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How to Deal with a Child with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

I have a 4 year old son who is very OCD. He has not yet been diagnosed but we are on our way to doing so. We fight daily over clothes that "tickle", shoes that "rub", and many numerous things that just aren't "right". I am at my breaking point. I have bought new clothes, new shoes, new everything just so I don't have to battle with him everyday!! Nothing seems to work. He crys and crys over all this. Does anyone have any suggestions or has anyone ever dealt with someone with this disorder? I desperately need your help!!

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Thank you to all of you who have helped with advice. I now have alittle more hope!! I understand that this is not his fault...but...boy...it is a daily battle I wish we didn't have to have. Thanks again...I appreciate it!!

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My son started exhibiting those same types of behavior at that age. He would only wear certain types of underwear, shirts and pants. He would cry everyday before school if I tried to make him wear something that he felt uncomfortable with. At the time, I just thought he was picky. Flash forward to the present, he is a second grader and at the start of the school year, we were called in for a conference. he was not paying attention and not concentrating, because he would fiddle with his tags, etc. that were bothering him.. we found out that he has some sensory processing problems as well as a slight auditory processing problem. Ask many questions! We are lucky that his cases are very mild, and he is in therapy now through the school. Had we gotten help sooner, it would have saved many tears, his and mine. Good luck

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Sounds exactly like my Nicholas, who was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder 5 years ago when he was 4. All the advice on OT, sensory diet, etc. were given so I won't repeat them. Just wanted to direct you to www.kidfoundation.org, the website for Dr. Lucy Miller's organization on sensory processing. She's one of the leading researchers into spd, and amazing to listen to in conference. Good luck!

I have two sons, one with OCD. He is now 31 yrs. old. The biggest thing I can say to you is that this child needs to know that he is being heard. His crying is because he doesn't believe you are listening, especially if you are showing any signs of anger or frustration. Allow him to voice his "long winded" complaint and invite him to be part of the solution, even if the solution is not what you would believe is best. They need to know that their thoughts and ideas are important. He is teahing you patience and unconditional love. Do not expect him to be anything other than who he is and find the joy in that. He will emerge with smiles and hugs to greet you. It is worth it for both of you. It may not be easy but you are preparing him for the world... All the Best to Both of You. -- tlc

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Be very sensative to his needs,but try not to give in to them it only worsens the symptoms.It may help him feel reasured for awhile but it will wear off and he will be back to feeling anxious again.I would research it as much as I could and get a good understanding of it.I suffer with ocd myself,and I know it can be difficult for my loved ones.There are therapist that can treat ocd be careful though make sure they have the knowledge to treat this anxiety disorder.It is ok to reasure your son every now and then but to do it permanetly can be damaging to him.He needs to start learning how to cope and manage these anxious feelings.Here is a site telling a little about it http://kidshealth.org/kid/feeling/emotion/ocd.html

Also it would probably be a good idea to join an ocd site yourself to learn from others with ocd what helps them out with their anxiety & ocd.Here are a few good sites one is called
http://www.ocdtribe.com/ and the other http://www.stuckinadoorway.co.uk/www.stuckinaddorway

Here is a good site that will help you find a good therapist for your child http://austinocd.com/m1500a.htm
Best of luck

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Hi, I am new to this site and I just read your post. First of all I am a child therapist and the information you give does not tell me that your child has OCD. Either you left some things out or you need to look at something else. I would advise that you read a book called the Out of Sync Child. This book is about Sensory Integration Disorder. Some Occupational Therapists who work with children can assess for this. My own child who is seven has the same clothing issues that you describe. It can be frustrating. The severity of these issues can vary. The Occupational Therapist that I work with does not really think my daughter's problem is severe enough to treat. I have found that she does much better with this problem when I cleared her diet of all red and yellow food dyes. I also feel inside socks each time I am in a store. I am in the endless search for the perfect socks! I found some she would wear and I bought the next size too! She had worn the same socks for three years because I could not find any more she liked. I have her try on all clothes in the store before I buy it and cut out most tags. There is a therapy technique called the Wilbarger Protocol with joint compression. It is something the Occupational Therapists can do and teach you to do at home too. This is the technique that the OT I know said could help my daughter. This is before I realized the dye connection and she has been much better in recent months.

Good Luck, A.

