According to an expert in the psychosocial human development theory, children are aged 13 and below, while adolescents are aged between 13 and 19. From the Schizophrenia prospective, it is rare for children and adolescents to suffer from this mental disorder. Having said that, children who display Schizophrenia symptoms are very hard to bring up as the disorder affect their ability to think and function like normal kids.
Symptoms of Children with Schizophrenia
Children and adolescents with Schizophrenia suffer from hallucinations, delusions and distorted thinking, similar symptoms to an adult Schizophrenic patient, except few small variations. There can be a gradual shift in the behavior pattern of a child or adolescent with Schizophrenia. From having predictable behaviors, the children can display unpredictably bad behaviors. Children with Schizophrenia tend to stick with their parents all the time, they do not enjoy playing and chatting with other kids, they lose interest in most of the activities, face difficulty in concentrating on studies and their school performance degrades. School teachers are often first to notice their aberrant behavior first.
To treat children and adolescents with Schizophrenia, group therapy, family therapy and atypical antipsychotic drugs are commonly used. The common practice is for parents to bring their child to a pediatrician and ask him to refer a psychiatrist who is good in diagnosing, assessing and treating children with Schizophrenia. Parents should also encourage the child to take part in different school activities which aim to treat the mental disorder.
Understanding Schizophrenia in Children and Adolescents
For aptly understanding of childhood and adolescent Schizophrenia, parents must consult psychiatrist who has experience in dealing with children and adolescents. There are few instances when one might get confused whether a child has Schizophrenia or not:
1. Having imaginary friends and talking to unreal things - It is common for children to have imaginary friends that they play or talk with when they are around three years old; this is a fairly normal characteristic of children at this age. However, if such a characteristic is found in a 12 years old child or in a 15 years old adolescent, then parents need to be concerned, they must talk to the child and understand what he is feeling and must consult a pediatrician or a psychologist.
2. Grievance of losing a friend or family - An adolescent can feel sad over losing family member or a close friend, among other things. He might try to avoid going out and talk to anyone. At this time, it is common for people around the child to be unsure if he is suffering from Schizophrenia, especially if the family has history of the mental disorder. At this point of time, it is recommended to talk to the adolescent and bring him in to a psychiatrist for counseling. The symptoms displayed can be either due to temporary depression or early onset of Schizophrenia.
It is not an easy task to tell the difference between Schizophrenia symptoms or behaviors of a normal playful child by yourself. If you suspect your child displays Schizophrenia symptoms, always seek help from a professional or a psychologist to help in the diagnosis.