Ana Theresa Williams BSN RN
Schizophrenia is not only present in adult. It actually starts during the early years of the child’s development since this mental condition can be passed from one generation to another.
Other than having a family history of schizo-phrenia, it can also be due to exposure to viruses while in the womb, poor nutrition while in the womb, stressful life circumstances, older paternal age, and taking psychoactive drugs – a drug that can produce mood changes and distorted perceptions – during adole-scence.
Childhood schizophre-nia is one of several types of schizophrenia, a chronic mental illness in which a person loses touch with reality (psychosis).
Childhood schizophre-nia includes hallucinations; delusions; irrational beha-vior and thinking; and problems carrying out routine daily tasks, such as bathing. With childhood schizophrenia, the early age of onset presents special challenges for diagnosis, treatment, educational needs, and emotional and social development.
The earliest indications of childhood schizophrenia may include developmental problems, such as language delays, late or unusual crawling, late walking, and other abnormal motor behaviors, such as rocking or arm flapping.
Some of these signs and symptoms are also common in children with pervasive developmental disorders, such as autism. In fact, ruling out these developmental disorders is one of the first steps in diagnosing childhood schizophrenia.
As children with schizophrenia age, more typical signs and symptoms of the disorder begin to appear, including seeing or hearing things that don’t exist called hallucinations, especially voices; having beliefs not based on reality or delusions; lack of emo-tion; emotions inappropriate for the situation; social withdrawal; poor school performance; decreased ability to practice self-care; strange eating rituals; incoherent speech; illogical thinking; and agitation.
It can be difficult to know how to handle vague behavioral changes in your child. You may be afraid of rushing to conclusions that may lead to stigmatizing labels. Yet, treatment at the first sign of a problem may help in the long run.
If you notice that your child has stopped meeting daily expectations, such as bathing or dressing, no longer wants to socialize, is slipping in academic performance, has violent or aggressive behavior, or has other signs and symptoms of a possible mental health disorder, seek medical advice. These general signs and symptoms don’t necessarily mean a child has childhood schizophre-nia. They could indicate simply a phase or another condition, such as depres-sion, an anxiety disorder or a medical illness that requires other types of evaluation.
If your child has a change in thinking, such as developing hallucinations, disorganized thinking patterns or distortions in reality, seek medical care as soon as possible, as these symptoms should be addressed right away. Your child’s teacher or other school personnel also may bring to your attention changes in your child’s behavior.
There’s no sure way to prevent childhood schizo-phrenia. But evidence shows that some signs of schizophrenia may be present as early as infancy. Early identification and treatment may help get symptoms under control before serious complica-tions develop.
Avoiding treatment delays may help improve the long-term outlook. Early treatment is also crucial in helping limit psychotic episodes, which can be extremely frightening to a child and his or her parents.
Actually, getting early treatment and sticking with it can help reduce or pre-vent worsening schizophre-nia symptoms.
HEALTHWATCHING: For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. Colossians 2:9-10