Support Strategies

Strategies for Managing the Student and the Situation

When a student has OCD, the patterns of problems of the disorder may become more obvious and predictable. It’s unrealistic to expect disciplinary action to change what the student is unable to change, and it may actually create more stress for the already distressed student and exacerbate symptoms.

Countering Bullying, Teasing, and Aggressive Behavior

Students with OCD may be at greater risk for bullying.

Many bullying episodes are verbal, brief, and frequently take place during times with little teacher supervision. As a result, students may believe that teachers don’t care or can’t do anything about it. School personnel who allow bullying, teasing, and more aggressive pushing and hitting do damage to the self-esteem of a victimized student who has OCD.

The Not-So-Obvious Symptoms of OCD in School

It may be hard to recognize that OCD is causing learning difficulties, interpersonal problems, or great distress and anxiety. When students are barraged by obsessive fears, doubts, and urges, they may perform rituals or compulsions to neutralize or undo these thoughts or feelings to try to feel better. But sometimes it’s not clear that a student’s behavior is connected to OCD. Students who have OCD may not perform these actions repeatedly in the classroom, or they may be completing rituals mentally or covertly.

OCD at School

OCD is like an unwelcome guest with bad manners. It moves into a mind — and it doesn’t want to leave.

Students with OCD may appear to be daydreaming, distracted, disinterested, or even lazy. They may seem unfocused and unable to concentrate. But they are really very busy focusing on their nagging urges or confusing, stressful, and sometimes terrifying OCD thoughts and images. They may also be focused on completing rituals, either overtly or covertly, to relieve their distress.