Autism? or is it just OCD?

10 Oct

Although I am all for parent power, the new government drive in education, when it comes to knowing what is in the best interests of the student, I am not sure that parent power is a good thing.

20121010-181808.jpgOne might argue that the parents know their children best, but when it comes to autism, can that really be true?

Rigidity of thought is a key characteristic of autism. One parent interpreted this as OCD… ‘Don’t we all have a bit of OCD?’ She asks. Perhaps, but OCD, what is OCD?

Here is an NHS definition

‘Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a chronic (long-term) mental health condition that is usually associated with obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviour.

Obsessions and compulsions

An obsession is an unwanted, unpleasant thought, image or urge that repeatedly enters a person’s mind and results in anxiety. A compulsion is a repetitive behaviour or mental act that a person feels compelled to perform to try to avert or undo the effect of the obsession.

Unlike the normal use of the word ‘obsession’, which may describe something that an individual enjoys, the obsession in OCD is unpleasant and frightening. The person feels the need to carry out their compulsion in order to prevent their obsession becoming true. For example, someone who is obsessively scared that they will catch a disease may feel compelled to have a shower every time they use a toilet.’

Autism is not a mental health issue.

‘Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them.’
National Autistic society

The student who cannot bear to see anything on the floor and always pick it up before continuing what he was doing, is that OCD or autism ?

The student who has to make sure the date written on the board is correct and checks within moments of entering the room, is that OCD or autism?

The student who must be able to see a clock while he is working or he feels anxious, is that OCD or autism?

Autism doesn’t look the same for each child. Autism doesn’t have a strict set of rule by which we know that it operates.

Autism is:

  • rigidity of thought
  • difficulty understanding and relating to the world
  • difficulty seeing any subtleties – everything is black, or white
  • difficulty understanding social rules and social cues
  • difficulty relating to others
  • difficulty telling people what they need, and how they feel.
  • finding it difficult to meet other people and to make new friends.
  • finding it difficult to understand what other people think, and how they feel.
  • might find bright light or loud noises difficult
  • might find coordination hard
  • good at learning through copying
  • might not like being touched
  • might not like certain smells

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but does it now look like OCD to you?

Autism is about understanding a certain way that the brain works, there’s nothing that can be done about it, but many missing skills can be learned to enable an autistic person to function normally within our world.

OCD – driven to carry out actions again and again.

Does that student constantly pick things up even if there’s nothing to pick up? No.

Does that student repeatedly run off and re-write today’s date on the board? No.

Does that student who wants to see a clock obsess over the clock when it is put in the room? No.

OCD is OCD, autism is autism.

I only wish the parents would understand that.


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