Pediatric schizophrenia or childhood Schizophrenia is a serious
childhood mental illness characterized by distorted thinking,
motor, and emotional processes in children and young adults under
the age of 18. Schizophrenia can present symptoms such as
auditory and visual hallucinations, strange thoughts or feelings,
and abnormal behavior which can greatly impact a child’s ability
to function and sustain typical interpersonal relationships.
While childhood schizophrenia is very uncommon, preliminary
symptoms can manifest in younger kids.The behavior of children
with schizophrenia may change slowly over time and early symptoms
and problems may first be noticed by parents, educators, or
Schizophrenia is rare in children and difficult to recognize
during its early phases. A child with schizophrenia may have
gradual changes in behavior – a child who was once clearly
enjoying relationships with others may begin to become withdrawn
and shy, and appear to be in a world of their own.
Children with these symptoms must have a complete evaluation.
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.
Schizophrenia has no definite
cause, however, certain risk factors such as family history seem
to correlate and some studies point to a combination of genetic
and environmental factors. Children who have a family history of
schizophrenia are also more likely to develop the
There is no known cure, but
childhood schizophrenia is controllable with the help of
behavioral therapies and antipsychotic medications. Therapeutic
treatments often involve individual therapy and social skills
training. These sessions teach children coping mechanisms and
communication skills that will help them function in school and
socialize with peers. Cognitive behavioral therapy is also
commonly recommended to help children manage their symptoms; it’s
been shown to reduce both severity and the risk of
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If you or a loved one is in immediate crisis, please call 911
or visit the nearest emergency room.
The UACF Hope Line is a message system for parents and caregivers
that provides resources and connections to individuals in your
community that may be able to assist you in finding appropriate
support services for your child’s mental health needs. Feel free
to leave a message on the UACF Hope Line and your call will be
returned as promptly as possible.