Talking Back to OCD: The Program That Helps Kids and Teens Say No Way -- and Parents Say Way to Go


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Kelly, age 8, feels distressed if she can't count her pencils in multiples of four. This uniquely designed volume is really two books in one. The first portion of each chapter teaches children and adolescents skills they can use to take charge of the illness. Instructions that follow show their parents how to provide encouragement and support. Based on the most effective known treatment for OCD, the book demonstrates ways to "boss back" when OCD butts in, enabling many youngsters and teens to eliminate their symptoms entirely.

Early-onset OCD is as common as diabetes; this powerful book will help thousands of young people show this unwelcome visitor to the door. Are you tormented by extremely distressing thoughts or persistent worries? Compelled to wash your hands repeatedly? Driven to repeat or check certain numbers, words, or actions? If you or someone you love suffers from these symptoms, you may be one of the millions of Americans who suffer from some form of obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD.

Once considered almost untreatable, OCD is now known to be a highly treatable disorder using behavior therapy. In this newly revised edition of Stop Obsessing!


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Every child has "ornery" moments, but more than 1 in 20 American children exhibit behavioral problems that are out of control. For readers struggling with an unyielding or combative child, Your Defiant Child: Eight Steps To Better Behavior offers the understanding and guidance they need. Drawing on Dr. Russell A. Barkley's many years of work with parents and children, the book clearly explains what causes defiance, when it becomes a problem, and how it can be resolved. The book's comprehensive eight-step program stresses consistency and cooperation, promoting changes through a system of praise, rewards, and mild punishment.

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Upset by the pain their child is feeling, they give her reassurance, comfort, and lots of affection. When none of this eliminates OCD, everyone in the family feels helpless and increasingly hopeless, and OCD thrives when the blame game gets going. A shift in perspective works wonders. OCD is not about good or bad behavior. When you understand that OCD is a true brain illness, you realize that having it is not a matter of choice and resolving it is not a matter of willpower, though it does require good intentions.

OCD is no more a matter of choice than is diabetes or asthma. And, as with diabetes and asthma, there are strategies for making OCD better, for living a normal life that is not constantly restricted by the illness. This view of OCD does, however, have its limits. Although diabetes or asthma often requires family members to adjust the way they think, feel, and act, these illnesses do not cause the child to think, feel, and act differently than before the disease struck.

OCD does, and the typical family of a child with OCD can't help being frightened by these changes and feeling at a loss to deal with them. This is where another perspective comes to the rescue, one that professionals helping kids with OCD have adopted almost universally. No matter how hard your child and you try to stop them, the embarrassing and senseless obsessions of OCD keep popping up, and your child keeps feeling as if he must perform certain repetitive actions in response.

Like the hiccups, OCD may not seem so bad at first. But as time goes on, the hiccups get harder and harder to live with. If you had hiccups that not only refused to go away but got worse, it probably wouldn't be long before you felt as if you were trying to fit in breathing, speaking, eating, and every other function between hiccups.

As you undoubtedly know, that's the way kids and families challenged by OCD often feel. Billy is a 9-year-old third grader who came to us with severe OCD. Billy's father had had OCD as a child and, as an adult, recognized it right away, so he brought Billy in for treatment. Nonetheless, Billy felt to blame for not being able to control OCD, saying angrily, "I can't make my mind do what I tell it. The first step is to understand what OCD is and how it operates. With that knowledge as your foundation, your child and you will learn how to respond skillfully to obsessions and compulsions so that they get weaker and weaker and you all get your lives back.

One of the most important things for all of you to know is that you're not alone.

Talking Back to Ocd: The Program That Helps Kids and Teens Say 'No Way' -- And

As is the case with other medical illnesses, such as diabetes and asthma, kids with OCD are all over the place. The latest statistics tell us that as many as 1 in every children or teenagers has OCD today—about the same number of kids who have diabetes. That means that four or five kids with OCD are likely to be enrolled in any average-size elementary school. In a medium to large high school, there could be 20 students struggling with the challenges imposed by OCD. In adults, OCD is third among the most common forms of mental illness, almost three times more common than schizophrenia.

Most of these adults had OCD as children, and back then they didn't have access to programs like this one. If they had, maybe they would not be so troubled by OCD as adults. In children and teens, OCD is also among the more common forms of mental illness, about a sixth as common as ADHD or depression, for example. Knowing that your family is not alone in having to deal with OCD should make it easier for all of you to keep working together to help the child with OCD get better.

