One of the many disorders that we assess children for here in northern New Jersey is OCD. While many parents fear that their energetic and sometimes anxious child may show signs of OCD, it’s important to note that most kids do eventually move on from the things that have been making them feel out of sorts. When children spend a large portion of their time performing uncontrollable behaviors that are related to their anxiety, it is a sign that something is truly wrong. Here’s why a neuropsychological assessment for suspected OCD is so important in the very early years.
What Does a Child with OCD Look Like?
If parents have never dealt with OCD themselves, they may only recognize it as the stereotype from movies and TV, where the person with OCD just can’t step on a sidewalk crack. But in real life, OCD means that your child has intrusive anxious thoughts all day long, and performs repetitive behaviors that they can’t control as a means of feeling safe. For example, a child may be constantly worried that their (very healthy) parent is going to die, and in order to feel less anxious about this baseless worry, they will obsessively wash their hands until their skin becomes raw and painful. The behaviors don’t make sense to those without OCD, but they can severely hinder the quality of life of anyone who suffers from it.
How This Impacts a Child’s Entire Life
With these kinds of obsessive thoughts and behaviors, it becomes very hard for children to focus on their schoolwork, make friends, perform basic tasks, advance their fine motor skills, and many other important things. Many children with OCD are “diagnosed” as having a learning disorder, or simply being “slow”, when in reality, they have a severe anxiety-related disorder that requires treatment.
Early Treatment is Key
The longer that OCD is allowed to manifest without treatment, the more ingrained these repetitive behaviors become. Later in life, it can take far more time to truly treat OCD. As a child, having a neuropsychological assessment, and learning how to redirect energy and thoughts, can vastly improve the ability to focus in school, have a healthy social life, and much more. Getting your child evaluated early gives them the biggest advantage they can get for this disorder.