OCD Obstacles

“That’s just my OCD!” I’ve heard that phrase many times amongst my peers whenever they would describe a particular habit. I was aware of the fact that none of us had actually seen what OCD is actually like. However, over the last few weeks, our family has witnessed some significant signs of OCD in Anjali’s behavior. This led me to learn more about what the condition is, so let’s dive right into what I discovered! 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder encompasses a large variety of specific phobias or compulsive and sensory requirements. This can morph into unique requirements for a given individual, including specific ordering of items in their daily lives, visual requirements, repetition of some simple activity, and much more. A Mayo Clinic article explains that the main symptoms for OCD include “Fear of being contaminated by touching objects others have touched . . . Doubts that you’ve locked the door or turned off the stove . . . Intense stress when objects aren’t orderly or facing a certain way,” and a variety of other examples. Additionally, the International OCD Foundation reports that “About half a million children in the United States suffer from OCD. This means that about one in 200 children, or four to five children in an average-sized elementary school.” 

Here’s an intricate breakdown of what OCD can look like from Verywell Mind

So how does OCD link with ASD? The prevalence of both of these diagnoses has significant overlap. A study published in PLOS ONE, a well-reputed peer-review journal, suggests that “people with autism are twice as likely to receive a diagnosis of OCD and people with OCD are four times as likely to also have autism.” So what does all of this mean for Anjali? First and foremost, I want to emphasize that she has not yet been diagnosed with OCD, and in no way am I implying that she is a definite case of OCD. It’s important for everyone to understand that a pediatrician is the only individual who can assign this diagnosis to an individual. 

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) | Peace of Mind Foundation, Inc
Here’s a neat Venn Diagram from the Peace of Mind Foundation, which covers the behavioral similarities and differences between OCD and ASD

However, Anjali has shown some signs that have led us to seek a professional’s evaluation of her behavior. Her repetitive and compulsive actions include opening and closing of bedroom doors, wanting doors locked (or unlocked, depending on the day), wanting specific water temperatures, and wanting certain rooms to always be dark. It’s been quite challenging and frustrating for everyone in our family to adjust. She seems to be developing new phobias and requirements every day, while also maintaining previous behavioral patterns. Do we have it figured out? Absolutely not. However, that’s the message I want to highlight to all of you. If a special needs family member is showing OCD symptoms, it’s important to seek a physician’s evaluation of the case, while also remaining calm and patient during this period of adjustment! 

State Services

Hello everyone! This post is regarding something that I thought of a few days back. Every day when I get back from school, Anjali is typically in the middle of her ABA session. It was only recently that I found out that many family members of special needs children may not be able to say the same thing. This made me realize how I took this service being provided for a family member for granted, and also got me curious about how services are in other states.

Three main steps in ABA therapy according to Autism Child Development Center

To start off, I wanted to share the rankings of how states and areas fare in providing services for special needs. According to an Autism Speaks article, the areas providing the best services include “greater New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Boston metropolitan areas.” If we look at it from a state-by-state perspective, a Disabled World article finds that the order for best services state-wise is “1. Wisconsin, 2. California, 3. New Jersey, 4. Ohio, 5. Missouri.” What determines this order? If we were to go off of the Autism Speaks article, only high-income metropolitan areas provide proper services for special needs individuals. Yet states like Ohio and Missouri, which rank “36th” and “37th” respectively in income according to a survey by the U.S Census Bureau, crack the top 5 in services provided for special needs, as shown in the Disabled World article. Then what truly is the reason that helps these areas succeed in providing these services? As it turns out it, this is purely a matter of lawmakers prioritizing this initiative. 

Autism Speaks Logo

Perhaps the greatest factor in determining the quality and scale of services provided in a state are the insurance laws passed by states concerning special needs services. The same Autism Speaks article shares how “Five of the 10 ‘best places’ are in states that have enacted autism insurance reform (24 states, in total, have enacted laws). The other five states have bills that have been endorsed by Autism Speaks or have legislation pending introduction.” Clearly the states providing the least for these individuals are the ones not prioritizing state insurance laws that can enable these services to reach individuals that need them. The lawmakers that believe home services aren’t needed for special needs children, are the people I believe are the least educated about the need for professional therapy for the progress of a special needs individual as well as a break for the guardian of the child. Experts also agree with this notion, as Patricia Wright, National Director of Autism services for Easter Seals, argues that “services are not a luxury, they are a necessary service that allow families to successfully keep a child with autism in the home environment versus institutional care, and increases the overall wellness of all family members.” 

Clearly the lack of special needs services is a major problem facing many families across multiple states in America, and making a change in insurance laws might be the first priority of action in fixing this national problem.