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How OCD Affects Kids and Adolescents

By Victor Trammell

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) affects or has affected around 5 million adults in America, according to

Symptoms of OCD include disruptive thoughts that cause people to perform increased levels of routine actions (such as cleaning or avoiding physical contact) on a regular basis. OCD is a treatable condition. However, OCD is more prevalent in children and adolescents than people may realize.

Younger people also might not realize they have it due to the fact that OCD is misdiagnosed as something else in most cases. Parents and educators have yet to fully understand the form of OCD that occurs in the youth. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) OCD negatively affects academic performance in younger people at school.

Below is a excerpt of an ADAA report that was recently published online. The report contains valuable information, which helps parents and educators better identify what OCD in children and adolescents looks like.

Obsession: Fears of germs or contamination    
•    Repeatedly washing hands, using antibacterial wipes or hand-sanitizer
•    Protecting what is perceived as clean space — personal desk, locker, or other property
•    Avoiding touching surfaces that others may have touched, such as doorknobs, desks, shared supplies, lab tables or equipment, computer keyboards, paints, paste, soap, cafeteria trays, etc.
•    Avoiding contact play or sports either because of a fear of catching a disease or fear of contaminating another student
•    Avoiding the use of bathrooms
•    Seeking reassurance that they or others are not sick or dirty
•    Refusing to share items or supplies with others
•    Refusing to eat in the cafeteria
•    Avoiding certain products because they may contain poison, such as substances used in chemistry

Obsession: Fears, feelings, or urges related to numbers
•    Counting, touching, or saying words a certain number of times due to believing in a magical significance to certain numbers or using those numbers to keep harm away; counting the number of steps between locations and having to start over if interrupted
•    Touching objects a certain number of times; not being able to move on unless this touching has been accomplished
•    Reading words or pages a certain number of times
•    Going back and forth through doorways a certain number of times before it’s OK to enter the room
•    Avoiding using certain numbers that are perceived as unlucky or not safe; only using numbers that are perceived as safe or lucky. (math problems may be answered improperly, pages may not be read or pages may be numbered out of sequence )

*Info available at

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