely,

they're going to be hurt
by somebody else

rather than them
hurting somebody else.

I thought I was
staying home!


Call the cops, have them
come over and take me.

Okay, you don't have to do that.

Aah! I thought
I was staying home!

- William.
- I thought I was staying home!

Let me stay home or I'll start
threatening to hurt myself!

- Don't take me.
- I can't drive with you like that.

The police are here.

I wanna live at home!
I wanna be at home!

- Help!
- I wanna be at home!

I miss home!
I wanna be at home!

I wanna be at home!
I wanna be at home!

I wanna live at home!

Come here, buddy.

I can tell you
there's nothing harder

than watching
your 11-year-old child

be handcuffed and pushed
into the back of a police car...

because of what you know...

is just a behavioral symptom.

I can't tell you how many parents
have described to me

having to call the police
on their kids

and have said to me,
"It was the hardest, saddest thing

"that I ever had
to do in my life.

"To call the police to come in
to discipline my own child,

whom I couldn't control felt to me like
the biggest failure I had ever known."

I mean, this has been
just about every month for...

I don't know...
Almost a year now.

And Bill's going there,
and then I'm gonna...

take over for Bill.
We do shifts, so...

he'll stay
with him in ER,

until I get there, and then I'll relieve
him for a few hours,

so that he can get
a little bit of work done.

When puberty hit, he just
went into mental illness.

It was more a mix
between autism...

and anxiety disorders
and things like that,

and then somewhere around puberty,
he started hearing voices.

And, um, pretty scary voices,

like telling him...

"I want you to do
what James Holmes did."

William is fascinated
with James Holmes.

He's fascinated
with the story.

I think it scares him, because he
stayed at Children's Hospital,

and he knew that
James Holmes lived nearby.

And, um...

and I think in a way,
he's kind of testing

to see... is he as bad
as James Holmes?

'Cause he's asked
that a few times.

"Am I as bad as him?
Am I gonna end up like him?"

His hair
still bright orange,

James Holmes stared blankly
and yawned in court today

where, for the first time,
his lawyers claimed he is mentally ill.

The past several weeks
have seen

another deadly outbreak
of mass shootings,

part of an epidemic
of senseless violence

that's now occurring
on a regular basis.

It's become harder and harder
to ignore the fact

that the majority of the people pulling
the triggers

have turned out to be
severely mentally ill.

There's every reason to think
that there's something

about the way
the brain's functioning

that leads to the symptoms
that you see.

That's important to us,
because what we've learned

in the case
of heart disease is

that you have to get
past the symptoms.

You have to begin
to look at the mechanisms of disease.

It's like giving painkillers to someone
who's got chest pain.

You can give them a way
to relieve the short-term pain,

but what you really wanna do is figure
out what's wrong with their heart

and figure out
how to make sure

that they're getting the best
heart function possible.

The same can be said
for mental illness.

I'm going to be meeting
with the case manager

and the two people
from the program.

Just... it's a meet-and-greet
pretty much.

They're gonna come over,
tell me about the program,

what to expect,
what's gonna be going on.

I mean, I would like if you guys
would look at his medicines,

and if you felt like you might want
to try something else,

whether it'd even be
with the ADHD...

'Cause it's like, I...
For a long time, I guess I was hoping

there'd be a medicine
that would fix it.

When people are like, "Abilify has
this calming nature and da-da-da."

When I don't see that, I'm like,
"How do I know if it's working?

"I don't know. Is he supposed to be
breaking his doors

and having
these meltdowns?"

- Right.
- I... I don't know.

Ethan has attention
deficit disorder,

hyperactive attention
deficit disorder, ADHD,

and oppositional defiance disorder,
known as ODD,

and with the underlying
diagnosis of autism...

So he's on the spectrum.

He's high-functioning
but just on the spectrum.

It's almost like
I kind of feel like at times,

I forced the other symptoms
into play with the doctor,

saying, "Look, obviously,
there's something else going on."

Like right now, they say
they won't diagnose him

with bipolar, he's too young, but even
if, he's on meds that are...

That people
with bipolar would take.

It's almost like a Ouija board
experience, right?

Where you take your child
into the specialist, it's like, "Ooh!"

They interview him for a while, they
give him a bunch of little tests,

and then I don't know,
they're like, "Ooh!

Oppositional defiance disorder!
That's what it is today."

You're like, "Okay,
what do we do for that?"

"Well, we're gonna take
this drug and this drug and this drug."