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My son started exhibiting those same types of behavior at that age. He would only wear certain types of underwear, shirts and pants. He would cry everyday before school if I tried to make him wear something that he felt uncomfortable with. At the time, I just thought he was picky. Flash forward to the present, he is a second grader and at the start of the school year, we were called in for a conference. he was not paying attention and not concentrating, because he would fiddle with his tags, etc. that were bothering him.. we found out that he has some sensory processing problems as well as a slight auditory processing problem. Ask many questions! We are lucky that his cases are very mild, and he is in therapy now through the school. Had we gotten help sooner, it would have saved many tears, his and mine. Good luck

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Hi A.,

My daughter (7) was diagnosed with OCD when she was (5) but started showing signs earlier. As much as the struggle is hard for you and I as the parent, it is excrusiating and insane for your little boy. Unfortuantely he can't even put into words what going on. I ready urge you to take his to a psychiatrist. It was the only was I could help my daughter. She also had the clothes problem, but also suffered from washing hand - 30 times a day, unable to move or touch her things, cannot be dirty or near dirt, won't touch stuff or even hold hands, she wouldn't let me clip her nails, she thought if her routines went out of line she was going to die.

The worst part about is that she was so young. I kept trying to take into consideration all the possiblities. For example, maybe she was having a bad day, maybe it is a phase, maybe she didn't get enough sleep, maybe she is reacting to something I did or said, did I do something to make her act this way, was this about her afther, was it because she was in a new school or something else might recently changed, has she eaten anything different lately, have I changed detergents lately, does it have to do with her regulary allergy or asthma medication - oh the insanity when on.

I finally made an appointment with a psychiatrist and they told me it was the best thing I could have done for my daughter. The doctor said my daughter definitely had OCD but it was treatable and sometimes kids her age grow out of most of the symptoms by adulthood or learn to live with them. Over a year later I can say we have had our ups and downs, but I would never go back. I never want to see my child that unhappy and "crawling" in her skin again.

God Bless you and your Son,

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I totally agree with the moms, that does not sound like OCD. It definitely sounds like sensory processing disorder. My 2 yr old has the same thing. I would recommend having your pediatrician send him for OT(occupational therapy) eval. They will be able to set up a plan and help you with all of these issues. My son has improved dramatically since starting therapy. Good luck, I know it's hard.

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I would like to point you in the direction of a fabulous group called NAMI and their website NAMI-HC.org
If your little one is diagnosed with OCD and you want an opportunity to find support for you as well as your son, that is a great place to start. Feel free to email me if you would like some additional insight into the organization.
My Husband has OCD, along with other issues, and the Family-to-Family group was immensely helpful to me. The biggest lesson is to learn to seperate 'symtomatic behavior' from just normal childhood behavior. It is hard to understand and easy (and natural) to become frustrated and upset but we also have to keep in mind that they too are often frustrated with their own symptoms as well.

I wish for you lots of patience and understanding...and the knowledge that you aren't alone...


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I have 4 daughters. My oldest is 20 and my youngest is 8. My youngest has been the most challenging by far. My recommendation would be to read a book about "Spitited" children. My youngest daughter sounds a lot like your son. My mother-in-law, God love her, was almost always offering something to me about kids with ADD and ADHD.I didn't and still don't believe my daughter has either but she was convinced my daughter had one or the other. Anyway, I found the book Raising Your Spirited Child to be very helpful because their were some things I just didn't understand. My daughter, like your son, fought with me about clothes and such, things that just didn't "feel right". Basically, you need to pick your battles and know that there isn't anything wrong with the clothes that "tickle" and shoes(or socks) not fitting just right. They're just more sensitive. Be patient and don't sweat the small stuff. Understand that sometimes at they're age they may not be able to express exactly what they're thinking or what they want. But, listen to what they're saying and respect it. There's nosense fighting a losing battle. Realize they know what they want and don't. Good Luck. It will work out in the end!! After reading some of the other respnses, I agree. They all sound more like what we've experienced with our daughter. Sensitive to her socks, tags on the inside of shirts, shirts that "itch" due to various different reasons. Your son doesn't sound OCD, he sounds like he's "over" sensitive. I use this term loosely. We would argue with my youngest about things that I thought were "silly" until I recognized to her they weren't. One of the things that stand out the most to me regarding my daughter was when she was younger, loud noises, etc.. made her VERY upset. If we took her to dinner at a very noisey restaraunt, etc.. she would be overstimulated and act out completely...crawling under the table, etc.. As she's gotten older, she's gotten better and a lot more tolerant of things out of her control. There is light at the end of the tunnel!

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Just a ittle background to begin - I am a school psychologist and have worked for over 12 years with children ranging in age from 2 1/2 - 22 years in four different states. Right now I am a SAHM with 3 children ages 10, 7, and almost 4.

I am wondering why you are thinking your child is OCD. The reason I ask is because the behavior you are describing sounds more like a child with sensory integration issues rather than OCD. Children with sensory issues may have difficulties with certain textures (tactile sensitivity). Certain clothes, shoes or socks may bother them. Most can't stand the tags in the clothes. Many have difficulty eating certain foods and brushing their teeth. One particular child I worked with would only wear a certain kind of sweat pants, t-shirts with no tags and socks with no seams at the toes. It took his mother a long time to find the key, but once she did there were not longer fights every morning regarding clothes.

