Coping with OCD can be extremely challenging for parents and especially for children who suffer from this condition. Here we discuss three real-life examples of OCD and what parents have done to help their kids deal with it successfully.
Even though everyone's situation is different, my hope is that these examples and their solutions might be helpful for those who need ideas for coping with OCD.
Sally, a mother of an adult daughter (we’ll call her Casey) with severe OCD, was faced with her daughter’s temptations to touch electrical outlets.
Yes, this was an adult with mild autism who had quite a severe case of OCD. And Casey was absolutely terrified.
(Remember, with OCD the sufferer is often tempted to do things she does NOT want to do and knows she shouldn't do.)
Here’s how their conversation unfolded:
Casey: Help me! I’m so scared… I’m so scared!
Mom: Well, Casey, I’m just mystified. I just don’t know what else to do. I’ve covered all the electrical outlets with outlet covers.
Casey: But I could take those off. My temptations have become so bad that I’m afraid I’ll pull them out.
Mom: I do have the kind of outlet covers that are hard to remove. Even I have a hard time removing them. But it may be hard to plug and unplug things we only need to have plugged in temporarily.
Casey: You just may have to use that kind of outlet cover….
Suddenly, an idea came to Mom …
Mom: I know, Casey! How about if I charge you, say, ten dollars every time you touch an electrical outlet?
Casey: That just might work! I don’t have much money at all and ten dollars is a lot of money. I think that will stop me.
As it turned out, that little trick really did work for Casey.
But it’s important to remember that this solution was not a cure. It may be helpful for temporarily coping with OCD until Mom can get Casey into some truly effective therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
Why might this be only a temporary fix?
Because Casey still has OCD. And even though she is no longer having a problem with electrical outlets, she may be likely to start having other OCD temptations. So it’s important in severe cases like this to get our kids the help they need.
Mike was a really nice kid who always tried to do the right thing. In fact, Mike was so worried about doing the right thing all the time that it even caused some paranoia in his life.
But Mike had some disabilities, and one of them was unfortunately Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
And Mike was suffering from a terrible temptation to look up websites on his tablet that violated his conscience and his religion. He was so tormented by these temptations that he wished he could tell his mother about what he had been doing so she could help him more effectively.
One day Mom was able to get the information out of Mike about what he had been doing and what he had been going through. She understood that he didn’t want to look up those things.
So she wasted no time taking action. She immediately took his tablet away and hid it from him.
Mike was relieved because he knew he wasn’t allowed to look up those websites on any of his mother’s computers. And Mom’s actions saved Mike a lot of grief and torment.
This was a great solution for Mom and for Mike. But if Mike kept having other obsessive temptations or problems, he may need a more effective, permanent solution for coping with OCD such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
Tyler had severe autism, but normally he did not have any destructive tendencies. He once went through a time, however, when these issues did become a problem.
Some of his issues included unlocking the front door and running out of the house, breaking dishes, hitting his brother, and other destructive behavior.
Mom was beside herself because Tyler had never had these problems before. She never thought Tyler would get this way. But she realized from talking to other people with OCD that Tyler didn’t want to do these things.
In fact, he would freeze up with wide eyes if she happened to pull out a glass baking dish. Because he was afraid he would be tempted to throw it on the tile floor, shattering it into a million pieces.
It turned out that Tyler’s increase in OCD symptoms were rooted in some medical problems that had to be resolved. One of these issues was the discovery that he was unable to digest animal protein very well.
It just so happened that, in the months leading up to the onset of these problems, that Mom had increased the amount of animal protein in his diet.
A key factor in solving Tyler’s issues was to remove animal protein from his diet and follow a strictly vegetarian diet. (This doesn’t mean that all children with autism should avoid animal protein. It’s very important to check with your own child’s doctor to tailor her health plan and diet to her own needs.)
This happened to work well for Tyler, but Cognitive Behavioral Therapy may be needed if he continued to have OCD problems.
However, Tyler’s case study may indicate that some type of physical or medical intervention might help some children with OCD.
Such a conclusion may seem far-fetched to some, but given that food allergies and sensitivities can sometimes cause behavior problems, I think it’s a possibility that parents may not want to rule out.
I would recommend checking with your child’s doctor to help you find out if physical or medical problems might be making her OCD symptoms worse.
If you need a short-term solution, it may take some thought to figure out what will work for your child.
Or, as in Mike’s case, the answer may be obvious. In his case it was clear to Mom that she needed to simply remove his tablet.
Or similar to Tyler’s situation, you may need to consult a doctor to find out whether or not any medical problems could be making your child’s OCD issues more severe.
Short-term solutions for coping with OCD, such as the ones that helped Casey and Mike, might be necessary if you and your child need help quickly. But for more permanent relief your child may need professional therapy.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy holds a lot of promise for children and adults who are coping with OCD.
Dr. Jerome Bubrick, Ph.D. of the Child Mind Institute states that there are actual differences between the brains of those with OCD and those without the condition.
Once those with OCD have undergone Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, brain scans actually show a marked improvement after therapy has been completed.
Stay tuned because in the next few weeks I plan to post more information about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and how it actually works to help people with OCD.
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Disclaimer: The information contained in this article and on this website is not medical advice and should not be used as a substitute for seeing your own or your child’s physician. You should always consult a medical doctor before considering any of the information on this website. It is highly recommended to visit a licensed physician regularly and follow his or her treatment plan for your child. If you have any specific questions about your child’s health, you should see his or her physician or other healthcare provider. If your think your child might have any type of physical or medical condition, you should get help from your healthcare provider immediately. You should never delay, discontinue or disregard the medical treatment or advice from your own or your child’s doctor as a result of anything contained on this website.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Coping With OCD
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