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10yr old son with repetitive movements is it ocd or tics or what?

(4 Posts)
Josephine375 Mon 03-Nov-14 17:14:08

My 10 yr old ds has started displaying odd movements: he needs to touch things, always symmetrically with both hands separately. It's a bit difficult to explain, but for example, when walking down public stairs, he needs to touch both railings. This invariably means bounding across in front other people who are walking down the stairs, which can become a little awkward.... If he touches my arm, then he needs to touch my other arm. When walking down the street he needs to jump onto each man hole etc.
We've mentioned this to his teacher who has'nt noticed it, but is aware that a lot if children his age do this. I don't know if his friends have noticed. There are definitely times that he seems to do it really obsessively, and times when he doesn't do it at all. It's definitely getting worse, but we are getting close to 11+ exams, maybe it's stress- although we are trying to be as relaxed as possible about the tests.
I have asked him gently if he's aware he's doing it, which he is, and he says he likes to 'even things out'. He then came back to me and said he's going to try and stop, although my Dh & I decided not to point it out or make a big thing of it.
Is this the right course of action? Is there an official name for this so I can research about it. It's not controlling his life yet, but if it gets much worse I fear it will.

Got99problems Mon 03-Nov-14 22:11:22

It sounds more like a compulsive behaviour (so more like OCD) than a tic. As you've said, this is very common in children, and lots grow out of it. Does it cause him any distress do you know? Does he worry that something bad would happen if he didn't do it?
If its bothering him or is related to worried thoughts, you could ask him if he wants to talk to someone who can help him with it, and get a referral to camhs. If it doesn't seem like its affecting his life or causing concern you could wait and see whether its a phase he naturally grows out of.

perfectpanda Wed 19-Nov-14 21:55:46

Hello Josephine. I'm not sure you're still checking this thread, but was just checking for some help with my dd(6) who has a very similar thing. At the moment she has to touch everything twice, if she touches something with one hand she then had to touch it with the other hand. she is really worked up at the moment, she had this 'habit' for weeks but this last 2 weeks it really seems to bother her and she has asked for help to stop her.

It's hard to be sure if its a tic to ignore, or à compulsive behaviour. She had a similar problem earlier this year and was referred to camhs, but was fine by the time she was seen. That 'rule' she was following then was much more associated with anxiety. This time, its like the anxiety is slowly setting in after weeks of the ritual.

He suggested a book called what to do when your brain gets stuck. We're working through it at moment, and my instinct is that this is more ocd than tic, and a CBT type of intervention is appropriate. I hope things settle for your son, it's so hard to get the balance right between supporting and not reinforcing...

ChampagneAndCrisps Fri 05-Dec-14 21:30:56

My DS does this, and it's how his Tourettes started. Obsessive Compulsive Behaviour is a feature in Tourettes. DS is on fluoxetine for OCB and Risperidone for tics.

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