Kids with tactile sensitivity may also feel intimidated if they feel someone is in their space when in actuality that person may be far from them. Many do not like gentle touches but are more comfortable with firm touches. Others do not like to be touched at all.

Some children also experience sensitivity to sounds and visual stimuli.

I would urge you to read some information on Sensory Intergration and see if that sounds like your son. The Out-Of-Sync Child is a great book (I don't remember the author). I am sure there are many others as well.

There are many children with sensory integration issues and ways to accommodate their needs and strategies to help them cope better with sensory input. Best of luck to you.

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A., My daughter had very extreme OCD that affected our lives completely so I know how hard this is to deal with. What I thought really helped our daughter was Prozac. If you research OCD, which I'm sure you probably have, sometimes medication can help and Prozac is one of them and the safest for children.
Ultimately, my daughter was up to 80 mg/day which is alot, but slowly she seemed to calm down on her obsessions and now they have all disappeared. She was on the prozac for years and as she slowly seemed to let go of the OCD, we started to reduce the amount over the next couple of years. I have to say we did this on our own to see how she could manage on a smaller dose because she absolutely hated taking medication but I felt we had no choice as it affected her life completely.
It seemed that after a couple of months, she would get some OCD thoughts with a smaller dose so we went back up and waited and then tried again a few months down the road. Eventually, we were able to slowly reduce the amount very slowly over time until we could stop the Prozac all together and she is now OCD free which I never thought I would see the day.
Of course, therapy is also called for but she never wanted to do that and so we stopped that.
But, in my heart, I feel the medication really helped her. It has been found, if I remember my research that they are now finding there are chemical components to OCD so that is why medication can help.
I would certainly take him to a psychiatrist to get some help.
It is a devastating way to live, especially for the child, because they are so tortured by it and causes them such anxiety so I do hope you find something to help all of you.

Best of Luck, Cecilia

I have two sons, one with OCD. He is now 31 yrs. old. The biggest thing I can say to you is that this child needs to know that he is being heard. His crying is because he doesn't believe you are listening, especially if you are showing any signs of anger or frustration. Allow him to voice his "long winded" complaint and invite him to be part of the solution, even if the solution is not what you would believe is best. They need to know that their thoughts and ideas are important. He is teahing you patience and unconditional love. Do not expect him to be anything other than who he is and find the joy in that. He will emerge with smiles and hugs to greet you. It is worth it for both of you. It may not be easy but you are preparing him for the world... All the Best to Both of You. -- tlc

OH my goodness...just thought I'd check out the internet just to see if there was a possibility that my 3 year old could really have this disorder. I am at my breaking point as well with similar issues. You tell friends and even the doctor and the classify it as normal 3 year old tantrums and behaivor...but it is soooooooo much more. The stories I could tell you. It has completely interrupted our lives and my 4 year old is the one that is being hurt by it all due to lack of my attention. The hours I spend a day on her rituals are scoffed at by people near me because they think it is lack of discipline...however I KNOW In my heart that failure to follow her "RITUALS" truly panicks, terrifies and disturbs my 3year old. Just responding to see if youve found any useful advice? My sister who is a psychiatrist says that at her age behaivor modification is going to be the only useful tool.. I know medication isnt an option but IM pretty close to wishing I could medicate her some days...JUST KIDDING

A., I have a grandson who is adhd and ocd the only thing i can tell you is let him dress his self and pick his own clothes out i went through the same thing with dayne every day untill i let him do it his self i know this sounds crazy but it works, at least for him it did, I have a 5 yr old that cannot stand tags or anything on his skin, so until i get to the doctor i just let him ware his clothes the way he wants, he turns his socks inside out because the roughness is on the inside of the sock so i let him do it, it keeps him calm and everyone else is too,so i hope i have been some help, have a good day i will pray for you to have strenght, god dose help. S..

It sounds like he may have a sensory disorder. Have him checked for this too. I babysat a little boy with OCD & it was different than this. I insisted his mother get him help so that I didn't handle it the wrong way. He got counseling & it worked. His OCD went away. He had a great fear that something terrible would happen if he didn't do his "things". Hang in there!

I worked for a psycho therapy office and know you are knocking yourself out for something that needs more help than you can provide, he really needs medication and therapy, my grandson has same disorder and was really bad but with meds and therapy he is getting much better. Seek help at once

If it's just the clothes, you may want to get him checked by th Early Childhood Development poeple in your area. It's the program for 3-5 year olds that pick up where First Steps (birth-3) ends. It sounds like it could be a sensory integration disorder and not OCD -- unless there are more OCD-like behaviors he has (like insisting on washing hands 20 times a day). One problem is that it's totally normal for 2-5 year olds to display OCD-like behaviors like lining up cars, sorting by colors and getting upset by a change in routine. Most kids outgrow it.

