OCD Behavior in Toddler - Mothering Forums

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Old 01-11-2008, 02:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My DS1 is 21 months old. Since he was about 9 months old he's "twirled" things. He takes anything from a flower to Mr Potato Head eyes and puts it between his thumb and index finger, and twirls it round and round. Obsessively. He HAS to do this with anything that is shaped like that. We thought it was cute, but now his compulsions are getting stranger and harder to deal with.

If he has a string... which doesn't have to be a string, it can be the vacuum cord, the airline tubing from a breastpump, ANYTHING that's stringlike.... he has to hold one end, and someone else has to hold the other end. If that doesn't happens, or if you "don't hold it right", he gets terribly upset. Throws a huge tantrum, complete with hysterical screaming. Also, if he plays with a string by himself, it "doesn't do what he wants it to do" and he goes into one of these tantrums. I've taken to removing all string like things from his reach, because I can't stand to see him so upset over it "not doing what he wants it to do."

He's also very particular about lining things up, stacking, order of things, etc. But nothing upsets him quite like the string.

So, since OCD runs in both sides of the family (pretty severely on my side), I'm wondering if it is OCD. I hope it isn't, because it can be horrible for the sufferer.

Or, is this just normal for a toddler, and they grow out of it? How do I deal with it in either case? Anyone have any good links about this issue?

Thanks! I'm losing my mind trying to deal with him.

ETA: He also has to have something with texture to touch while falling asleep. The edge of a blanket, the wall, whatever has texture that he can rub his finger against.

Danell - Craft Savvy mama to Evan (3/31/06) and Andre (8/29/07)
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Old 01-11-2008, 08:52 AM
 
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I've joked about my 18 month old having ocd. He has to have everything in it's place. If we leave the cordless phone on the table, he picks it up and says, put put put put, getting louder and more desperate until we put it in place. Sometimes he won't brush his teeth because his toothbrush has to be on the stand. Just about everything has to go back in its place as soon as it'S not being used. I'm not worried about it though. I assume he'll grow out of it
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Old 01-11-2008, 09:00 AM
 
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I would take him in for an evaluation but I woudn't assume it is OCD. Of course knowing your family history is helpful. You can start with your ped and they can help you go from there. It sounds like it has crossed the normal line because he can't be distracted from this activity and it must happen in a certain order of events, etc.
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Old 01-11-2008, 10:21 AM
 
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My DS 18 months does certain tasks repetitively. I must say OCD has crossed my mind also but I think they all have their funny little quirks about them and alot of their repetitive behaviour is about learning. Your DS may just be relating the different stringy items to one another. At this age they like to identify and test similar objects to see if they can do the same thing.

DS is obsessed with buckles ie on highchair, pram, anywhere. He has to lock the straps in over and over and will chuck wobblies when he cant do it anymore cause his hands are too tired and also that he can't actually undo them. Plugs are another, he has to plug things in. So l think it's the connecting thing that fascinates him. He will also make me read the same book to him in one sitting maybe 20 times in a row. Of course l have memorised all his books!!! I can talk about lots of other things he does over and over obsessively... but l truely do think that it is a learning curve.

I can understand your concern with OCD running on both sides of the family but l think it is probably too young to tell. Also l don't know if OCD is hereditary?

My DS also does the texture feel thing when going to sleep. He has this bean bear that he slowly brushes from his finger tips up to his forearm and face.

With the cord thing, l know how difficult they can be to distract. Have you tried acknowledging that things are the same and yes they do twirl? Talk him about it and maybe try to direct his attention as difficult as it may be to other objects that turn and twirl but are not stringy such as helicopters and spin tops via demonstration.

If he's anything like my DS, yes he will grow out of it but onto something else. :
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Old 01-11-2008, 10:53 AM
 
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I would take him for an eval. Putting things in lines obcessions with things can be signs of other things. If OCD runs in your family then there can be a higher risk of ASD.

Jeana Christian momma to 4 sons Logan 18, Connor 15, Nathan 6, and bonus baby Jack 1
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Old 01-11-2008, 12:24 PM
 
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I agree with everyone. Talk to your ped. You'll have to get a full Psy eval, which is way easier than it sounds. It's basically a professional coming to your house and hanging out with him. Playing, etc. Very non-evasive. Good Luck. I'd love to hear what happens. Much love... it must be challenging to work with his behaviors.
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Old 01-11-2008, 05:52 PM
 
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It doesn't hurt to talk to a Dr. especially because of your family history. At the same time it is not unusual for toddlers to be very quirky.
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Old 01-11-2008, 06:21 PM
 
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Definitely have your lo evaluated. As others have suggested, all toddlers seem to have a certain level of OCD, it's part of their development process. Sometimes it's normal and they move on to new things, other times it's not. Seek your ped's advice, express how strongly you feel that it is NOT normal behavior in your opinion. I'm going to assume you already have a basic knowledge of OCD, but you should also research autism and sensory processing disorder aka sensory integration dysfunction. If the ped doesn't refer your lo to a therapist experienced in these areas for evaluation, seek one out on your own.
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Old 01-11-2008, 10:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the responses! At this time we don't have insurance, so going to a pediatrician for something that's not making anyone sick is out of the question. But, I think his behavior might warrant a later trip to the doc to check it out.

