38 thoughts on “The ABC's of OCD Treatment for Kids

  • March 29, 2009 at 7:41 am

    My son, now 14, had whacked-out OCD from the ages of 8 through 12. We blocked off an area of the living room for him, tried to give him his own space in the bedroom he shared with his brother, and I did lots of laundry. What finally helped? Giving him his own bedroom on a separate floor of the house, which people could only visit by invitation. I am still astonished now when I visit his room and find friends sprawled all over his blankets (a former freak-out point) with *bare feet.* He still has some vestiges of OCD, but once he had his own space, he was able to deal with it on his own.

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  • March 29, 2009 at 8:01 am

    Jude: That’s a fascinating story! Thanks for sharing it. That’s not likely to lead to a “typical” strategy for helping OCD, but it’s very interesting.

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  • March 29, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    I am particularily interested in panic attacks and cures. I found this post very informative and am looking forward to reading as much as I can absorb in the near future. It is articles like that elevates the conversation. Thank you

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  • March 30, 2009 at 6:32 am

    I have an 8 year old daughter who is starting to show signs of ocd. She has compulsions and rituals. Several different ones have come and gone over the years. However, her latest behavior is severly interfering with her/our daily and school routine. Unfortunately, she does have a strong predispositon to anxiety related problems. I do not want to label her too early but I think it’s time to seek help.

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  • March 30, 2009 at 8:41 am

    William: Good, we plan to discuss panic attacks in future blogs.
    Laura: The good news is that we’ve had great success in treating kids your daughter’s age with these kinds of problems. I recommend that you check with a mental health professional who is experienced in assessing and treating anxiety and ocd. Not everyone has that expertise, especially in relation to ocd, if in fact that’s what she has. You could look for a referral http://www.abct.org or http://www.ocfoundation.org

    Finally, a good book is Talking Back to OCD by John March.

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  • April 1, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    Strep infections can trigger OCD in children. Has your child had a recent sore throat? Has your child or others near him been diagnosed with strep? All members of the household should be tested and/or treated if strep is found, all toothbrushes should be discarded, etc. My daughter developed OCD/tourettes/panic attacks after strep that moved into rheumatic fever. A coworker’s granddaughter recently developed OCD symptoms after a strep infection. She was amazed that I correctly guessed that her granddaughter was recovering from strep when the symptoms began. Strep should always be suspected until it is ruled out, as it is easy to diagnose and treat.

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  • April 2, 2009 at 9:02 am

    Jean: Yes, when strep infection triggers OCD its called PANDAS (pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infection). Thanks for bringing it to readers’ attention.

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  • May 25, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    My name is Matt. I am 15-years-old. I have OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder). I was told that I had it at the age of 10. I started taking Prozac when I was 13-years-old. Prozac helps a little. I have a fear of trashcans, doorknobs, etc. (I do not touch doorknobs, trashcans, and stuff of that nature). I haven’t touched a doorknob in three-years. I use Germ-X 30-40 times a day. I don’t shake peoples’ hands, really. If I lock the door, I check to see if it’s locked 5-10 times. I blink my eyes 2-5 times. There is a lot more. * Just wanted to let people know what OCD is like from a kids-point of view. It’s hard – it really is. If you have any questions, please e-mail me at: matthasocd@yahoo.com |
    Thank-you!

    Matt B.

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  • May 25, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    @Matt: Let me recommend that both you and your parents read a book called Talking Back to OCD by John March. It contains much useful information. After you have read it, consider getting the type of therapy recommended in the book. There’s a lot that can be done other than Prozac!

