Behavior changes may occur slowly, over time. Or they may start suddenly. The child may slowly become more shy and withdrawn. He or she may start to talk about odd ideas or fears and start to cling more to parents.
Each child’s symptoms may vary. Early warning signs are:
- Trouble telling dreams from reality (distorted view of reality)
- Confused thinking, such as confusing TV with reality
- Detailed and bizarre thoughts and ideas
- Fear or belief that someone or something is going to harm him or her
- Seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not real, such as hearing voices (hallucinations)
- Ideas that seem real but are not based in reality (delusions)
- Extreme moodiness
- Lots of anxiety or fear
- Lack of emotional expression when speaking
- Trouble doing schoolwork or a drop in levels of school success
- Social withdrawal, such as having problems making and keeping friends
- Sudden agitation and confusion
- Disorganized behavior, such as doing private things in public. Or catatonic behavior, such as sitting and staring, as if the child can’t move.
- Odd behaviors, such as an older child acting like he or she is much younger
Children with schizophrenia have the same symptoms as adults with the condition. But more children hear voices. Children also don’t tend to have delusions or formal thought problems until they are in their teens or older.
These symptoms may look like other health problems. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.