Now that 11-year-old Jani Schofield’s schizophrenia diagnosis is relatively under control, her parents Susan and Michael fear their 6-year-old son Bodhi may be suffering from the same mental health condition. Bodhi’s psychiatric doctors have currently diagnosed him with severe autism and intermittent explosive disorder; however, his parents believe his violent outbursts and auditory/visual hallucinations point to childhood-onset schizophrenia.
At the age of 11, Jani Schofield has been considered one of the youngest children to be treated for schizophrenia. According to Psychiatric Times, one of out every 10,000 children is diagnosed with childhood-onset schizophrenia. Diagnosis is usually preceded by behavioral and cognitive symptoms that are consistent with autism, affective and disruptive behavior disorders, and speech and language disorders. Jani’s condition has been the focus of various TV programs including Oprah, Dr. Phil, and Discovery Fit & Health's upcoming program, Born Schizophrenic: Jani and Bodhi’s Journey.
Susan and Michael live in constant fear that both Jani and Bodhi may end up fatally injuring themselves or even each other. Bodhi’s outburst can sometimes lead to severe self-harm and Jani has already made several suicidal attempts on her own life. Both children also suffer from auditory and visual hallucinations that completely detach them from reality. Thanks to a steady regimen of antipsychotic medication, Jani has started to show signs of progress. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about Bodhi.
Bodhi’s recent outbursts have become so unmanageable for the couple that they have been forced to hospitalize him where he is sedated and restrained with a “modern day straight jacket.” Susan told ABC News, “The hospital says it was the worst case they had ever seen.” Due to the non-verbal aspect of his condition, the Schofields have a hard time understanding their son’s emotions in time to alleviate his violent episodes. Although his doctors say Bodhi’s behavior is “something different” from his sister and are related to an autism spectrum disorder, Susan is certain he will be diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Moving forward, both Susan and Michael fear of what will happen to their children when they are gone and if they are capable of becoming fully independent. Neither parent has extended family that can take care of Jani and Bodhi. Both parents’ personal lives have already suffered from around-the-clock care. Michael, who was once a college professor, has been forced to confine his teaching career to online courses. Susan is afraid problems within the marriage will lead to divorce, something that affects 75 percent of couples with a child affected by a mental illness.
In spite of their fears, Susan and Michael see hope in the progress made by Jani, who they regard as an inspiration for Bodhi. Jani is currently on her way to finishing the sixth grade and hopes to become part of a contained classroom at her local junior high school in Los Angeles next year. She has also made steps to improve her adaptive life skills and hygiene, a typical problem for people with schizophrenia. Her parents hope Jani’s progress will help Bodhi through his behavioral and emotional development.
Show your support for Jani and Bodhi by signing up for the Jani Foundation.