You can help your child understand this by saying something like what appears in the sidebar. In fact, the student sitting next to you in class is about as likely to have OCD as diabetes. Four or five kids with OCD are likely to be enrolled in any average-size elementary school. In a medium to large high school, there could be 20 students dealing with OCD. Normal kids have diabetes; normal kids have OCD.

You're just sick—temporarily. You're not so 'different' after all! Knowing your family isn't alone in this struggle helps for several reasons. First of all, there's comfort in numbers. A problem that affects hundreds of thousands of children in the United States alone can hardly be viewed as the exotic problem it may seem to be close up, in isolation. Throughout this book you'll meet many people who are sharing your challenges, and if that's not enough to ease your mind, a doctor who has seen many children with OCD will be able to assure you that you're in good company.

Viewing OCD from this broad perspective may be just what the whole family needs to step back, take a deep breath, and begin the work of fighting back—together. Second, there's help in numbers. If OCD is so widespread, then there is a huge number of other people who can recommend strategies they have found successful, warn you of pitfalls they've stumbled into, and offer emotional support when you need it.

Kids who are successfully fighting OCD characteristically demonstrate enormous courage and generosity in sharing their experiences to help others. A perfect example is the kids and their parents whose stories have enriched our understanding of how OCD works and how to beat it and whom you'll read about throughout this book.

Your doctor or therapist should be able to refer you to local sources of ongoing support, and the Resources section in this book contains a list of organizations. One of the cool things about going to the clinic was the chance to meet other teenagers with OCD and their parents.

We'd sit in the waiting room and tell stories about what OCD was doing and how we'd found ways to beat it at its own game using the approaches we learned. Once Chad was really getting better, what was really neat was to listen to him telling other kids who were just getting started, and weren't quite sure they wanted to buy into it, how great it was to be able to put OCD aside and get on with stuff he liked doing instead. Seeing the other kids brighten up really made him feel good about himself and what we were doing.

Third, where the numbers go, the research follows. That's due in part to the ability and willingness of kids with OCD to describe their experiences and also participate in research projects. We've found in our research, in fact, that kids and parents are often smarter and more informed about OCD than mental health professionals are, and this has led to dramatic strides in advocating for better treatments. But recognition of the large number of kids and adults harmed by OCD has led to studies at Duke University, the University of Pennsylvania, and other research centers around the world.

We now have a wealth of new information about what causes OCD see Chapter 3 , and—the best news of all—we have made huge strides in treating it see Chapter 4. So much so, in fact, that we can realistically hope to reduce the rates of OCD significantly among children and adults in the not too distant future. Probably the greatest benefit of realizing you're not alone with OCD is that it gets OCD out in the open as an illness.

OCD is not a part of who your child is, nor did you do anything to cause it. Once OCD is revealed as an illness, it becomes obvious that it's not the child's or parents' fault, any more than diabetes would be someone's fault. It is your responsibility to address OCD skillfully, however. Relieving themselves of guilt makes it much easier for most families to move from what hasn't worked to what does work. A survey of 5, high school students done in the late s found 18 students who had OCD, but none of them had been identified as having OCD, including the 4 who were seeing a psychiatrist or psychologist.

OCD is a bit more likely to be diagnosed these days, but nowhere near often enough, in part because many kids don't want to tell anyone they have a problem.

Talking Back to OCD: The Program That Helps Kids and Teens Say No Way -- and Parents Say Way to Go Talking Back to OCD: The Program That Helps Kids and Teens Say No Way -- and Parents Say Way to Go
Talking Back to OCD: The Program That Helps Kids and Teens Say No Way -- and Parents Say Way to Go Talking Back to OCD: The Program That Helps Kids and Teens Say No Way -- and Parents Say Way to Go
Talking Back to OCD: The Program That Helps Kids and Teens Say No Way -- and Parents Say Way to Go Talking Back to OCD: The Program That Helps Kids and Teens Say No Way -- and Parents Say Way to Go
Talking Back to OCD: The Program That Helps Kids and Teens Say No Way -- and Parents Say Way to Go Talking Back to OCD: The Program That Helps Kids and Teens Say No Way -- and Parents Say Way to Go
Talking Back to OCD: The Program That Helps Kids and Teens Say No Way -- and Parents Say Way to Go Talking Back to OCD: The Program That Helps Kids and Teens Say No Way -- and Parents Say Way to Go

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