Laura Russin

@laura-russin | contributor
Laura Russin is a SAHM of two young children, seven and six-and-a-half. She blogs as ManVsMommy to maintain parental sanity and to spread awareness of ADHD and SPD. She recently returned to school for a Master's in Mental Health Counseling to fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a therapist. You can find her at www.manvsmommy.wordpress.com, on FB at ManVsMommy, and on Twitter @manvsmommy
Community Voices

The Fear of a Failure to Thrive Diagnosis

As a student of #MentalHealth Counseling, I often think of a

diagnosis as a tree trunk.  There is one,

solid stable disorder planting its roots and from the symptoms of the disorder,

a branchlike network of additional challenges and diagnoses blossom.  I have discussed #SensoryProcessingDisorder

(SPD) before, this diagnosis has planted a giant Redwood like tree trunk in our

front yard.  There are a multitude of

symptoms that have allowed additional problems and disorders to branch and

bloom, casting a large shadow over our entire house.  One such symptom is sensory eating, and from

this symptom a tangled grid of branches has formed to develop a new and even

scarier diagnosis, Failure to Thrive (FTT).

The major difference between picky eating and sensory eating,

the most significant and frightening, is that sensory eaters would rather go

hungry than eat a food that would disturb their bodies fragile peaceful

state.  Man is a sensory eater.  Most people assume that that means that he

can’t eat certain textures.  We all know

people who can’t eat tapioca pudding or cottage cheese without having a

visceral reaction.  Personally, I

couldn’t eat shrimp until well into adulthood because that rubbery crunch gave

my body the heebie-jeebies.  But for Man,

it’s flavor intensity.  He cannot eat

foods that have too much flavor.  When he

was three-and-a-half he mistakenly grabbed a garlic flavored cracker off the

counter and before he could even finish chewing the first bite he broke out

into a cold sweat, his eyes began to water, and his entire face turned bright

red.  His body was literally rejecting

the flavor.  He couldn’t eat for the rest

of the night.

Years of having such extremely intense bodily reactions to

flavors have naturally resulted in extremely poor eating habits and dread

around food and mealtime.  I mean, if

every time you put food into your mouth it made your body feel pain, would you

want to eat?  In our house, mealtime

brings fear and #Anxiety, not pleasure and excitement.

You see, from day one, every bite of every meal that has

gone into his mouth has been prompted by me.

“Eat, honey.”

“Take that bite.”

“No, you’re not finished yet, little guy.”

I can remember when he was younger, I would bring him his

breakfast on a Monday morning and think, “Here we go, 21 meals and the week

will be over.”

Meals can take upwards of an hour-and-a-half.  He laboriously chews each tiny little bite,

bites small enough that he really won’t have to actually taste the food, while I would stand there, trying to stay calm,

encouraging and supportive.  If I walked

away, he would simply not eat.

After

many years, I decided that I did need to walk away and just let him be.  Mealtimes were causing me such stress, anger,

fear, and resentment that I didn’t want to be around him at all anymore.  I forced myself to accept that he was going

to eat what he was going to eat and that was going to have to be ok.  I couldn’t help him in any way if I was internally fuming and freaking out three meal

times every day.

That tactic worked for a while, he wasn’t growing a lot, but

it was steady growth at his own slow rate.

That was until our most recent visit, where we found out that he has

begun to lose weight.  Now, a

seven-year-old boy that only weighed 38 pounds, was a mere 36.5.

When we heard the news, it sent me into a frenzy and I

yelled at him.

No, I screamed, I threatened, and basically tried to instill

a fear in him that would force him to eat better, that would allow me to remain

in my protective “Man eating bubble.”

I am ashamed, and it brings tears to my eyes and an ache to

my heart to know that I made him cry so much about something that he really has

no control over.

I vowed to get my fear in check and help him in a calm and

loving way.  And that worked… for a few

days.

Can

you imagine what it feels like to have to remind your child to take every bite

of every meal that he has ever eaten in his entire life?  It’s exhausting.

Can you feel the anxiety through the screen as I even type

those words?  It’s palpable.

Like an alcoholic picking up a drink after a period of

sobriety, I picked up my anxiety about his eating right where I had left

it.  It has now intensified to such a

severe level where every morning I’m yelling in a way that humiliations me to

admit.

Every meal I look at his gaunt body across the table.  I see the dark rings of malnourishment under

his eyes. I watch him pull up the pants that are sized for a child half his age

as they slip down while he trudges across a room and I yell.  I yell out of fear.  Fear for his health.  Fear for his growth.  Fear for my own sanity.

Mostly, I just feel and incredible guilt every day.  This is obviously my fault because I can’t

handle making sure he adequately eats each meal.  This is obviously my fault because I’m not

finding the magic cure that will make this all better.  I’m obviously only making it worse by

revealing my anxiety and fear to him in such a loud way and angry.

I just wish I could find a chainsaw strong enough to cut the

branches of FTT off at the root, because right now, I’m terrified that this

tree will fall and crush us underneath it’s weight.

Laura Russin

Learning to Be a Parent After Traumatic Upbringing

Many people have wonderful and nurturing role models for mothers growing up. Some mothers, even as children have gotten older, are still the most important women in some people’s lives. I know this to be true, as I often hear many of my friends talk about fun outings they have with their mothers and the endless array of phone calls they share each day to discuss important life issues or just to say, “hi.”  However, I’m willing to bet a few of you, like me, have absolutely no concept of what this kind of relationship feels like. Some of us have mothers who do not fit this description. I have very few memories of early childhood, but the ones I do, all have two common themes: sadness and fear. I can recall being outside on the driveway crying, my brother holding me, covering my ears so I wouldn’t hear my parents fighting inside. By age four, they began a lengthy and horrific decade-long divorce. The details are not important, but my mother was often emotionally and verbally abusive my brother and me. Today, I can look at my reflection in the mirror and see the terrible scars of the decades of abuse, so invisible to many, but ever so clear to me. Much of this abuse still goes on today. Even as a grown woman, with children of my own, her words and actions still manage to slice through my heart and my psyche. Despite understanding the futility, I continue to look to her for the validation I never got in my youth. It’s been a long road to acceptance, but I know now I will never receive it in adulthood either — not, at least, from her. I wish I didn’t feel this way and sometimes want to erase them from my history altogether. But alas, I cannot. Despite my past, right now, I am happy and proud of the woman I have worked so hard to become. Though my upbringing was difficult, I learned the most important parenting lesson of my life: I did not have to be the same kind of parent as my mother. As a mother of two incredible children, I refuse to continue the cycle of unhealthy parenting and abuse. I strive to be a loving, supportive, competent mother, a mother whose children are not afraid of her. Sure, I learned other good things from my mother as well — she wasn’t all bad all of the time. She taught me how to cook and passed on her love of all movies involving 18th and 19th century costumes. She made sure to instill a love of reading and education, beautiful art and baking of incredible desserts. But in the past year, as I have made changes in my life and grown emotionally stronger as a woman and a mother, I realize I wanted a different life for me and my family. My mother has a mental illness. I work hard at happiness because I have seen how unhappy she can be. Despite sharing some of her genetics, I choose to work at not allowing my mental health to dictate my life in its entirety. I have come to understand her behavior and her actions, as a mother and as a person, can come from a place of untreated mental illness. Because of this understanding, I have the capacity to not only forgive her, but to understand I have the choice for recovery. I choose to no longer be a victim of parenting, to no longer allow her words and behavior to bring me down. And for this, I am lucky. I swam through the shark infested waters of my childhood, and though I came out on the other side damaged, I am not beyond repair. Through it all, I learned some important truths about the kind of parent I want to be. This would not have happened had I not gown up the way I did. So, ultimately, I am thankful for my past for teaching me I have the strength to break the cycle. If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741 . We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Unsplash photo via Thomas Kelley.

