Schizophrenia |Testing & Diagnosis

The first step in treating your child is forming an accurate and complete diagnosis.

How is schizophrenia diagnosed?

At Children’s Hospital Boston, a mental health clinician (typically a child and adolescent psychiatrist) will make the diagnosis following a comprehensive evaluation with you and your child. During the assessment, we’ll ask you to describe your child’s symptoms and provide an overview of your child’s family history, medical history, school life and social interactions.

Typically, a child is diagnosed with schizophrenia if he or she:

  • displays positive or negative symptoms for a period of at least one month
  • is experiencing a worsening decrease in the ability to function on a day-to-day basis

If my child is diagnosed with schizophrenia, what happens next?

Your clinician will explain the particulars of schizophrenia, including its possible causes and effects and long-term repercussions. Specifically, you will be given a thorough overview of your child's individual symptoms and prognosis.

The next step is developing a mutually agreed-upon treatment plan—incorporating psychotherapy, medication and school and community support—that works for you, your child and your family.

You and your child (if old enough) will always have the opportunity to ask questions. Throughout the duration of treatment, you will be encouraged to bring up any and all concerns, worries and fears so that the clinical team can provide the information and support you need.