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Schizophrenia in childhood closely parallels the disease in adults. The prominent features include thought disorder, delusions, and hallucinations. Children with schizophrenia may initially be thought to suffer from autism, but autistic children do not suffer from hallucinations or the types of delusions characteristic of schizophrenia. Also, schizophrenia usually has a later onset than autism, and schizophrenic children have higher intelligence scores than autistic children as a rule. The classic symptoms of adult schizophrenia - disordered, chaotic thinking, delusions, and hallucinations - are also found in children with schizophrenia. Auditory hallucinations in particular are very common. Children destined to develop schizophrenia show signs of significant maladjustment before full-blown disease is apparent. "Affective blunting" - emotional flatness - and disturbed interpersonal relationships are "premorbid" or warning signs of developing illness.
Unfortunately, the prognosis for childhood onset schizophrenia is not good. Treatment involves psychotherapy, parent training, support in the school and community, and medication.