When you think of someone hallucinating and hearing voices from schizophrenia, you probably imagine an adult or older teenager. It’s not common, but schizophrenia does affect about 1 in every 10,000-30,000 children.
While it’s common for children to have imaginary friends or think about fantasy worlds, they also understand that these friends and places are not real. These thoughts and images do not interfere with a child’s ability to interact socially or do daily activities.
For a child with schizophrenia, these hallucinations seem like a normal part of life. However, the characters may not all be friendly. They may tell the child to do bad things to other people or to themselves. Hallucinations can be frightening and disruptive, leading to episodes of anxiety, paranoia, and some violent behavior.
Researchers are looking into various systems within the brain that make normal thought processes possible. It seems that the foundation of schizophrenia may lie in a person’s genetics, leading to certain problems with brain structure and chemistry.
But even with the right genetic package, a person may or may not develop a particular disorder. Environmental factors and chance may play a role in the final outcome.
Unfortunately, many questions about childhood schizophrenia remain unanswered. Medication can help, but side effects can be a challenge. And because of its rarity, families need to remain persistent when seeking assessment and treatment.
Childhood schizophrenia is not a common disorder, but it can only help for more people to understand it. Compassion and support are essential for families dealing with this difficult disorder.
If you have experience with childhood schizophrenia, please add your own comments below. Or pose a question in the comment section.
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Last reviewed: 29 Mar 2013