Click here for a Q&A Susan and I did for “Born Schizophenic: Jani’s Next Chapter” on Discovery Fit & Health. This updates our family through May 2012.


Keeping Jani Alive: The Perils Of Childhood-Onset Schizophrenia Born With Mental Disease?
Childhood-Onset Schizophrenia a Devastating Disorder

July 1, 2009

On a trip to a park near their home in Valencia, Calif., last week, a boy approached Michael Schofield and his six-year-old daughter January, called Jani, to admire their dog, trading stories with Jani about his own dog. Then, without warning, Janihit the boy in the chest. “She hit him in the chest because Wednesday-the-rat told her to,” Schofield said.  [More…]

20/20 “Haywire” Original Airdate 3/12/10-Full Episode Available online

20/20 followed us and two other families with severely mentally ill young girls for six months from August 2009 to January 2010.



Jani’s at the mercy of her mind
Michael and Susan Schofield’s 6-year-old daughter is locked in a nightmare realm of schizophrenia — and no one can help her.

SHARI ROAN/Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
29 June, 2009

It’s been a rough week. A few days ago, at UCLA’s Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital, 6-year-old Jani toppled a food cart and was confined to her room. She slammed her head against the floor, opening a bloody cut that sent her into hysterics. Later, she kicked the hospital therapy dog. Jani normally likes animals. But most of her animal friends — cats, rats, dogs and birds — are phantoms that only she can see. January Schofield has schizophrenia. Potent psychiatric drugs — in doses that would stagger most adults — seem to skip off her. She is among the rarest of the rare: a child seemingly born mentally ill.  [More…]


For Jani Schofield, some progress — and major setbacks
The 6-year-old, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, doesn’t fare well after a change in her environment, and the stress of caring for her takes a severe toll on her family.

SHARI ROAN/Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
July 09, 2009

On June 29, The Times profiled Jani Schofield, a 6-year-old 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 Jani and her toddler brother, Bodhi. Here is an update on the Schofield family.  [More…]


SHARI ROAN/Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

December 29, 2009 update

It was a little more than a year ago that January Schofield, at age 6, began to drift from reality. Suicidal, violent and plagued by hallucinations of rats and cats who conversed and played with her, she began the first of seven psychiatric hospitalizations.

As of today, Jani, 7, has been out of the hospital for 56 days, the longest period in 15 months. Together with her parents, Michael and Susan, and brother, Bodhi, 2, Jani is living a fragile existence… [More…]

The Signal (Santa Clarita’s hometown paper)

“Between Worlds” by Melissa Gasca January 16th, 2010

Some of Jani Schofield’s friends don’t like her little brother, Bodhi.

Sometimes they tell her to hurt Bodhi. And sometimes – even when she doesn’t want to – she listens.

If she doesn’t, Four Hundred the cat might scratch her, or Wednesday the rat might bite her.

One day, without warning, 7-year-old Jani started to gnaw on the toddler as if to eat him. Tears streaming from her eyes, she repeated, “I’m going to eat you, Bodhi. Bye, bye, Bodhi. I love you.” [More…]


Glendale News Press

January 25, 2010

An article on the college interns that did work with Jani.



6 comments on “Print/Web

  1. The way to progress with jani
    I am a parent of a child with severe autism. My 14year old son was diagnosed at the age of 4 years having started to plunge into severe autism at 14months.
    He became even worse and was at the level of profound autism. THe paediatrician at the time advised us that the best thing we could do was to hand him over to the authorities and put him into care as he was far too difficult to manage in his opinion.
    YEs he was a nightmare to manage, however through sheer determination and nothing but hard graft from myself and my husband our son has now achieved far more than what was ever thought possible.
    He is so much more improved from the child he was. WAtching the programme about Jani makes me think that Jani’s
    Arents could do much more to help.
    How ?
    Through behaviour it seems that everything Jani wants Jani gets, there never seems to be any consequence for Jani being naughty or inappropriate to her brother, she just gets rewarded through the parents giving Jani attention. Instead she should get either told off or ignored. Blanking her out and giving her No attention.
    I think that it’s important to deal with Jani s behaviour but also to be strict about encouraging appropriate behaviour and ignoring or telling her off for negative behaviour especially around her brother. I could never leave my son with his younger brother at all.
    she is cleverly testing what she can and cannot do regarding these numbers. I think she is quite clever and this can be reduced by how the parents change their behaviour and stamp it out.
    I have always taken my own route with my son as the doctors were all useless and did nothing tonhelpmme with the enormous fight against stamping out autism
    Good luck and if you want to ask me for advice I am happy to give it. I have a university certificate in autism spectrum disorder and have a wonderful child to proove what cane done.

    Note from Michael: I am happy for your son, Amy, but schizophrenia is a bit different than autism. You cannot ignore psychotic behavior nor can you ignore a child who has psychotic symptoms as this is dangerous. It is hard for those of us who are alone inside our own heads to understand that children like Jani never are. When she is alone, she is alone with her hallucinations. Some are benign and that is fine. Some are not. When we used to put Jani in “time outs” alone, she once tried to jump out the window because she was compelled to. Now we make sure Jani is never alone.

    Also, keep in mind what you watched was filmed more than two years ago. Things have gotten much better. It is helpful to read my blogs.

  2. Just curious
    I have been diagnosed as bipolar/PTSD as an adult. I have pretty high IQ which taught me to “act normal” for much of my life, even as a preteen, I had a list of things that “normal people do” so I could appear normal. It was a terribly increased self-awareness that did not help me escape my disordered thoughts. As a child, I suffered horrible fevers and illness that I often had very vivid hallucinations — in my own theory, I think that maybe something triggered my brain or damaged it. (I used to watch a blank television and think I was watching my favorite show on TV, and my mother, in horror, would come into the room and see me laughing and freak out, but we never went to the hospital. She was an alcoholic…)

    I don’t want to tell you my life story. I have always been different, and took until I was 30 to even attain the concept of becoming self-sufficient (my own hospitalization). I literally couldn’t see outside myself for many years or really understand myself in relation to other people. I understood how they viewed me, but not WHY they viewed me that way. I kept trying to keep myself “externally” acceptable, becoming an extreme introvert.

