Stealing and Lying - Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or ADHD?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by allhaileris, Dec 8, 2009.

  1. allhaileris

    allhaileris Crumbling Family Rock

    So I'm trying to figure this out with my daughter, she's lying and stealing, and from what I've read, it could be either Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or ADHD causing this (as well as a personality disorder, but I don't think we're there yet based off what I've read). But from what I've read these two things, while they can co-exist, are at different ends of brain function. So, how do I tell the two apart? I *think* she'd be more Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) (the constant mermaid drawings, counting, routines) rather than ADHD (I'd never consider her too hyper, can concentrate when she wants, but also can't sit still at the table), but I don't have much experience with either so I'm not sure what to look out for.

    And yes, I'm totally fed up with docs in my own life, so far everything she's been diagnosis'ed with I've known beforehand, and we don't want to do pharms so I want to do some observations and homeopathy on our own. We tried L-theanine this weekend and I didn't really see any difference, but I also didn't see any outbursts or frustration. If she had ADHD the stuff wouldn't work at all (from what I've read).

    She's now stealing from people's lunches at school, and their desks. She told the teacher she didn't get enough food today, yet she packed her lunch with me and I actually asked her if it was enough!
  2. aninom

    aninom New Member

    It does ring some Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) bells, but nothing conclusive. I had severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) from that I was 8 until I was 16, 17, and still have some (mild and manageable) compulsions to deal with. Hope I can help - I really wish someone had told me/my parents such a disorder existed way, way earlier. It is indescribably traumatic, handicapping, frustrating, draining, etc. to all parties involved, especially when it goes into full-blown mode.

    Almost every kid goes through an inconspicuous bout of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) at a certain age (say, not stepping on cracks). Counting, which definitely is a solid sign of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), could fall under this - only way to know whether you're dealing with the syndrome proper is to try and prevent her from carrying out her compulsions. Depending on how severe it is, you can expect something between an extreme anxiety fit with convulsions, and a short-lived crying fit with jitteriness.

    The mermaid drawings: hum. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a non-psychotic disorder, i.e., those affected understand and are acutely aware of how irrational their behavior is. Because of this, someone with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) will go to great lengths to hide the true nature behind their compulsions - say, try and distract you while they are tying their shoelaces in a weird pattern.

    What I'd want to know in regards to the mermaid drawings (and it is unusual, but creating and repeatedly drawing symbols, emblems, etc isn't unheard of with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)) is how she feels about drawing them, and whether she tries to hide the extent to which she does it from you.

    For a short while when I was 10, after getting one of those spiral-drawing-thingies, I felt compelled to draw exactly five of those on five separate pieces of paper, each in a different color. And let me tell you, I HATED it. I hated feeling compelled to do something I didn't like doing, was bored doing, didn't have time to do, something I knew and felt was nuts to do. If she is drawing them under a compulsion stemming from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), she won't be doing so with gusto and a free, joyful spirit. There is zero joy in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) rituals and obsessions. She would look determined, concentrated, and very tense; if it were a psychotic obsession she would seem more as if she believes this is an emotionally important task, whereas with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), it's only something that must be done lest the tentacles of anxiety grab you.

    Some compulsions and obsessions have accompanying idee fixe behind them ("If I don't do this mermaid drawing perfectly, Buster will get run over by a bus! If I fail to count a number in the price tag, Buster will get run over by a bus!"), some don't. Mine never did, there was only a vague knowledge that everything would come crashing down if I didn't do X or Y or Z.

    Routines: this is a complicated symptom. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) has little to do with personality when you get right down to it - the general idea the public has of people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is germ-frightened neat freaks that are scared of everything. In truth there is no specific personality type connected with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and so, "routine" becomes an important thing to nuance.

    For example, I would have severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)-anxiety-fits if any routine or any part of the environment directly involved in my compulsions and obsessions were disturbed. I would get panic attacks if guests were coming over unannounced, knowing it would be far harder to perform my compulsions or perform them stealthily when too many people were in the house: it wasn't the change of routine itself, it was the fact my brain would have 200 new and worse Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)-routines ready for me to "substitute" for the ones that would have to be altered or stopped because of the break in routine.

    Basically: if you daughter has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), routine for her makes it manageable.

    If she viscerally hates any break in ANY routine, always, it may be either her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) has already gotten extreme and spread to most every action and hour of her life (but I'd think you'd notice that), or there may be some other disorder going on. The reason I'm saying this is because most kids with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) are, underneath the crazy, like any other kid - they like adventure, they like experiencing new things, even if just once in a while. For me, all the anxiety was concentrated in the home, so it was at home that I feared any and all change lest it set the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) off: but beyond that I loved it when life in general made me or my environment switch things up.

    Could you share some example or two about how your daugther reacts to routines being broken, what kind of routine it is, if it's only routines having to do with a specific place, habit, or object being altered?

    One other thing to watch out for is whether she will, out of nowhere, do something slightly odd. I don't know how common it is with others diagnosed, but for me, sometimes the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) impulse would come not gradually but out of nowhere and I have to do some weird counter-action that very second. The action my brain improvised ad hoc to deal with that feeling would make even less sense than usual, or the object that triggered the feeling would be more random - say, "I have to move that cup of water three inches to the right, NOW" or "I have to touch my jacket pocket eight times while tapping my foot".

