Last week, I wrote about a resource for parents of children with autism—a book that outlines parenting advice from adults who also have autism. It struck me as such an important concept that we can often overlook when our children receive a diagnosis or struggle in a way that is personally unfamiliar to us; we ask only the experts for advice. We ask doctors and therapists and we find resources from organisations with an expertise in that particular topic. But we may neglect to ask for advice from those who have actually gone through it themselves.
Resources and professional advice and support are all great. But sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know—unless we ask. That might be why Kinja user JLL commented with a similar question on my autism post—except about obsessive-compulsive disorder:
Could you do this for OCD? I’d love to hear from adults living with OCD about what they’d say to kids growing up with it.
There are plenty of resources out there for parents of children who have been diagnosed with OCD or who are exhibiting signs of the disorder, including this Parent’s Guide to OCD from Child Mind Institute. In particular, that guide gives a detailed explainer about the different types of obsessions and compulsions your child may be experiencing, as well as this basic description:
Children who have OCD struggle with either obsessions or compulsions or both. Obsessions are unwanted and intrusive thoughts, images or impulses. Obsessions make kids feel upset and anxious. Compulsions are actions or rituals kids are driven to perform to get rid of anxiety.
To understand how OCD works, think about a mosquito bite. When you get bitten by a mosquito, it itches, so to make it feel better you scratch. While you scratch the bite it feels great, but as soon as you stop scratching, the itching gets worse. That’s how OCD plays out. When a child with OCD feels anxious he’ll do something to fix it temporarily, but that ritual makes it worse over time.
But if you haven’t struggled with OCD yourself, and if the experts you’re working with also do not have the disorder, you could be missing some key insight or advice from those who have.
So let’s help JLL and provide that missing piece; if you have obsessive-compulsive disorder, what was helpful to you as a child? What was unhelpful or even harmful? Tell us in the comments what advice would you give to a parent raising a child with OCD.