SCHIZOPHRENIA IN CHILDREN
Articles for Parents
All Family Resources
Alphabetical List
  1. Children and Divorce
  2. Teenagers with Eating Disorders
  3. Teens: Alcohol and Other Drugs
  4. The Depressed Child
  5. Child Abuse - The Hidden Bruises
  6. Children Who Can't Pay Attention
  7. Children Who Won't Go to School
  8. Children and Grief
  9. Child Sexual Abuse
  10. Teen Suicide
  11. The Child with Autism
  12. Children Who Steal
  13. Children and TV Violence
  14. Children and Family Moves
  15. The Adopted Child
  16. Children with Learning Disabilities
  17. Children of Alcoholics
  18. Bedwetting
  19. The Child with a Long-Term Illness
  20. Making Day Care a Good Experience
  21. Psychiatric Medication for Children and Adolescents Part I: How Medications Are Used
  22. Normality
  23. Mental Retardation
  24. Know When to Seek Help for Your Child
  25. Who can be contacted to seek Help for Your Child
  26. Know Your Health Insurance Benefits
  27. Stepfamily Problems
  28. Responding to Child Sexual Abuse
  29. Psychiatric Medication for Children and Adolescents Part II: Types of Medications
  30. Children and AIDS
  31. When Children Have Children
  32. 11 Questions to Ask Before Psychiatric Hospital Treatment of Children and Adolescents
  33. Conduct Disorders
  34. Children's Sleep Problems
  35. Tic Disorders
  36. Helping Children After a Disaster
  37. Children and Firearms
  38. Bipolar Disorder (Manic-Depressive Illness) in Teens
  39. Children of Parents with Mental Illness
  40. The Influence of Music and Music Videos
  41. Substance Abuse Treatment for Children and Adolescents: Questions to Ask
  42. The Continuum of Care
  43. Discipline
  44. Children and Lying
  45. Lead Exposure
  46. Home Alone Children
  47. The Anxious Child
  48. Problems with Soiling and Bowel Control
  49. Schizophrenia in Children
  50. Panic Disorder in Children and Adolescents
  51. Psychiatric Medications for Children and Adolescents Part III: Questions to Ask
  52. Comprehensive Psychiatric Evaluation
  53. What is Psychotherapy For Children and Adolescents?
  54. Children and Watching TV
  55. Understanding Violent Behavior in Children & Adolescents
  56. Parenting: Preparing for Adolescence
  57. Normal Adolescent Development - Middle School and Early High School Years
  58. Normal Adolescent Development - Late High School Years and Beyond
  59. Children Online
  60. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in Children and Adolescents
  61. Children and Sports
  62. Talking to Your Kids About Sex
  63. Gay And Lesbian Adolescents
  64. Foster Care
  65. Children's Threats: When are they serious? 
  66. Helping Teenagers with Stress
  67. Children and The News
  68. Tobacco and Kids
  69. Asperger's Disorder
  70. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  71. Multiracial Children
  72. Children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder
  73. Self-Injury in Adolescents
  74. Advocating for Your Child
  75. Pets and Children
  76. Helping Your Teen Become a Safe Driver
  77. Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
  78. When a Pet Dies
  79. Obesity in Children and Teens
  80. Bullying #80
SCHIZOPHRENIA IN CHILDREN

Schizophrenia is a medical illness that causes strange thinking, strange feelings, and unusual behavior. It is an uncommon psychiatric illness in children and is hard to recognize in its early phases.

The behavior of children and adolescents with schizophrenia may differ from that of adults with this illness. Child and adolescent psychiatrists look for several of the following early warning signs in youngsters with schizophrenia:

  • 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,
  • behaving like a younger child,
  • severe anxiety and fearfulness,
  • confusing television and dreams with reality,
  • difficulty relating to peers, and keeping friends.
  • withdrawn and increased isolation,
  • decline in personal hygiene

The behavior of children with schizophrenia may change slowly over time. For example, children who used to enjoy relationships with others may start to become more shy or withdrawn and seem to be in their own world.

Sometimes youngsters will begin talking about strange fears and ideas. They may start to cling to parents or say things which do not make much sense. These early problems may first be noticed by the child's school teachers.

Schizophrenia is a serious psychiatric illness. The cause of schizophrenia is not known, however current research suggests that brain changes, bio-chemical, genetic and environmental factors may play a role. Early diagnosis and medical treatment are important. Schizophrenia is a life long disease that can be controlled but not cured. Children with the problems and symptoms listed above must have a complete evaluation. Usually these children need comprehensive treatment plans involving other professionals. A combination of medication and individual therapy, family therapy, and specialized programs (school, activities, etc.) is often necessary. Psychiatric medication can be helpful for many of the symptoms and problems identified. These medications require careful monitoring by a child and adolescent psychiatrist.

Parents should ask their family physician or pediatrician to refer them to a child and adolescent psychiatrist who is specifically trained and skilled at evaluating, diagnosing, and treating children with schizophrenia.

For more information see Facts For Familie's:
#11 The Child With Autism
#21 Psychiatric Medication for Children
#29 Psychiatric Medication Part II: Types
#38 Manic-Depressive Illness in Teens, and
#52 Comprehensive Psychiatric Evaluation.
For additional information see Your Child (1998 Harper Collins)/Your Adolescent (1999 Harper Collins).

 

Article #49 Updated 12/00

All Family Resources wishes to thank the (AACAP) for giving us permission to use this article.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) represents over 6,900 child and adolescent psychiatrists who are physicians with at least five years of additional training beyond medical school in general (adult) and child and adolescent psychiatry.

Facts for Families is developed and distributed by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP). Facts sheets may be reproduced for personal or educational use without written permission, but cannot be included in material presented for sale. To order full sets of FFF, contact Public Information, 1.800.333.7636.  Free distribution of individual Facts sheets is a public service of the AACAP Special Friends of Children Fund. Please make a tax deductible contribution to the AACAP Special Friends of Children Fund and support this important public outreach. (AACAP, Special Friends of Children Fund, P.O. Box 96106, Washington, D.C. 20090).
   
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