And my child... I think he'd been on 12
or 13 different drugs,

again, by the time
he was 12 years old.

A lot of these medications
aren't tested in children,

many of 'em are off-label...

Sometimes they're like
for blood pressure or something...

And that's a frightening
experience for a parent.

At this point,
a lot of the time,

someone guesses at a diagnosis,
medicates for it,

"Oh, the medication
didn't work,

therefore you probably don't have
that syndrome. Let's try another one."

And it feels like
the child is a dartboard,

and you're sitting there thinking,
"We'll throw this. We'll throw that.

Oh, look, that one seems to help. Okay,
I guess he must have this,"

and the diagnosis is the result
of a medication response

rather than the basis
for the assignment of a medication.

Hey, Ethan.
Hey, why don't you sit down?

They're gonna leave soon.
We want to tell you something.

- I wanna go. I wanna leave.
- Wait, wait, we want to talk...

No, I need to talk
to you about something with them.

- Sit down.
- I want to use my Wii.

Okay, I'll tell you what.
You can, but first they're gonna leave,

and we need to talk to you
about something important,

- so could you just sit down?
- I wanna go on a ride.

Okay. Listen. Listen.
Listen, first let me talk to you.

So, these are gonna be
your new counselors.

Okay? And then...
This is the thing, honey...

You're gonna start seeing them
next Monday, but...

they are actually in Lakewood,

which is past Tacoma, okay?

And you're gonna go
and stay with them for a while.

- Stay with them?
- Like, live with them.

They're gonna try
and help you...

control those anger
problems you have...

'cause you always say you want to try
and control yourself,

and you don't know how,
and they're gonna try to help you.

So you're gonna
stay there for a while.

- 'Cause they're just helping.
- They are,

so you're gonna live with them
for a couple months.

All right. Wait.
Is there gonna be everyone?

No. It's not a hospital.
It's a house.

- It's a house.
- It's a nice house.

It's a very nice house.

So do you think
you are gonna be...

a big boy and you're gonna
let them help you?

I'm gonna take you
to this place, okay?

- What?
- To their place.

- Next Monday.
- Next Monday.

You're gonna start living there
for a little while.

Until three months?

Or six.
We don't know.

- Is it days?
- It depends on you. No, months.

Like 90 days
to 180 days.

All right.

Yeah, I don't think
it's really sinking in,

but at least
he's taking it pretty well.

That's good.

Mitch's dog...

is always in trouble.

So, this poor thing is
always staying at Red Hill.

This is the facility
that Mitch's dog is in.

He has all these reports...

for all the people
that come in here.

He processes
his experiences,

so, um, and how he does that
is he role-plays.

So he's made this
into a residential facility,

and the dog, you know,
needs to fill this out...

Name, gender, age,
and why he's here.

And then sometimes
they go to juvenile home,

sometimes they're going to Children's
Hospital, things like that.

So he role-plays in order to process,
I think.

Hug? Here hug.

No! No!

- No!
- Oh God. Ethan, knock it off.

Ethan! Oh my God!

- Shit.
- You bitch!

Knock it off now! You want me
to turn around and pull your hair?

You make me angry!

We're on the way to the place

you're going to be staying,
you're not gonna see me for a long time,

and you want to act
like this in the car?

I don't want to see you.

You don't want to see me?
Okay. Well, guess what.

You're not gonna get to, Ethan.
Why don't you think about that?

Look, Ethan, that's the house
you're gonna stay at.


Hey, Ken.
This is Ethan.

Just trying to call you, 'cause today,
I'm not being with Mom anymore,

and I'm not allowed
to bring my electronics.

I... I have to leave,

and I'm not gonna be with Mom
anymore, maybe. Right.

I live so...
I live super far away,

with someone else,

and that's all I wanted to say.
So, bye, Ken. I'm gonna miss you.

It's my turn.

I love you and I'm
gonna miss you so much.

Me too.

I really am gonna miss you.
You're my baby boy.

- Hey, William.
- What?

Remember what I said.
This is temporary.

- Yeah.
- I'm gonna find a place for us, okay?


You're gonna be fine.
You've done this before.

- Where is it?
- It's right here.

- That it?
- M-m-hmm.

Look at me.
It's gonna be fine.

- Okay.
- Okay?

Gonna get out
and walk around a little?

- Can you come with me?
- Of course.

- Okay.
- All right.

- This isn't permanent, is it?
- No.

No. Not at all.

You are grieving,
you know, not your child

so much as the dream
associated with the child.

