Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder that is characterized by abnormalities in one or more domains: delusions, hallucinations, disorganised thinking and negative symptoms.

Behaviour Help is a registered NDIS provider.

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Definition of Schizophrenia

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder that is characterized by abnormalities in one or more domains: delusions, hallucinations, disorganised thinking (speech, grossly disorganised or abnormal motor behaviour (including catatonia)), and negative symptoms (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

 

Causes of Schizophrenia

The exact cause of schizophrenia is currently unknown. Researchers believe that the interaction between a range of risk factors may contribute to the start of the symptoms and their course (APA, 2013). These risk factors include: 

  • Genetic factors – if a parent has schizophrenia it increases the likelihood of the child developing the condition.
  • Complications before, during and after birth – these include malnutrition, exposure to virus and toxins, premature labor or lack of oxygen during birth complications that may have impacted brain development.
  • Biochemical factors - imbalance in brain chemicals that control specific circuits of the brain, including neurotransmitters called dopamine and glutamate.
  • Environmental factors – substance abuse, e.g. alcohol, drugs and stressful life events can trigger schizophrenia in people who are susceptible.

 

Types of Schizophrenia

  • Paranoid Type – this type involves hallucinations, especially auditory type and delusions, but emotions and speech remain intact. This is the most common type.
  • Disorganized Type – this type is characterized by disorganized speech patterns, behaviour and thoughts. Those affected can lack emotions in their facial expressions and voice tone.
  • Catatonic Type – this type is characterized by catatonia, i.e. unusual, limited and sudden movements. Person experiences catatonic excitement, i.e. excessive movement, to catatonic stupor, i.e. diminished movement.
  • Undifferentiated Type – this type involves symptoms that do not fit into paranoid, catatonic or disorganized type.
  • Residual Type – in this type, the person would not exhibit prominent symptoms of schizophrenia, e.g. hallucinations, delusions, disorganization and catatonic behaviour; instead, the person experiences negative symptoms, i.e. lack of concentration, poor memory, odd beliefs, and unusual perceptions.

(National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2016)

 

Symptoms of Schizophrenia

As discussed in the DSM-V (APA, 2013) individuals with schizophrenia may exhibit a range of symptoms that vary between individuals. They include:

  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Disorganized thinking (speech)
  • Extremely disorganized and atypical motor behaviour or catatonic behaviours

Negative symptoms:

  • Diminished emotional expression. 
  • Avolition (lack of self-motivated purposeful activities) 
  • Alogia (decreased speech output) 
  • Anhedonia (loss of pleasure and interest in life)   
  • Withdrawal from family, friends, and social activities.
  • Display inappropriate affect (e.g., laughing in the absence of an appropriate stimulus)
  • Dysphoric mood that can take the form of depression, anxiety or anger
  • Disturbed sleep patterns (e.g., sleeping in the daytime and active at night-time) 
  • Lack of interest in eating or food refusal.
  • Cognitive symptoms
  • Difficulty with memory
  • Difficulty with executive functioning
  • Difficulty with theory of mind 
  • Difficulty with identifying salient/relevant stimuli

 

References

American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.

National Center for Biotechnology Information (2016) Impact of the DSM-IV to DSM-5 Changes on the National Survey on Drug Use and Health: DSM-IV to DSM-5 Psychotic Disorders.

 

 

Behaviour Help

If you are supporting an individual with this diagnosis, please refer to our services and resources. They aim to help children, adolescents and adults achieve better communication, social, emotional, behavioural and learning outcomes. So whether you are wanting guidance on parenting, teaching, supporting or providing therapy, Behaviour Help is at hand.

Note: This is not an exhaustive list of all the possible causes, symptoms and types but some general information that can be further explored. Based on what you have read if you have any concerns about an individual, please raise them with the individual/s. The caregiver can then raise these concerns with their local doctor who can provide a referral to the relevant professional (e.g. paediatrician, psychologist, psychiatrist, allied health professional and learning specialists) for diagnosis and treatment if appropriate.

Which resources are right for you?

Apps

Based on the Taking CHARGE of Rainbow of Emotions Workbook this app helps children of all ages develop emotional regulation skills. The app guides the child to firstly, identify and express their emotion in appropriate ways. Then the child is guided to use emotional management tool/s from the CHARGE tool kit to manage their emotions in a healthy way.

The acronym CHARGE stands for the different categories of emotional management tools – Chat tools, Helpful thinking tools, Amusement tools, Relaxation tools, Good routine tools and Exercise tools.

Behaviour Help App - Using the evidence-based approach of Positive Behaviour Support (PBS), the Behaviour Help web-based app allows people supporting individuals with emotional and behavioural difficulties to complete a Functional Behaviour Analysis and put together a comprehensive Behaviour Support Plan (BSP). The BSP can then be used by everyone interacting with the individual to manage and prevent challenging behaviours and ultimately improve their lives, and the lives of those who support them.

Books

If you want to learn more about emotional and behavioural difficulties then we have a great range of books you can read on your Kindle or order from Amazon.

Coaching

Personalised and practical one to one help tailored specifically to your family.

Online Courses

Access these online courses anytime online to learn about a range of diagnoses, practical skills and strategies to help develop the individual’s emotional regulation skills. Also learn to utilise the positive behaviour support framework to address anxiety, aggression, ADHD, ASD and ODD.

SEL Educational Videos

Minimise or eliminate the occurrence of challenging behaviours by teaching children of all ages appropriate ways of communicating, interacting, managing their emotions and behaviours.

The SEL curriculum uses video modelling to provide direct, explicit and systematic teaching of the various skills by discussing the importance of the skill, modelling the skill so the child learns what the skill looks like? sounds like? feels like? and learn the skill in staged situations that simulate real life scenarios.

Therapy

Personalised and practical behaviour therapy tailored specifically to your family.

Webinars

Webinars discuss a range of practical strategies to guide your child learn positive ways of behaving and managing their emotions.

Workshops

Attend our practical and interactive workshops to learn about a range of diagnoses, practical skills and strategies to help develop the individual’s emotions, behaviours, social and communication skills in your learning environment.

Ask Dolly

Since you’re here, you probably have questions and concerns. I am Dolly Bhargava, am here to help. I am a NDIS registered behaviour support practitioner and speech pathologist.

I have worked in a number of settings for over 21 years so, how can I help?

Please tell me what is worrying you right now and I will do my best to recommend resources and/or services that will be most useful to you in your situation.

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