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Signs of Schizophrenia in Children

Signs of Schizophrenia in Children
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The diagnosis of schizophrenia is very different for each patient. It shows up at many different stages of life for different people. Often when you think of schizophrenia you think about hallucinations and hearing sounds, but there are many other symptoms that someone with schizophrenia can experience. It is important to treat schizophrenia in it’s earlier stages in order to prevent it from worsening.  An early diagnosis in a child can be beneficial to their long-term development.

Schizophrenia primarily affects a child’s social development.The illness causes them to perceive reality as very different. Schizophrenia is most often found in a person around there early 20s. This doesn’t mean that it has never been found in a child, it just means that a child with schizophrenia is not common. This is usually because it is hard to differentiate what is normal behaviors of a child and what might be an early sign of schizophrenia. Children usually have a broad imagination so it is not uncommon for a child to express strange fantasies. It’s when these fantasies turn into fears or become excessive. Below is a list of symptoms that MAY be connected to schizophrenia:

  • Hearing things
    • Children will often describe different noises they hear to be knocking or tapping. They might also say that they are hearing there name being called when there is no one around. This is usually an often occurrence.
  • Seeing things that aren’t actually there
    • This is another symptom that usually happens often. A child with this symptom will describe or talk about things that they believe are there but in reality aren’t.
  • Increased Sensitivity
    • A child might become a lot more sensitive to things that affect their sensory. Certain lights might bother them. They might also complain about sound, touch, rapid movements, and smells.
  • Sudden change in emotion
    • This is often a quick switch from two very different emotions.
  • Unfocused eye movement 
  • Inappropriate Emotions
    • This would be portraying wrong emotion in a certain situation. For example laughing at a sad event such as a funeral.
  • Abnormal sleep habits
    • A child may have trouble sleeping and deal with insomnia or they might have the opposite problem and excessively sleep.
  • Withdrawal
    • Children will often put themselves in isolation. They will also usually have trust issues.
  • Abnormal motor behaviors
    • rocking, arm-flapping, etc.
  • Difficulty communication
    • This includes both verbal communication and written communication.
  • Feeling like there brain is not working 

Just because a child portrays these symptoms, does not mean that they have schizophrenia. It is important to differentiate what is normal behaviors in a child versus abnormal. If your child is showing large changes in behavior such as; not completing habitual tasks such as bathing and eating, showing no emotion or inappropriate emotions, illogical thinking, and speech that does not make any sense, then seeking a medical evaluation may be needed. Express your concerns to a family physician and they will direct you to a professional psychiatrist that can give a proper evaluation. Treatment might include medication, therapy, and specialized activities. It is important to do this sooner than later.

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