Definite feelings of guilt,

and then you play it
over and over again,

and then you think about,
"Okay, well, should we have

not have gotten divorced?

"Should we have worked
harder on our marriage?

Did that, you know,
make it harder on him?"

So there was all these things
along the way where it was like,

"If I had kept him
on a steady diet,

"more holistic from the beginning,

"could this have been...

changed or the outcome
could have been different?"


As a parent,
you will be blamed.

You'll be blamed for your
child's struggles. You'll be told,

"Oh, you should just take parenting
classes. That will fix it."

For decades, we claimed

that children developed autism

because they had
cold refrigerator mothers

who are somehow
pushing them into autism,

that they had schizophrenia
because they had parents

who nurtured an unconscious wish
that they not exist.

If we go back
a few hundred years,

we insisted that parents caused dwarfism
and other deformities

which were a manifestation
of the mother's unexpressed

lascivious longings.

And we've dropped the narrative of blame
in all of those situations,

but we still blame parents
when their children are deeply troubled,

and especially if they're deeply
troubled in ways

that involve criminal
or destructive behavior.

If your child has cancer,

the whole community
rallies around you,

but mental illness
is not a casserole disease.

Nobody brings you a casserole
when your child's in the acute

care psychiatric hospital.

There was a time when you spoke
only in hushed terms

of people with serious
physical illnesses like cancer.

"She's got cancer, you know?"

And... today,

you know, anywhere you go,

somebody's having a fundraiser
for somebody with cancer,

you know, we're having rallies.
We're doing things that are

very, very in inspiring,

and people give
great testimonials

about the way they fought
battles and overcome

these serious
physical ailments,

whether its cancer
or diabetes

or... or any sort
of disease.

We need... we need to do the same thing
with mental illness.

I would like to see him
in some after-school programs.

I think he needs to be
around other kids his age,

'cause he's never had
anything like that.

I think he needs
to be out more,

but I want him out
with some structure.

I don't want to just... I don't want him
just out on the streets.

The reason I'm afraid is
because before I got help

and before I got on medication,
I was like that.

I would just snap
and things would happen,

and I'm sitting
in jail like...

"Wow. How did I get here?

How did this happen?
What exactly did happen?"

Everything Vontae...

is going through,
I've been through that,

and I'm still kind of going through it,
you know, but I'm older now.

You know? I am...
I'm older now,

and he's still young,
and I'm like,

"If I had've got the help at his age,
I think I'd be okay today."

I think I'd be okay today,
but I can't get...

his mental health team
to step it up

or get him
into some programs.

They not hearing me.

- "My name is..."
- "Ethan..."

"And I am a great kid."

"Sometimes Mom,
Dad or my teacher

"will tell me to clean up
or do my work.

- Sometimes they will tell me..."
- "What to do."

"Sometimes I get mad."


I'm going home
in three months.

It's up to the staff...

so, I don't go home
for a while...

'cause you know,
I'm never gonna go home yet

until, you know, I keep working
on my behavior.

But, you know,
I'm still learning and...


I swiped my belt, but then they took
my belt away.

At least they let me keep my other belt,
but only if I'm safe.

Why'd you swipe
your belt at the door?

'Cause I got
super angry and...

But that was
a long time ago, so...


What happens if you're good?
Can you go to heaven?

Even if you weren't,
can you go to heaven?

I mean, even if
you aren't good,

you still can go
to heaven?

I don't know all the answers
to those questions.

Well, you could
go to hell...

when you don't behave.
I mean, hell's underground.

Is that something
you're worrying about?

Well, what do you mean?
I'm-I'm... I'm not worried about nothing.

- Okay.
- So...

Come in.


It's two o'clock. Are you ready
to move on with your schedule?

Gus was probably the most capable person
I've... I ever knew.

He was... he was able to do anything
he wanted to do

and do it at a high...
At a very high level.

He made movies
with his friends,

and he-he... he could speak any
language he put his mind to learning.

He could play any instrument
he wanted to learn.

He... he was...
He was unbelievable.

You go through pictures,
you look at things,

you think about things,
lots of times with Gus,

he-he... he contributed a lot,

and he... he impacted
so many lives.

Nobody else in the family
really thought there was a problem.

In October of 2013, you know,

I noticed on Facebook he...
He was just, you know...

He was concerned about...

professors gang...
Ganging up on him,

and I was, um,
I knew that wasn't Gus.

