There’s a great post over at Furious Seasons by Philip about Shari Roan’s LA Times story about a 6-year-old girl, January (pictured), who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. As Philip points out, many of us are skeptical of such an early onset and skeptical of childhood diagnoses in general. The article has caused many reactions–good and bad–which Philip generously breaks down, and questions the strange lapse (from a journalistic standpoint) of omitting facts.
What disturbs me about the whole thing is that if you read her father’s blog (the content of which isn’t mentioned in the piece), which Philip links to, you get an uncomfortable sense that Jani/Janni’s father Michael is really stubborn about his daughter’s “lifetime illness,” as he calls it. Here’s an excerpt that shows some of this recalcitrance; I’m also uncomfortable with the bolded part.
We saw Janni today and she was at her most psychotic in several weeks. I have a nice welt on my arm where she hit me when I refused to call her toy rat “99.” Of course, I was goading her, but I wanted to see if she could deal with it. Of course, she couldn’t. She’d been talking about the rats for awhile (she is back to insisting they are real-these are the rats in her head) but now the violence is back. 400 the cat has reappeared after a long absence, and 400 cat is a bad cat that tells her to hit and scream (which she is also back to doing). She is on 300 mg a day of Seroquel is doing nothing. They need to up her Thorazine from 100 mg a day as that is the only thing that works. However, we are frustrated because the staff and doctors seem to thinking that it is just her “imagination” again, and considering autism and Asperger’s (even though this has already been ruled out time and time again). Yes, she “self-stems” as they call it, rubbing her hands together real fast….but that and the “autistic” behaviors went away at 300 mg of Thorazine. I don’t know why in the hell they are so resistant to labeling her “schizophrenic” but yet so eager to label her “Asperger’s.” Is schizophrenia really so much worse? But she fucking talks to animals and people who aren’t there! And she is violent! That isn’t autism! That’s psychosis! I feel like we are just going around and around in fucking circles here.
Autism and Asperger’s aren’t so cut and dry, but as Michael writes:
It is scary to think you know more than the doctors, but the fact is we do.
Do they? I’m reading and reading his blog and the article and I’m just not sure. I understand that feeling myself, of course. I often think that. And just as often, I’m surprised to discover that I still have so much to learn. Michael Schofield’s voice on his blog makes him come across as a very angry person with serious anger management issues–a person who’s self-aggrandizing and resistant to learning new things (and who can’t seem to spell his daughter’s name the same way consistently, which is just weird).
He comes across as a person who likes the sound of his own voice and a good, punchy, writerly ending to a post more than being open-minded about what’s going on. I understand this, actually, because once we find the Answer (not Allen Iverson, but the initial diagnosis), we cling to that diagnosis, as it’s the first time anyone has taken us seriously. But after clinging to a diagnosis that may or may not be correct, it’s time to let go so that treatment is dictated not by egos and desires (whether doctors or patients or parents) but by eliminating symptoms in a safe, healthy way.
Go to Philip’s page and read the whole argument, including the comments. It’s an important discussion.
Father Of Girl With Schizophrenia Admits Hitting, Starving Girl [Furious Seasons]
[Image by Lawrence K. Ho copyright LA Times. Please don't kill me, LA Times.]