I am hoping some moms with experience with childhood Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can give me some feedback and advice on what to do.
My 3 (going on 4) year old has been having some challenging behavior patterns that make me wonder if he might have the beginnings of OCD. I feel like whatever the behavior is, it has become significant enough to interfere with family life and cause us all a lot of distress, so I really want to talk to a professional about it and get some strategies to help minimize the impact of this behavior on his development and our enjoyment.
Here are some examples of his troubling behavior:
1. He asks the same question over and over while becoming increasingly distressed. Getting the answer he wants doesn't always help, he wants to hear the "yes" again and again. Example: Him: Can I have a cookie after lunch? ME: Yes, if you finish your food. Him: Can I? Yes? Can I? Me: I said yes. Him: Did you say yes?? (getting almost hysterical at this point).
2. We went on vacation this week and he had 5 tantrums over 6 days, where he screamed for extended amounts of time over nothing really...a few times it was our refusal to repeat the same thing again and again. I wouldn't say his big tantrums are usually this frequent, but it sure did ruin our enjoyment of vacation.
3. He has a bedtime ritual that includes checking to make sure certain things are on his dresser and he always says "don't take my water (cup) away" although we never do. Still, he needs to hear us say that we won't take it away.
4. He bites his nails as a nervous habit.
5. He has a sensitivity to loud noises. He won't go in bathrooms that have loud automatic flushers. I have also noticed some tactile sensitivities.
6. Just recently, he started a "game" where he only wants to walk on certain color squares on tile floors, or wants to jump over cracks.
7. He often seems to overreact to situations, and take a long time to calm down. His tantrums almost seem like they could be panic attacks, his heart rate is very rapid, he is kind of wild-eyed, and his eyes even get bloodshot. Even though he is almost 4 (in early October), there is no reasoning with him. I will tell him calmly: "I will talk to you when you calm down." But he won't. He will tantrum for an extended amount of time.
I feel overwhelmed by the constant difficulty of parenting him, and don't really feel a lot of enjoyment during our time together, mostly stress, wondering when his next break down is going to happen.
He doesn't seem to have any problems at 2-morning-per-week preschool or in his interactions with friends (other than normal stuff for this age like difficulty sharing). That's probably why we haven't really realized he needed help until now. He's always been fussy/difficult since he was a baby and with no other child to compare him to, we thought that he was on the normal spectrum until recently.
Thanks for any comments you can offer regarding experience with childhood OCD or how to go about finding a good child psychologist (We live in the Raleigh, NC area). We have a baby on the way and I want to get him the support he needs before she gets here.