But he started
cutting his friends off...

and then he just started
behaving erratically.

The next thing I know, he's decided
to come home, to leave school.

Maybe I didn't accept
how sick he was.

I mean, I-I...
I know that I didn't...

but I...
I didn't expect violence.

Hi. How are you?
Is Mommy home?

Can I talk to Mommy?

Can you go get Mommy?

Do you want to go get her?
Thank you.

I'll wait. Go ahead,
go get Mommy.

I think Cesar
spoke to you.

He went to the school
on the 28th of October,

and Ivanka
was still here.

So what happened?

I know that you were struggling
with him, right?

Yeah, that's it. I just came downstairs
from with the manager,

because, you know, since she found out
who's been lighting the fires...

...now I gotta pay for all
the carpet that's been burned.

And when I talked to another little boy
in the building...

...he did admit that
Vontae was setting fires.

So I'm like, "He can't
come back here.

We'll get evicted."
She already got a report

that's to the owner, so I don't know
what they're gonna do with us.

We're gonna have
to pay for the damages,

which I don't have money
to pay for the damages.

What happened
with the therapist?

Was that even helpful?

- Was she still coming here? Uh-huh?
- You know what they tell me?

They tell me 'cause
I been getting on they case,

I'm like, "You guys..."
'cause he started spiraling down.

I'm like, "You guys gonna
have to do something."

I was like... I been really emphasizing
and really pushing them

to get him in some
after-school programs.

I was like, "He needs to be
in an after-school program..."

"...and he needs to be in something
to keep him busy on the weekends."

I've been saying it, saying it,
saying it. Nobody's doing anything.

So when they come over,
when I start talking to them

and really pressing them,
they was like, "Well, we don't

know what to do with him,

'cause he won't open up to us,"
and you know, I'm like,

"Well, if you can't do it,
find somebody that can do it."

You know, if you saying
you can't reach him,

he's not opening up,
then refer him somewhere else.

He has not seen
a psychiatrist.

he's crying out for help.

I'm not a professional, so I can't give
all I can do is be a mother.

- Right.
- You know, that's all I can be,

but he needs
more than a mother.

He needs some
serious professional help.

You know,
I just learned right now

that, um, there was
a conference call

with the therapist,
and one of the recommendations

was to increase
his mental health services

and also a referral
to a psychiatrist,

and it doesn't seem
like it happened,

and so I'm gonna call right now and
find out what happened with that.

Yeah. I'm calling
in regards to a minor

who I've been working with...
Him and his mother.

It... its been a while. Probably about
maybe two months ago,

there was a... a teleconference with one
of our supervisors

and Cesar in regards
to making a referral to a psychiatrist.

So what happened
with that referral?

And see, if we would've
had that information,

it would've been very helpful,
because if we had to take Mom

to get the physical exam that Vontae
needed, we would've done that.

If in the future,
you get a case

and you have
a problem with that,

please let us know,
and we'll do that,

because... it's been a year

and he hasn't been seen
by a psychiatrist.

That's pretty... Yeah.

So it was all based
on the paperwork,

on a... on a... on a... physical exam
that was never taken place.

What do you mean,
"It was all"...

Well, I mean... I mean that him
being seen by a psychiatrist,

it was... they were just waiting
for a physical exam,

like the results
of a physical exam.

That's all
they were waiting for.

Okay, first, close your eyes and take
a couple deep breaths...

while I get
this other paper out.

So throughout
this whole thing,

don't forget to breathe, okay?

- Clench your fists.
- Real tight!

And hold it
for 10 seconds.

Nine, eight, seven,

six, five, four,

three, two, one.

Tense the muscles
around your forehead

by raising your eyebrows
as far as you can.

Just like that.
And hold it.

Hold it right there,
real tight.

Don't forget to breath.

- 10, nine, eight...
- The problem that we face most of all

is that we're still in love
with the magic bullet.

We still think
there's gonna be a pill

or there's gonna be a psychotherapy
or there's gonna be a critical insight.

If somebody says
the right thing to the right person

at the right time,
they're gonna be well.

That works great
in Hollywood.

Doesn't actually work
that well in real life.

These are
really complicated problems.

It takes time,
but it also takes

a lot of different converging kinds
of interventions,

and that could include
medicine, education,

skill building, what we call
cognitive retraining.

That's what you need for recovery.
It's not going to be simple.

- Hello?
- Hi, Ethan.

- Mom?
- Hi, Baby. I miss you.

Hey, Mom.
How is your day going?

