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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Does Down Syndrome have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

As Neal's memory and learning ability have increased, my husband and I have noticed what I would call 'Obsessive Compulsive Disorder'.

Imagine that your mind got stuck
on a certain thought or action...
Then this thought or action got replayed
over and
over again
no matter what you did…
You don’t want these thoughts – it feels like an avalanche…
You don't want to line up your toys.....
Along with the thoughts come intense feelings of anxiety
and with the anxiety the thought or action is replayed over and over trying to reduce the anxiety!!

The above excerpt is from the Obsessive Compulsive Foundation:
There was an essay written and delivered at an NDSS conference in 2005 which proves my point exactly. Dr. Dennis McGuire describes Down syndrome behavior in 'If the World was Ruled by Down syndrome'-
In the world of Down Syndrome, there would be a great deal more tolerance for:
■Repeating the same phrase or question
■Use of the terms “fun” and “cleaning” in the same sentence
■Closing doors or cabinets that are left ajar (even in someone else’s house)
■Arranging things until they are “Just so.”
All that he describes are OCD behaviors. Is this positive? I truly think he is trying to be positive toward Down syndrome, but I'm insulted. He has just described a disorder that everyone else gets treatment for and for DS it is 'cute'. Redirecting and behavior therapy have been helpful, but wouldn't it be wonderful to turn the OCD behavior off and with it the accompanying anxiety?
To read the entire essay by Dr. McGuire go to

1 comment:

  1. I get your point. However, I read his essay when my daughter was two weeks old and I was still struggling with her diagnosis. How beautiful his words were to me!
    He was using humor. It is one of those things that can be very frustrating, but, we can look at it in a positive way, chuckle in agreement, and know that we also have traits that are less than perfect.