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How Online School Supports Students with OCD

Graphic: How online school supports students with OCD.

If your child has obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), decisions about their schooling likely involve some additional factors. You want your child to enjoy a supportive educational environment that minimizes stressors and maximizes learning. For many students, this means attending school online. Online school can help educators meet students right where they are and give your student the freedom to learn on their own terms.

What Does OCD Look Like in Students?

Children and adults can both experience symptoms of OCD, but in most cases, OCD is diagnosed by age 19. Studies have found that pediatric OCD can present in children as young as 2 years old, though the average age of onset for children is between 10 and 11

OCD symptoms can be grouped into two categories:

  • Obsessions: Obsessions are repeated intrusive thoughts or urges in a person’s brain.
  • Compulsions: Obsessions can lead to compulsions — repetitive behaviors or mental rituals that a person feels they must do.

The shape that obsessions and compulsions take can differ from person to person. One student with OCD may obsess over the thought of germs and compulsively wash their hands in response. Another student may not worry about germs but instead find themselves compulsively counting objects they see or repeating actions a certain number of times in order to avoid a sense of dread or anxiety. 

Just as no two children are alike, no two cases of OCD are alike. Some students may be diagnosed with OCD without fitting any of the cliches people tend to associate with the condition. 

According to the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a person may be diagnosed with OCD if the obsessions or compulsions they experience consume more than an hour of their day or have a clinically significant impact on their lives. In other words, a child could seem to have certain obsessions or compulsions, but that may not translate into an OCD diagnosis and may be better explained by another diagnosis.

Because OCD symptoms present in different ways, it’s best to consult a mental health professional if you think your child may have OCD. 

How Does OCD Affect Academic Performance?

When it comes to OCD and schoolwork, this condition can affect a student’s performance in numerous ways. Potential ways OCD can impact a student’s school performance include:

  • Tardiness: Students can be perpetually late for a number of reasons, chief of which is often poor time management. However, for a child with OCD, they may arrive late because they were caught up in time-consuming compulsions. Children with OCD also often deal with sleep disorders, which can contribute to tardiness.
  • Disruptive behavior: Some compulsions occur only in a student’s brain. However, other compulsions may become disruptive in a classroom setting. Students with OCD may also experience an emotional meltdown if they are not allowed to fulfill their compulsion. For example, a child who feels they must turn the light on and off five times but is asked to leave the light switch alone may experience great distress.
  • Repeatedly asking questions: The tendency toward obsession may show itself in students asking an unusually high number of questions or asking the same question repeatedly for reassurance. They may feel they can’t move on to think about other things until they’ve gotten a sufficient answer to a question that’s on their mind.
  • Procrastination: OCD can be distracting to students as they try to complete assignments, which may tempt them to avoid their work until it can no longer be avoided. Some students with OCD may also procrastinate because they struggle with perfectionism and find it easier to put off a project because they will work obsessively on it until it’s due, regardless of when they start.
  • Difficulty transitioning tasks: Students with OCD may also find it challenging to transition from one subject or task to another. For these students, they cannot wipe their mental slate clean and start fresh on a new topic — thoughts tend to linger and recur. These thoughts can be intrusive when trying to focus on something new.

Can Online Classrooms Help Support Students With OCD?

Graphic: Benefits of online school for students with OCD.

If you have a child with a diagnosed or potential case of OCD, you may question what the best learning environment is for them. Perhaps with the extra support they need, you’re not sure whether cyber school is a good option. In actuality, online classrooms are a great choice for students with OCD. The benefits of online school for kids with OCD come down to two main factors:

  1. Reduced distractions: There are many aspects of attending class in a school building that can be distracting, or even overwhelming, to a student with OCD. Anything that feels wrong to them about the classroom or where they’re seated, for example, can trigger obsessive thoughts and compulsions. While these distractions are occupying their brain, it’s difficult to focus on learning. Having their own personal, private space at home for learning can dramatically reduce distractions that would otherwise disrupt their education.
  2. More flexibility: While school accommodations for OCD aren’t limited to cyber school, you’ll find that online school lends itself better to creating a learning experience that’s truly tailored to your child’s needs. For example, this might include taking notes on a laptop instead of on paper, learning in a space where they feel safe and comfortable, and completing schoolwork at their own pace. Overall, your family and your child enjoy a greater level of control over the environment and factors that can influence their school experience.

Discover CCA’s Personalized Learning for Students With OCD

Commonwealth Charter Academy (CCA) is an excellent schooling option to consider for families in Pennsylvania, including families looking for OCD school accommodations. At CCA, we understand all learners are unique, and that’s why we offer personalized learning. All students receive an individualized education where they can work toward their own goals and learn at their own pace.

This means that students with OCD can pursue their education when and how it fits their needs without the pressures and distractions that often come with physical classroom environments. Instead, they can learn at home with the support of both their teachers and family. 

Experience Personalized Learning at Commonwealth Charter Academy

If you’re a student or a parent of a student with OCD, you know how important it is to find the right fit when it comes to school. Pennsylvania families can consider cyber charter school as a valuable option that provides all the support of public schooling with flexibility that can only come from online schooling. Every student deserves to learn in an environment that validates and supports their needs. Contact us today to learn more about CCA’s personalized learning for students with OCD.

Graphic: Personalized learning at CCA.

Author

Commonwealth Charter Academy

Published

February 22nd, 2022

Category

Learning Lab

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