Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD is an anxiety disorder marked by repetitive or ritualistic behavior that can be debilitating for children who suffer from it. While all children experience some anxiety at different times, when negative thoughts and obsessions prevent children from participating in and enjoying every day life it can become a disorder.
Children with OCD may become obsessed with germs, illness, certain numbers, or religion, among other topics. These obsessive thought patterns can lead to repetitive rituals that children feel they must complete to prevent something bad from happening. For example, children with the disorder may feel they need to wash their hands a certain number of times to keep the family safe from dangerous germs or feel they need to count tasks or objects a certain number of times to keep something bad from happening to themselves or those they love. While rituals may give the child a temporary sense of relief, soon enough he or she will have to repeat it. Thus a regular recurrence of intrusive thoughts and behaviors begins. Find below some common compulsions in kids and teens with OCD according to Kids Health:
- grooming rituals like obsessive showering, teeth brushing, or hand washing
- repeating rituals like going in and out, rereading, erasing, and rewriting
- checking rituals like making sure a door is locked or checking homework repeatedly
- ordering rituals like arranging objects over and over
- counting rituals like having to complete a task a certain number of times
- hoarding objects of no apparent value
- cleaning rituals related to the home or other objects
Adults and children with OCD generally recognize that their obsessions and rituals are a product of their mind and not based in reality. For diagnosis, the repetitive rituals should be aimed at preventing something bad from happening and must be present for at least an hour each day. This is different than a person with Asperger Syndrome (ASD) who may have similar rituals and repetitive habits, but these behaviors aren't aimed at preventing a negative outcome and instead offer a sense of order and control.