Bloggy Moms

Saturday, April 5, 2014

OCD as a Comorbid Disease in Those with Autism

In honor of Autism awareness month I am going to be posting comorbid diseases and how they present themselves in Princess. Please note that Princess's main dx is still BP but I am seeing that she has a lot on common with kids who have Autism as their main dx. This will be an occasional series.
OCD is the beast that we have to battle with on a pretty consistent basis. I even read that Carly Fleischmann, co-author of "Carly's Voice" and a voice for Autistic people everywhere, has OCD as well. The rituals of OCD can take over a person's life. They end up missing out on so much because the rituals are time consuming and paralyzing. 
We first noticed or rather acknowledged that Princess had OCD about two years ago. She went through this phase of using excessive band aids and having to change her undergarments seven times a day. At one point we were going through a box of band aids a day. She had a band aid on literally every finger. It wasn't enough that she had a band aid, there was an obsession with their use as well. First the band aid had to be put on just so. If not, she would take it off and start over. Then if she washed her hands and the band aid or band aids got wet, the whole process started over again. We tried limiting the number of band aids that Princess was allowed. We also stopped participating in the ritual of putting the band aids on. Another way that OCD manifested in Princess was with her shoes. It she had Velcro shoes, the straps had to be pulled as tight as they could go. They also had to be lined up perfectly, no crooked lines at all. If she wore shoes that had laces, the laces had to be pulled tight, double knotted and exactly the same length. The shoe obsession caused her to wear out shoes much faster than her peers. more importantly it caused our family to miss church. It also caused Princess to be extremely late to school on a number of occasions.
After awhile, the band aid fetish progressed into the hand washing obsession. Princess washed her hands frequently and for extended periods of time just to make sure that they were clean. I knew we had a big problem when we went through a gallon of soap in two days. Silly me. I thought if I stocked up on soap, then I wouldn't be running out to the store so much. Instead Princess took it as a sign that it was OK to use as much as she wanted.
Looking back now, there were early signs that Princess had OCD. One of them was that the top sheet on her bed had to be just so or she couldn't get comfortable. Another was her need to wear the same outfit every day for months on end,
OCD will always be a part of Princess's life but there are things that can be done to make it more manageable. One is to take Zoloft. This works in amazing ways to stop the obsessive thoughts. Another lifesaver is therapy. Since Princess's therapist is aware of this problem, she works with her to help her recognize the behaviors and stop them. Finally as parents, my husband and I have to choose not to be OCD's ally. We keep only a limited amount of band aids available at all times. If Princess runs out, she has to buy more with her own money. I do not adjust her bed sheets either.
In a way, OCD can be like any dx. It has it's ebbs and flows. Right now we are seeing it flare up a bit but it is still manageable.


  1. Reading your posts, I also speculated that she might have autism. In girls, I have read that it is sometimes misdiagnosed as bipolar disorder because it presents differently than in boys. Has it been ruled out?

    1. At this point, her doctor believes that she does fall somewhere on the Autism Spectrum but that her primary diagnosis is Bipolar Disorder. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

    2. I thought you might like to know that as of October 2015 my daughter has the dual diagnosis of bipolar disorder and autism. :)