Children and young adolescents may experience perceptual distortions or strange thoughts, but if they become frequent and disruptive, they can be an early tip-off to serious future mental health distress. An expert discusses this new field of mental health research in adolescents.
Most young children have imaginary friends they play with. Kids routinely chat with people who aren’t there, and no one thinks the child has a mental health issue. But sometimes those conversations persist into adolescence. That’s when parents get worried. However, there may be more to it than we think. A study now shows that more than 17% of pre-teens in the U.S. — kids between the age of nine and 12 — persistently hear, see, feel or smell things that don’t physically exist. Experts call these episodes “psychotic-like experiences” or PLEs.
- Dr. Nicole Karcher, Instructor, Department of Psychology, Washington University, St. Louis