View trusted insights from KidsHealth.org, the No. 1 most-viewed health site for children, created by the experts at Nemours. We've also provided information from the most-respected nonprofit organizations.
From Nemours' KidsHealth
- ADHD Special Needs Factsheet
- What Is ADHD?
- Anxiety, Fears, and Phobias
- Anxiety Disorders Special Needs Factsheet
- Autism Special Needs Factsheet
- Disciplining Your Child
- Marijuana: What Parents Need to Know
- 5 Ways to Bully-Proof Your Kid
- Helping Kids Deal With Bullies
- Helping Kids Cope With Cliques
- Cough and Cold Medicine Abuse
- Teaching Kids Not to Bully
- Taming Tempers
- Disciplining Your Toddler
- Your Child's Habits
- Taking Your Child to a Therapist
- Connecting With Your Preteen
- Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)
- How Can I Help My Child Overcome Shyness?
- My Child Is Stealing
- Teaching Your Child Self-Control
- 504 Education Plans
- Developing Your Child's Self-Esteem
- Helping Teens Who Cut
- Could ADHD Be Hereditary?
- Talking to Your Child About Drugs
- Kids and Alcohol
- A to Z: Panic Disorder
- Temper Tantrums
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder Special Needs Factsheet
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Special Needs Factsheet
- Eating Disorders
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Special Needs Factsheet
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Does Ritalin Have Side Effects?
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Cutting Special Needs Factsheet
- Drugs: What Parents Need to Know
- Separation Anxiety
- About Teen Suicide
- Social Phobia Special Needs Factsheet
- Childhood Stress
Trusted External Resources
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Special Needs Factsheet
What Teachers Should Know
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder. For people with OCD, upsetting or scary thoughts or images (called obsessions) pop into their minds and are hard to shake.
People with OCD feel strong urges to repeatedly do certain things — called rituals or compulsions — to banish the scary thoughts; ward off things they dread; or make sure that things are safe, clean, or right in some way.
Doctors consider obsessive thinking and rituals to be OCD when they do one or more of the following:
- take up more than 1 hour each day
- cause distress
- interfere with daily activities
OCD in kids is usually diagnosed between age 7 and 12. Since these are the years when kids naturally feel concerned about fitting in with peers, the discomfort and stress brought on by OCD can make them feel scared, out of control, and alone. Stressful events (such as starting school or a loved one's death, for example) can trigger or worsen OCD.
Students with OCD may:
- fear dirt, germs, contamination, or illness
- need symmetry, order, and precision when doing class work
- be preoccupied with certain objects or thoughts
- miss class time due to fears about school
- miss class time to talk to a school counselor or other mental health specialist
- need extra time to complete assignments because they reread and rewrite assignments
- need to take medication
- have rituals and preoccupations that seem odd to other students, which may make them a target for bullies
- benefit from special education services, such as individualized education programs (IEPs) or 504 education plans
What Teachers Can Do
Because OCD symptoms can interfere with learning, some students with the disorder require instructional accommodations, including extra time with assignments or learning breaks if they're feeling anxious.
Teachers need to understand that a student's ritualistic behaviors are part of the disorder. Talking with a school counselor and the student's parents or guardians to learn about the student can help. You might be asked to help the student redirect the behavior or ignore the behavior instead of correcting it or issuing a consequence.
OCD is treatable, but overcoming it isn't a quick or easy process. Students with OCD usually need to work with a therapist to help manage their behaviors and the accompanying thoughts and feelings.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: April 28, 2017