Raising Sane Kids In An Insane World

by Bill Brenner on March 10, 2011

Yesterday I was asked about tips for dealing with children who have OCD. Neither of mine have it (not officially, anyway), but our experiences with Duncan are leading us to some pretty all-purpose action items.

Mood music:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoGWe9l-OG8&fs=1&hl=en_US&rel=0]

As I’ve said before, my kids will be in a much better position to deal with mental ticks than I was, because I have coping skills to teach them that my parents didn’t have.

First, a few facts: Some of my quirks were definitely passed down to me from my parents. The OCD comes straight from my mother, and the emotional wall I sometimes put up to deal with it comes from my father. That binge eating would become the root of my addictive behavior should surprise no one. It runs deep in the roots of the Brenner family tree.

I see signs of my defects in Sean and Duncan every day.

Sean has more than a few OCD characteristics. When the boy gets into something, be it a computer game or Legos — especially Legos — he goes in deep and lets the activity consume him. In other words, he approaches these things compulsively.

Duncan, like me, gets a bit crazy when the daylight recedes. His mood will swing all over the place and he has the most trouble in school during winter time. To help remedy this, Erin bought me and Duncan happy lamps— essentially sunshine in a box. Despite the skepticism Duncan and I shared over it, the things actually work — to a point.

Having Duncan evaluated has been a real eye opener, and that’s the first thing I’d suggest if you think your child might have OCD. Our pediatrician, who specializes in behavioral issues, had me, Erin and Duncan’s teacher fill out an extensive questionnaire, then had me and Erin come in to go over his conclusions.

We didn’t walk away with a diagnosis, because at 7 Duncan’s still a bit young for an accurate assessment. But the doctor did send us a detailed, 20-point action plan.

Yesterday, we met with Duncan’s teacher and the school principal to go over them. One thing we’ve set in motion is some occupational therapy to help Duncan with his fine motor skills, which are currently underdeveloped. This will be huge, because Duncan having a better grasp on the pencil will allow him to express himself a lot better, which will help him be sane.

We’ve decided against medication at this point, because while Duncan shows all the signs of ADHD, he could also have other things going on, like OCD or bipolar. The drugs for ADHD work well if that’s what you have. But if you have something else that simply looks like ADHD, medication can actually make things worse.

Meanwhile, the pediatrician suggested Duncan see a therapist, so we’ll be doing that.

So with all that said, here’s my advice for dealing with kids who might have OCD:

–Get ’em evaluated ASAP, and be prepared to fill out some extensive paperwork.

–Once the evaluation is complete, set up a meeting with the teacher and principal to carve out a game plan. 

–Be patient, which is something I admittedly need to work on.

–Just keep loving your kid, and have faith.

Mental disorders are not a prison sentence. Help is always available, and your children can still grow up to do great things.

That’s what I’m learning, anyway.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

nancy casey March 17, 2011 at 3:59 am

Hey Bill,
Just to throw this suggestion out there. Something that really helped Mark, find others that have made great lives that have or may have whatever the diagnosis is..
It really helped his self esteem a lot.
Nancy

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