OCD is a chronic (long-term) mental health condition that is usually associated with obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviour. It is primarily a type of anxiety disorder. It has two main features - Obsessions and Compulsions.
Obsessions can come in the form of involuntary thoughts, images or impulses. Common obsessions include, but are not limited to: fears about dirt, germs and contamination; fear of acting out violent or aggressive thoughts or impulses; unreasonable fears of harming others, especially loved ones; abhorrent blasphemous or sexual thoughts; inordinate concern with order, arrangement or symmetry; inability to discard useless or worn out possessions; and fears that things are not safe, especially household appliances. The main features of obsessions are that they are automatic, frequent, upsetting or distressing, and difficult to control or get rid of.
Compulsions are commonly carried out in order to reduce the anxiety people feel from an obsession. Common compulsions include excessive washing and cleaning, checking, repetitive actions such as touching, counting, arranging and ordering; hoarding, ritualistic behaviours that lessen the chances of provoking an obsession (e.g. putting sharp objects out of sight); and acts which reduce obsessional fears (e.g. wearing only certain colours).
Compulsions can be observable actions, for example washing, but they can also be mental rituals such as repeating words or phrases, counting or saying a prayer.
IMPACT ON LEARNING SKILLS & DEVELOPMENT
Even very bright and motivated students can struggle with OCD. In fact, many students with OCD have average- to above-average levels of intelligence. Depending on the severity of the OCD symptoms, some students find it difficult to learn and, for some, it’s almost impossible to concentrate on and complete school-related work. The following are some of the learning difficulties students with OCD may experience:
- Often are unable to listen effectively and concentrate on what the teacher is saying.
- Student may appear distracted, or to be daydreaming, non-compliant, or disinterested
- Inability to read without their minds being drawn away from the words and into a world of relentless worries. May also be unable to read because of the need to perform rituals (e.g., count every fifth word in each sentence or each paragraph).
- Unfocussed and lack ability to concentrate
- Not understanding the key points that the teacher stresses; they are not able to absorb the meaning and insights because they are distracted by the OCD
- Miss out on important instruction when lateness, school absenteeism or need to elave the classroom became a problem due to OCD symptoms/rituals Gaps in instruction, in turn, may lead to serious academic problems.
- Learning Style - recognise your learning style - are you a linguistic, logical or kinesthetic learner? This one piece of information can make everything click and come together - learners can then format notes and study material so that they can study in a way that 'custom fits' their particular learning style
- Time management and organisation - construct daily/weekly timetables to help stay on track with study; do not over fill the workload; Include study breaks, meal breaks, exercise and quality time with family and friends
- Sleep & Exercise - be well rested and mentally prepared for study. Regular exercise also serves as a stress reducer, releasing tension and stress from the body
See Also: Academic Support Strategies (OCD Education Station)
Parents of infants, toddlers and young children with disabilities can access the HSEʼs Early Intervention Teams. These multi-disciplinary teams consist of a range of professionals with expertise in child development including medical professionals, psychologists, social workers, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists. They provide assessment and intervention services to the 0-5 age group.
If a parent has concerns regarding their childʼs developmental progress, they may seek to have the child referred for an Assessment of Need by the HSE. The assessment may screen for concerns in relation to the childʼs physical, cognitive, emotional, social and adaptive behaviour and identify areas of need. Following the assessment, a HSE Liaison Officer is required to prepare a service statement within a month of the assessment being completed. This service statement will state what services the child will require and an action plan will be developed to deal with how these are to be provided subject to resources.
Parents seeking an Assessment of Need can ask their GP, Public Health Nurse or the childʼs Consultant to refer the child or they can make a parental referral by contacting their local HSE clinic.
At Primary Education Level:
Most children with OCD attend mainstream primary and secondary schools with their peers unless they have additional needs requiring a special placement. Whilst having the same level of ability as their peers, children with OCD can be at risk of underperforming.
School-based learning support will not be provided unless the child is performing in the lowest range at school. The National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) is responsible for providing assessments within schools. The School can commission a small number of assessments each year through the NEPS but waiting lists are lengthy and private assessments by NEPS approved psychologists will be accepted for this purpose.
If the child meets the assessment criteria, they may be awarded a set number of hours of resource time per week and may also be eligible for a Special Needs Assistant. Children with OCD may not meet the criteria for this support, but it is important to discuss any support concerns with the principal in the event that an assessment is warranted.
The Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO) is an officer of the National Council for Special Education with responsibility for allocating resources to pupils with special needs and related issues in schools see www.ncse.ie for a list of SENOʼs in each county.
At Secondary Education Level
A student who has been receiving special education support or resources while in Primary School is eligible for continuation of support at secondary level, once they continue to have a special educational need.
The same general provisions he/she received in primary school apply at Secondary Level. This typically includes specialist teaching from a Learning Support or Special Education Resource teacher (both now referred to as Special Education teachers).
This support is provided based on need, with the number of hours of support determined by the Individual Education Plan (IEP) drawn up in the last year of primary school.
At Third Level:
OCD is a recognised mental health condition under the Disabiltiy Access Route to Education (DARE) 2014. It should be noted that the criteria for Mental Health are under review for 2015 Entry.
Full details of the DARE screening criteria are available here.
In the Workplace
Many organisations now make public claims to be an "equal opportunities employer". This suggests the existence of an equal opportunities policy (EOP), which is a policy statement adopted by the organisation declaring an intent not to discriminate and, further, to promote equality by taking steps to aid disadvantaged groups. Such employers are in effect promising to avoid discrimination on grounds of sex or marital status, and may also make such a commitment in relation to people with a disability and racial and ethnic minorities.
Impact on Career Choice
Skills for workplace success fall into two main categories: hard skills and and soft skills. Hard skills are job-specific and they vary, depending upon the industry or field in which you want to work. For example, a graphic artist must have the computer skills that go with that job.
Soft skills are the personal characteristics that go with a variety of jobs - they include social skills, problem solving, communication, time management, and organisation. For example, a person who prefers to work alone might find a research job particularly appealing. Explore Career Skills in more detail here.
Famous People with OCD
Well-known people with OCD who have succeeded in achieving numerous accomplishments include: Soccer Star, David Beckham; Actors Leonardo DiCaprio, Jessica Alba, Cameron Diaz; Actor/singer Justin Timberlake and Naturalist / Author, Charles Darwin.