I don't know if its the same thing Staci, but my son gets very worried over things and goes a bit OTT with concern for a little while, so it may be something your son does and then moves away from. Examples for my son are things like if I mention being careful of cars coming out of driveways, then he gets paranoid and panics everytime he hears a car coming even if he's miles away from it. I can't think off top of head of other examples but I know there are some. I imagine if he overheard someone talking about handwashing and germs who made it sound like he'd get really sick if he didn't keep them spotless he'd be washing them a lot too.
But I have no experience with OCD so this may not help you, just that my son gets overly concerned about things sometimes.
Hand washing in particular does sound like an OCD type of thing. Have you been able to pinpoint anything that sets it off? Is there anything that would be making him anxious at the moment? I have struggled with OCD and hand washing has been a symptom for me. I notice that even now it gets much more frequent if something is bothering me
I'm not sure who you would see about this for a five year old. Psychologist? Your GP? I wouldn't wait too long. Better to see somebody and find out it's not OCD than leave it and have it take hold.
Yes a psychologist would be able to assist with a young child such as this, this can be done privately or speak to your GP and get a referral to the child and adolescent service of your local DHB. It does sound like an anxiety disorder which is best to nip in the bud early before it becomes too ingrained.
Sorry just to add a little clarification, it is not uncommon and in my practice I have seen a number of gifted children with anxiety disorders. This can in part be put down to their intellectual understanding leading them to be aware of issues such as germs, disease death etc, but their emotional development being still childlike, so I know about death and disease and this scares me, but I am unable to process it with the level of sophistication that would allow me to cope with this knowledge, did that make sense?
Quite often I have had (and had it with my own) children referred around 7 years old who are very anxious about death and mortality, having suddenly become aware of their own. I know with my son he came home from school very distressed at 7 and said 'I've realised that because I'm alive I am going to have to die'. With our children this idea arrives early for them but their emotional maturity isn't at the same level. Some anxiety management work has I have found always been of benefit.
Please feel free to email me if you have questions.
Thanks everyone for the feedback, the hand washing has increased significantly over the last 4-5 weeks, which is about the time i had an operation and spent a night in hospital, so this might have triggered the anxiety as he was overly concerned for me.
The more i read about OCD the more i realise that i have many of the traits as well so maybe i will talk to the psychologist as well.
Thanks again for taking the time to reply, the advice was very helpful
Off on a bit of a tangent, but still on the thread of anxiety. I never know with my daughter (now 7) whether they way she is is "just her personality" or whether her anxiety should be looked at by someone who knows more.
She is a very sensitive person-always has been, right from birth. She is not assessed as gifted, but her brother is, and she does certainly have amazing creative talents which are always commented on by people. Her other school subjects she is probably only average or a bit above, except her last years teacher did say her creative writing is very good. She draws and writes all the time. She tends to lack confidence a bit and would never push herself forward in any way. She goes pretty well at school if she gets a teacher who understands anxious, sensitive kids, otherwise she can find things stressful.
She has always been very connected to me. Starting kindy, we took separation anxiety to a whole new level-I had to stay with her for months to settle her in, despite it being a very kind and understanding place.
School wasn't too too bad, as long as she was within her own comfort zone, eg her own classroom with the teacher she knew. Got really anxious if she had to go to other places eg the hall, library etc. Also absolutely hates loud noisy games with heaps of people.
Even now she still seems to freak out if she can't immediately find me, even at home(eg if I'm out in the garden 10-20 m away). I am not sure why she is like this as she has been close to me and never left or abandanoned in any way. Still needs an adult to sit by her to go to sleep, and sometimes finds it hard to go to sleep. Still comes in to sleep by me part way through the night, often.
gets very worried about things such as fire safety sessions at school-seems to be convinced the house will burn down and always asking about worst case scenarios! Seems to think about stuff for months afterwards that most kids would have forgotten about by the time they got home from school.
Sorry to burble on-just giving the background...the one that has concerned me most is that she has had a couple of instances of what could only be described as severe panic or even agoraphobia (?). One was at a beach trip with extended family-everything was quite ok, all the other kids splashing in the waves, quite happy but my daughter just freaked out and was so frightened and wanted to go back to the bach. We tried to cuddle and calm her and to talk things through as to why she was scared, but she just couldn't calm down until we left. It happened again a week or two later at a lake-again a very non threatening situation. but not a place we usually go. We have been to beaches before and she has been quite happy but these two particular places were not familiar to her.
It has only happened like that twice, but she can be the kind of kid who "Makes a fuss" sometimes, and those two incidences have made me think some of her other reactions to things may be anxiety related.
Do you think I should see anyone, or any tips on how to handle this? or is it just low level anxiety and we just try and support her through it and rationalise what she is thinking??