Interactions and Differences Between OCD and Autism

Autism spectrum disorder symptoms are more common in children and adolescents diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and there is a significant relationship between obsessive-compulsive disorder and the severity of autism symptoms. Further studies are needed to investigate genetic and environmental common risk factors in obsessive-compulsive disorder and an autism spectrum disorder.

There is no uniform treatment for autism, as everyone with the disease presents it differently. Therapies and strategies are available to manage the health problems that often accompany autism. These issues can be epilepsy, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and sleep disorders.

While not all of these treatments will be effective for all people with an autism spectrum disorder, there are many options to consider that can help people cope with it. Autism experts or psychologists can refer a person to a treatment that reflects autism presentations.

Even though it looks like autism and OCD do not have many common points, according to researchers and professionals there is an overlap between them. There is a huge percentage. Besides, there are many people who did not get diagnosed with autism but they have autism and OCD.

The obsessive-compulsive disorder presents itself mostly with repetitive behaviors which is one of the main characteristics of autism spectrum disorder. Individuals on the autism spectrum are twice as likely as individuals without autism to be diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Recently, researchers have started to work on interactions and differences between those conditions.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Repetitive motor movements: such as turning around, swinging, tiptoeing, and waving hands, flapping wings. Repetitive speech patterns. Being tied to daily routines, wanting to do the same things constantly, and being disturbed by changing patterns. Areas of interest that are abnormal in terms of subject matter or intensity. Sensory over- or under-sensitivity: Sensitivity to sound, smell, touch, hypersensitivity to pain/heat, an unexpected reaction to certain sounds or touches, excessive sniffing or over touching objects, being too visually preoccupied with light or movement. It is very important to know sensory sensitivities because they can result in tantrums.

Stating that the main reason in autism is generally thought to be genetic factors, but studies in this area are still ongoing, experts said, “Studies examining brain structure and functions speak of functional differences in certain regions of the brain. The most important findings are shrinkage in some parts of the brain, loss of nerve cells in some parts, and a higher than normal brain weight at a certain age”.

A child with autism is highly prone to repeat actions over and over. These repetitions and obsessions can be seen in many different ways. They can answer the questions with the same question. He may exhibit damaging repetitive and obsessive behaviors such as swaying back and forth, throwing his head. They may order their toys neatly, they may want to sit in the same place at mealtime, and they may try to fix their complex worlds with these behaviors.

Not intervening in repetitive and obsessive behaviors, that is, not trying to improve with treatment, may cause bigger problems in the future. Echolalia’s persistence for a long time may mean the inability to develop communication skills and socialize. Therefore, children with autism who display repetitive and obsessive behaviors should be reduced and improved with parallel positive behaviors.

In the treatment of repetitive and obsessive behaviors, the cause of these behaviors should be investigated and the root of the problem should be addressed. The reason for the repetitive and obsessive behaviors of many children with autism has been identified as drawing attention through these behaviors, as they cannot express themselves in words when they need them. Sometimes the child with autism does repetitive and obsessive behaviors to relax.

Ignoring repetitive and obsessive behaviors especially for attention can cause them to stop these behaviors after a while. In such a case, instead of showing excessive interest, an alternative game can be offered by drawing his attention to another side. Especially, improving communication is extremely important in reducing echolalia. Thus, the child with autism will express his feelings and thoughts by speaking, not by repetitive behaviors.

Children with autism surprisingly have their own special abilities. By exploring this, it is extremely effective in reducing repetitive and obsessive behaviors to develop a child’s special ability.

Obsessive repetitive behaviors such as turning around oneself, turning objects, swinging back and forth, head hitting, and tiptoeing are seen in most children with autism. Behavioral training and treatments, special therapies, and parental involvement are important in the treatment of repetitive behaviors.

Repetitive movements are behaviors that can disappear with training and overtime. It can be a sign of boredom, joy, and joy, or it is more for attention or relaxation. In these situations, which may put families in a difficult situation with strange behaviors compared to their peers, it is important to divert the child’s attention to an area of his talent. With special autism therapies, individualized special training, and parental attention, it is ensured that repetitive behaviors are improved or eliminated both in treatment centers and at home.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a disorder popularly called obsession. Obsession refers to the behaviors and rituals that a person cannot prevent himself from doing, even if they seem unreasonable and absurd. While obsession expresses obsessions in the dimension of thinking, compulsion refers to the act of obsessions in the dimension of thought.

For example, if I don’t spend any money and I save, I save my money and expect me to have a comfortable life in the future is a kind of obsession, but if I don’t spend money on anything, I cut everything, say what is necessary to burn electricity at home and put it into action, it is a compulsion. In this regard, necessity and obsession should be distinguished very well. Saving is necessary and it should be, but minimizing the life in order to avoid spending with the idea of saving falls within the limits of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Likewise, washing hands or taking a shower is a necessity, but not being able to step out of the bathroom is OCD.

