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Spitting Behavior


Hi! I have a 6 year old son who lately has been spitting a lot. He’s always running to a trash can to spit. When asked about why he does it, he gives a variety of reasons, one of which he’s afraid that if someone talks to him up close, the germs from the other person(saliva) will go to his mouth. If you accidentally touch his mouth, he’ll spit. Or if he smells something he doesn’t like, he spits. Lately, he keeps saying his pants are wet-as if he’d peed by accident-but if you touch it, its really not. He also likes to keep his door to his room locked at night, and he’s always reminding me at night to check all the doors of the house to make sure its locked. HELP! Is this OCD? And if yes, what kind of doctor should we see?

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It is possible that your six year old son has OCD and, all that really means is that he could be extremely anxious about some things in his life. However, I cannot tell you in any definitive way that it is OCD for sure. You need to have him evaluated, diagnosed and treated and that is what you are asking about.

I suggest you get a recommendation for a Clinical Psychologist who specializes in working with children. You need someone with that specialty because it is a specific area of psychology. You can call the state American Psychological Association for your area and ask for names or you can call your State Office of Mental Health or speak to your Pediatrician for a referral.

By the way, I would not allow a six year old to lock his bedroom door. There are just too many ways a youngster can get into trouble when alone and you need easy access to his room.

When my children were very young, like you son, an electrical fire started in their room when they were asleep in the middle of the night. This was a rental apartment and, as it turned out, there was faulty wiring in the walls of their room. We got them out and there were no injuries. If their room had been locked and even if their door had been closed, we might never have known about the fire and there could have been a major tragedy.

I strongly recommend that you and other parents not allow children to close and lock their bedroom door. Explain the reasons why to your son, tell him he can keep the light on and tell him you need to hear him if he calls out to you. Because he could be very anxious remind him you need the door open for his safety.

Best of Luck

More "Ask Dr. Schwartz" View Columnists

  • Anonymous-1

    How do I get a person who has MR to stop spitting and hitting.

  • Ja Mee

    I have been searching for information on this very same subject! My nine year old daughter will not stop spitting - saying that people are spitting in her mouth! Since she uses her shirt to spit on - she is constantly soaked and needs to change throughtout the day. She also from time to time asks about whether each door in the house is locked at night! What a relief to hear someone else's story! We have an appointment with a psychiatrist on Tuesday to learn more about how to help her.

  • Cathy P.

    My 15 year old son started spitting at age 13 and has not stopped. The school protocol is to ignore the spitting as they feel he is doing it for attention only.(So not the case) My son spits constantly, and mostly when he is alone. Should we try to stop him, he begins to spit at our feet. The "doing nothing" plan has only encouraged him to spit. I was told that this is a very difficult behaviour to deal with. I have had no help in finding a solution and I am finding this to be very isolating for my son, and consequently us. He likes to spit on the floor and rub his feet in his own spit. He also spits on his lap and his pants are always wet. My son has other sensory behaviours that we have also have not been able to get control of. Some schools do not believe in sensory integration issues. We got our sons diagnosis at age 2, moderate to severe autism, and have had many plans and professionals in our life since then. This spitting seems to be something no one can help with at this time. Good luck to you.

  • John Kadende

    Hi, I am tired because I have been running in different health centres to ask for a medical help but up today nobody satisfied me to find a medication of Lewis my son. He started to spit years ago and now the situation is becoming unbearable at the point that some school refused him in because they do not want any eventual contamination. Doctor specialist for those types of sickness was puzzled because Lewis its and grows up normally , no secondary pain, no any other disorder bu unfortunately we were told that since the child in not dehydrated or if he does not develop anorexia we let him it will disapier little by little.. since the teacher told hin not to come till his bedication is ready.

    Please would you like to tell me which type of medication I must administer to him to facilite the cuch a shamful illness.

    Thanks for your concern..

  • suriya rukkarnsil

    I live in north eastern of Thailand. My son has some trouble from the hospital working when he was born. Nawadays, he is nine years old. He begin spitting since 4 years old until today. He has his own reason in the same way as onother case suchas somebody do something dirty near him. When he smell something especially cooking he will spit immedietelly. The phsychologist tell me that my son is in a case of asperger disorder. I do not solve this problem because I has never seen any case in my country before.

  • Detroit2010

    My son is six years old and he spits constantly. It's either in the trash can, the toilet, inside tissue or paper towel or on the ground outside. If he smells an unpleasant odor, he spits. He says that he sees things in his head or has mental images...he spits. I don't know what to do.

  • Miranda

    I have a four year old who spits and everyone makes me feel like im crazy that it bothers me so much. He has been doing this for about a year and it use to be mainly when he smells somthing he dosent like but now it become obsesive he will droll down his shirt, spit in his shirt or hand. When i ask him why he says he doesnt know. Please if any one gets any answers please please post them. And i will do the same. I wonder could it be teracts?


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