One day, Patricia D'Souza observed her 12-year-old son blank out for a few seconds when asked a question. She ignored it but approached a doctor when it happened again. He recommended few tests. It was then diagnosed that the boy had a problem with his nervous system.
Patricia was shattered and is yet to come to terms with the situation. "Though I am thankful to God that the diagnosis has happened. It gave me some anxious moments. Now I am afraid he will go blank while swimming or crossing the road," she says.
Nishant Sharma has been having terrible mood swings since the age of nine. He could never wake up on time. He had to be coaxed to eat every meal, would turn violent frequently, avoided any interaction with friends and relatives. Wanting to find a reason for these symptoms, his mother decided to visit a counsellor. Initially Nishant was okay with therapy but soon he began resisting.
He just wouldn't visit the counsellors and turned violent. He was eventually diagnosed as schizophrenic.
Most parents are not aware of symptoms and it comes as a shock to realise their child could have a ‘mental' problem.
Malini Shah, a counsellor with Aavishkar Centre, says, "Often signs and symptoms are noticed at an early age.
"For schizophrenia, some of the signs are that the child is an introvert, doesn't mix easily, is uncommunicative, has inexplicable behaviour and is not connected to reality. At times this could be genetic and the environment is also important."
Physical symptoms like convulsions could also be due to peer or parental pressure or brain-related issues. The most important thing for parents, after diagnosis, is to accept the child as he is, before getting further investigations done.
Parents tend to deny the situation and go ‘doctor shopping' taking a variety of opinions. This just delays treatment.
Usually parents are shocked when they realise their child doesn't fit the definition of ‘normal.' Parents could utilise their support system and inform close friends and even the child's teachers.
Getting too much information can also prove dangerous. People look up unrelated information on the internet, increasing misconceptions. "Clarify only with experts," says Malini.