Today’s Health Activist Writer’s Monthly Challenge prompt is to write a question sort of like a Yahoo Question and then answer it. I thought about it for a few hours, and I decided to write about a question I have been asked.
Do you really think children can have Schizophrenia?
The short answer? Yes. I do.
The long answer? If you’d asked me that 10 years ago, I wouldn’t have believed it. Science tells us that Schizophrenia most commonly shows in men between the ages of 15 and 24, as late as 30 in women. I’d never heard of a child who heard voices or had delusional thoughts. I didn’t recognize it in my own son. Oh sure – looking back, the signs were there, and hindsight has given me the ability to recognize those signs in family videos and memories that I didn’t see or understand then. When it was first raised as a possibility – Tim was eight – I dismissed it. When I was told he had hallucinations during his first inpatient stay, I told the doctor HE was the crazy one. But when puberty hit and all hell broke loose, and Tim was better able to verbalize what was going on in his head, there was no more denying it. My sweet boy was psychotic.
I think it’s hard for anyone to believe, parent or professional, unless they’ve seen it unfold in front of them. I’ll never forget Tim’s first caseworker at his residential center calling me after seeing Tim in a full-blown psychotic episode. He sounded like he’d seen Big Foot. “I’ve never seen Tim like that, it was scary!” he said. “Have you ever seen him like that?” I snickered – I couldn’t help it – and replied, “of course, why do you think he’s there?”
I’ve heard statistics that say Childhood Onset Schizophrenia afflicts 1 in 1,000 kids, 1 in 10,000 kids, and 1 in 50,000 kids, all from reputable sources. I think that reflects just how hard it is to diagnose definitively, and how much we collectively don’t want to believe it’s possible. But it is possible. I’m raising it.