The mother of an eight-year-old girl with OCD told the story of her daughter's nightly ritual before she went to bed: The prayers she had to say for everyone she cared about, lest they meet harm before morning. The fears and tears at the thought she'd forgotten someone. The way the curtains on her bedroom window had to meet exactly equal distances from each side of the windowsill. How the bedspread had to lie without a single wrinkle. And then, once she finally got under the covers, the counting to whatever number was her magic number that day.
The girl's mother remembered one especially painful night, when her frustrated and exhausted daughter turned to look at her younger sister sleeping soundly in the bed next to hers, and asked, “Mommy, why can't I be normal?” That was the night this mother realized she had to get help, for her daughter and the entire family.
This book is for mothers and fathers who have faced a bedtime or mealtime or workday morning like this mother did. As you already know all too well, OCD is not just a problem for one child, one preteen, or one adolescent. If OCD is present in your family, you are all suffering. The good news is that treatment for OCD is possible, and a normal life is within your reach. This book is a starting place for those of you who are beginning the journey toward recovery from OCD. It's also for the parent who isn't sure whether the symptoms he sees in his child rise to OCD. If that is you, in the first chapters of this book you'll learn about the telltale signs of OCD and how to interpret them.
The authors make no assumptions that readers come to this book with any previous education in psychology, or have knowledge of the neurobiological science behind mental health disorders. OCD is a complex, constantly shape-shifting disorder. At its root is anxiety, the feeling of unease or fear that each human being feels when something inside him or in his environment in not right. As long as humans have walked the earth, they've relied on their perception of things being right or not right as a signal for real and present danger. For the child with OCD, these signals have run amuck, causing him to see threats where there are none. In response to these invisible threats, a child responds the only way he can: by experiencing unwanted recurring thoughts, which then prompt him to perform compulsive actions or rituals. One young man described his involuntary compulsions by saying, “Whenever I feel anxious, I wash my hands, just in case.”
With treatment, up to 75 percent of children with OCD are substantially in remission by older adolescence. That is what makes early intervention so critically important. With treatment, your child will acquire the skills to do what once seemed impossible, to fight back against the OCD until life — his and yours — is once again manageable.
In the first half of this book, you'll be guided through the process of finding the right mental healthcare provider in order to obtain a definitive diagnosis of OCD and get your child started in treatment. In addition to giving you the information you need to navigate the medical world, you'll also be given the tools you need to support your child's treatment at home and school. If more help is needed to repair the wear and tear OCD has already wrought on your family, a guide to family therapy is also provided. There is also an explanation of how parents manage the financial challenges of raising a child with OCD.
Don't miss the last pages of The Everything® Parent's Guide to Children with OCD, where you'll find valuable resources to take you on the next steps of your journey to recovery. Check out and use the contact information for the essential national service organizations, government agencies, and online communities, and learn about more books for your immediate use and lifelong learning.