A., Hi. My son has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as does my husband and his sister. My son also has Sensory Integration Disfunction., That is what it sounds like to me. SI kids have trouble with texture. They are sometimes very sensitve. My son actually craves touch but my daughter is sensitive to touch. A lot of SI kids have to wear their socks inside out. You should look up the 2 n the internet and see what you think. Good luck. By the way, I would be intersted to know if you took the medicine Terbutaline during your pregnancy. Thanks, J. J (Mom of 3)

I can relate I have a 11 yr old son who has ocd and he was diagnosed when he was 4. I couldn't understand why he would cry over his food touching, if he wanted ketchup it could not touching anything either. It was so bad that I would have to go buy red siccors, red crayons, everything had to be red or he would just lose it and cry. The best advice I can give is get him in to the doctor and I was not a beliver in meds but I worked with him everyday and if work at it now they aren't to bad as they get older. He is 11 like I said and is alot better now the only thing that bothers him is if his pokemon cards are messed up but i have learned to sit him down and we talk through it. He was on medicne for alittle while but is hard as it can be because we get frustrated with them get down with him and let him chose, If he likes a specfic color get that color and gradually change those out with different items. I am not going to lie it is a long process but it does work.

my name is A. mother of 14yr stepdaughter,11yr son,8yr daughter

A., I have (and am still) with you on this! My now 9 year old son has sensory issues. He doesn't have OCD, but we believe a mild case of Asperger's sydrome. Regardless of what is the source of the problem, we have been dealing for years with the issue of clothes, shoes not feeling right. He won't wear them if they don't feel right. I have a difficult time taking him shopping (again sensory issues), so I shop without him, bring the clothes/shoes home and make him try them on. He always says he loves them (at first) and I refuse to take the tags off until he has worn them around the house for a while. Then I REALLY confirm that he's sure he loves them, that they don't feel funny or whatever, and he assures me this is the case. We take the tags off and wash (if clothing) and then he about 1/2 the time won't wear them. We have wasted so much money on clothes. I really wish I had an answer for you, but unfortunately I haven't figured it out yet. He won't wear jeans at all now. It changes on what bugs him. But, I have found the things that seem to bug him the least are sloppy looking. He likes the "plastic" running pants, slip on shoes-no ties as they feel funny, and t-shirts, long or short sleeved, but no stripes or anything sewn into them. The seems along the chest will drive him crazy. We also have to take most tags off. He is VERY thin (takes after his dad) and needs to wear 10 slims with adjustable waists as tight as can go. This causes the button of the adjustable band to be on his hips which bugs him which is why he won't wear jeans. One more thing that helped us figure out that he probably has aspergers is that he has a difficult time with change. This can be little changes, such as daily routine. Also, changing from one activity to the other. He also works well at school in the morning but by afternoon often needs to go off by himself to be able to accomplish anything. He has never been super affectionate. He is kind, but almost cannot offer hugs and kisses. He will accept them reluctantly, though (and I think actually wants them, but finds them difficult). This added to my frustrations with him.

Now, my two cents...Please take this in the intent is was meant. I am not trying to tell you what to do, just that I would think long and hard before getting a formal diagnosis. My reason for this is, you can read up on disorders, or anything on the spectrum (autism, apsergers, etc) and learn a lot of ways to help with it. You can join groups online and talk with other parents going through the same thing to get help. And you can go get the diagnosis ANYTIME if necessary, but once you have that diagnosis, you can never go back. If your son's disorder is just too difficult to manage without therapy, and affects him pretty severely, then I would consider the diagnosis. But, if you think you can work on things with him to help him, I would wait on the diagnosis. Once a child has a diagnosis (of ANYTHING) doctors, teachers, etc. tend to blame everything on the fact that he has "XXXX". They tend to (unintentially) treat him different (and not always in a good way). We have personally chosen not to diagnose our son. We have a wonderful teacher at a Montessori school (who he has had now for the 3rd year) who has a daughter (grown) who is very similar to our son. She actually has helped us so much and really recommended we don't talk to the dr. about it yet. Us just working with him has helped so much that I don't think we will ever need therapy for him, but that option is always there later if we do. Good luck with whatever you decide.

A little about me:

I am a SAHM of 3 boys with a 4th on the way. My oldest is 9, then 6, then 17 mos. I have been married to my soulmate for almost 13 years. My oldest son (the one with the sensory issues) is VERY much like his dad. The frustrations I ever have with his dad are very similar!!! And by the way, disorders on the Spectrum often times are hereditary. We think my husband has aspergers but was never diagnosed!!!

Has the doctor considered a sensory integration issue? It may be worth looking into.