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  • June 2, 2009 at 3:12 am

    A very dear friend told me, “don’t be too hard on yourself, do not put the world on your shoulders. this world does not revolve only with you. it’s just that, there are circumstances that is beyond our control. You have to trust others, and God most importantly. don’t think that it is always your fault.”

    this advice came very handy whenever my obsessive compulsive disorder happen. so i practiced doing it and i might have exaggerated too much on it. because last friday, i went to the office of my dad which is only walking distance from home. and that time, i have chosen to think like this, “i am gonna kill people, besides there are things that cannot be controlled, and maybe TRUSTING GOD that even I do something to hurt or worse, kill people, He protects them and I should do this to overcome my ocd because it is so disturbing”

    so that was my first time to walk freely and walk without thinking if “did i hurt someone, have i killed him?” instead, i tought of “i’m gonna kill him, i will walk past this road and not walk in safe sidewalks to practice not having axieties and ocd fully.

    so this is what exactly happened. I ate at a restaurant near my dad’s office. so after eating, i went out the restaurant and outside the restaurant is a not so wide and not so narrow road. there are sidewalks along the restaurant to reach my dad’s office. So i see motorcycles, vehicles of all kinds along the road. And that time I told myself (inside my thoughts), “I am gonna kill these drivers. i am not gonna walk along the sidewalks instead i will walk along the road and disturb them so their focus would be disturbed and they would press their brakes and lose cotrol of their vehicles.” and so i did not walk along the sidewalks and i walked along the road. and reached my dad’s office.

    after doing that, i asked myself, “is this really what’s gonna help me overcome my ocd of fear in hurting people? WAIT! I might have killed drivers of motorcycles, or three-weeled bicycle / motorcycle or even cars and trailer vans….!!! HAVE I KILLED SOMEONE? I SHOULD GO BACK! But wait! my psychologist says that i should practice not doing my compulsions but instead analyze the situation so i can practice and remove the rituals of different kinds. So, I should not go back and just let it go! Whether I killed someone or not, I should let it go! I am not going back to check if i killed someone through vehicular / car accident because of me because I know it wouldn’t help me and it would just increase my OCD behavior.

    BUT when me and my dad went home, my conscience bothered me and until now, I am not in peace with my thoughts. I guess it didn’t help at all. At this moment, I am considering myself as a murderer and a killer of innocent people. I am a killer. I did those things just for me to practice not doing my rituals and removing my OCD but I did not consider other people. And I even intentionally thought of killing others and even got pleased doing it because it is for my own good. Should I go back there and ask if there are accidents that occur that time and tell the authority that i am held responsible for all of it? Maybe i should, do you think? Because every action, good or bad, has consequences. I should be given the right punishment so justice would prevail. But before my sentence, and before i surrender, please help me just have a peace of mind. I know that everyday, the fact that I am still alive, is a chance given by God to me so that I would do things right. So i might put myself in jail.

    Please help me realize how my life is going through and what to do with my thoughts to clear my mind. Life has become too hard for me and I really am confused on how to deal with the reality. I do not know if these are only exaggerations but there are big possibilities that it is real. I am just so confused, bothered, and troubled. What will I do?

    I am sorry fo CAPS LOCK ON with some words…

    Sorry for a lengthy question . . .

    but i just need help . . . i know God will send people to tell me what to do with my life.

    To those who would take their time reading this, thank you very much. God will reward you in His time because you help a lost brother that may find his way . . .

    Thanks.

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  • June 4, 2009 at 5:45 am

    I could cry from relief… My 10-year-old all of a sudden crossed-over in his behavior and we couldn’t help him. He hates his ‘bad thoughts’ (he calls them) and desperately wants them to go away. I’ll do whatever it takse to stop his suffering.

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  • July 21, 2009 at 10:23 am

    My 16 yr old granddaughter has always had ocd,but now she is starting to have bad thoughts at night. she won’t tell her mother what they are. She has started to go to a therapist. will she be okay?

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  • July 21, 2009 at 11:30 am

    @Sharon: I sure hope so! Unfortunately, I can’t really answer that question for any particular individual. However, her odds are likely pretty good as there are effective therapies for these kinds of problems. I do hope her therapist has significant experience in treating OCD.

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  • March 12, 2010 at 1:10 am

    Having childhood-onset OCD, especially when its mostly obsessions and hard to spot, it really terrible for the child and usually just get worse and often leads to other problems. I wasn’t diagnosed with OCD until age 20 after having OCD symptoms for 10 years. I am so happy that more kids with OCD are getting diagnosed and benefiting from effective treatments like ERP.

    Best wishes for all the families affected by OCD. Treatment is hard but it is definitely worth it.

