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Schizophrenia in Children

Schizophrenia is a mental disease that causes people to have strange thoughts, feelings and behavior. There is no known cause for schizophrenia. It is a lifelong disease that with treatment can allow a person to function better. For adults the disease affects 1 in 100, however fortunately for children, which is a rare case, schizophrenia affects about 1 in 40,000 children.

Although the average age of onset for the disease is 18 for men and 25 for women; some children could get schizophrenia over the age of five, but it is very uncommon before adolescence. Early symptoms and behaviors of schizophrenia in children are gradual shyness, clinging to parents, and delayed speech and motor skills, usually before hallucinations and delusions set in, around the age of seven or later.

Children with schizophrenia are commonly confused with children with autism, which affects 1 in 500 children. The difference is children with autism are usually diagnosed with the disease by age three, while children with schizophrenia do not show signs of schizophrenia until about age seven or later, but before the age of 12; and have a history of hallucinations and delusions for about six months. It is harder to treat schizophrenia in children than in adults, however newer medications seem to help.

Symptoms of schizophrenia takeover the life of the child and are not seen only in one environment such as at school. If children show any interest in friendships, even if they do not keep them, they probably do not have schizophrenia.

The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry write Facts for Families and there is an article, "Schizophrenia in Children," that explains the symptoms and behaviors of children with schizophrenia which may slightly differ from adults with the illness. They are as follows:

  • seeing things and hearing voices which are not real (hallucinations),
  • odd and eccentric behavior, and/or speech,
  • unusual or bizarre thoughts and ideas,
  • confusing television and dreams from reality,
  • confused thinking,
  • extreme moodiness,
  • ideas that people are out to get them or talking about them, (paranoia)
  • severe anxiety and fearfulness,
  • difficulty relating to peers, and keeping friends.
  • withdrawn and increased isolation,
  • decline in personal hygiene
A parent would usually discover their child has these symptoms by a school teacher. If a parent thinks their child may have schizophrenia they should get a referral from a pediatrician to a child psychiatrist for diagnosis, therapy, and treatment.



HektikLyfe said…
The day teachers start handing out prescriptions will be a very dark day indeed.
What a horrifying experience this would be for a small child. I once knew a girl who was diagnosed with schizophrenia when she was 15. Later the diagnosis changed to bipolar disorder.
Merelyme said…
I often wonder what my mother was like as a child. She was diagnosed in her twenties with schizophrenia.
Persephone said…
Hey thanks for stopping by. I've been off since the 20th but have been busy with Christmas and just generally been enjoying my vacation. I'm still alive and doing good.
ACDesign said…
I wanted to make a comment on your blog as a whole. I admire your courage to try and show others that mental illness should not be feared. My brother was diagnosed in 2006 and is still struggling with recovery. Your story gives me hope! I also have a blog and website. Check out the links below to learn more about my cause. Also, how do I follow a blog or have someone follow my blog?

Feel free to send these links to anyone you know!
Up until recently I did not know mental ailments such as schitzophernia could impact young children. I myself was diagnosed as borderline immediate following the birth of my son, now 5, along with postpartum psychosis. After almost 4 years in treatment I am 90% back to the person I was prior to becoming a mother. I have been told by several dr's not to have another child as the chance for reoccurrence is highly probable. For the past 3 and half years my son has seen dr after dr, specialist after specialist, all of whom say, regrettably of course, they know something is off though they can never tell what exactly except they know it is not Autism. Great, my son isn't Autistic..then what is it? I am simply sick and tired of being told, time and again, "we don't know." Recently I watched a program on the Discovery Channel explains Early-onset schitzophernia including symptoms and treatment; while watching I simply could not ignore the nagging thoughts screaming "that's my son, he does this too and this"...I am, obviously, beyond FURIOUS not one of the at least 15 specialist whom "didnt know" did not suggest this as a possibility considering my history and the symptoms both myself and my son's father have detailed over and over again. I have an appointment with yet another Child Psychitrist and I hope they are able to provide a better answer then "I know it's something...but I am not sure what." As I mother I am ready and able to do whatever it takes to insure my son is given ever opportunity to life a fulfill life; even if it means dedicating ever minute of my time to make it happen.

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