It's going good.
How's your day going?

Oh, my day...

Some parts were bad,
and some parts were good.

Are you working
on your behaviors?

Some parts, yeah.

Do you think you're, like, learning
to try to not get so angry

or control that
a little bit more?

Well, kind of.

May I say hi to Elexa?

Oh, honey, you could
say hi to Elexa,

but Elexa's
outside playing.

Okay, well,
I love you, baby. Mwah!


- Bye, Mom. I love you.
- Bye, baby. I love you too.

Hey, why don't you tell me
how your therapy's going

- with Wendy.
- What do you mean?

I haven't really talked to you about it.

- So, what do you like about her?
- She's nice.

That's good.
What do you guys do?

Play a board game.

You play board games?

And we talk.
What do you talk about?

My diary, Mommy.

I can't tell you.

No. Okay, when I said
that she's like your diary,

I meant that she can't tell me
what you talk about.

That doesn't mean you can't tell me
if you wanted to tell me.

I can't tell you
what I said to her.

Well, you can tell me
if you want to tell me.

Well, I don't want
to tell you.

Nothing? Not anything?

Do you feel like you cannot talk
to me about stuff?

- Yeah.
- Why?

Because you always
say comments about it.

No, I don't.

What I mean is...

I hope you don't feel
you can't tell me things,

- 'cause you can.
- I do.

Can you explain
to me why you...

want to take medicine
and think it's so cool?

- 'Cause everyone else does.
- Who's everyone?

All my friends.

Ethan takes medicine every day
because it helps him calm down.

Then can I do that?

No, because you don't need
that kind of help.

Well, I can't
calm down sometimes.

Yeah, all people get
angry and sad and hyper.

- Mad.
- And mad. Well, that's angry.

Because of their mother?

I'm kidding.

It kind of feels like
they favor him over me.

But I know that they kind
of have to...

put a lot of time and effort

into dealing with him.

Sometimes, like,
I would want them to, like...

I would... for example,
like, show them...

something I did at school,
like homework or a project or something,

but it... kind of would be
like they were always busy,

had something with William,
busy with William,

just always something
with him. Always.

I think she needs
a lot more attention

than a typical person her age.

It's really important
that we give it to her,

or it's really upsetting to her,
you know? Like, "Watch me do this,

and watch me do that."
And he gets special treatment.

You know, he doesn't get grounded
like she gets grounded.

The rules are different, and I think
that's the one thing she resents,

is that the rules
are different for him

than they are her,
and they have to be.

- "Answer."
- A-N-S-W-E-R.

- "State."
- S-T-A-T-E.


I know this one.


I'm excited he's coming home,

and I'm kind of worried

that he's gonna... be bad still.

Like... he's gonna yell
and stuff and hit me.

I did get the door replaced.

It was broke...
hole on the side,

and I did fix the hole
in the wall that he made,

so he had punched a hole in the wall,
and I did get that fixed.

So, yeah, I tried to make it look nice
and clean and new again

as much as I could for him
when he came home,

and I hope that he doesn't
re-destroy anything

after all the work I've put in and
the money I'm spending, but...

you know, I wanted him
to, hopefully...

I wanted to have kind of a fresh start
and a clean start...

A clean slate
so to speak, so.

This is really sad. Now that I have
to fold all these clothes,

I can absolutely see,

in these past six months just
how much weight I've put on.

I don't think any
of these fit me anymore.

I think it was...

the feeling of... you know,

having six months
of thinking you needed

to start marking things
off your bucket list.

To like feel like that
because your son

is away from home
is something else.

I'm going home today.

I've heard this song before.

- Yeah, turn it up, please.
- Turn it up?

A little bit, okay?

- Yes, I like this song.
- Do you?

I miss this song.

Can you do this?

- Hi.
- Hey.

- Your hair's all wet.
- Yeah, I spiked it.

- Can I have a hug?
- Someone spiked it for me.

- Do I get a hug? Hi.
- Yeah.

- Are you okay?
- No, I'm okay. I'm...

- I thought you'd be excited to be home.
- No, no, I am.

- Can you read that for me?
- "Home expectations.

"I will listen to adults.

"I will respect everyone
and their property,

"and will not take things
without asking permission.

"I will always be safe.
I will keep my hands to myself.

"I will use my inside voice.

When I get upset,
I will ask for a break."

I need you to try
to remember these rules...

and your coping skills.
Are you looking at me?

Can I have a kiss?

I missed you.

