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Does anyone have any experience of OCD in young children?

(29 Posts)
NickRobinsonsloveslave Sat 20-Aug-11 22:01:30

Too many small details to list here but I have a terrible feeling that my DD (4) has OCD. This has escalated frighteningly in the past few weeks to the extent where I am walking on eggshells around here.
I really have no idea what to do so any advice would be good.

hellymelly Sat 20-Aug-11 22:12:23

Well my dd was slightly OCd in some ways when she was very unhappy at school.We home-schooled for two terms and now she is about to try a new school (she is 6,but was 5 when it all happened). She is much better now,but she has a few little routines that she likes (she has a toy that has to be put away in the same place,that sort of thing.)
what is your DD doing? Is she stressed? also feel I should mention PANDAS which is a link between OCD and strep infection,if you google it you will find out more,it may well not apply to you at all.

NickRobinsonsloveslave Sat 20-Aug-11 22:24:12

Strep that anything to do with sore throat? I heard this but thought it was a bit far fetched. How does someone start acting strangely after a sore throat?

She is just obsessive about everything, from folding dirty clothes to opening the car door.
She took 20 mins to get home from the park last week, we only live 10 teps away. I was nearly in tears watching her repeating every step because she had done it wrong.

nomorelostweekends Sat 20-Aug-11 22:24:59

It might be useful to give so more info, particularly some specific examples. Its very, very common for children of your DD's age to have some obsessive type behaviours, but it doesn't mean that they have OCD. For lots of children its a fairly normal stage of development and one which passes without the need for any specialist support. Can you describe what it is that makes you think your DD has OCD? Wiil check back tomorrow.

nomorelostweekends Sat 20-Aug-11 22:26:03

Ah sorry cross posted

What did she get 'wrong'?

queenebay Sat 20-Aug-11 22:34:40

My 6 year old has it and sees the peaditrician about it. her obsessions are weird. Touching her pants, changing her pants, saying sorry constantly and cannot make a choice incase its the wrong choice. Also says she has done really dangerous stuff when we know for a fact she hasnt.
Its awful isnt it

TheOriginalNutcracker Sat 20-Aug-11 22:35:13

Dd2 had ocd which started at age 3. Hers was a handwashing obsession and she washed them that much her hands were cracked and bleeding.

I think hers started during potty training but can't be sure. She was particularly concerned about germs from the tolet, and would have to wash her hands if she even went in the bathroom and walked back out because she'd been near the tolet. The behaviour also got worse whenever she was stressed over anything.

Eventually dd was seen by a psychologist who tbh was pretty rubbish but she said that we MUST not let dd do the handwashing unless she had actually been to the toilet and the physically restrain her at any other time.

It was hard, and at one point i had to more or less sit on her, but once she knew that i wasn't going to let her do it, it did lessen a bit.

Dd is 11 now and touch wood seems to be fine, although she still washes her hands like a surgeon and gets upset if we run out of soap.

I would speak to your gp and see what they suggest.

hellymelly Sat 20-Aug-11 22:35:26

I do agree that it is also fairly normal.I also have a four year old DD and she has to repeat things that she feels are "wrong" and she can be a complete dictator about it. My older DD at four had a thing about threads on things and would have to have any lose threads snipped off, but until she was hyper stressed at school there were no other issues.At school she got a bit worried about hygiene ,having seen a small child vomit and finding poo in the loos.I did worry that she might be getting OCD but with hindsight she was just very very anxious and miserable.

hellymelly Sat 20-Aug-11 22:38:12

Oh and the PANDAS hypothesis is that antibodies attack the basal ganglia (part of the brain) by mistake,it is thought to be an auto immune response to scarlet fever or strep infection. The jury is still out on it although it is widely diagnosed in the US.

NickRobinsonsloveslave Sat 20-Aug-11 22:38:44

That's just it, she didn't do anything 'wrong'. She was just pushing her scooter off the park, across the road then into out garden. But, everytime she reached our driveway, for some reason, she had to go back and repeat the whole process.

Even when it comes to what toothpaste to use....she has to do eeny meeny miney mo. But, if she ends up with the 'wrong' one, she just keeps doing it over and over until she ends up with the 'right' answer.

It is seriously starting to drive me crazy. It can take a good 20 mins now to get her in the car seatbelt on door shut to her specifications before we actually drive anywhere.

NickRobinsonsloveslave Sat 20-Aug-11 22:44:41

Oh God, your replies are really ringing alarm bells for me. Yes, I agree it is horrible. As for preventing them doing their that good? I mean, if you are so strongly convinced that you have to follow a certain ritual, is someone preventing you from doing it not going to create more stress?

TheOriginalNutcracker Sat 20-Aug-11 22:48:45

That is what i was confused about, i was unsure wether to stop her or let her. The psychologist though insisted that I explain to her that she only needed to wash her hands if she had actually used the toilet, and that if she tried to wash them just because she had gone in the bathroom, touched the handle, or anything that I would stop her.

