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What does OCD look like in your child?

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Hello Everyone,


Our school district is allowing me to educate the staff on PANDAS/PANS. When I speak about OCD I am afraid all they will be thinking about is complusive hand wasing and lining up toys, but I know that OCD manifests itself in many, many ways with our kids. Please help me give some very real examples so I can help educate and spread the word.


Thank you!

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One of the biggest things my son has an issue with is deciding. For example if my husband wants to take him to the movies, my daughter will say yes and he will say no,yes, no, yes and then will immediately want to go when they are gone. He also had a problem transitioning from room to room for classes - he seemed to not want to step over the threshold. He used to pack up his stuff a lot in bags. He used to want to keep all of his papers and even some boxes for toys that had pictures on it.

Hope those help.



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  • trouble making decisions (yes, Melmix!)
  • excessive erasures on paperwork
  • quick frustration (result of perfectionism)
  • extraordinary, non-age-appropriate, worry/concerns about things (will that chalk dust hurt my lungs? will the glue on my hand soak in through my skin and poison me?)
  • withdrawal from social activities (fear that he/she won't do things/play "right")

In our case during the elementary school years, that "flash frustration" was the biggest issue, and the teacher would sometimes attribute it to acting out or temper or whatever. But what it truly was was perfectionism and an enduring lack of satisfaction with his own work product. Even in kindergarten, he thought his art pieces were supposed to look like Picasso's, and his handwriting was supposed to match the Times Roman font displayed on the bulletin board at the front of the room! ;)


I whole-heartedly recommend Gail B. Adams' book "Students with OCD: A Handbook for School Personnel." It is excellent and an easy reference book that addresses not only OCD-variant behaviors that teachers are likely to see, but also the appropriate accommodations that can be made when those behaviors appear. I gave copies to DS's principal, social worker and school psychologist.


Good luck!

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My ds's OCD behaviors include a lot of special steps before stepping over thresholds or into/out of shadows on the floor. It looks like a strange dance (LOL, yes once in a while when I'm in a certain mood I will bust out laughing, which is never good but it sure beats screaming or crying). He was careful to hide it at school in the past, though his then-teacher had a degree in psychology so she was able both to notice the minimal behaviors and to "get it," which was awesome.


One of his biggest compulsions is triggered by certain sounds (my voice! and the voices of a couple of siblings) so that issue isn't a problem at school. However, sound sensitivity can be a problem.


Now in a middle school situations, executive function is becoming a huge issue, i.e. organizational stuff that would be typical for, say, a child with adhd (forgetting homework, doing the wrong assignment, not finishing, not writing the work down). He's in a difficult position because he really needs to pull it together; it's hard to explain to a teacher that medically it's not his fault. I guess I'd shoot for adhd-sorts of recommended supports. I'm becoming afraid that we may have to get ed psych testing done and get official accommodations.

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For my 10 yo he must wear long sleeves and pants to school even on days when temperatures near 100 degrees. While there is no air conditioning in his school and he is extremely hot his fear of germs will not let him go without the added protection of long sleeves and pants. Last year he had to wear 3 shirts the entire year so I guess we are making progress but omg! this ocd is rough.

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also fixations, not being able to put things out of your mind. these can be intrusive thoughts

but it can also result in inability to compromise.


there was a thread a year or so ago with a similar question on OCD variants, if I remember correctly

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My child (in the last month) has trouble leaving rooms without touching each side of the threshold BUT my most concerning issue right now is that he is counting everything. He then needs to tell me how high he has counted. It is almost like he cannot control this counting impulse.

Edited by cobygurl
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