Question: When I search on “hoarding,” most of the questions involve adults living in situations of homes being crowded with newspapers, garbage, etc. There is also little information, in general, about hoarding in some of the OCD books I have. My 9 year old son hoards (or, at the very least, can’t bring himself to throw certain items away, though he must realize I do). Can you speak about hoarding compulsions in children? He also seems to have harm obsessions and perhaps mental compulsions. He currently takes Luvox, Anafranil, Clonidine and has recently begun CBT. Laura – Hull
Answer 1: I cannot speak to hoarding in children, but in adults, the medications have generally not worked as well for hoarding symptoms as they have for other OCD symptoms and it sounds like he does have some of these. CBT is likely to be useful. Continued near the bottom of this page.
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Answer 2: There is relatively little written about hoarding in OCD in the first place. I am not aware of any literature on it in children although I have certainly know of children who have this form of OCD. OCD in general seems to be very similar in children and adults so what we know about treating a particular form in one group probably applies to both. In general medication does not seem to be a big help for people with hoarding problems. This may be because hoarding is what I see as a “successful” compulsion meaning that it successfully reduces anxiety and thus is unlikely to stop simply because the anxiety is reduced by medication.
Answer 3: I’m sure your CB therapist will guide you through this, but the treatments for hoarding involve in part, having the child sort items- clothes, toys, papers, etc. into categories. For example, take out a drawer of “stuff” and sort into three categories: 1. Use now, 2. Give away, and 3. Hold 6 months. Make sure that the child puts things in each category (so not everything goes in “use now”), almost like he’s dealing cards evenly to different players. Finally, to stop the hoarding before it starts, there’s often a “check your pockets at the door” intervention so that various junk never makes it into your house. Every child is different, though probably some variation on one of these themes will be indicated. Best of luck.
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