Hudson Valley Parent

HVP March 2019

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Page 18 of 35 n Hudson Valley Parent 19 the services of child psychologists and psychiatrists, Jennifer Colucci of Hopewell, whose son has a dual diagnosis of OCD and tic disorder, has, in her words, "gone the holistic route, doing Nutrition Response Testing for food sensitivities to see if cutting out certain foods like gluten or sugar can help decrease the OCD behaviors." Medication can also frequently be part of an OCD treatment plan. According to, serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Zoloft and Prozac are typically prescribed in cases of pediatric OCD. Regarding therapeutic treatment, mother Jessica Westover says, "I've come to realize just how very few therapists truly recognize or understand pediatric OCD." For a time, because her daughter's therapies did not specifically target her OCD, her OCD actually got worse. Fortunately, through diligent research along with speaking to other parents of similarly afflicted children, Westover learned of exposure and response prevention (ERP). ERP therapy forces the patient to face their biggest fear, beginning with small tasks and progressing to more difficult exposures. "The child has to feel the panic and anxiety and just ride it out," says Westover. She credits ERP therapy with an incredible change in her daughter. "She and our family have our lives back. It's like our little girl was gone and now she's with us again." Coping as a family Jennifer Colucci says, "Living with an OCD-afflicted child takes a lot of patience and understanding from all family members." Regarding her other two children, she states, "As they get older, I plan to continue educating them about OCD and how best to support their brother." Additionally, Colucci makes sure to give her son frequent reminders that in the grand scheme of things, he's not all that different from anybody else. "Everyone has challenges in life that they must deal with, everyone's brain is special, and everyone's brain works differently," says Colucci. Jill Valentino is a wife, mom of two, elementary educator and lifelong resident of the Hudson Valley. Jennifer Colucci says her whole family educated themselves about her son's diagnosis and learned how to best support him. OCD common compulsions According to the International OCD Foundation (, common compulsions experienced by OCD sufferers can include, but are not limited to: • Excessive washing/grooming/ cleaning/germ prevention • Mental compulsions such as counting during task performance • Checking for harm/mistakes • Ordering/arranging • Telling/asking/confessing for reassurance purposes • Avoiding situations that may trigger obsessions • Repeating routine activities/ body movements, rereading/ rewriting

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