We once had to endure her crying and screaming for about 40 min on the way back from holiday. We'd stopped at a public toilet and they had no soap and i'd run out of wet wipes. Dd was hysterical until we got home and she could wash her hands.

TheOriginalNutcracker Sat 20-Aug-11 22:49:38

Tbh wrt to the getting in the car ritual, I would just put her in, and so long as she is safely strapped in i'd leave it at that and ignore any protests. I know it is hard though.

MaryAnnSingleton Sat 20-Aug-11 22:52:32

can only speak as an adult with OCD (started in my twenties though was a very anxious child) I think that trying to prevent your dd doing the rituals would cause her great distress -the urge is very powerful and the anxiety in being prevented is awful. I think that you would need to seek a medical opinion in order to handle this- I would imagine in children as in adults a CBT approach would be taken (very successful in adults) I do sympathise as it is hell for everyone.

NickRobinsonsloveslave Sat 20-Aug-11 22:54:19

Yes it is hard. And so frustrating, and sad, and disheartening. I can't help feeling it's somehow my fault.

bittentothequick Sat 20-Aug-11 22:54:22

I believe it is quite natural for many children to show aspects of OCD behavior and grow out of it.

MaryAnnSingleton Sat 20-Aug-11 22:58:11

don't blame yourself (easily done- I feel my behaviour/anxiety has harmed my ds ) I wish I could be more helpful

eternallyoptimistic Sat 20-Aug-11 23:03:24

My 11yo DD was diagnosed with OCD caused by PANDAS 6 months ago. She also would take an hour to walk a very short distance because something had 'gone wrong'. Her 'rituals' seemed to come very quickly, there were new ones everyday. They started to disappear as soon as we discovered she has strep throat and gave anti biotics. She also saw a psychiatrist for 6 months then was discharged as all behaviours were gone. She is still very anxious, asks me the same questions(will I die in my sleep, will I choke, could I go into a coma...) every night. But (touch wood) all others symptoms gone since January. We are in Canada btw

eternallyoptimistic Sat 20-Aug-11 23:04:05

Sorry should say she was diagnoses 9 months ago

MaryAnnSingleton Sat 20-Aug-11 23:05:48

[ this might be helpful]

MaryAnnSingleton Sat 20-Aug-11 23:06:31

sorry- here

MaryAnnSingleton Sat 20-Aug-11 23:07:51

and this

wigglybeezer Sat 20-Aug-11 23:13:17

Have a look at "what to do when Your brain gets stuck"

Ds developed OCD after he started school, he didn't cope well due to undiagnosed mild autistic traits.

He was scared of knives (used to worry that he would or had hurt us with them). Also poisonous mushrooms and anything that might have touched them (ie. anything that had been outside on the ground like his shoes!). Fear of germs, especially those harboured by his toddler brothers "secretions" led to handwashing.

He is fine now (even eats mushrooms).

I used stories based on what he was interested in to explain the nature of fear and how to fight it (lots of knights slaying the dragon of fear with the sword of truth etc,). It seemed to help, he was better by the time the CAMHS appointment came through.

NickRobinsonsloveslave Sun 21-Aug-11 12:48:43

Will definitely look into your links, thankyou. I am strangely relieved to know it's not just happening to my DD.

nomorelostweekends Sun 21-Aug-11 21:10:03

Sorry, first chance i have had to get back

Glad you are reassured by knowing that its quite common. I don't know the exact figures, but i would predict that between 20 and 30% of children this age have some obsessive type behaviour. Only a very small fraction of them will go on to develop diagnosable OCD. So try not to panic at the moment. Its worth speaking to your GP but i think they will be unlikely to refer her to anyone for the time being. Definitely keep an eye on it though and speak to someone if its still an issue by the time she is about 6 or 7. Does anyone else in your family have any problems with anxiety? (OCD is classed as an anxiety disorder in older children and adults). Sometimes children pick up ideas about anxiety being very distressing or dangerous from people around them without anybody realising its happening, though i stress that it is not always the case and i am not assuming that is happening for your DD.

In the meantime, try to strike a balance between being empathic and a bit 'no-nonsense'. MaryAnn is right in that in older children and adults the standard treatment is to try to resist the urge to complete the compulsion. But is very distressing and tbh at this age I don't think its that important. What is important is that you try not to show her too much if it makes you anxious, and to start helping her to develop her emotional language and coping strategies. The narrative ideas that wigglybeezer mentions are also really helpful. Above all be warm, gentle but firm and it will probably disappear in its own time.

And if it makes you feel any better, I am a clin psych and my DD has been just as you describe until the last few weeks. However she is just coming up to 6, and in the last few months it has almost disappeared of its own accord.

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