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How You Can Help Your Child


If your child has obsessive-compulsive disorder, there are things you can do to help her.

Some children with obsessive-compulsive disorder are not bothered by the problem, or can manage life with it. But some children have it so badly that it is hard for them to live normal lives. They need to get help.

With the right help, people with obsessive-compulsive disorder can take control of their own thoughts and behaviors. Life is a lot easier when children are not being controlled by strange thoughts or habits.

The kinds of help you can get
The best help usually uses both therapy and medicine.

Behavioral therapy

In behavioral therapy (be-HAIV-yur-al THER-ah-pee), you and your child will talk to a doctor who knows a lot about obsessive-compulsive disorder. The doctor will help your child learn how to see the problem and stop the thought or the compulsions.


A doctor may give your child medicine to help stop the obsessions. The medicine might also help her feel less nervous or scared. The medicine won't work right away. It can take a few months before you will know if the medicine is really helping. Sometimes, parents see improvement after a few weeks though.

Right now there are 5 different medicines that help people with obsessive- compulsive disorder. All 5 medicines work on the same chemical in the brain. That chemical is called serotonin. But the 5 medicines are not exactly the same. Ask your child's doctor which medicin is best for her. If 1 medicine does not work, another kind might. Your child's doctor may suggest a change if the first try does not work.

These medicines can have side effects.
Some medicines have side effects. Ask your child's doctor what they are before your child starts taking the medicine. Some side effects could be:

  • Being more tired
  • Constipation (not being able to have a bowel movement)
  • Stomach ache
  • Nervousness
  • Head aches

Most of these side effects go away after 1 or 2 weeks.

Medicine by itself does not usually work as well as medicine and therapy together. Medicine is not instead of therapy. Try to get your child both kinds of help, because this problem is best to fix when your child is young. Obsessive and compulsive behaviors can become life-long habits.

How to find help if your child has a hearing problem and obsessive-compulsive disorder
It can be hard to get help for a deaf child with obsessions and compulsions, but things are getting better. Here are some things you can do:

  • Ask your child's school for the name of a good doctor who has helped other deaf children before.
  • Ask for an interpreter for your child's appointment. Or plan how your child will understand what people are saying, and how she will tell others what she is thinking.
  • Look for a psychologist or a psychiatrist who knows about deafness. Even if they do not know a lot about obsessive-compulsive disorder, you can look for more help together. Try to find someone who understands what your child says, and who talks in a way that your child can understand. If your child uses sign language, look for someone who uses sign language.
  • Look for workbooks in the bookstore or library that help adults and children understand obsessive-compulsive disorder and stop what is happening. Show these workbooks to your child's counselor. Discuss ways of making the pages helpful for your child. You might need to re-write pages in a way that makes sense to her.
  • Do not accept if your doctor tells you that this problem is because your child is deaf. Deafness does NOT cause obsessions and compulsions.

Learn more about obsessive-compulsive disorder
Check out these websites to find out more about obsessive-compulsive disorder.

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