Childhood schizophrenia or pediatric schizophrenia is one of the many types of schizophrenia that affects children. Fortunately, this condition is not too common with statistics showing a ratio of 1:40,000, while with adults it is 1:100. It is very important that the condition is diagnosed early because the illness can otherwise cause profound impact on the childhood and adult life.
Difficult To Diagnose
The problem is that this condition is not easy to diagnose. Most parents ignore a child’s odd behavior attributing it to ‘children being children’. Most of the symptoms of childhood schizophrenia are considered normal behavior with some children, such as talking to themselves, hearing voices, not wanting to make friends, blaming other for anything that happens to them or their things – and so on.
Unless parents feel that something is wrong, they would not consult a doctor; and unless they consult a doctor, they have no way to find out that the child might be suffering from childhood schizophrenia. Even doctors find it difficult sometime to identify the exact problem, and often diagnose it wrongly as autism, which far more common with a ratio of 1:500. This happens when children show unsocial behavior, such as shunning friendship, inability to emote appropriately, depression and inappropriate personal care habits for the age of the child.
Factors That Help Correct Diagnosis of Childhood Schizophrenia
It is important that parents are made aware about the possibility of their children suffering from schizophrenia. Doctors, kindergarten teachers, primary school teachers should be aware about the symptoms of the disease:
- late walking
- late speaking
- poor eye contact
- odd physical behavior such as flapping arms for no reason, rocking all the time
- inability to emote appropriately
- limited or no self-care
- hallucinating, most common of which is hearing things; but it could be seeing things as well
- unprovoked agitation
- poor performance with studies
- inability to make friends and play in a group
- talking gibberish
Once diagnosed, childhood schizophrenia can easily be controlled if not totally cured with appropriate medication, and psychotherapy. With medication the children can have a regular childhood and grow into normal adults.