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    Is self-stimulatory behavior a precursor to OCD?

Posted on Tue, 25 Jul 2017 in Child Health
Question: Here is my concern with XXXXXXX She , whenever she is playing or doing something she likes, or is enjoying anything, (like even if she's just standing in the ocean with the waves) She contorts her face and puts her arms out and twists and distorts her fingers and hands. and jumps. she has done this since she was tiny, as long as I can remember. now that I can say something to her about it, she seems guarded about it but still does it. it really is beginning to look weird. I don't think she can control it. I asked her if she does it because she wants to or if she can't help it. she just gets embarrassed and laughs but I watch her. she does it all the time, alone or with friends. example; if she's playing Barbies, she'll look at the set up and do it , jump, then keep looking at what she's doing, and get excited about it and do it again, repeatedly. I'm surprised her friends haven't ridiculed her yet. So what IS that/
Answered by Dr. Lekshmi Rita Venugopal 2 hours later
Brief Answer:
Possible Diagnosis: Self-stimulatory behavior

Detailed Answer:
Thank you for trusting HealthcareMagic,

I have gone through your query and I understand your concern.

Hand and finger movements, jumping up and down in children are indicative of self-stimulatory behavior. Since your child is developing normally, making friends and doing good at school, home and socially there is nothing to be worried about.

Self-stimulatory behavior is present in adults too. But we have learned to channelize these behaviors to a more socially acceptable form. For example, when adults get bored or have to sit still most people will start wiggling their toes or shaking legs, which is self-stimulatory behavior.

Self-stimulatory behaviors are common when children get excited and happy.
Many times such behaviors are harmless and non-concerning.However, it can bring unwanted attention to your child in public and can be concerning for parents.

There are behavioral modification techniques you can try with your child.

I understand that your daughter demonstrates hand and finger movements when excited. So whenever she is in a situation where she is about to be excited, you can divert the hand movement to clapping or squeezing a ball.

Such way the self-stimulatory behavior can be routed to a more acceptable and less noticeable form. It will take few weeks to even months to completely change the habit. Please be careful not to push her but rather be persistent and remind her to change her behavior to clapping hands instead of twisting/distorting hand and fingers.

There is nothing to be worried about as long as she is performing well at school, playing well, making friends and happy.

Hope this answers your question
Please address further questions here


Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Arnab Banerjee
Follow up: Dr. Lekshmi Rita Venugopal 13 hours later
Thank you.Your answer makes sense as she does this when she is excited and pleased with anything she is playing with or making and even when observing same with others.My concern is that it doesn't seem to be waning at all, in fact, she seems to be doing it more. Could this be something flaring up more right before it finally fizzles out? I don't know if behaviors work that way. I'm just concerned also about it maybe being a precourser to OCD or a tick or the like. What are those odds? Also, she is very responsible, independent, (can play all day by herself if no one is around) rarely if ever forgets things, competent,organized, and smart, and for a girl, NOT MOODY AT ALL .She is my granddaughter, and I am not being partial, honestly. I raised my kids and have lots of experience in observing and never wore "rose colored glasses''. if I had 10 like her, it would have been easier than my son and daughter. sorry if I ramble, just like to be clear and cover everything.
Answered by Dr. Lekshmi Rita Venugopal 7 hours later
Brief Answer:
Follow up answer

Detailed Answer:
Hello again and You're welcome.

The behavior she is exhibiting is unlikely to be tics or obsessive-compulsive behavior. Tics and OCD are non-voluntary and can occur at any time.Those movements will be jerky, nonrhythmic and will be associated with anxiety before the act followed by a feeling of relief. Children with tics and OCD can get frustrated about the behavior.

Since your granddaughter has the stimming only when happy or getting excited it is highly unlikely to be involuntary as seen in tics/OCD. The self-stimulatory behavior is nothing to be worried about since she is energetic, happy and functioning excellently.

As I had mentioned in the above answer, redirect her behavior to more acceptable form. Please be careful not to pressurize or criticize her, but rather work together with her patiently. It will take her time to overcome the behavior.

Hope this answers your question
Please address further questions here
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Raju A.T
Follow up: Dr. Lekshmi Rita Venugopal 31 hours later
Thank you. I guess that makes it clearer about OCD, and ticks. I was concerned as they do somewhat run in the family. I'm sure she'll be fine and probably stop on her own. Thanks again.
Answered by Dr. Lekshmi Rita Venugopal 54 minutes later
Brief Answer:
You're welcome

Detailed Answer:
You're welcome and once again thank you for trusting us with your health concern.
Please feel free to address further questions or concerns here
If you do not need further clarification, please rate and close this discussion
Regards and wishing you good health
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Yogesh D
Answered by
Dr. Lekshmi Rita Venugopal

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :2012

Answered : 3186 Questions


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