Obsessive Compulsive Disorder symptoms can vary widely from person to person. Here we will provide a list of some signs of OCD, but the underlying cause of the behavior or ritual will always be fear or anxiety.
OCD is characterized by an obsession followed by a compulsion that is carried out to reduce the anxiety or fear caused by the obsession.
The obsessions are thoughts or fears that are unwanted and intrusive. These thoughts are usually disturbing and cause a lot of anxiety for our kids who suffer.
Some examples of obsessions could include:
When a person has such an obsessive fear, they are tempted to get rid of that fear by performing a certain ritual, or compulsion.
Keep in mind that these are not just once in a blue moon thoughts that pass through the person’s mind. Rather, these are debilitating fears that might consume the person’s thoughts.
So I’m going to match each of the above obsessions with a corresponding possible compulsion or compulsions that a person might perform to get rid of the anxiety.
A person with this obsession might feel compelled to tap on a hard surface a certain number of times. She might realize that tapping has nothing to do with the safety of her loved one, but she still has that irrational fear that if she doesn’t tap that something terrible will happen to her loved one.
She will likely have a convoluted explanation in her mind as to why the tapping will “save” her loved one, and it may seem crazy to an objective observer, but it makes complete sense to her.
Excessive checking over and over again to make sure all the doors and windows are locked every night.
Reading and rereading letters they have written over and over again, or checking many times to make sure that addresses have been written properly.
Running away or doing whatever it takes to get away from the animal or insect. This fear could be so severe that the sufferer may even feel compelled to do something drastic just to avoid the creature.
Sometimes the compulsion can be more dangerous than the thing the child is afraid of.
“Jake”, a young boy who was extremely fearful of dogs, very nearly jumped into a polluted lake when he spotted a dog headed their way. It didn’t matter that the dog was on a leash. His irrational fear compelled him to try to jump in the lake.
Fortunately Mom and Dad were there to stop him from falling headlong into a much more dangerous situation, especially since Jake could not swim very well.
One person with this fear might feel compelled to wash their hands over and over again to the point that their hands are chapped and bleeding.
Another person with more severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder symptoms might be afraid to leave a specific room of the house for fear that other places may not be “sanitized” enough.
A person with severe autism and severe OCD might have a fear of being in a thoroughly disgusting situation, and feel compelled to thrust their hands into the toilet, just to prove to themselves that the consequences won’t be so bad after all.
Keep in mind that none of these people want to perform these compulsions.
If you’ve ever experienced such severe behavior from an autistic child, such as the thrusting of his hands into the toilet, keep in mind that he probably can't help it at all. He might be suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder symptoms, and it’s very important to be patient and understanding.
In such a case it might be helpful to lock the bathroom door (when not in use) until you and a professional trained to help with OCD can help your child overcome that behavior.
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