    She'll also be very, very conscious of her environment, which is slightly different from merely being used to stuff in a certain place. I could almost "feel" the TV having moved an inch and would be in extreme anxiety until everybody had fallen asleep, when I could spend upwards of an hour setting it just "right" without anybody noticing.

    I've never had the impulse to, or read about stealing as, a symptom, but it very well could be - kleptomania is on the anxiety-compulsion spectrum. Maybe she is having what I personally call a "negative" compulsion, meaning instead of executing compulsive behavior, she is unable to execute normal such (for example, she may feel the lunch you made is "unclean"; or maybe that the lunches others have brought are important to eat; or that they are dangerous bombs and she needs to dispose of them. There is NO rhyme and reason to these ideas/obsessions/compulsions, but there is sometimes a rudimentary sort of psychology, often dealing with feeling safe and with integrity intact, i.e. clean). Ask her what she does with, or what she needs, the lunches for.

    I hope I've helped, if only to rule out the diagnosis. You should take her to a good neuro-psychiatric or psychiatrist (make sure they are well-read on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) first, though: it's a relatively uncommon diagnosis, and sometimes tricky to distinguish from wholly different disorders with similar symptoms). If it is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), know that third-gen antidepressants DO work for many, both kid and adult - Zoloft in particular was like a magic wand for me - and that for some, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) comes and goes in waves, so that there can be stretches of upwards a decade where only mild compulsive impulses are present. It's definitely possible to live a completely normal life, even with a history of severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

    Feel free to PM me if there's anything I can help with! I've read a lot about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) (finally learning what it was, and that I wasn't crazy, was to me a hallelujah event on a grand scale), so anything you'd need to know about an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) kid, I'm there.
  3. allhaileris

    allhaileris Crumbling Family Rock

    I think that her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) traits are mild, but it's little things that I've seen that make me wonder if it'll get worse. The drawings, she did these like in Kindergarten and it would be one mermaid on each page, she filled a few spiral notebooks with them. Right now she's drawing regular girls, but mostly with the same hairsytle. When she's coloring she has to finish the area she's working in. The other night she was coloring in a coloring book and I kept telling her to stop and she just colored faster to finish. I know if I had physically taken it away I would have had a tantrum from her about it. Each night before bed she has to have a glass of water, she wants ice in it, even though she rarely drinks it. I've seen her do weird things like having to put all her dolls to bed, she refused to go to bed until they were all in their place. But most of the time her floor is covered with toys (a constant battle, I keep trying to reduce the amount of toys). We used to joke that she had to step on something before it was really hers because the way she made sure everything was all laid out on the floor.

    It sounds from what you described that my daughter has some "compultion" but maybe not Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Any traits that show themselves definitly come out when she's stressed. I'll have to reread this a few times, it's very helpful to hear your experience.
  4. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Aninom, that was some really great description.

    Whether it's compulsion or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or facets of both, depends on how it's defined by therapists and I think a lot of it is sitll subjective.

    What you actually deal with and how you deal with it, is not the same as somebody defining it.

    We've just had difficult child 3's speech therapist here and she watched some early video of difficult child 3 at about 18 months. He had what his sister called "talking in scribble" which I took to be jargon speech, but the therapist just said, "there were words in there."

    I'm not an expert. She is. But the practicalities of difficult child 3 at that time, were a boy who frustratingly didn't seem to respond to the spoken word (often not even responding to his name or even an instuciton such as "go to Mummy". He did have language, apparently. All this time I've been believing he did not.

    But does this change anything of what we would have done?

    I would have sought therapy sooner, privately, instead of allowed ourselves to be made to wait another 18 months or more for the public (and it turned out, much more inferior) therapy. But much of what we eventually did, was a combination of the circumstances we had available, our own observations, and our child's presentation. The labels are useful and can open the right doos and help change the circumstances we have available. But the home environment and your gut instincts don't change.

    You've noted her anxiety level increases if you try to force her past this. That I feel puts this in the realm of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). That connection between the act and the anxiety. There needn't be an idee fixe in there, often it works the other way - completing the compulsion is a ritual, a behaviour pattern, that is 'sameness' and therefore comforting and soothing. it is, in fact, like a stimulant. Stims often work to soothe in the same sort of way.
    Example - difficult child 1 pacing the house before he leaves. If he's ready ten minutes early, he doesn't leave early - no. He spends that gten minutes checking that doors are locked, that windows are closed and locked, that he has his keys, that he has his wallet. Then he goes and checks it all again. He knows he's just checked already, but he also knows that sometimes he misses things. Checking himself over and over helps reduce the anxiety he feels as he drives aay and begins to think, "Did I close that window? Do I have my wallet?" because in his mind, he knows he went over it all ten times and that reduces the chances of him having forgotten something.

    So there can be many reasons for this behaviour and a younger child especially, can't always tell you why.

    I posted at length on your other thread about lying and anxiety.