    I could say that I guess things work out. But I am not so sure.

    I think reading books kept me alive as a child, as I was subject to violent mood swings and started cutting myself at age 10. By then, I was obsessed with poetry and perfectionism.

    Does your daughter understand concepts like “hope”? Does she explore the arts or have hobbies? Do you have time to nurture these things? Again, these are just questions, really.

    Your blog is really touching and I am glad to see that you are spreading awareness. I applaud the sacrifices you have made to remain a family.

    Note from Michael: I like to think things work out if we all keep working for them. She doesn’t really have any “hobbies,” at least yet. There is nothing that can occupy her attention for a long period of time. She likes music and likes singing but has no desire to get lessons or anything. If she gets through the day we are thrilled. As for hope, we don’t talk about the future much because it stresses her out. But at the same time she is not depressed. She doesn’t feel buried by her illness. It is just kind of the background noise to her life. I don’t get the sense that she feels it is holding her back from anything. Right now she and Susan are dancing in the kitchen to Katy Perry’s “Firework.”

  3. BRAVO!
    I recently watched a documentary on January and her parents on OWN as I was flipping through channels. I am a Registered Nurse, my husband is a mental health counselor….we were captivated, taken away and touched at the Schoefields for allowing the nation into their life and January’s.

    BRAVO. It is a long haul, but they are giving Jani the best thing imaginable; love, support, understanding, kindness…..

    Note from Michael: Thank you.

  4. Captivated by your new book!
    I am the mother of five teenagers, three of whom are adopted and are mentally ill. It is hard to sort out what behaviors are due to their trauma and what is due to the mental illness they likely would have had regardless, as their bio mother had schizophrenia and committed suicide at age 29, leaving them orphans.

    My youngest is 15 and has been in residental care since June. She was diagnosed as “schizoaffective” in August, and we were told as she gets older, this diagnosis may change. She may later be diagnosed as “bi-polar” or “schizophrenic”, but that she is defintely “on the schizophrenic spectrum”. I was aware there was an autism spectrum, but had no idea there was a spectrum when it came to schizophrenia. My sister, who is a Special Ed teacher, learned of your book and got me the audio copy. I am up to Chapter 12 and can’t stop listening!

    Like Jani, our daughter began experiencing hallucinations at a young age, but we had been told that she was suffering from PTSD and simply experiencing “flashbacks” due to witnessing her bio father’s murder when she was 4. At 8, she also tried to end her life by jumping out a window because an angel “appeared” to her and told her that her bio parents missed her and wanted her to join them. We desperately tried to get her more intensive help, telling her mental health providers these were NOT “flashbacks”. She too was given Risperdal and had to experiment with a variety of meds before the voices and hallucinations went away. We were then told she suffered from “severe depression” and that was the cause of her delusions.

    Last year, to our dismay, after two years of doing well and being asymptomatic, our daughter’s hallucinations and delusions returned with a vengeance. She lost touch with reality altogether and had to be hospitalized. We didn’t know if she would ever “come back”. With a new mix of meds, she is able to attend school, but is still not the daughter we know and recognize. At times, she appears to have two distinct personalities. Like you, we have been told (even by some family members!) that she must be inherently “evil”, has “no soul”, is “possessed”, etc. Often, it is too easy for people to blame her adoption or trauma history for her illness, but in meeting other parents in support groups, I have met very loving, “normal” (what is normal anyway? 😉 ) birth families, like yours, who have kids with the similar behaviors.

    One Dad I met in a group has a daughter who is now attending college who was diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 8. She also attempted suicide and he and his wife were investigated for abuse, questioned about birth trauma, head injury, etc. If she is given too many drugs, she’s a zombie, but if she doesn’t have enough, her voices take control and she’s unable to function. They constantly struggle to find balance. Fortunately their daughter, in her young adulthood, has found a way to “make peace with the voices”. They just worry what will happen should that change.

    I look forward to finishing your book and congratulate you and Susan for your courage and honesty about Jani’s journey. We may all be on different paths, but yes, it is reassuring to know we are not alone. God Bless all of you.

    Note from Michael: Sharon, we have two private support groups for parents of special needs kids (regardless of age). We have one on Yahoo and another on Facebook. If you are interested in connecting with others going through what you are going through, write me at I have the same fear of the future. Jani is doing exceptionally well right now but I fear the hallucinations and psychosis coming back with a vengeance as puberty comes on. It can happen. The body chemistry changes and everything needs to be reset. What worries me is Jani is already on Clozapine, which is pretty much the last option. She does very well on it. I hope it stays.

    Yes, the idea of a “spectrum” for schizophrenia is relatively new idea, but it makes sense, just like the spectrum for autism.

  5. Hi Micheal I just finished reading January First, I couldnt put it down
    I fell in love with your family, Jani is so absolutly beautiful, You and Suesan are doing a wonderful job with her.
    I believe God has given you and Suesan a special little girl.
    And little Bodhi, hes so amazing..I wish you and your lovely family all the best in the world…PEACE

  6. Hi there!
    I wanted to say thank you for sharing your life with everyone in your book January First. I saw your family first on Oprah a while ago and when I found out you wrote a book, I had to read it. I think that you have a beautiful family and your devotion to you family and daughter is amazing.
    Thank you,
    Jessica Cissell
    Edmonton, AB, Canada

    Note from Michael: Thank you.