Schizophrenia is a mixture of characteristic signs and symptoms associated with marked social or occupational dysfunction.

Schizophrenia is a serious psychiatric illness that causes strange thinking, strange feelings, and unusual behavior.

When a person has schizophrenia (psychosis), his brain is not processing information in the usual way, making it impossible for him to control his thinking or behavior. In the most severe stage, a person with schizophrenia has difficulty telling the difference between fantasy and reality and has thoughts of hurting himself or someone else. 

What are the symptoms or indications? The following symptoms and behaviors can occur in children or adolescents with schizophrenia:

  • seeing things and hearing voices which are not real (hallucinations),
  • odd and eccentric behavior, and/or speech,
  • unusual or bizarre thoughts and ideas,
  • confusing television and dreams from reality,
  • confused thinking,
  • extreme moodiness,
  • ideas that people are “out to get them,” or talking about them, (paranoia)
  • severe anxiety and fearfulness,
  • severe difficulty relating to peers, and keeping friends,
  • withdrawn and increased isolation,
  • decline in personal hygiene.
  • trouble telling dreams from reality

How does Schizophrenia impact classroom performance? 

  • Each student will differ in the symptoms they present. A student with schizophrenia may appear off-task or not there or may even become disruptive to the class if he or she is experiencing hallucinations. Due to the challenges with peer relations, a child with schizophrenia may be rejected by his or her peers and become withdrawn. Mood swings may present challenges in the classroom when on-task behavior is expected. 

What can be done at school? 

  • Most importantly, teachers and staff should maintain communication with the childs parents/guardians and possibly the childs therapist/doctor. 
  • It will also be important to develop strategies at school to address some of the childs most problematic symptoms such as providing a place to go during overwhelming times at school, support for the effects of peer rejection, maintaining a flexible routine as well as flexibility in work expectations.