I have a 1st grader, who just turned seven this past week, with what we think is a form of OCD. Before Christmas it was at its worst. We have not professional diagnosed her and have heard it is very hard to do at a young age. She has similar issues, socks, tights, anything with a waist band, heavy coats, etc. bother her. SHe is very tiny, so it is very hard to find clothes to fit her. Lucky for us, se wears a unform to school. I have bought every navy blue sock on the market and she only will wear one kind of white shirt to school. As I look back on her preschool years, she was always very organized. She would line up her toys are age two in a row when I asked her to clean up. I thought it was cute at the time. By four, she was nervous about going to preschool. IF I got her there late, it was always harder on her entering a room full of kids vs. being the first one there. She is always a perfectist. Likes everything to fall into place just right. She would cry alot and did not want me to leave. I just thought she was going through a phase. It wasn't until this year, when she started 1st grade that we noticed a big difference. I have always had a difficult time getting out the door in the morning. With three girls, she being the oldest, she would want to switch clothes and take forever. So I got her a ride to school. This put alot of pressure on her and she would not always be ready when they came, then we would fight over that she was taking so long. SHe would then tell me that I hate her, I don't love her and did not want to go to school I would have to take her out screaming or drive her late. I have two younger girls also, so this was a pain. I physically cold not handle it. ONe night my husband was giving baths and said she has OCD, kind of jokingly, I said why. HE said the bath toys had to be in the same exact place as when we started the bath. THe next day I started doing research on my own and found that she has symtoms. I called a few places, talked to my Ped. about it and her referred me to this place in Sidney. I went there and talked to them and they wanted to do this bio feed back on her. I thought we would get through the holidays and see what happens, again thinking this was a phase. I wasn't too hip on therapy at age 6 and putting things on her head to measure her brain waves.SO I have tried some new things in our routine to try to help her. I wake her up earlier in the morning and tell her I love her and try to hug her when she gets upset, I have stopped yelling at her about being slow. She is older and she understands she has issues. She told us that she would go to a DR. b/c she doesn't want to feel this way. She says her head tells her to say stuff she doens't mean and that she wants to wear skinny jeans and cool socks, etc. she just can't. She also startted telling us that she was dumb and we found eraser marks on her homework. She has 100s in Math and reading and is very bright. I just want her to be happy. I have spoken to several professionals about it and they all say there is no cure. We as parents have to find a way to make it work for the child. Patience for me is the biggest. I am getting better and trying to be more organized for her. Putting clothes out the night before, asking her to help me organize the pantry. She loves to cleant he garage with her dad. If anyone has any other advice I would love to hear it too. My goal is her to be happy and have a positive attitude towards herself and her family. She doens't act like this at school or with the grandparents, so when she gets home form school it is all bottled up and she explodes. Making sure she has a snack helps her to. I bring food to school at 3pm when I pick her up so by the time we get home she isn't as crabby. NOw some of these things are normal routine to us. Maybe this clothes problem is a phase for him, look at other things and see how he handles pressure, last minute decisions, crowds. HOpefully this will pass for you. I know it is annoying. Hang in there. I am in SIdney, if you have found anyone or websites, please let me know. Thanks, A. W.

I have a son who is also very sensitive to fabrics, tags and such. He is also unable to concentrate on anything if there is music in the background. He is picky about food, especially textures of food and he cannot tolerate loud noises or strong smells.
I have him in therapy with a counselor and a psychiatrist.
Things have improved as he grew older.
I know it is so hard to be patient with these things, but remember, it is not his fault and it as real as if he had the flu or something.
I would suggest taking him with you when you buy him clothes and have him try them on. You would not normally do this with a four year old, but it is the only way you (and he) will find out what he can wear .

I don't know that would be considered OCD, but either way could it be that his skin is just really sensitive? my neice went through the same thing, turns out to be a serious skin allergy

A., I know it is a rough thing to deal with on a daily basis. Please keep in mind that how ever much it is hard on you, it is so much harder for him. He doesn't understand why things feel that way or why he is reacting to things in such a way. He has that to deal with and you when you get upset. Please take it easy on him, I know it can be frustrating. You do really need to get him in to be seen and evaluated. If may not be OCD, but more of a sensory thing. For both your sakes get him looked at soon. Good luck to you.

You say that you are on your way to a diagnosis for OCD. I would like to offer another possiblity for what seems to be compulsive behavior. Compulsive behavior usally has a "I must do this thing or I can't move on to the next step" component. What your are describing sounds more like a tactile defensivness, which is a sensory processing disorder.
An Occupational therapy evaluation seems to be in order to rule out or to identify a sensory processing disorder. Sensory processing issues can manifest with a variety of mystifying behaviors that seem to have no reason for them to be present. But the person experiencing this problem a light touch can feel as if you have been burned or poked with a needle, because the sensory system is not processing the sensation correctly and therefore you get the poor behavior. You can go to www.aota.org to find a therapist in your area that specializes with children and sensory processing. Good Luck. D.

It may not be OCD. Some children have sensitivity disorders.

