Talking to Your Child’s Doctor

If you think your child has OCD, it may be a good idea to also talk to your child’s pediatrician. Your pediatrician can be a good sounding board for your concerns and may be able to rule out any medical illnesses that might explain his/her symptoms. Your pediatrician should also be able to provide a referral to a mental health professional for an evaluation and treatment. Ask them for a referral to talk with both a pediatric therapist as well as a child psychiatrist to discuss options.

Keep written notes of your child’s symptoms. Write down your child’s current behaviors, when, and how often they occur. Think back as far as you can and write down any similar behaviors or concerns you had in the past when your child was younger. These notes will help you convey as much information as possible when you meet the pediatrician without having to rely on your memory. Since children don’t usually show their OCD symptoms in the doctor’s office, the only information your pediatrician has is what you or your child convey.


Joey, Age 10
History of Behaviors Age Behavior Began Age Ended
Arranges everything, cries if they are “messed up.” 3 years old 5 years old
Wants me to list everything on shelves in grocery store. 7 years old, first grade 3 years later
Keeps asking if his hands are clean and if we washed our hands. 8 years old On and off, still present

Put together a family history. It can be useful to make notes about family members on both sides of the family who have shown symptoms of any kind of anxiety, OCD, tics or other repetitive behaviors, even if they have not been officially diagnosed.

Be specific about your goals. Think ahead about your goals for your meeting with the pediatrician. Let him or her know what you are a looking for, and ask specific questions. Ask for other resources or a referral to a mental health professional with expertise in evaluating and treating children and teens with OCD and related conditions.

Keep track of other illnesses. If your child has had a sudden onset of OCD symptoms or tics, or if symptoms have become very severe, and he or she has been sick with a sore throat, fever, cold or cough, talk to your pediatrician to the possibility of PANDAS. Note dates of your child’s illnesses and treatments and the dates when you noticed symptoms of OCD, tics, or anxiety. You may also want to rate how severe the symptoms were on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most severe.