Childhood-Onset Schizophrenia

Girl with schizophrenia lying on floor staring at ceiling

Crying On The Inside

If you’ve seen schizophrenia or a psychotic disorder in an adult, then wait until you see childhood-onset schizophrenia; your heart will break into a million pieces. These children do not even have the opportunity to experience a normal childhood; their symptoms get in the way and prevent them from functioning normally in society and at home.

Imagine your child’s school telling you that something might be wrong with your 14 year old boy or girl, and that he or she will no longer be accepted at this school. Now what do you do? You take your child to a child psychiatrist and he or she becomes diagnosed with schizophrenia.

What is schizophrenia? It’s a psychotic disorder that may present with hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech and behavior, apathy, avolition, anhedonia, etc. About 80% of children with schizophrenia report auditory hallucinations as their main positive symptom. “Positive symptoms” is a misnomer; there is nothing actually positive about them.

Positive symptoms include hallucinations, delusions and disorganization. Negative symptoms include apathy, anhedonia, anergia, avolition, etc. Imagine your child having these symptoms while going to his new behavioral school; a special school where children with behavioral issues and inappropriate behavior are temporarily sent to, usually not longer than a year.

But then imagine your child being so affected by hallucinations and other kids not talking to him, that he no longer wants to attend the behavioral school; he just wants to stay at home and sleep. He may even say, “sleeping is my hobby.” Believe it or not, this is how severe childhood-onset schizophrenia presents in some.

While it is sad and heartbreaking to see adults suffering from a psychotic disorder, it’s 10x more sad to witness a child suffering from psychosis. Imagine a child schizophrenic keeping his head down while informing you, “I don’t know how to make friends. They just laugh at me.” What you basically take away from these words is the child crying on the inside; you don’t physically see the tears.

Let us all come together and support ending mental health stigma, so that we can better help these children become integrated in society. They should not be left behind under the blankets of their bed for six days a week, only to get a glimpse of society once a week.

We can do better.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

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