Are you sure it is obsessive-compulsive disorder? This sounds like sensory defensiveness. It can be evaluated by an occupational therapist who specializes in sensory processing disorder. There are some symptoms which resemble OCD, but the cause and treatment are very different. There is a good book that explains things well called "The Out of Sync Child" by Carol Stock Kranowitz.

What you are describing is very common with tactile defensiveness. What happens is a child's pain perception is set to such a high level that common things such as clothes and tags, sock seams, getting unexpectedly wet, having hair and nails trimmed, getting messy things on his hands, etc (these vary from child to child) is perceived by the body as painful. Behavioral approaches rarely work because the central nervous system tells the body that he is in pain and responds appropriately. The fight or flight system (autonomic nervous system) kicks in.

Your child should also be checked by an OT for the presence of primitive reflexes. Some of these can make the child appear very rigid and controlling in their behavior as they try to limit stimuli which will cause their system to go into chaos.

I am a pediatric OT, but I used to work only with adults until my oldest needed therapy. I continued to take him to another therapist, but he was first believed by his pediatrician to have OCD, and it was only because I insisted he have an OT eval that he was properly diagnosed and treated. He now functions very well. He is a joy to us! I remember a year of his life when I thought I would lose my mind, though. He spent one entire year on the floor screaming (well beyond the age of having fits, especially since they NEVER worked for him).

Feel free to contact me if you have questions.

K. (mom of 8, 6, and 3 year olds who works part-time as an OT)

Hi. I am a 31 year old mother of two girls 9 and 8. My youngest one use to do the same thing. I began letting her pick out her own clothes. Then when she would begin to cry over the clothes being to tight or to itchy i would remind her that she chose those outfits. This had been a daily battle for me from the time she was 2 until she was 6. Everyone once in awhile she will have a bad day. But since she has begun to pick out her clothes we aren't having nearly as many daily crying spells.

I also now have her try on the clothes at the store before buying them so that i do not waste money on things she will later refuse to wear.

It will get better. Hope this helps. Good luck.


It could be a sensory processing disorder called Hypersensitivity, instead of OCD. My daughter was recently diagnosed with the opposite Hyposensitivity. Think whether or not he has a problem with "anything" touching him. How does he react from hugs from strangers or pressure of a tooth brush. Lots of things really. Treatment for both is similar. Try giving him massages everynight before bed or anytime (wouldn't that be nice for us) Also a light soft brush (like a baby brush) used on the arms and legs daily might help to regulate the senses. It's always good to get professional advice of course but try these or look it up while you are waiting for the Dr appointment, it certainly couldn't hurt.

I don't have the answers, but I have a daughter with similar issues. We went to our first psychologist appt today. I hope it helps. We struggle daily about clothes, baths, hair, and on and on. She can cry for over an hour because something is not the right shade of pink.

Your child sounds like he may have Sensory Integration Disorder in conjunction with the OCD. I would reccomend a good comprehensive evaluation (which should include treatment reccomendations)and professional treatment. Children's Hospital in Cincinnati does a great, thorough, evaluation which is often covered by insurance.

Yes....I have a 9 year old daughter that has the same issues and more. I'm now in the process of trying to find the right help. It has been a long process and hopefully I will find someone to help me. Wish I could give you the answers you need right now, but I can't. Just wanted you to know you are not alone and you just have to keep on fighting for the right help for your child. Pls. keep me posted and I will do the same for you. My e-mail address is (____@____.com) and my name is D.. Would love to hear from you. (Put in regard section on e-mail....OCD)

Your son sounds just like my 6 year old daughter. We stopped leaving the house for anything we didn't have to do because she would flip out over clothes. I thought about OCD, but wasn't sure.

It turns out she has a condition called SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder). Specifically, she suffers from tactile defensiveness/hypersensitivity. The books and research I've done compare what she's feeling to you or me wearing clothes made of fiberglass.

She sees an Occupational Theapist once a week & she's on a "Sensory Diet" at home every day (it has nothing to do with food). This is where I'd start if I were you:


Both are very helpful sites.

I started by asking our doctor about it, but he'd never heard of SPD. I had him refer us to an occupational therapist who's familar with SPD & she's doing wonderful things for us. The change in my daughter in the past months is fantastic!

If you want more info, please, feel free to ask.
Bless you!

Hi A.,

You have a lot of good advice, one that I might suggest is that you take him to a Developmental Pediatrician, they are also quailified to tease out what is going on here. I am sure that he would bennefit from Occupational Therapy so you could start with that appointment, but I would also make an appointment with a psychiatrist or a developmental pediatricain (which may take a lot longer than an OT.) What ever the dx turns out to be, and you should know that in most cases it will turn out to be a combination of things that can change over the years; thes are very treatable and he can fell better, especially if you get him the intervention he needs now.

