Teaching Students with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Instructor: Abigail Cook
Students with OCD are often dealing with disruptive thoughts and fears that make it hard for them to get through the school day. Help your students with OCD succeed in the classroom by implementing a few of these teaching strategies.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder, where disturbing thoughts or images come to mind and can't be controlled. Children with OCD feel compelled to do specific things to control their fears. These compulsions are sometimes called rituals, and they help children with OCD feel secure in some way; they include things like lining up toys, washing hands, or redoing projects until they're ''perfect.'' OCD is a complex disability that affects every aspect of a child's life, including school.

Children with OCD may:

  • Feel compelled to organize materials in a certain way
  • Correct mistakes until they've read or written an assignment ''perfectly''
  • Fear germs or sickness
  • Be consumed by unwanted thoughts, or obsessed with certain objects

Children with OCD may also miss school more frequently, act out in class, be excluded from social circles, and engage in odd rituals that take time away from classwork. You can imagine how the effects of OCD can affect academic, behavior, and social skills on a daily basis.

Classroom Strategies for OCD

There are many ways teachers can help their students with OCD be more successful in the classroom. Whether your students with OCD are in a special education setting, or in a regular classroom, these are strategies you can adapt and implement to suit their specific needs.

Gather Information

There are a lot of unexpected things that may come up when teaching a child with OCD. In order to get in front of difficult situations that arise, learn some specifics about your student. Talk to the child's previous teachers to find out what you might expect in the classroom. Meet with the child's parents and find out as much as you can about his or her history, behaviors, and challenges.

Here are some questions you might consider asking:

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