For mum Andrea Lunsford it’s the little things that can turn into a battle.
An uneven row of shampoo bottles in a shop, a book out of place or a small square of paper left behind when she removes the plastic wrapper from a container of chocolate pudding.
But right now its not a battle with her son with OCD she’s waging, but a battle with the critics after a video she shared on her Vlog “Fooley Living” copped a barrage of unnecessary criticism over her parenting skills. Andrea Lunsford, 39, says in fact all she is trying to do is help her three-year-old overcome his OCD.
Rafael, aged 3 has OCD. ( Via Fooly Living)
Lunsford filmed her son Rafael, who has been diagnosed with OCD and high functioning autism, while he struggled to cope with an irregularity in the wrapper of his chocolate pudding.
The American mum who lives in Israel, battles with Rafael as he tells her to open the container and she gently reminds him that it is already open.
At one stage she pokes her finger into the container to prove to the little boy that it really is open, and while he expresses his dismay at this he does lick the treat off his mum’s finger.
While he expresses his dismay at this he does lick the treat of his mum’s finger. ( Via Fooly Living)
Lunsford shared the video, she told Mamamia, to show an example of an issue that he has to deal with multiple times a day, every day.
“I thought it would be helpful for other parents to know they are not alone,” she said.
“Maybe a parent will see the video and realise why their child is having these behaviours and that it might be OCD. Maybe it will comfort them, knowing that there are ways to treat it and that it isn't hopeless.”
While there was great support for her video, in amongst it was something she never expected - Lunsford was branded as “cruel". It was claimed she was “laughing at him”, one commenter said might “traumatize the child” another said she was making him “extremely upset.”
These are critisisms that Andrea Lunsford takes seriously because in actuality what she was doing was far from cruel, but what any loving mum would do – helping her little boy.
Andrea and Rafael (Via Fooly Living)
She says that in the video Rafael “had higher than normal anxiety, but he wasn't to the point where he was having a meltdown or at his breaking point.”
“I could definitely tell that he was obsessing over that piece of paper still left on the pudding cup, even though it was not hindering him from eating it.”
While her Vlog details many areas of her life with humour, her son’s OCD is something she takes very seriously.
“Not very many people are willing to show what it actually is, especially in children.
"This is our life though, and this is what we're dealing with now.”
To those who said she was laughing at her little boy she says this, “I would never laugh at my son, or anyone who is struggling. For someone to watch this video and even think that I'm laughing at my son is really interpreting it all wrong. I don't even see how someone could perceive that. I do all I can to help my son.”
Rafael struggles with it daily. (Via Fooly Living)
It is estimated that one to three per cent of the population suffer from OCD, it’s our fourth most common mental illness. In children OCD can manifest itself in a number of ways such as a fear of germs, counting, tapping or hoarding.
For Rafael it’s something he struggles with daily. "This isn't a one time occurrence, these things happen multiple times each day.
“Rafael has to 'finish' or 'complete' an action or a series of actions.
"Anything from getting in the elevator, eating certain foods and how he eats them, and going to bed at night becomes a ritual for him. There are certain steps he 'must' do in order to complete the task or everything has to be started over again until it's done just right. If he can't start over, it's a meltdown for days. It seems like it is something new each day that we have to work on, but it's getting better.”
He finally ate the pudding (Via Fooly Living)
Lunsford says that techniques like getting Rafael to confront the piece of paper while might make him temporarily uncomfortable are deliberate ways her and her husband help him work through his OCD.
“It takes a lot of time and patience to figure it out sometimes, but we eventually get it and we help him through it. Sometimes there are tears, but he usually always gets through it. If we are in public, we usually don't want to cause a scene so we sometimes give in to his behaviours, but when we are at home and can take the time, we definitely work on it.”
This loving mum admits she was a little taken aback by the unnecessary backlash against her video.
Andrea, her husband and Rafael. (Via Fooly Living)
On her Vlogging page she responded to the critics writing, "This is not a classroom. This is my child, in my home. I will put my finger in his pudding and I will cook his food with my hands because that's what a mom does. It got him to eat his pudding, and even eat it off my finger, so you need to calm down with all that mess. I am doing the best thing for him. He is my child, not a student. He came out of my own body and I actually gave him breast milk from my own boob. We aren't scared of each others germs as we live together and he is a 3-year-old boy and I am his mother. He's not a stranger or a student that I only see a few hours a day.”
She encourages other parents worried about OCD to get their child evaluated by a mental health professional or a child developmental specialist.
She says it’s a debilitating disorder and that the longer you have it, the worse it becomes.
“The number of rituals you have increases, and the anxiety associated with the obsessions gets worse. Early intervention is key, so if a parent sees that this is affecting the child's life, then they should seek professional help. Exposure therapy has been a way to give my son confidence in overcoming his OCD and anxiety associated with it.”
For more information on OCD contact Beyond Blue.