Today, we take a look at another behavioural comorbidity of ASD- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
OCD, according to the American Psychiatric Association, is “a disorder in which people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas, or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions).” In simpler terms, people with OCD have certain thoughts and sensations that could be from the environment that lead to certain repetitive behaviours. The repetitive behaviours include frequent hand washing, arranging and wanting things aligned, orderly or symmetrical, checking on things and cleaning more than normal, counting or repeating specific words or phrases, following a very strict routine and touching something a set number of times.
The Healis Autism Centre explains that compulsions (repetitive behaviours) are the actions or behaviours an individual engages in to counteract, neutralise or make unwanted thoughts and sensations go away. These compulsions can affect a person’s daily life, including their interactions with others.
Researchers say that there is no known cause of OCD, but it can overlap with ASD. They have, however, observed that individuals diagnosed with either OCD or ASD experience anxiety and may have unusual reactions to sensory information, e.g., stimming and flapping. For some people on the autism spectrum, sensory overload can readily lead to distress and anxiety that may lead to some behaviours. Other researchers also believe that for individuals on the autism spectrum, repetitive behaviours are often soothing and a source of enjoyment and that is why some medical personnel say that the overlap between the 2 conditions is unclear.
Although there is no cure, people with OCD can be supported with cognitive-behavioural therapy, medication, and caregiver intervention.
“Obsessions spark compulsions, NOT autism traits.”- Roma Vasa