OCD is a type of anxiety disorder that causes unwanted, obsessive thoughts and compulsive, repeated behaviors. Individuals with OCD report feeling unable to control their thoughts and feel compelled to perform the behaviors. 

What are the symptoms or indications? 

  • Obsessions: involuntary, recurring, unwanted, irrational thoughts that cause feelings of anxiety or dread. Examples may include fears of contamination, disease, or causing harm; sexual images; doubting (checking locks); thinking something must be done a certain number of times or keeping items in certain positions to avoid hard; hoarding; and fears associated with religion.
  • Compulsions: behaviors that are repeated to try to control obsessions. Common compulsions include: excessive washing and cleaning; checking (checking and re-checking locks); counting; redoing (erasing and rewriting); hoarding; praying; and symmetry (movements need to match, things have to look the same).

How does OCD impact classroom performance? 

  • OCD can be very disruptive to classroom learning. Along with the obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors, a student may experience depression, agitation, difficulty paying attention, feelings of shame, stress, and slow performance (due to time-consuming rituals). What can be done at school? Home-school collaboration and communication is important. Plans that work at home for certain behaviors may also be helpful at school. Behavioral strategies aimed at decreasing anxiety, reassuring the student, and reinforcing coping skills may also be implemented in the school environment.
  • A well-structured classroom with clear expectations, smooth transitions, and a calm climate is helpful. Be aware of any teasing or problems with social relationships. 
  • Depending on the specific behaviors and the degree to which they significantly impact learning at school, modifications and accommodations may developed for use in the classroom. For example, if a student has to repeatedly erase and re-write his responses, he may be given extended time to complete tests and assignments. 

Other Resources: