Nicole Long

Profile of Claire

Nicole Long, Staff Editor/Staff Writer

“I woke up in the middle of the night with my daughter, Claire, standing next to me, staring at me. She was about six years old, at the time. I asked her what she was doing and why she was out of bed, but Claire replied with, “They said that I could trade you for my papa.” … then she told me that Scooby and the Powerpuff Girls told her that if I died, she could trade me for my dad. That was the start of her schizophrenia.”

– Deanna – Mother of the Schizophrenic Child

Claire is now 20 years old, but was diagnosed with schizophrenia when she was only six years old. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH), “Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves.” Schizophrenia isn’t caused by anything specific, but there are a few risk factors that may contribute to the development of it. Those risks include exposure to viruses, malnutrition before birth, problems during birth, and psycho social factors.

NIH states that the symptoms are usually seen between the ages of 16 and 30, but that there are also three kinds of symptoms: negative, positive, and cognitive. The positive symptoms are psychotic behaviors that are not generally seen in healthy people. They include hallucinations or delusions, thought disorders (unusual or dysfunctional ways of thinking), and movement disorders (agitated body movements). The negative symptoms are associated with disruptions to normal emotions and behaviors. Those symptoms are the “flat affect” (reduced expression of emotions using facial expression or voice tone), difficulty beginning and sustaining activities, and reduced speaking. The cognitive symptoms are poor “executive functioning” (the ability to understand information and and use it to make decisions), trouble focusing or paying attention, problems with “working memory” (the ability to use information immediately after learning it).

There is a difference between schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder and it’s that schizoaffective disorder has the symptoms of schizophrenia, but it also has a major mood disorder of bipolar, or even depression. Schizophrenia requires a lifelong treatment of anti psychotic medications, and a psychologist. People with schizoaffective disorder generally respond best to a combination of medications, psychotherapy and life skills training.

Claire has been enduring her treatment for fourteen years, and according to her diagnosis symptoms, she doesn’t have any of her old problems anymore. Deanna told Colt Roundup, “She is 180 degrees opposite of the way she was when she melted.”