The clearest symptom of OCD is to be caught in thought or action that will affect the daily, social, and business life of the person. Since the obsessions of such people take a very serious time in their lives, they may come to situations where they cannot leave the house or take care of their daily work. OCD can become increasingly severe if left untreated. Therefore, the individual should not waste time seeking help from an expert while his OCD is still at the level of thought. Otherwise, the solution process will be longer and more difficult.

OCD has the same symptoms in both children and adults. However, the content of OCD may differ from person to person, exactly like ASD. These rituals and behaviors can occur in different ways. It can be in the form of order, cleaning, collecting, sorting, irrational rituals (walking without stepping on the lines on the pavement, erasing, and rewriting something he has written over and over, spitting on the ground when something bad comes to mind, etc.).

OCD has a genetic and psychological background. Studies show that individuals with this disorder may also have individuals with OCD in their families. When we look at the psychological structuring of OCD, we see that individuals who have lost control of their lives or who think they have no control over their lives stand out. This thought of uncontrollability can be developed as a result of a trauma experienced by the person or the attitudes of the family and social environment.

For example, the individual who shares the same house with the bedridden patient may develop an obsession against the health issue in the future. Or, individuals who have been abused are also more likely to develop OCD because their sense of control is weak. Because when the brain thinks that life is going beyond its control, it tries to balance the anxiety and anxiety caused by this situation with a behavior that can be under its control.

It is not an obsession for the child to collect his toys, his bed, and to put everything in his place when his room is scattered. However, OCD is a child who spends all day organizing his room and experiences anxiety and stress when even the place of an object changes. As in the example I just gave, it is necessary to distinguish between necessity and OCD well.

Psychotherapy is the solution for OCD in children and adults. In some challenging situations, drug therapy can also be used as a support. Therefore, studies should be started in the presence of a psychiatrist and psychologist without wasting time. An important point that should not be forgotten is that if the problem that causes OCD is not solved, one obsession may end and another obsession may begin. That’s why sometimes families stop consulting a specialist when they see that an obsession they see in their children is over. But after a while, it can take another obsession to replace the previous one.

The therapy process may differ from therapy to therapy. However, homework has an important place in cognitive-behavioral therapies with children (starting from the age of 6), which I also apply. The therapist prepares a program suitable for his obsession while working with the child.

For example, if the child has an obsession with cleaning, he may say, “I want you not to wash this week when he puts his hand on your toy car. As each task succeeds, the amount and limits of obsessive behavior are reduced with new assignments. In younger ages (3-6 years), a solution can also be achieved with play therapy. It is important for the family to consider what the therapist says and apply it in order to reduce the child’s obsessions.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in Children and Adolescents

Obsessive-compulsive (obsessive-compulsive) disorder (OCD) can be mentioned when the child repeats some movements or thoughts continuously and for long periods of time. Obsessions are repetitive, disturbing, impulses, thoughts, and phantasies that are considered illogical, but attempts to remove them fail. Compulsions, on the other hand, are behaviors that occur or feel obliged to apply strict rules to reduce anxiety caused by obsessions. Among the people, obsessions are known as “anxiety, obsession, delusion, obsession”, and compositions as “compulsion”.

Children who experience this problem may have certain thoughts or themes recurring in their minds. For example, he may be constantly worried about dirt or germs or have a constant concern about being clean and tidy. In addition, these children keep renewing certain movements in an almost ceremonial way. For example, he can wash his hands over and over again in a certain way and for a long time, and he can rearrange his belongings in a very original way.

Of course, obsessive-compulsive disorder isn’t just about handwashing. It is about the thoughts and strains in your child’s brain that cause obsessions, frightening, and distress. It relates to ceremonial behavior that is thought to protect from harm. It’s about questions, endless questions: questions about security, questions about absolutely, questions that drive you crazy, problems that break your heart.

The problems of some children dealing with obsessive-compulsive disorder can be quite complex and extensive. Sometimes these problems can be seen with various tics and neurological symptoms, sometimes they can occur with quite unusual behavior.

Although we think that obsessive-compulsive disorder is rare in our environment, studies on children have stated that it appears quite frequently in the society. Generally, the age of onset is seen as 9-12 years. It occurs almost equally in boys and girls. Looking back at the family, we are likely to see those with similar distress.

Contamination, suspicion, thoughts about something bad, thoughts about illness and death, thoughts about sexuality, thoughts about religion are common obsessions. Washing, checking, arranging, sequencing, repeating are also common compulsions.

A situation that should not be overlooked is the possibility of accompanying troubles other than OCD. In many cases, other anxiety disorders, depression, tic disorder may accompany.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a neurobiological problem. It is not you or your child why this happens. It may be due to genetic reasons, structural changes in the brain, and neurochemical changes. It can also trigger a stressful event. However, more than half of the children with the obsessive-compulsive disorder begin without encountering such an event, for no reason.

