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Anxiety and ADHD

Touching Private parts and anxiety

Hello, My name is Nicole and I have a 7 year old son named Noah. He was diagnosed with ADHD in October of 2013. We are still working on a correct dosage of medicine and type of medication due to side effects (mostly weight loss)

The thing is that he touches himself regularly. Not just touches himself and moves on but continues to touch himself to the point of being aroused in public while around other kids. One day last year in school he had his pants unzipped and his private part out touching it while there was a girl sitting next to him during circle time. I was so embarassed. While I know he has trouble managing his anxiety it is so hard to not feel embarassed about it.

He also cannot stand for his underwear to be even a drop wet or moist. He can barely get a drop of urine on them (I’m talking a pin drop size) on them and he has to change them.

It seems like he is very unaware of his surrounding because once you make notice of it then he seems to understand that its not appropriate and it should be done in private. We have a code word, “Hands up” if he does it when we are out, he has a fidget ball to squeeze during idle times in school or during long sitting periods.

He sees a counselor for behavior management and psychiatrist as well. I’m just SO frustrated. I don’t know what to do , don’t know whats best, feel like we have tried every behavior chart they make for this type of thing and nothing seems to matter. His counselor and psychiatrist think it may be OCD. He ruled out high functioning autism although I stil think its a possibility.  He takes Vyvanse 30mg.

Thank you for listening.


It seems like you have a good support team helping you. It will take time, just be consistent. Be patient. I love the fact that you have a ‘code’ expression for when you are in public.

Posted by najn on Jun 11, 2014 at 8:39am

We saw a similar situaiton when my daughter was in 3rd grade.  It can be a side affect of certain meds.  My daughter hadn’t been diagnosed with adhd yet (that happened in 6th grade).  In 3rd grade, her anxiety was bad - happened following a concussion during the summer.  We tried 3 meds for anxiety during the school year.  One of the meds, can’t remember which one, caused her impulse control to simply vanish.  We experienced what you described, she also hid in her locker at school, and several other crazy seeming things.  We made the decision to stop anxiety meds altogether and we no longer had any issues.  We tried again when she was older (6th grade) with no similar side affects.  Our experience is that meds work better once the kids bcome a little older. 

In addition, we know now that my daughter is very sensitive to meds.  For example, the generic Lexapro simply doesn’t work for her - we have to take the brand name only. 

It is good you are working with a counselor and a psychiatrist.  That is a good knowledge base to pull from.

Best wishes to you.

Posted by SJF04 on Jun 11, 2014 at 4:59pm


At the beginning of grade 3 my (un-medicated) daughter (ADHD, LD, anxiety) was unconsciously touching herself. We also had a code action (I’d catch her eye and tap my own shoulder) which we shared with her teacher who was very discreet.

It was a means of comforting herself when anxious, but was also a response to over/under stimulation. We found providing her with a wiggly cushion helped.

You sound as if you have a good support team, but have you ever tried occupational therapy? I was amazed at the way in which our therapist—after an 8 week program—was able to provide us with a personalized list of very specific actions and strategies to use with my daughter when over- and under-stimulated. You might be able to identify a number of actions your son could cycle through as alternatives to his current practice.

Hang in there! These things tend to get better eventually.

Posted by SusanneM on Jul 04, 2014 at 6:52pm

Hi Nicole,

I have a daughter in the same situation and I just today received a phone call from her teacher.

What has been you experience since this happened? Has it worked with behaviour management?

Any input is appreciated.


Posted by scandparent on Oct 04, 2016 at 1:24pm

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