Children with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and tic disorders (sometimes called Tourette’s syndrome) have symptoms that can be disruptive and embarrassing, and even interfere with daily functioning. Duke’s behavioral health team has expertise and experience in successfully treating these disorders to improve your child’s and family’s quality of life.
When to Seek Help for OCD and Tic Disorders
A child with a tic disorder has a strong urge to make a movement or sound and satisfies the urge by performing the tic. Some of the most common vocal tics are grunts, whistles, and repetition of certain words. Motor tics might include repetitive movements of the face, such as blinking, opening the mouth wide, or scrunching the nose. Your child may also have twitches in the arms or legs, or experience the urge to perform a sequence of movements. Tics are typically first noticed in early childhood, and many children outgrow them.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized by unwanted, intrusive, distressing thoughts, and compulsive behaviors. These thoughts or actions may be performed to neutralize obsessions or reduce distress/anxiety. OCD behaviors can begin appearing as early as age four but most often become noticeable around age seven or eight. Common obsessions include fears of germs or contamination or obsessions related to perfectionism. Common compulsions include excessive washing or cleaning, checking behaviors, and repeating or counting.
When to Seek Help
Children may outgrow these repetitive behaviors or fearful thoughts on their own, but if they persist or create disruption in your child’s life or family life, we can help. If you are concerned about your child’s behavior, talk to your primary care doctor. He or she may refer you to a behavioral health specialist who can offer solutions.
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.
Diagnosing Tic Disorders
Our team will ask about the types of repetitive behaviors your child performs, how often they are occurring, how much time they consume, and how much distress or impairment they are causing for your child or your family.
When assessing OCD, we will ask whether your child has obsessions or compulsive behaviors and whether these obsessions and/or compulsions are time-consuming, get in the way of important activities, or cause distress for you or your child.
Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why we are once again recognized as the best hospital in North Carolina, and nationally ranked in 11 adult and 9 pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report for 2021–2022.
Why Choose Duke
A Team of Specialists Dedicated to Your Child
Our team of pediatric psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurse practitioners, and nurses focuses on engaging you and your child in the therapy process. We understand that seeking help can be difficult, and our goal is to provide a safe environment for your family to learn new ways to reduce and manage the symptoms of OCD and tic disorders.
Families Are Involved at Clinic and at Home
Families get involved both at our clinic and with home “assignments” to support and reinforce what your child is learning during therapy. Parents receive guidance on how best to support their child’s progress in treatment.
Tailored Treatments for Your Child
Our specialists are sensitive to the strain these illnesses can cause in children who have serious or chronic physical illnesses. If your child’s OCD or tics become worse with the added stress of a physical illness, we can tailor treatment to address these concerns.
We have participated in national clinical trials that have defined techniques most likely to help children and families who are struggling with these disorders.