Some situations should be differentiated from obsessive-compulsive disorder. Young children in normal development may also experience repetitive behaviors. These types of developmental behaviors usually disappear around the age of 8. These behaviors can be done to overcome anxiety or to socialize. But obsessive-compulsive disorder increases anxiety and can disrupt socialization. Superstitions can sometimes be confused, but children do not spend too much time on them and their functionality will not deteriorate.

Although it seems like a rare and bizarre disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is a very common disorder, is related to some deterioration in brain chemistry and function. Although it looks like a persistent disorder, it is a treatable condition.

Supporting the family in treatment and informing the child and family is the most important start. The family and the child should know what OCD is and what it is not, learn that it is a disease, unfortunately, this situation will not improve on its own, and the treatment is sometimes difficult and long. Medication may be required in treatment. Studies indicate that medication and psychotherapy are the most effective solutions.

Many children with OCD benefit from a treatment method called cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT teaches children new ways to reflect on and respond to the thoughts and compulsions seen in OCD. Thus, children learn to retrain their brains and get rid of obsessions in order to give more accurate and effective answers.

Children overcome OCD with practice and reaction prevention methods. The main purpose of treatment is to teach children to live with the obsessive-compulsive disorder without exhibiting ceremonial behaviors developed to neutralize their thoughts and compulsions. Checking, asking, repeating, repeating are ceremonial behaviors. In two steps, children’s susceptibility to obsessive-compulsive disorder is reduced: the first is to avoid doing somatic behavior, the second is to overcome the accompanying tension until the feeling of distress subsides. Step by step, the power of OCD is reduced with practice and response blocking.

In order to apply these skills, the child must be able to understand and master OCD. During the treatment process, the parent should be the child’s trainer, allow him to learn effective tactics, and encourage him to succeed.

You should give your child time to learn new concepts. You should start speaking in the language learned through interviews. You should remember that fighting OCD is more difficult than what your child has done before. You should support and encourage your child in this process.

It is intended to help children with OCD develop a new framework to re-understand OCD and develop new skills to control OCD, with a somewhat humorous language that gives confidence to children.

Autism and OCD Related Toys That You Can Find on Amazon Website

As we all know and have mentioned above, autism spectrum disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder have many common points. If those disorders have common points, there should be some toys that can be therapeutic or mostly educational for them. These toys could be used for repetitive behaviors, obsessive behaviors, or playtime. Sometimes it is very difficult to find a toy for children with OCD because they can develop a new obsession with that toy. Because of this reason, you need to provide different options with different colors, sizes, textures, and shapes to your child.

Down below, you can find some alternatives. There are many options to choose from according to your child’s needs or preferences. 

AUSTOR 12 Pack Fidget Toys Marble and Mesh Fidgets for Children, Adults and Those with ADHD ADD OCD Autism Anxiety Relieve Stress, Increase Focus

It is a much-recommended toy set for children on the autism spectrum and children with OCD in order to relieve their anxiety and stress level. They are highly recommended by parents, teachers, professionals, and experts. They help children to stay focused. Thanks to its versatile design, it calms the child’s nerves and boosts fine motor movements. Apart from these, it keeps the child’s finger busy to prevent unnecessary habits such as biting. They are easy to carry, easy to fold, and easy to store.

VCOSTORE 12 Sided Fidget Cube, Dodecagon Fidget Toy for Children and Adults, Stress and Anxiety Relief Depression Anti Cube for All Ages with ADHD ADD OCD Autism

It is designed especially for children on autism spectrum and children with OCD in order to reduce their stress and anxiety level. It helps them to keep focused and concentrated. It is especially very helpful for children with ASD and OCD in order to relieve their energy. It is very effective as well. It prevents them to bite their nails, for example. Overall, it will make your child happy and make you comfortable.

Marble Genius Marble Run Super Set – 150 Complete Pieces + Free Instruction App (85 Translucent Marbulous Pieces + 65 Glass Marbles)

It is a fabulous set for children with OCD. With this toy, you can keep them busy easily. They can spend their days with it. It gets their attention with colorful design and structure. It consists of many pieces. You need to be careful with these pieces. If your child has an inclination of putting everything in the mouth, it may not be a good option to gift to your child. On the other hand, you need to know that it is a great way to keep them busy, focused, and concentrated.

Masefu Anxiety Relief Toys, Magnetic Ring Toy, Magnetic Anxiety Ring Stress Relief Fingertip Toys, Stress Relief ADD ADHD EDC Anti-Anxiety Gift for Children, Adults, Time Killer

As the name implied, it is a time killer anxiety reduce toy. They are useful for therapeutic reasons. They are in a portable size. Thus, it can be carried anywhere and stored easily. This toy does not make a sound, so you can relax and comfortable when your child plays with it around people. It keeps them relaxed and out of stress.

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