Social Skills

Adult schizophrenics show evidence of social withdrawal, emotional detachment and impaired social cognition [64]. These behaviours have also been observed in preschizophrenic children. Litter and Walker [65] examined home videos of children who were later diagnosed with schizophrenia and their nonschizophrenic siblings. Between ages 5 to 7, pre-schizophrenic children showed more signs of negative affect, suggestive of poor emotional control [65]. Poor social skills have also been reported as a predictor of schizophrenia in studies of high-risk children [66]. In the New York High-Risk Project, social competence, affective flattening and smiling did not significantly differentiate high-risk subjects from controls in childhood but did so in adolescence [67]. In another high-risk investigation, adolescent offspring of schizophrenic parents could be distinguished from control subjects on the basis of poor peer relationships, especially with the opposite sex, immaturity and social rejection [50]. Teacher ratings of high-risk children have also been explored as predictors of later schizophrenia. In the Copenhagen High-Risk Project, preschizophrenic males were disruptive in class, inappropriate, anxious, lonely, rejected by peers, and more likely to have repeated a grade, while preschizophrenic females were nervous and withdrawn [68]. Social skills deficits, particularly in adolescence, appear to be a potentially useful predictor of later schizophrenia and can distinguish preschizophrenic individuals from healthy children. However, many other disorders are associated with poor social skills, making the specificity of this variable marginal.

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