Parents Guide: How to Help a Child With OCD
Working With the School
Many times children will experience OCD symptoms at school. If this is the case for your child, it will be helpful to get his school on board with treatment. Often the first step is helping teachers and administrators at the school understand OCD. Educating the school is particularly important because many behaviors associated with OCD can be mistaken for something else, like oppositional behavior, learning problems or another disorder. For example, a child’s OCD symptoms might make him distracted, which could look like ADHD, or make him take a very long time on tasks and tests, which could look like a learning problem. An emotional outburst might be caused by another student triggering his OCD. When teachers understand what a child’s particular challenges are — and that he’s not just being difficult — they will be better able to help him.
You child’s clinician should be able to give specific advice on the best way to work with the school, including explaining your child’s OCD triggers, setting up a plan for how the teacher can help your child if he feels his symptoms coming on, and minimizing any behavioral problems or challenges. Clinicians sometimes will go into the school to help train teachers on how to support a student with OCD.
Your child’s clinician may also be able to suggest strategies to help your child focus on learning, such as preferential seating and private testing rooms to minimize distraction, or extended time on tests and papers and use of a laptop to minimize negative consequences from perfectionism.