C.A. asks from Indianapolis, IN on September 19, 2007
How to Explain to Son with OCD What His Disorder Is About
I have an 11 year old son..who is a wonderful little guy. He was diagnosed with OCD at 4 years old and has been on mediciation for it since he was 5. He knows he's not like the other kids around him...but I've never actually told him "what" it is thats different. I think now its time to tell him that he has a disease called OCD and try to explain to him what its about. I don't know how to go about it!! I want to be sure that he doesn't feel bad about it--but I want him to be able to explain it to someone else (teachers, friends) if the time comes. Any advice or websites or books on this would be wonderful! His older brother knows all about his brothers disorder and therefore deals with it, but he's about fed up and wants me to make Christian understand too. Thanks in advance.
1 mom found this helpful
So What Happened?™
THank you all for your wonderful advice. I've found a book online called "What To Do When Your Brain Gets Stuck" its written for kids and teens with OCD. I'm going to order it and read it with Christian.
Thanks again to you all!!
L.B. answers from South Bend on September 20, 2007
I too have a son that was diagnosed with OCD. Unlike your case though he also has Tourette's Syndrome, ADHD and a few other disorders that go along with Tourette's Syndrome. My son was not diagnosed until he was 7 and has also been on medication since his diagnosis. Unfortunately for him though because of all of the other problems some of the medications can actually make the OCD behaviors worse. (It seems you get one under control and then the others flare up).
My son has always been into super heroes and so from the beginning I have always used that angle. Most super heroes didn't want their powers either, but they got them and they have to use their special powers to help people. I also use the Christian angle and refer to God and his plan and their must be a reason that he has all of these special "gifts". Most us look at it as a bad thing that our children have these "problems" and are "different" from other children. But I have always tried to believe and make my son believe that it is actually a blessing.
I definitely think that he is old enough to learn about his disorder, and typically patients with disorders like our children are above the charts on an intelligence scale, so yes, get some research from the internet and print it out for him, or go to the library and get a book to help him understand, but also make him understand that the disorder that he has, when perceived in the proper way, can be a blessing.
Is it really so bad that he checks to make sure the door is locked a few more times than the majority of people do?
Good luck to you and your son, and remember some days are better than others!!!
J.C. answers from Fort Wayne on September 20, 2007
I bet if you went to the library, you could find some really good books that are geared towards a child's understanding of OCD. I would do something really special with him, maybe one of his favorite things to do, that also a lot of other children love to do. Then, I would sit him down in a private setting, and explain to him that you have something you want him to become aware of. It would be good to do this after an event that you can use as "See, there's nothing you can't do that every other kid can do." That way he knows that he's "normal", just that his brain works a little differently than other kids' do. I think that at age 11, he'll be quite more resilient to it than you'd think. I think he'll be like "Okay" and then have it really be no big deal. Just make sure that he fully understands what it is so that he's able to recognize the disorder in areas of his life that it affects in the future.
What a good mommy you are for researching ways to inform your child instead of just thinking that it's not a big deal and just coming out with it. He's very lucky to have a mom who's so sensitive and aware of his feelings and reactions. Good luck with everything, he'll be just fine.
C.F. answers from Indianapolis on September 19, 2007
I do not have any family members with OCD but I have known people with it and have seen numerous documentaries on the subject. I think 11 years old is old enough to start to explain it to him and I agree that you should. I would maybe find a nice documentary on it but try to see it first so you can make a game plan on what you are going to say to him. Then let him watch it and explain to him that that is what he has and that he is like any other person but his brain wants to do things more often than some others may do things. That would be a good time to explain again why he takes the meds that it helps his brain calm down a little. Depending on how he learns best be it through books or watching a documentary that is how I would approach it at first. Good Luck!
C.M. answers from Bloomington on September 19, 2007
I would tell him outright that he has OCD and name it. Then I would explain that we all have our issues and his just happens to be that his brain gets stuck on certain details. Instead of moving on and being able to quickly adapt to new things like other people, his brain wants things to be a certain way. The medicine helps his brain to not get stuck.
There is a show on cable called "Monk." My parents really enjoy it, but I've only seen it once. Anyway, the main character has severe OCD that was triggered by the death of his wife. He was a detective for the police, but now he works as a consultant to the police, with an assistant. Without the assistant, he wouldn't leave his house. If you have cable, you might want to tape it for him.
K.S. answers from Indianapolis on September 19, 2007
I kind of have the opposite problem. I have OCD and BipolarII myself and struggle with getting my family to understand what all my disorders entail. My opinion is that 11 is definately old enough to understand, or at least begin to understand, what OCD is all about. In addition to having the disorders myself, I have worked with young adults with mental illnesses from depression to schizophrenia and it always helped for me to compare their illness to a physical ailment when it came to taking meds, etc. ie: Just like someone with heart disease, you take medication for your illness, or just like someone with diabetes, you may have some difficulties with work or school. There is such a stigma around mental illness still, I believe it's important to stress that it's a real illness with real symptoms and you might even explain to him what stigma means and what it is all about. Most importantly, teach him in a way that limits the amount of shame he may have around it. You might also get advice from the psychiatrist or therapist, if he sees one and search the internet for a kid's book on mental illness; I would think one would exist. This is an issue that's dear to my heart and I wish you good luck!