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  • Himani Choudhary

A five year old's intrusions!

Updated: Jan 30, 2021

Imagine being a 5 year old child. You have barely grown into your skin. There are so many new things around you. There are so many new things going on within you. This alien experience coupled with an obsessive disorder is not what every kid needs. The stages between 5-8 years are years of primary cognitive growth and development. A disorder during this stage is to be dealt with a great deal of sensitivity and specificity. There are three main principles used by psychologists to approach the disorder in this stage psychoeducation about OCD in young children, parent education and tools to facilitate exposure, and child tools adapted to allow young children to participate in exposure with response prevention. The intervention held for these kids is highly focused on creating a safe environment and providing the kids with tools that they can use to manage and react to the disorder. The lack of cognitive growth in the kids means that they cannot be a part of therapy that older people having the same condition can engage in. Children below the age of 7 do not have the capability to distinguish between the intrusive thoughts and normal thoughts. Here the primary tool that is used is the education and training provided to the parents. The main problem and danger of the development of OCD at an impressionable age is that the children think it's a habit. There is no distinguishing between a childhood habit and obsessive and compulsive behaviour anymore. These children have shown behaviour of significant distress when their routine is missed. Specialized tests like the Child Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale can be used for the early assessment in children. It is also important to differentiate OCD concerns from other anxiety or behavioral difficulties. While more assessment tools are available for older children and adolescents, there are reliable assessment tools available for young children and their parents. For example, a semi-structured interview administered by a trained clinician is important to distinguish OCD from other anxiety and behavioral concern. Recognising symptoms and addressing them are very important, especially among children. It is important to know the symptoms and treat them as soon as possible before the behaviours are normalised by the kids and the family.

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