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  • October 7, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    my daughter is 10 years old and recently diagnosed with OCD & GAD. She was diagnosed with ADHD at age 7. My question is there any suggestions on social behaviors? She comes home stressed out everyday from school from dealing with the social anxieties from “social cliques”. She feels different because she has a hard time making friends because of her behaviors such as asking multiple questions, she feels a strong urge to tell on someone if she knows they are doing something wrong! She says that she can’t control her urges to do these things. How do I help her? Is it wrong for me to discipline her for these things? My daughter has the most tender heart and says she feels overwhelmed with guilt after these incidents!! My heart is breaking for her!

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  • April 27, 2011 at 3:50 am

    My daughter is 10 and started showing OCd tendancies from the age of 7 after a strep throat infection. She was formally diagnosed at age 8. We tried seeing a thrapist early on and it worsened her symptoms and she refused to go back. We are now seeing a psychologist but all he is doing is medicating her on fluoxetine. I think she needs more therapy but i don’t know how to encourage her to go. She now complains of a sore stomach every night, and i am sure it is a symptom of anxiety.

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  • April 29, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    @Chari: Please have her checked out by a pediatrician who knows about OCD and strep infections first. After that, the therapy should probably focus on Exposure and Response Prevention.

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  • May 11, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Thank you for sharing this…our beautiful smart amazing 7 yr old son has OCD…he has not been formally diagnosed, but my husband and I recognize the symptoms because we are both life-long sufferers of OCD ourselves. My poor son freaks out if anyone is barefoot…he starts crying and needs them to put on socks or he needs to get away from them. He freaks out if anyone has any moles or birthmarks–he feels they are dirty. He had a bad dream about lightning last week and is still obsessing about it today. I can’t stand to see him in such agony because he has such a bright future. My husband and I want to get him help, but we are both adamant that we don’t want him on any type of medication. I am having such a hard time finding someone to help him covered by our insurance! We are in Southern California. I just want to help him!

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  • May 17, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    @Stacy: If your insurance covers mental health, it should cover the treatments we mention. Otherwise, consider contacting a University psychology clinic in your area. They should provide treatment at a reduced cost. Good luck!

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  • May 22, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    My daughter is driven crazy by certain noises (chewing, swallowing, fingernails “clicking”, etc.) It’s more phychological in nature, not due to volume, etc. We have done much research and have found a condition called “misophonia”. Some believe it’s somehow related to OCD. My question is about where to start with treatment. What type of doctor? Seems that little is known about this disorder, but many boards/blogs that I have read about it sound exactly like her! Thanks

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  • August 8, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Hi – my 6 year old son has to repeat everything that I do…if I whistle he whistles, if I clap he claps, if I touch his hair he has to touch my hair; if lock the car doors he cries because he wants to press the control and close the door also – but he doesnt do any of these things if someone else is doing it (like his grandma) is this the onset of OCD?

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  • August 12, 2011 at 2:40 am

    @Paulo: Hard to say. I recommend a brief professional consultation with someone experienced in OCD. Good luck!

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  • October 3, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    My 4 year old daughter just recently began showing signs of what may be OCD. She started a new 5 day a week kindergarden readiness program that runs all day. Until this time, she has been with me most days except for 2 days a week at preschool last year. I am not sure if she is experiencing seperation anxiety or ocd. When saying goodbye to anyone in our family – my husband, daughter, and especially me – she has to say an emotional series of goodbyes and then starts the goodbyes or goodnights all over again. No goodbye or goodnight we give reassures her enough to not to continue with the goodbyes and crying. They go on forever. It breaks my heart because eventually we get frustrated with her.

    My daughter’s teacher is also reporting that she is constantly making disrupting noises in class.

    How should I handle the never-ending good-byes/nights without getting frustrated? I want to be reassuring that she is okay, but without letting her behavior call the shots?

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    • October 3, 2011 at 2:11 pm

      @Vanessa: Actually, I recommend that you consider reading our book Obsessive Compulsive Disorder For Dummies–or just check it out of the library and read the section on giving reassurance. However, it’s probably also a good idea to check with a mental health professional. If it is OCD or some type of other anxiety disorder, it can probably be treated very effectively and quickly at this early stage. Good luck!

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