How to Treat OCD in Autistic Children & Adults

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Everybody wants to know how to treat OCD in autistic children and adults. It is a very difficult disorder for an individual, as it seems like the only way out of their day-to-day life stressors. However, there are some ways that you can be proactive about reducing your loved one’s symptoms.

The “ocd and autism strategies” is a blog post that discusses how parents can help their autistic children or adults with OCD. The article also includes information on how to treat the disorder in children, as well as some tips for treating it in adults.

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Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition marked by difficulty in social and communication, as well as repetitive and ritualistic behaviors. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety condition that involves compulsions (repetitive, ritualistic activities) and persistent thoughts (obsessions).

These two illnesses often coexist.

Autism and OCD are considered to be comorbid when they occur in the same individual at the same time. They should be treated jointly as part of a comprehensive treatment strategy to reduce anxiety and manage symptoms of both illnesses. Cognitive Behavioral therapy (CBT) may aid in the identification of symptom triggers and the modification of negative habits.

Autism & OCD

Both autism and OCD have been linked to genetics, indicating that they are heritable illnesses with overlapping brain areas. OCD may affect brain function and structure in the same way as autism does.

If you have one disease, you’re more likely to have the other at some time. According to one research, those with autism are twice as likely to acquire OCD, while OCD sufferers are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism.

OCD and autism have a lot of similarities, which makes diagnosing one or the other, or both at the same time, problematic. However, there are some distinctions to be found. Someone with OCD, for example, would feel forced to repeat a ritualistic action in the same manner each time in order to relieve anxiety, but someone with autism will participate in a range of repetitive behaviors, not necessarily the same one each time.

The stress of autism-related communication issues might increase OCD symptoms. Sensory events, such as loud sounds, are likely to elicit unique responses in someone with both diseases.

Comorbid autism and OCD may make everyday activities even more difficult. More tantrums, behavioral challenges, and difficulty functioning may result as a result of this.

Rate of Comorbidity Between Autism & OCD

Around 40% of people with autism suffer from at least one anxiety problem. According to research, rates of comorbidity with OCD vary from 17 percent to 37 percent.

One of the most frequent anxiety disorders associated with autism is obsessive-compulsive disorder. Because it might be difficult to identify both conditions at the same time and separate them from one another, rates vary. Comorbidity rates may also be influenced by misdiagnosis or a complete lack of diagnosis.

OCD is significantly more common in people with autism than it is in the general population. When both illnesses co-occur, it’s critical to diagnose them so that therapy may be tailored accordingly. If a person has both autism and OCD and only the autism is detected and treated, they will be unable to control their symptoms properly.

Taking Care of Autistic Children’s OCD

Environmental risk factors for OCD are still being researched. However, since it is an anxiety condition, we know that persistent and severe stress may set it off. Anxiety may lead to OCD and emotional and physical outbursts, as well as OCD behaviors.

The safety of your kid (and others around them) is the first concern for parents. The idea is to keep your youngster relaxed and decrease possible stresses in this way.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Recognize your child’s irritants. Once you’ve identified them, make any necessary changes to the environment. Consider noise-cancelling headphones if loud sounds are a problem. Keep the room dark if your youngster is hypersensitive to bright lights.
  • Collaboration on communication approaches is a must. Autistic children often struggle to convey their feelings and demands. Alternative communication methods, such as the use of visuals and unique communication equipment, may be beneficial.
  • Make a timetable for yourself. This kind of regularity may help a youngster feel less anxious by allowing them to anticipate what will happen next. Tantrums may be avoided and tension can be reduced by sticking to a timetable.
  • Changes and transitions should be discussed. Children who suffer from OCD or autism are generally rigid and resistant to change. Anxiety may be exacerbated by uncertainty. Role-playing activities, conversations about forthcoming changes, and learning how to handle transitions may all help.
  • Include everyone on the care team. Everyone engaged in your child’s care, including teachers, counselors, therapists, and other caregivers, should be on board with the treatment plan. After that, everyone in the team may work together to keep stress levels low.

If you suspect OCD, autism, or both, talk to your child’s doctor about your worries. Early autism intervention and therapy may aid in the reduction of anxiety as well as the management of autistic symptoms. This correlates to a greater level of productivity and functioning as well as a better overall quality of life.

Adult Autistics With OCD: What Can You Do?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is most often diagnosed in late adolescence, while it may be detected in youngsters earlier. Autistic adults and teens are more prone to OCD than their counterparts who do not have autism.

OCD-related thoughts and behaviors may obstruct social connections and make it difficult to form friendships. Symptoms of the disease might make it difficult to keep up with academics or hold down a job.

Various therapy options are available for adults with comorbid OCD and autism.