Can you believe
you're home?

Are you staying overnight?

I'm staying forever.

I hope so. My God, how much gel
did you use? The bottle?

William's been home
about two months,

and at the beginning
he was doing great,

and he was happy and...

really controlling
his behavior.

We had some
set up structure

for him that
he followed really well.

And then slowly he started wanting
to take back his...

personal freedoms and decided to...
put up more of a fight,

and so some
of the nights were...

pretty intense. We've had to call
the police a couple of times on him.

Yeah, pretty much
the money issue is the main reason

why William was let go
from the home.

Medicaid doesn't want to pay.

When we had our meetings...

you have Brian who's saying, "This child
needs to be in a home...

at least a year, you know,
if not until he's 18,"

because he wants
to see long-term progress.

You know,
Brian's thinking...

"Who is this person going
to be when he's 25?

And what's the best way to make him
a productive member of society?"

And that would be
a long-term retraining

of everything that...

That he's had
to unlearn and relearn.

The county is looking at, "Well,
he's been in for 120 days.

He's been in for 186 days."
And they're counting days,

and to them,
the days are dollar signs.

And so it seemed every time
we had a meeting,

it was... the mental health
professionals saying.

"This is what he needs,"
and then the people paying it saying,

"You know, well,
he's not hurting anybody.

He's not hurting himself.
Let's send him home."

Kidding! Your ass isn't that...

Well, it's pretty big, but I'd still
do you with the lights off.

Where did that come from?

Sometime that spring,

Gus was agitated
and twitchy...

and, um,
one-word answers at best.

His behavior was just
very erratic, very erratic.

You know, and by that I mean,
you know, he would just...

He would, um, he was...
skin and bones then.

One morning, I was coming out
of the feed room

and Gus was just
walking across the yard.

And I said, "Hey, bud,
how'd you sleep?"

Or I said, "Hey, bud, good morning,"
or something like that.

I said, "Hey, bud,
how'd you sleep?"

And he said, "Fine."

And I turned around,
and... and I went... I...

He was on me,
and I... I turned around...

Once I... You know, I guess
I dropped the feed bucket,

but I got back around,
and I said, you know,

I said,
"What's going on, bud?

I love you so much."

And he didn't say anything.

As we speak right now,
he is in critical condition.

State Senator Creigh Deeds
has been stabbed inside of his home.

And the death of his son
in what police are investigating

as an attempted

Behind the blue lights
blocking the Deeds' driveway

is a case that
perplexes even police

as investigators
search for answers.

That night before, and it was
just very clear he was in crisis.

He said to me...
At one point, he just...

He... he just talked about...

He talked about suicide.

I brought Gus
to the hospital,

and Gus was examined,
and they determined

that he needed...
He was in crisis,

and he needed a bed, but that there
weren't beds available.

Deeds had to get
a court order,

but the emergency custody would run out
in six hours,

and a representative
of the local community services board

told Deeds they couldn't
find a bed.

I looked at the guy, I said,
"The system failed my son tonight."

He said, "What?" He got very...
Really defensive about it,

but, you know,
but it... it did.

I knew Gus would
not be happy with me.

He would feel like
I betrayed him...

so I was worried.

I was... I was
a little scared coming back.

I didn't expect the sort of...

I didn't expect that.

But I-I...
I was a little worried.

I can't get Gus back. No matter
what I do, I can't get him back.

He's gone.

I know that... that he would've
been alive for longer

if we could've found him
a bed that night.

But I was blessed,
so fortunate

to have him
in my life for 24 years.

Oh God.

- Uh-oh. I gotta...
- Bill, I've gotta go right now.

You're not allowed
to watch TV, Ethan.

Why are you in here?

It's just showing
me something...

It doesn't matter.
You don't do that.

And as soon as I got
off the phone with dad,

it was your power of choice time.
Do you want to lose it?

- This is my room!
- No, this isn't your room!

Don't spy
on me like that!

Okay. That's enough.

Don't you touch
the damn TV.

That is enough.
Give me... give...

- Don't touch the damn TV.
- One. Give me the controller now.

Two. Remember when you said
you could go back to CCSS?

You... piece of shit.

I don't have
a TV in there.

- Yeah, you do.
- Stop it, right now.

I will use this gun.

Oh my God. Get...

- I'll fricking...
- ...out of my room!

You get... You fucking want
me to shoot your gun?

- I'll shoot that fricking gun.
- Okay! Enough!

Stop that, frickin' bitch!

