OCD is a type of anxiety disorder. With OCD, obsessions and worries preoccupy thoughts. Someone with OCD feels strong urges to do certain things repeatedly — called rituals or compulsions — in order to eradicate thoughts and return their world to normal. Children use rituals to alleviate anxiety.
It is currently believed that OCD is linked to blocked serotonin levels in the brain. This sends out false danger messages which the brain cannot filter out causing the person to feel unrealistic fear. OCD can run in families.
Approximately 1 in 200 students have a diagnosis of OCD yet others will display tendencies.
Adolescents with OCD commonly have obsessions including germs, neatness, numbers and fear of harm. Compulsions include hand washing, cleaning, double-checking, ordering or arranging objects. Possible signs of OCD can include:
Treatment should be sought if the rituals take up more than an hour each day, causes distress and interferes with daily activities.
The anxiety or worry is so strong that a child feels like he or she must perform the task or dwell on the thought to the point where it interferes with everyday life. Repetition is "required" by the student to neutralize the uncomfortable feeling. While this may work in the short term, the rituals may actually worsen the severity of the OCD long-term.
OCD can become an ordeal for the child and their families and can be very time-consuming. OCD can create feelings of shame, embarrassment and low self-esteem. Students might have difficulties with attention or concentration because of the intrusive thoughts. OCD is common in students with Tourette Syndrome, Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD and depression.
Obsessive-compulsive behavior is not something that a child can stop by trying harder. OCD is a disorder and is not something kids can control or have caused themselves.
It is important to support a student undergoing treatment by being patient and recognising that the OCD is the problem and NOT the child.
Considered alternative marking scales which are non-numerical?
Discussed successful strategies with the Learning Support Team?
Included suggested time limits for sections of activities?
Developed subtle signals between student and teacher?
Arranged for special provisions in assessment tasks – separate supervision?