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For Jani, some progress and some major setbacks

Girl, 6, diagnosed with schizophrenia, suffers after a change in her

July 09, 2009|Shari Roan

On June 29, The Times profiled Jani Schofield, a 6-year-old girl diagnosed with schizophrenia, and her parents in "Jani's at the mercy of her mind." The article examined Jani's bouts of rage, her make-believe world, and Michael and Susan Schofield's efforts to keep their family together while also safely raising their toddler son, Bodhi. Here is an update on the Schofield family.

Michael and Susan Schofield's plan to keep two apartments and trade 14-hour shifts caring for their 6-year-old daughter, Jani, worked for a while.

And Jani returned, with modest success, to her elementary school.

But when school ended two weeks later, so did the Schofields' only real respite care, and their lives began to unravel.

The Schofields clashed with the team of workers from a nonprofit provider of mental health services that the family was depending on for support. The social workers tried to help, said Michael, but didn't seem to understand that simple parenting techniques and behavioral therapies were irrelevant when caring for a psychotic child.

The cost of two apartments was crushing, and their money woes mounted. Michael and Susan began to argue more often.

When she was discharged June 1 from UCLA's Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Jani had fewer hallucinations and was less violent. But within a week at home, she began spending more time in her imaginary world of rats and cats and searing temperatures.

Jani's psychiatrist raised her dose of Thorazine, one of three drugs she takes to control the psychosis, but it had little effect.

The detailed daily schedule the Schofields crafted to mimic Jani's schedule at UCLA went by the wayside. The point system the couple planned to use to track Jani's behavior and reward her for progress was forgotten.

After three weeks, the couple's hopes of caring for their daughter at home slipped away. Jani was psychotic most of the time, talking about her imaginary friends, gesturing to them, running to the door to allow them access to the apartment. She threatened her baby brother, Bodhi, sometimes kicking him.

On June 24, while the family was eating breakfast at a Denny's restaurant, a drop of orange juice spilled on Jani's slacks. She began to remove her pants in the restaurant but had not put on underwear that morning. The couple wrestled with her to keep her dressed while she erupted with fury over her wet clothing.

It took an hour to calm her.

The next day, she screamed at the doctor's office where she was undergoing regular lab tests to check for side effects from the high doses of medications. Later, she carried an imaginary rat in the palm of her hand and cautioned onlookers: "Be careful around him. He squirts."

On Thursday, June 25, Jani's blood test results came back. Her thyroid levels were abnormal and there was blood in her urine. She complained of constant itching.

January Schofield was readmitted to the psychiatric hospital later that day.

Jani's doctors at UCLA have decided to wean her off her current medications and try Clozaril, a last-ditch anti-psychotic that carries the risk of severe side effects.

In the meantime, the Schofields are completing paperwork seeking to have Jani admitted to a study on child schizophrenia at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Md.

Jani remembered the staff well and didn't seem to mind going back to the hospital. But after Michael hugged her and said good night that Thursday, she began to cry softly -- something she rarely does except in anger.

Michael detected a little sob and paused at the door.

"I called back to her, 'Jani, are you OK?' "

"Yes," she said.

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shari.roan@latimes.com

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