You're hurting me.

- You realize that?
- Then don't you turn my Wii off!

What was the first rule?
You lost your Wii.

You will not have it tomorrow,
and you will not have the TV.

You are not gonna tell me... boss around!

- I will. Going in my room.
- I'm gonna get the gun

if you don't shut the fuck up!

- I...
- One!

- Don't! Shut the fuck up!
- Two!

- Go!
- Shut up!

You need to calm down!

- Are you okay?
- Let go!

- Do you need anything else?
- You want me to make you cry?

- Then shut the fuck up.
- You're hurting me.

I tell my students that...
I'll ask them the question:

Let's say that you have a breakdown,
what would you do?

What would your family do?
And they invariably say,

"Oh, well, we'd...
We'd call the... the doctor,

and you'd go
to the hospital."

And I say, "This isn't true.

"You'd call 911,
and the police would come,

"and if you were lucky,
you'd live through that encounter,

and they'd
take you to jail."

There really isn't a good way
to get help for people.

I mean, my dad put me
in juvenile detention,

and he said he did it
because he was trying to help me

and he loved me.

At the time, I didn't understand
what he was saying,

and I hated him for it.

But now I realize
that 70 percent of people

in juvenile detention
had a severe mental illness.

- Hello?
- Tiara.

You need to come
and take care of Tristan.

I'm falling
to pieces over here.

I'm falling to pieces.

I can't keep it
together in here.

I am falling.
I'm crumbling,

falling to pieces,
and I need for somebody

to take care of Tristan.

All right.

Where is Vontae?

I don't know.

I tried to call
the social worker,

but he not answering,
so I don't know.

All I know is, they was taking him
to a command post...

last night, so I don't know
where he's at.

Actually, I won't know until either he
calls or the social worker calls.

Yeah, he called me...

about 12:30,
and, um...

he left a message saying that he got
put out of the group home,

and that he was at a gas station,
at a pay phone,

and he didn't have
nowhere to go.

So the next morning I got up,
and I called the group home,

and the group home...
The guy answered the phone,

and he said that...

Vontae wasn't
no longer with them

and that he AWOL'ed.

And he told me it was better...
Best for me to call the social worker.

So I called the social worker,
and Mark says...

you know, he don't know
anything about this,

and he was like,
"So where is Vontae?"

And I'm like, "I don't know.
I called you 'cause I thought

you knew where he was."

This is Mark,
the social worker.


Hey, Cora. It's Mark.

Hi, Mark.

- Hey. What's going on?
- Where is Vontae?

I can't hear you.
You gotta speak up.

I said where is Vontae?

- He's back at the office.
- He's at your office?

Yeah, they
couldn't find a place

for him last night,
so they brought him back.

Okay, so, um,
so what happens now?

Oh, is there a number
where I can call, so I can...

'Cause I need to make sure
that he's okay,

and I need to be able
to keep in touch with him,

'cause I don't want
him lost in the system.

I can't hear you.
You gotta speak up. What now?

I don't want him
lost in the system,

so I would like
a number or something

where I can keep up,
you know, where he's at.

Do you know what jail
is really like?

Do you have any clue?

- I've seen some shows.
- Yeah.

Jail is almost like...

punishment more than
it is a place to get better.

I know.

'Cause in jail, you have
to do hard work.

You have to work
for the cops.

So basically in jail,
you basically become

a slave...
to the community.

What they do is basically just slavery.

It's overnight slavery.

It's kind of true, honey.

And I think part of the reason
there's a jail, honey...

- Yeah?
- ...is to keep people like that...


...away from the public,

to keep the public safe...

- Yeah.
- ...from people like that.

- That's what I think.
- Okay.

He's fascinated with jail.

I think, on some level,
he feels like some day he'll be there,

and so its almost like
he's preparing himself.

And because he knows
that his behaviors...

would be jail behaviors
if he wasn't special needs.

There's gonna come a time
where they're not gonna give him

him that kind of grace.

Are you all right?

Get away!

Look at that.
He looks like a girl...

Yeah, in this video he does.

Yeah. That's where
we were hiding, Elexa.

- That must hurt so bad.
- A cat?

All right.

I'm 20 weeks, five months.

Still kind of surreal really.

I'm only just barely starting
to feel her move and...

Either way,
it's a very big gap

between the two kids
I have now,

so, it just feels
all brand-new again.

He has not laid a hand on me,
anything like he ever did before

since I told him I was pregnant.

He has really shown
a lot of strength.