One counter "two cents" from me, I have kids with a "dx" and we have never, never had a problem with medical doctors thinking that "everything" that is wrong with them is caused by thier diagnosis. For pediatricians, I find myself having to explain the dx to them because most of them don't really deal with this on a daily basis (why you need to go to a specailist ASAP). As for educatators, the opposite can be true as well, you end up on quite the opposite side, seeing clearly that a behavior or a need is caused by the disability, and could be handled in a better way, but the educator would rather see it as outside the disability.

All the clincial evidence shows that when it comes to interventionl, early is better, and if you don't get the right intervention, you could be wasting his time and your money! Incidentally, a dx is the only way to get help through the schools too...

Good luck!

M., Educational Advocate, SAHM 3 girls, 15, 11, 8

Maybe he is just very skin sensitive---clothes irriate, socks rub, shoes are to tight etc.When you put a shirt on does his skin turn red? Let him pick out what he wants to wear, see if that helps.

When you say he hasnt been diagnosed yet, OCD may not be the dx. I have a son who is 6 now who we also dealt with that issue with. He is not OCD. He actually has a sensory integration disorder and was diagnosed last year. He also has a zillion allergies to about every food out there so that tends to heighten the emotions.

The sensory disorder caused him to not want to wear clothes with tags (we cut them all out) or bought clothing without tags. There's lots of those out there now (Gymboree has some, Sonoma, Old Navy, etc). He also NEVER wanted to walk in the grass without his shoes. His emotions were heightened due to the allergic reactions and the sensory issue.

We have been having him treated for his allergy symptoms at Integrated Health at 93rd and Meridian. We swore off of having his pediatrician or allergist deal with the issues as all they wanted to do was fill him full of medications that didnt really seem to be helping.

He now has one preservative free natural injection weekly, takes a GREAT multi-vitamin without chemicals/preservatives and takes a probiotic and his personality has changed exponentially.

We are still working on some of the mood swings where he goes from majorly happy to really upset in record time, but alot of that goes to the maturity level, sleep, issue that he's upset about, being a six year old boy and lots of factors.

Be careful about allwowing anyone to put an OCD label on your child and filling them full of medications that have long lasting affects. Not trying to scare you, but think you need to be very cautious.

Good luck. There are some great resources out there to help you figure this out and we were lucky to find one of them at Integrative Health.

Has anyone mentioned Sensory Integration Dysfunction? It sure sounds more like that than OCD and isn't treated with drugs. Look for "the Out of Sync Child" by carol stock kranowitz, hopefully it can help. Good luck!

Hello A., I noticed your questions about OCD. My suggestion is that is may be more than just that. I would suggest requesting a book from your local library entitled, "The Out of Sync Child". It talks about (I'm trying to remember how they word it...) Sensory Issues. It discusses 3 different senses, one of them being 'Tactile'. Many children have under or over stimulation to different things. It sounds like he is over sensitive tactiley (if you can say that?). I have a special needs 9 1/2 year old and 3 others below him. He is undersensitive and loves everythings really hot or cold or loud or rough. I think you could find help with that book, although don't be to overwhelmed by it. It lists alot of issues, of which your son may only have a small part. My son went to Sensory therapy with a Occupational Therapist trained in SID or Sensory Integration Dysfunction (thats what its called). Not all doc's believe it, but you have to see for yourself. Some OT's will know more than others. Hope this helps.

Have you ever had your son tested for Sensory Processing Disorder??? The things that you listed definately sound like a sensory issue. A great book to read is called Out Of Sync. I have a son that has SPD and ADHD..... you might find that he isnt OCD.... the sensory issues will cause him to have ocd issues...............GOOD luck :)


Reading A. W e-mail brought back many memories for me. How I wished when I was raising my three far away from family and help I had a site like this..

A., I also have a son now 15 who is OCD. I knew from the day he was born that he was just "unique" and going to be my difficult child. I waited until I was out of my mind to get help. My advice is there's millions of OCD children/people etc.. It's a gift belive it or not, but a challenging one!

When my son was at home, I let him run around with his boxers on all the time, only thing he was comfrotable in. Don't fight it. Best thing to do is stay cal ( iknow tough) and then look in eye and talk quietly to him..

Please, don't wait until he's in school, get help now! It took me a few psychologist?pyschiatrist until I found our perfect match. Even though I am not a medicine person it's necessary for them to be on medication. It's unfair for them to suffer without.
My son is now 15 and doing great, still on medication and knows when he's stressing out and kn ows he'll probably be on it for the rest of his life. He plays sports, very well liked in school, works hard at school and most of all just a reat kid. Don't think he still doesn't get to us at times. But, I feel and have been told he'll be our achiever someday.

With OCD comes depression at times to from frustration, that.

