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As we celebrate OCD Awareness Week this week (October 13–19, 2014), what better way to help raise awareness than to support programs that help kids and family all year long?  For the second year in a row, the IOCDF has been gifted with an incredible opportunity to help kids and young adults who are living with OCD and related disorders.  One of the IOCDF’s most loyal donors has presented the foundation with a tremendous opportunity to raise vital funds to support Pediatric OCD Programs.   Our donor has volunteered to match all fundraised dollars on a dollar-for-dollar basis — up to $25,000!   All funds will go to support the important Pediatric Outreach Program of the IOCDF.

Last year, through the combined generosity of our match donor and many others, we raised over $120,000 to help kids and families with OCD and related disorders. 

For many people living with OCD and related disorders is a daily challenge.  For some or, I dare say MOST people, their struggle began when they were children.  Many were old enough to understand that something was wrong, but too young to know what to do about it.  Children seek help from their parents — who initially seek answers from a pediatrician who often tell them, “They will probably grow out of it.”

I have had the opportunity to hear many stories from people who struggled as children with OCD and related disorders. Many went years without the help they desperately needed. I would like to share a story about a boy named Sam.  Sam and his family took part in the 1 Million Steps 4 OCD Walk this past June as virtual walkers. They and their friends walked in their own community to help raise awareness about OCD.  Sam and his family have generously agreed to share their story in the hope that it will help others to have a better understanding of OCD and related disorders and might cause you to support the Pediatric Campaign for Hope.

Here is Sam’s Story, as told by his Mom Theresa:

Sam began to display symptoms of anger and rigidity when he was about 6 years old.  One day he was fine, the next he was not.  It continued to worsen for several months.  He would get very agitated during conversations, and wanted me to answer him in certain ways.  He would repeat a question over and over until he was satisfied with the answer.  The school counselor said he was testing his limits with us, but that did not seem like an accurate description – as it was more of a personality change, and it had happened nearly overnight.  Simultaneously, Sam was being treated for Psoriasis.  His dermatologist told us that sometimes the strep virus brought on this type of Psoriasis.  My husband searched for answers online (“tics, psoriasis and strep”) and came up with OCD, thought to be brought on by strep (PANDAS).  Our family doctor immediately referred us to a psychologist, who diagnosed his OCD.

Sam saw the same psychologist for years, and we saw a diminishing of the OCD symptoms, although he had high anxiety.  He would talk about his stomach hurting and upcoming activities incessantly.  There was no activity that wouldn’t cause him anxiety, whether going on vacation, or going to a friend’s house.  For years, our lives were centered on keeping Sam “not worried”.

We ultimately realized that we needed to change his course of treatment, as his current doctor couldn’t quite nail what fears Sam had, so she felt she really couldn’t offer him the type of therapy needed for OCD.  We were frustrated because we didn’t have any “tools” in our toolbox after years of therapy.

Realizing that Sam needed to see someone who knew how to treat his OCD, we sought out an OCD Specialist.  We’ve been seeing him since January, and have seen a lot of improvement, although we still have our low points occasionally.  Sam is becoming equipped at using the strategies we practice in therapy at home.  I have to say I am grateful for the low-points that we experienced, as it helped us really see what he was dealing with on a daily basis.  He makes us very proud, because he is a warrior, but we are also proud of our daughters, who have been suffering with him.  They have a better understanding of OCD.  We still have a lot of work to do, but at least we have embraced “hope” that it is possible to live a fairly normal life that is not constantly centered around Sam’s worries.

The IOCDF has made pediatric OCD a priority in our programming and we are strongly committed to making sure that parents, pediatricians, teachers, care givers and others have the knowledge they need to help kids — kids like Sam.

Please take advantage of this opportunity to DOUBLE your gift to the IOCDF.  A gift of $100, can mean $200 or a gift of $500 can mean $1,000!

Your gift to our Pediatric Campaign of Hope can help other families cope successfully with the suffering, confusion, doubt, and fear that surrounds’ those living with or caring for someone with OCD or a related disorder.

Remember, your gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar — but only if we receive your check by October 31st!   You can make your gift easily online at www.iocdf.org/donate.

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