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Autism news: What our kids with OCD are thinking
June 19, 2018

Last Christmas a young man (I’ll call him David) knocked over the family Christmas tree, spilling the water from the tree stand all over the carpet. Then David said, “Tree down.”

What did he mean? He wanted Mom to take the tree down so he wouldn’t be tempted to knock it over again.

This is a classic example of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, which is quite common among children with autism.

OCD can be a real challenge not only for us as parents but for our kids as well.

I have the unique benefit to be able to discuss this with a family member (I’ll call him John) who has high-functioning autism and OCD as well. He’s able to give me a lot of inside information about what it’s like to suffer from both disorders.

The bottom line is, OCD can be a real nightmare, not just for parents but for our kids as well. It isn't at all the same as a normal child who's misbehaving because she's being mischievous or mean-spirited.

In reality, most people with OCD are actually very kind-hearted, loving people.

A hallmark of OCD is that, while a child may be tempted to do something bad, he really doesn’t want to do the thing at all.

It may SEEM that she’s being mischievous. But in reality she’s tempted PRECISELY because she doesn’t want to do it.

I know that may seem contradictory, so let me explain.

OCD involves a fear of not being able to control one’s impulses. The child is so afraid she’s going to do something bad that she actually does it just to get it over with and maybe to prove to herself that it won’t be that bad.

She’s wishing it was impossible to do the deed, but as long as it’s possible, she feels compelled to do it. And she quite honestly can’t help it.

I’ve done research on this subject, and John’s experience is confirmed by other sources as well.

I do realize there is sometimes a need to discipline our kids. The difficulty here is finding out whether the behavior is from mischief or from OCD.

When in doubt, I prefer to err on the side of leniency.

It’s so important for us to show empathy and understanding towards our kids who suffer from OCD rather than assuming they are just being mischievous. In fact, it can be quite hurtful to them when we don’t understand.

John has been an invaluable source of insight into how kids with OCD perceive the world and how they’re feeling. And I feel it’s important to share his insight with other parents.

So I’m planning to post more information on OCD on our website in the coming months for the sake of children who suffer and because we as parents also need help dealing with OCD.

Sometimes knowledge really does make all the difference in the world.

Til next time,

Kay Donato

Discover Autism Help, LLC

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