I mean, I've...
I've got him in situations

where normally he would've...
He would flip out on me,

and he's really showed
a lot of restraint.

Bail Bonds.

Hold on just a moment.
Bail Bonds.

You know, I'm brutally honest
about things,

and I really don't try
to sugarcoat anything,

and I don't try
to hide anything, and I...

I'm not gonna say he's
a hundred percent better. He's not.

I'm really happy that he... I feel like
he's come a little ways.

I just am being honest
that he still has a long ways to go.

You know, I don't think
I'm doing anything so different

as far as how I'm talking to him
or the way I am with him...

but he's becoming
a little calmer at times,

and, I don't know,
we changed his medicine too, so.

I think the medicine
he's on now is a lot better,

and I think that probably is playing
a little bit of a part in it as well,

um... but I'm sure it's
a combination of everything.

I worry about him a lot.

Especially if he's getting...

Wherever he's getting
these toy guns from.

What I'm afraid of is
because he's tall and...

And Vontae,
because of his height,

can be very intimidating
to other people,

so I'm afraid that they're gonna take
the wrong perception of him

because of his height
and his record

and all the trouble
that he gets into,

and he's going around,
carrying toy guns and stuff like that.

Oh God.

I don't like...
I don't like it.

I don't like it.

I'm like at a place now
where I can help my kids.

You know, now I can be,
I can be...

I feel like now
I can be a mom.

You know,
I can be a mom now,

and I want Vontae
to experience that.

I want him to see the...
Be able to experience

the new side of me,

because I think
it would help him.

What's your... what's your
biggest fear for William?

An accident...
something like that.

That makes me cry, yeah.


That I'll get a call...


You know, when he threatens,
sometimes, you know, cutting himself...

What if he does it
too hard one time?

Um... or, uh...

he's hanging out with kids
that are no good for him

and something goes wrong?

Um... So, he's like a lamb.
You know, he's innocent.

In my most hopeful moments,
I see a brilliant mind.

I see...
a sweetheart...

and I see somebody
that is so unique

that there's nobody on the face
of the Earth like him, and...

if we could somehow channel that
into something creative

that he can actually make
a living for himself,

and then he can
maybe live...

you know in a carriage house
behind our house or something,

and actually have
a decent life.

You know, maybe even go to college
or something like that.

In those moments,
I'm hopeful for him,

you know, when I dream that.

So... cautiously hopeless
or hopeful, yeah.


As I looked at Adam's path

and the trajectory he was on,
it was so similar to my son's,

and the only thing
where it started to change

was with my blog post,

when I screamed
to the world

and said,
"Hi, I need help.

All of our... all of these moms,
we all need help."

There is a sort of politics

and a reality that are
often in conflict.

Most people
with mental illnesses,

most people with autism,

most people with any
of this variety of conditions,

which we largely describe
as brain diseases

of one kind or another,
will never hurt anyone.

If we talk too much about
those dangerous situations,

we stigmatize people
we shouldn't.

If we take
a politically correct standpoint

and we don't acknowledge
those situations,

then we end up with families
in which a child is

terrifying and violent
and nobody believes them,

and they don't understand what it is
they have to deal with.

It's a very fine balance
we need to strike.

I think what
we forget most of all

when someone is violent

and when they have
a serious mental illness,

is that we've failed them.

It's a little bit like
if someone had diabetes

and they go into a coma.

That's part
of the illness, right?

But if they get treated,
that should never happen...

If they get treated well,

and that's where we've...
We've let people down.

We need to understand
that treatment before tragedy

is not only possible,
but it should become our reality.

And that's... it's gonna take
some tough conversations.

This is about helping people
who are suffering,

and we know that if we can get
children treatment,

we can change
the whole course,

not only
of a child's life,

but of an entire
family's life.

- Oh, over here.
- What kind of penguins are there?

- Hi, penguin.
- Hey. I wish one of them

- would go in right now.
- Hey, Mom, watch.

- Absolutely. I see.
- Look at the...

Look, I see one
over there.

Good afternoon.

It's always polite to say that.

You want a taste?

You're welcome.

I wouldn't go to heaven
if I didn't share.

If I don't share,
I can't go to heaven.

No, I can't, actually.

Well, you know why?

Because in hell,
they're controlling you.

Here you want me
to hold yours?

Well, that's very nice
of you, Ethan.

Here, let me see the spoon.
Do you want... do you want...

- Sorry.
- Oh, 'cause you want to play with it?