  • Peer support groups: These groups provide organized social contacts in a safe and secure atmosphere, allowing people to feel more connected and less isolated.
  • Social skills groups: These groups offer participants practical skills that will help them operate in their daily lives. These abilities may aid in finding and keeping a career, as well as self-care and independence.
  • Medications: These may assist with anxiety symptoms, but they can also have adverse effects, which may be exacerbated in persons with autism. Consult your doctor about the advantages and disadvantages of the procedure.
  • Treatment: Both group and individual therapy seeks to address particular OCD and autism symptoms. Clients might learn coping strategies and tools for daily living in therapy.

A More Complicated Treatment Strategy

Comorbid autism and OCD treatment might provide its own set of challenges that must be addressed. Knowing which behaviors are autistic and which are caused by obsessive-compulsive disorder is critical.

The most effective treatment for OCD is cognitive Cognitive Behavioral therapy (CBT) (CBT), which is also used to treat OCD in people with autism. The goal of this behavioral intervention is to identify possible triggers and learn how to deal with them. It also focuses on having a better grasp of how ideas, emotions, and behaviors are all linked.

Treatment for comorbid OCD and autism may cause problems with emotional and social connections, making it difficult to grasp social signals and relate to others, even a therapist.

Autism might make it difficult for autistic persons to understand the link between their obsessions and compulsive behaviors because they lack insight into their own habits. While someone with OCD would engage in repetitive action to dispel nervous thoughts, someone with autism will do so because it makes them feel good, regardless of why they feel good.

Therapists must distinguish between symptoms that overlap and assist clients in successfully managing symptoms of both diseases. Neither condition has a treatment.

Cognitive Behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT for comorbid autism and obsessive-compulsive disorder will need to be tailored to the person in order to effectively treat both conditions.

Angry outbursts, frustration, unpredictably swinging moods that take longer to stabilize, and impulsivity are all issues that therapy therapies may help with. Exposure therapy, or exposure and response prevention (ERP), along with CBT, may aid with anger control and desensitization strategies.

The following are some of the characteristics of a modified CBT paradigm for comorbid OCD and autism:

  • Involvement of parents and/or caregivers in sessions and beyond.
  • There are visual signals.
  • Use of the client’s interests and a reward system.
  • Language modifications and communication deficit management.
  • Session organization has been improved.

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a methodology that uses positive reinforcement to reward desired actions. It may also aid in the reduction of undesired habits. This is one of the most popular autism treatments. Because of its versatility, it may be used to treat a variety of comorbid diseases, such as autism and OCD.

Exposure therapy is often used in OCD treatment to reduce the need for ritualistic actions as a way of self-soothing. This kind of therapy will need to be more progressive and particular when someone has autism and OCD. This is due to the fact that ritualistic actions are often gratifying, making it difficult to understand the necessity to cease repeating them.

Trained mental health specialists collaborate with clients to develop a treatment plan that is tailored to their personal needs.

Resources for Autism & OCD

Here are some resources that may assist if you or a loved one has autism, OCD, or both:

  • The Autism Society is a non-profit organization that offers services and information to persons with autism and their families.
  • Your primary care physician is: Your doctor, or the pediatrician for your kid, can connect you with local resources and make required recommendations for assessments and specialist care providers in your region. Referrals to mental health experts, neurologists, developmental specialists, occupational therapists, behavior therapists, and other professionals are possible.


Longitudinal and Offspring Risk in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorders (November 2015). PLoS One is a journal that publishes research findings.

Autism and OCD (March 2019). Psych Central is a website dedicated to mental health.

A Review of Comorbid Autism Spectrum Disorder and Anxiety Disorders. (February of this year). Neurology in the Future

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a kind of obsessive-compulsive (Updated on October 2019). The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is a government-funded research (NIMH).

Autism is linked to a variety of medical conditions (2020). Autism Speaks is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about

Is it “Just Autism” or “New Repetitive Behaviors?” a parent wonders. (May 14, 2014) Autism Speaks is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about

Treatment options for obsessive-compulsive disorder and autism spectrum disorder. (Autumn 2011). The International OCD Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping (IOCDF).

Elevated Autism Spectrum Disorder Traits in Young Children With OCD. (December 2016). Child Psychiatry & Human Development.

Unaffected Relatives of Patients With Autism and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Have Shared Executive Dysfunctions. (From January 2007) Psychiatry in Europe.

Untangling the Autism-Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Connection (In February of this year). Spectrum.

Autism and Mental Health The National Autistic Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of

Concerning the IOCDF (2020). The International OCD Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping (IOCDF).

The Autism Society’s National Helpline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days The Autism Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping

Support for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is available online. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people with anxiety and depression.

The “do i have ocd or autism quiz” is a quiz that will tell you if you have OCD or Autism.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I stop my autistic son from obsessing?

A: This is difficult without knowing more about your sons behavior and how he interacts with others. Some autistic people are able to stop obsessing on their own, while other times the obsessions must be addressed by a professional.

How does OCD affect autism?

A: Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety-related condition in which a person has intrusive, recurrent thoughts and/or compulsive behaviors that are excessive or unreasonable to the point of causing significant distress. It is one of the most common psychiatric disorders encountered by children and adults alike.

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