For Jani's parents, the most pressing issue is where Jani should live. She has been on the UCLA psych ward -- where she was placed during an emergency -- since Jan. 16. The ward is not designed for long-term care.
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Her parents -- Michael, a college English instructor, and Susan, a former radio traffic reporter -- must decide how to provide as much stability as possible for their daughter while also trying to protect their 18-month-old son.
"If Jani was 16, there would be resources," Michael says. "But very few hospitals, private or public, will take a 6-year-old."
Born Aug. 8, 2002, Jani was different from the start, sleeping fitfully for only about four hours a day. Most infants sleep 14 to 16 hours a day. Only constant, high-energy stimulation kept Jani from screaming.
"For the first 18 months, we would take her to malls, play areas, IKEA, anywhere we could find crowds," says Michael, 33. "It was impossible to overstimulate her. We would leave at 8 in the morning and be gone for 14 hours. We could not come home until Jani had been worn out enough so that she would sleep a couple of hours."
When Jani turned 3, her tantrums escalated. She lasted three weeks in one preschool and one week in another. She demanded to be called by different names; Rainbow one day, Blue-eyed Tree Frog the next. Make-believe friends filled her days -- mostly rats and cats and, sometimes, little girls.
She threw her shoes at people when angry and tried to push the car out of gear while Michael was driving. The usual disciplinary strategies parents use to teach their young children proper behavior -- time-outs, rules, positive rewards -- failed time and again for the Schofields.
"She would go into these rages where she would scream, hit, kick, scratch and bite. She could say, 'Mommy, I love you,' and seconds later switch into being really violent," Michael says.
Kindergarten lasted one week.
The Schofields consulted doctors and heard myriad opinions: bipolar disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, ineffective parenting. No one considered schizophrenia.
In December 2007, they were referred to Dr. Linda Woodall, a psychiatrist in Glendale. Jani's medical records for the following year depict a doctor searching for effective medications while her patient slid further into a world stalked by rats and cats.
July 8, 2008: Claps hands, hops (tic-like); food can't touch; strips clothes off if she thinks they have a spot. Wants order and perfection in play, toys, stories.
Nov. 11, 2008: Talking to a "bird named 34" on her hand. Drawing on her clothes and body with permanent marker. Screaming at school and in the waiting room.
Jan. 7, 2009: Patient is psychotic; talking to rats naming them the days of the week . . . I believe it would be in the best interests of January and her family to have her placed in residential treatment.
Her parents named her January because they loved the sound of it. But this year, the month of January became the breaking point for a fragile family.
Jani's torment had escalated through much of 2008. She was hospitalized last fall for three weeks.
Jani tried, and failed, again to attend school. She choked herself with her hands, hit her head on the walls and said she wanted to die.