The dust is settling from the new diagnosis. I don’t think any of us were terribly surprised. It’s the implications surrounding it that weigh heavily. I’m trying to find resources, and there are few to none. There were actually a fair amount of resources for childhood-onset Bipolar Disorder; there were books, websites, online support groups, etc. All I can find for childhood-onset schizophrenia (COS) are journal articles that argue about the relevance of psychiatric nosology in relation to treatment. It seems that even the experts aren’t sure. I suppose that would be the case when only .0000001% of the population is diagnosed with COS.
So, what now? Grace is psychotic. What does that mean? It means that she is actively hallucinating and experiencing paranoia. Sometimes she seems to be grounded and lucid, but her speech is disorganized. It’s hard to tell what’s real for her. What I have going for me is a solid relationship. She’ll talk to me. This is where I’d like to take a moment and remember all the parents with whom I’ve been acquainted, who have clearly stated the following to me:
“You are too involved in the lives of your children. You insert yourself into their interactions too much. Me? I just let them figure it out. They need to fight it out. Why are you constantly helping them? (It’s called ‘modeling’, idiot.) They’ll eventually figure it out. (No, they won’t.) When my kids come to me and tattle on someone, they learn really fast not to involve me in their problems! A good spank on the butt or a time-out teaches them to be self-reliant! (A child can’t solve social/relational problems at 7 years-old. They can identify a problem. Not solve it. They are not developed cognitively for that level of problem solving.) You? You hover. (Actually, I don’t hover. Helicopter parenting and modeling appropriate relational skills are two very different things.) Me? Self-reliance. That’s what I’m about.”
…and tell them to:
Why? After having endured lecture upon lecture by well-meaning but self-righteous parents who have watched me “insert” myself into my children’s conflicts over and over again, I can finally see the fruits of it. Gracie will talk to me–even when she’s psychotic and paranoid. I was the first person that she told about the Three Men who currently follow her everywhere. One has a cowboy hat. Another wears a black bowler hat while the third wears a brown one. It’s very steam punk. They all three carry handguns when she’s not terribly paranoid. When the paranoia is increasing, the men begin whispering about her, making plans to harm her, and they usually begin carrying swords in addition to their firearms.
My other daughters share their lives with me, too, and my oldest daughter, who is almost 16, has a good relationship with me as well. My girls have good communication skills, and they are doing a good job with Grace. I homeschooled my two oldest daughters for six years, and I was heavily criticized for it. I didn’t do it because I have strong views on homeschooling or education. I did it because my oldest girl was reading when she was 4 years-old, and a virtual elementary school opened up in our area when it was time for her to begin Kindergarten. She has a high IQ, and I thought perhaps she might enjoy the ability to move at her own pace. Honestly? I hated homeschooling. It was hard. My daughter, however, thrived, and I learned a great deal about how curricula were designed, phonics teaching, and authentic number sense.
By the time I got to Grace, she was excited to have her turn with Mom, and it was clear one month in that she had learning issues. In fact, Grace had a learning disability. Grace’s working memory is ranked in the 3rd percentile while her reading comprehension is ranked in the 99th percentile. Common to people diagnosed with SCZ or COS, she has major problems with executive function. I would have never tagged Grace for early assessments, however, had I not been “that parent”. The mother who made relationship a priority. The mother who didn’t say, “Oh, just figure it out.” or “Go rub some dirt in it.” or “Shake it off.” or “Stop crying, leave me alone.” So, in some ways, I feel vindicated. She is going to get help now. Not in five years. Now.
I don’t homeschool anymore. I never homeschooled my youngest girl. She has an autism spectrum disorder. I was told yesterday that studies are beginning to reveal that ASDs and schizophreniform disorders run in families. Schizophrenifrom. That’s a weird word. Say that ten times really fast. Anyway, I shouldn’t be surprised that I have an autistic child and a schizophrenic child. Huh.
I think I might feel a little surprised. No matter what the studies say.