I expect a certain amount of OCD behavior from a toddler... that's just what I expect them to be like. What has me worried is the level of tantrum he throws when the string "isn't right." It's the kind where I swear his eyes turn black and any moment his head is going to spin.

I'll definitely be doing some research on development issues with toddlers.

Danell - Craft Savvy mama to Evan (3/31/06) and Andre (8/29/07)
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Old 01-12-2008, 12:57 AM
 
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My 2 year old has a thing with stacking and lining things up. He recently took all of the sticky eyes off his bath toys and lined them up on a table in the bathroom, he also stuck them to the tile on the bath wall. He'll take crayons out of the box and line them all up, then put them back in the box-rinse and repeat several times. Paddy is also very tidy and likes to clean things, always scrapes his plate after dinner and puts his dishes in the sink. I guess its never alarmed me because no one in my family has OCD, but i can see where this kind of thing would alarm you because of your family history. I'd wait it out, and if it gets worse or more bizarre, then have him checked out.
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Old 01-12-2008, 01:16 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danotoyou2 View Post
Thanks for all the responses! At this time we don't have insurance, so going to a pediatrician for something that's not making anyone sick is out of the question. But, I think his behavior might warrant a later trip to the doc to check it out.

I expect a certain amount of OCD behavior from a toddler... that's just what I expect them to be like. What has me worried is the level of tantrum he throws when the string "isn't right." It's the kind where I swear his eyes turn black and any moment his head is going to spin.

I'll definitely be doing some research on development issues with toddlers.
You should be able to self refer to your states Early Intervention. Call your local school district and they should help you, if they don't know ask that a special education teacher/specialist returns your call. You should not have to pay anything for these services, evaluation or treatment, it is a state covered program.
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Old 01-12-2008, 04:55 AM
 
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I would not assume OCD at this point. I also am not certain that you would find something really helpful quickly if you did. Your child has a "having to do a thing with a thing" issue, and that can be associated with some things like sensory issues, autism spectrum conditions, anxiety/obsessive compulsive rituals--and some young kids are just much more intense about such things. Some things you could research would be these:

1) Find out about EI services in your area--they vary in quality, helpfulness, and attitude, but some people who didn't want to go that route are pleasantly surprised.

2) Learn more about childhood anxiety and OCD--even if your child doesn't have it, learning about it can help. I haven't found a resource I consider perfect, but I have read Tamar Chansky's books _Freeing Your Child from OCD_ and _Freeing Your Child from Anxiety_--I wouldn't rush in trying to apply stuff, especially with a young child. It makes more sense when a child can say "I want to work on this" She also has a website called worrywisekids.org The ocdandparenting yahoo group is also a good resource if you decide to use it.

One thing I did find helpful with my son's obsessive compulsive issues was to be clear on my own boundaries--for example, in your situation I might decide that I would no longer hold the other end of strings--perhaps we'd go through a process where I'd do it 2 times but no more, perhaps I'd hide them all (and if the child "has to" do the thing whenever the child sees the thing but doesn't appear to miss the activity if it's gone, I would hide them to), it all depends on what seems to be working for my child. If my child starts getting me to play a role in a compulsive ritual, it usually strengthens his intensity here. If my child is yelling at me for "not doing X right" then when possible I stop doing X.

3) learn about sensory issues, as some children who are really into doing a particular thing with a thing over and over have them. Raising a Sensory Smart Child, The Out of Sync Child, one of those. There was a thread recently with sensory stuff.

4) For a child with an autism spectrum condition, some of the things you describe would be considered stims or perseverations (depending on both the activity and who you ask!, but these are more like perseverations, possibly). Reading some good, positive info. about the spectrum might be helpful to you. In the heaviest tantruming years, I didn't know what I was doing or what I was dealing with, so I'm not sure what would help! If the string does seem to fulfill a certain purpose for the child--an alternative to hiding the string might be to have a box of strings of different types and lengths for the child to experiment with.

5) Another important thing is to be able to be calm in the face of your child's distress. Much easier said than done, but always more helpful than the alternative.

Sherri
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Old 01-12-2008, 11:25 AM
 
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We used to joke that my youngest had OCD. As he got older there were other small concerns. His biggest one seems to be the obsessiveness still. At three he had a huge meltdown at the peds and she suggested that he be evaluated. He was just diagnosed with an autism spectrum condition. Now everything fits together quite well.

Misty, mama to my nurslings William(11/4/02) and Parker(7/13/04).
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