What are the Signs of Schizophrenia in Children?

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Recognizing the signs of schizophrenia in children at an early age can help you prepare the family better.Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder marked by delusions and hallucinations and plagued by apathy, withdrawal and lack of motivation.

Childhood schizophrenia is rare, affecting 1 in 40,000 children under the age of 15 and rarely observed at all before the age of five. The schizophrenic psychosis  (hallucinations, delusions and disordered thinking) develops gradually in children and without the sudden psychotic break that sometimes occurs in adolescents and adults. Children may talk about strange fears or ideas. They begin saying things that do not make sense and might become withdrawn, appearing to be in their own world.

Early Warning Signs:

  • trouble discerning dreams from reality
  • seeing things and hearing unreal voices
  • confused thinking
  • vivid and bizarre thoughts and ideas
  • extreme moodiness
  • peculiar behavior
  • concept that people are “out to get them”
  • behaving younger than chronological age
  • severe anxiety and fearfulness
  • confusing television or movies with reality
  • severe problems making and keeping friends

Some of the symptoms or behaviors patterns of schizophrenia in children are:

  • Early pattern of inhibition, withdrawal and sensitivity
  • Problems with conduct disorder (CD)
  • Anxious and disruptive in social settings
  • Poor motivation and follow-through
  • School failure, or required placement in special education
  • Inability to make friends; disinterested in forming relationships
  • Confusion about what is real: hallucinations (hearing voices of someone not there) or delusions and paranoia (belief of being followed by harmful space creatures)
  • Showing no emotion; speaking rarely; sitting still for long periods
  • Inapporpriate expression of emotion (laughing at sad events)
  • Little or no eye contact; little expression of body language

Learn More… Take this course: Recognizing Early-Onset Mental Health Disorders in Children

Discuss Here: How can you learn to recognize and pay close attention to the signs of schizophrenia in children?

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