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Does my child have OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a condition that causes uncontrollable and long-lasting thoughts, feelings and fears – also called obsessions. The obsessions cause a person to feel anxious, and to relieve the anxiety they will adopt behaviors called compulsions, or rituals. These compulsions are repeated over and over.

But what does OCD look like in children? Their fears may not have the same complexity as an adult, but they are no less real or consuming. Their fears might include the following:

  • They or someone else will get sick, become hurt or die
  • They said a bad word, had a bad thought or made a mistake
  • They have done something bad
  • Something is dirty or clean
  • Something is straight or placed in an exact way
  • Something is lucky or lucky; good or bad; safe or harmful

The rituals a child may adopt to cope with these fears could include:

  • Washing or cleaning, or frequent bathroom requests
  • Erasing or retracing things
  • Redoing things over and over or getting stuck on tasks
  • Repeating phrases or questions more than needed
  • Going through doorways several times in a row
  • Checking and rechecking things, such as locked doors or schoolwork – reassurance seeking
  • Touching or tapping something a specific number of times or in an exact way every time
  • Having things in a specific order or doing things symmetrically
  • Counting to good numbers or avoiding unlucky numbers
  • Regular complaints of fatigue

OCD in the classroom

According to research by the University of Cambridge, adolescents with OCD can have widespread learning and memory problems, which contributes to difficulties with homework and concentrating at school. This can lead to low self-esteem and possibly increase the compulsions as a coping mechanism

However, identifying OCD early can help parents give their child the support they need, and allow them to be advocates for their child’s classroom environment. Children with OCD have just as much of a right to a meaningful education as any other student, and with the right care from parents and educators, it can be possible.

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