Shared Characteristics of Autism and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
The effects of obsessive compulsive disorder in children with autism spectrum diagnoses are characterized by several traits: repetitive thoughts and actions, excessive fascination with topics of interest, and insistence on performing specific tasks or rituals as calming mechanisms. Children with autism who exhibit these behaviors to a significant degree may receive an additional diagnosis of obsessive compulsive disorder. As comorbid disorders, or conditions that occur simultaneously, autism and OCD can result in a child experiencing major anxiety if he or she is unable to engage in the compulsions (such as counting or lining objects in a row) that alleviate certain distressing or disturbing thoughts (such as being emotionally or physically harmed).
Obsessive compulsive disorder in children can lead to pronounced deficits in the areas of social interaction and daily functioning. When combined with autism, OCD can heighten a child’s feelings of pressure and anxiety in regard to forming and maintaining peer friendships. As many children with OCD worry about making mistakes on school assignments and tests, they may feel overwhelmed in the classroom or when completing homework. The comorbid disorders of autism and OCD often result in troublesome behaviors and thoughts that need to be addressed through professional treatment.
Treating Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in Children with Autism
Certain therapeutic techniques and medications are effective in treating the symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder. These treatments are particularly beneficial for children who have also been diagnosed with autism, as they help to minimize the more severe effects of comorbid disorders. Cognitive behavioral therapy, which addresses issues such as obsessive compulsive disorder through thought and behavior modification, can gradually result in a child feeling less anxious in the absence of a calming ritual.
While medications do not specifically treat autism spectrum disorders, children with OCD may experience positive behavioral changes when taking a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). SSRI medications treat symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and obsessive thought patterns. Typically, a combination of therapy and medication is recommended for children with OCD.
While obsessive compulsive disorder and autism are challenging for a child to experience, support from trained medical and psychiatric professionals, teachers, and parents serves as positive reinforcement and encouragement. The effects of obsessive compulsive disorder in children with autism can be greatly reduced with professional interventions.
Autism, PDD-NOS, Asperger’s–https://www.autism-help.org/comorbid-obsessive-compulsive.htm
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder–https://www.brighttots.com/Obsessive_Compulsive_Disorder.html