Good luck and I also have alittle angel too


This actually sounds more like a sensory issue. I would try to have a sensory evaliation done. Part of what you will have to do is to desensitise him slowly to the different textures and any other things that will bother him. I think you will need to ask for an OT evaluation. Sometimes, you can find a sensory center to do this evaluation. You will find if you have a good therapist they can help. People can be sensitive to many things and need help from a professional to find the best way to desensitize them to these.

I have gone through the same thing with my daughter who is now 7. She still has a difficult time with clothing sensitivities. After much searching we discovered she had numerous sensitivities known as SI or Sensory Integration Disorder. Dr. Ayers is a wonderful resource and has written many books about the topic. An occupational therapist has worked with our daughter. The therapist is specialized in SI and teaches he to tolerate various touches easier. Once the testing was completed and I used the book as reference, things got much easier and now we just get lots of hand me down and "soft" clothes, I know what better to expect, and I accept that this is just a part of her that makes her special.

My favorite person on the planet is OCD. I can tell you that it is an anxiety disorder. More often than not it is a response to irrational fear. My loved one does repetitive actions over and over again. He has fallen down the stairs coutless times because he goes up and down the same three steps 5 - 10 times. I have noticed that the more I keep the other areas of life as calm as possible the better able he is to cope with his anxiety and the less likely he is to have episodes. Stress management through theraplay might help. Anti-anxiety medication is very helpful. It's a hard choice when they are young, but I can only imagine that he is absolutely miserable right along with you so if you go to a therapist and exhaust all the other options it might be a choice.


Your son doesn't sound OCD to me. It sounds like he has a sensory processing disorder. Some kids can not handle certain textures, tight clothes including socks and shoes, noise, smells and the list goes on. You can look up Sensory Integration Disorders online for more information on the problem and possible solutions. My son sees an occupational therapist every week to work on his issues and he is only 2.5.


Sounds exactly like my Nicholas, who was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder 5 years ago when he was 4. All the advice on OT, sensory diet, etc. were given so I won't repeat them. Just wanted to direct you to www.kidfoundation.org, the website for Dr. Lucy Miller's organization on sensory processing. She's one of the leading researchers into spd, and amazing to listen to in conference. Good luck!

I am sorry but I do not have any advice for this because I have 2 grandsons suffering from the same thing. One constantly washes his hands and will not touch certain things with his hands. His hands get so red and sore from the constant washing. He has no real problems with food but his brother does. His brother is so thin because he will not try any new foods. All he eats is cereal and chicken patties but only certain chicken patties. They cannot have any bumps on them. Drives us all crazy with trying to please him. I will keep checking the advice as I too need help.

Hi A.,

Have you ever thought of your son being "gifted?" Gifted children have a lot of these tendencies. I highly suggest having his IQ tested prior to putting him on any medicines. I have a family of "gifted" kids, some of whom you wouldn't think were. If you read a book entitled, "Misdiagnoses and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Adults and Children" these children are often misdiagnosed with OCD, etc. My first daughter was diagnosed with OCD and they wanted to put her on medicines, but being in the medical profession, I wanted nothing of the sort. We worked on behavioral modification. A couselor at school asked me to read that book....it was my daughter to a tee. She now attends a school for "gifted" kids and is 300% better. She went from a depressed/sullen little girl to a happy young lady. Kids don't always have to be "book" smart to be gifted. You may not notice it in your son, but it is definitely worth a try before doing anything with medicines. My kids have sensory issues as well, everything itches, the tags are terrible, socks and tights (forget it)! Everyone in my daughter's school has this problem. If you want to talk further, please feel free to give me a call at ###-###-####.


My soon-to-be stepdaughter (11 years old) was diagnosed with OCD at a very young age. She takes Zoloft to control it, and it's very effective.

If you're skeptical about medicating your son, I can totally empathize with you. I have always felt very strongly that children shouldn't be medicated for things like this. However, a doctor once said that the medication doesn't alter their personality; rather, it allows their true personality to shine through. They recently tried to ween my stepdaughter off her medication, and I got to see what this doctor meant.

She is a bubbly, friendly, sweet, active, happy-go-lucky girl. Without medication, though, she was miserable. She cried uncontrollably and was unable to cope with even the smallest things. In short, she wasn't herself. At all. Within a few days of being back on medication, she was back to her happy self, and I was suddenly a believer.

This is not to say that your son will need medication. He may not even be diagnosed with OCD. But, if he is, I just want you to know that he is not alone, and to be open to whatever treatment his doctor suggests.

I hope this helps.

In addition to an OCD evaluation, you may want to have him evaluated for Sensory Integration Disfunction, where brins don't process sensory info the same as other people. Sensory Intergation Disfunction has many forms--tactile, auditory, oral, vestibular, etc. Your discriptions strike me as possibly being tactile Sensory Integration issues. I taught some students with this and it can be greatly helped by seeing an occupational therapist.

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