Laura Russin

It's Not 'Picky Eating': 5 Strategies for Sensory Food Sensitivities

Today, my son took a bite of a carrot, chewed it and swallowed! I tried to remain calm on the outside; I didn’t want him to notice the amount of excitement, relief, hope and importance I placed on that one single bite. I didn’t want him to shrink under the pressure I placed on taking a bite of a carrot. “Nice job, buddy! I’m really proud of you! Did you like it?” “Meh, it was OK…” That was enough for me! On the outside I maintained my calm demeanor, my “this was no big deal” face; but on the inside, I was celebrating like it was New Year’s! Now, at this point you’re all probably thinking, “Wow, a bite of a carrot! She’s really got to check her brag-o-meter, because that sounds about as insignificant as watching television…” But for us, this was huge. I’ve read many articles and blog posts about picky eaters. They put forth an expanse of knowledge and make loads of professional suggestions. They also all miss one incredibly important thing: there is an enormous difference between a “picky eater” and a “sensory eater.” The valid suggestions provided are geared for picky eaters only, but a sensory eater is a different ballgame altogether, and this is rarely if ever mentioned. I suspect that, like me, this leaves parents who have tried all the suggestions mentioned in the articles saddened, frustrated and feeling like failures. What is sensory eating and why is it different from picky eating? Picky eaters don’t like a variety of foods, much like the sensory eater. However, when picky eaters try new foods, it doesn’t cause a sensory overload. What do I mean by an eating sensory overload? It can come in a few different forms. There is a sensitivity to textures, where children can only handle one texture, such as smooth, pureed foods. In this case, they might be able to eat yogurt, however, hand them a bag of chips or a slice of turkey and they immediately begin to gag. This is one of the most common sensory eating issues. There are also sensitivities to flavor and smell. My son has a sensitivity to flavor; I have seen him break out into a cold sweat, red-faced and teary-eyed because a Starburst was “too sugary.” What does this mean when eating? It means that a child might choose not to eat rather than put food in their mouth that might cause physical and/or mental pain. A common suggestion in every article I’ve read on combating picky eating: “They get what they get or they don’t eat. Eventually, they will be hungry enough to eat.” The other variation of that suggestion: “They must try at least one bite of the new food you give them.” This suggestion makes me cringe, as it will not work for a child with sensory eating issues. If they see food as pain, it doesn’t matter how hungry they are, they don’t want to be in pain. Wouldn’t you feel the same? If I offered you a ghost chili right now, how likely are you to just pop it into your mouth without hesitation? Unfortunately, as time goes on, some inevitable behaviors begin to develop. It’s Pavlovian in nature, and they might begin to fear foods and meal times. Even if it’s a food that might not “hurt” them, they might begin to refuse to eat it, as they begin to regard eating these foods as a negative experience. Eating out in restaurants and enjoying the social aspects of a meal can also be challenging for a child with sensory eating issues. Parents often provide constant reminders and prompts to get a child to complete each meal, every day. This often lends an additional level of stress surrounding food, eating and mealtime. Adding to the list of fears that parents have are things like vitamin deficiencies as well. Suddenly, it’s not just the body’s physiological reaction to the food, but also the behavioral and emotional stress that can come along with it. Now, considering these factors, it becomes more obvious why there must be a differentiation between picky eating and sensory eating. For years, I would read these articles and think to myself, “none of these strategies will work for my son, he would just rather not eat.” I would see other parents’ comments laced with sadness and frustration that their children had chosen not to eat. It’s not as simple as choosing to just suck it up and try a food they might not end up liking. For them, it’s knowing that a food might make them throw up or set their little tongue on fire; it’s about being made physically uncomfortable from food. Here are some suggestions that come from both the parent in me and the speech pathologist: 1. Most importantly, do not pressure your child! There is already enough fear associated with eating that you don’t want to increase those fears. As scary as it is to hear a diagnosis of “failure to thrive,” placing added pressures on them to eat will not help. 2. Address their fears, discuss them openly, and validate, validate, validate! Let them know you understand how hard it is for them to eat certain things and that’s OK. 3. Make food fun! Desensitizing them to foods is important, so cook and bake with them often. Also, do art or craft projects that involve playing with food. For example you could make chocolate pudding and crush up Oreo cookies to make “dirt,” then place gummy worms in the dirt, etc. Let them get used to the textures on their hands first. 4. When you feel they are ready, introduce new foods in small increments. As your child gets older, his or her sensory system can naturally mature. However, the fear and behaviors they might have developed over the years might remain. To combat these fears, you must go slowly! I recently implemented a chart system for my son and so far, it seems to be helping: Monday: Smell the food Tuesday: Kiss the food (or touch to lips) Wednesday: Lick the food Thursday: Hold a bite of food in their mouth Friday: Chew a bite and swallow Saturday: Reward, reward, reward! For my son, it’s two ice cream sandwiches with lunch. After your child has successfully chewed and swallowed that initial bite, every day following you might suggest they take one bite of the new food for about a week, then the next week two bites, and so on until you feel they are eating an acceptable amount to incorporate into meals. Now this sounds slow and laborious, and it is, but remember, they might be fearful, and many foods actually cause them physical discomfort. Our goal is to decrease the physical discomfort and remove slowly lessen the fear. A variation of this method is to use a “feeding train.” Each compartment of the train contains foods they like, and then when they get to the caboose, it contains the new food. The expectation that they interact with the food in incremental stages remains the same. 5. The “trying plate” is another variation of this method. Place new foods on the “trying plate” and allow them to take bites when they are ready. This plate is separate from their breakfast/lunch/dinner plate. These methods could be used at one meal per day, unless you feel your child is ready to try it for two or even three meals per day. I cannot stress enough these key points — no pressure and go slowly! Remember, our children are not just picky eaters. Editor’s note: This story is based on an individual’s experience and should not be considered medical advice. Please consult a doctor or medical professional for any questions. Follow this journey on Man Vs Mommy. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock image by Halfpoint

Laura Russin

Understanding the Challenges Kids With ADHD Can Face at School

My son has ADHD and sensory processing disorder (SPD). Many people are misinformed or just have some preconceived notion of what ADHD is, so here is a brief description. ADHD is not : Just being hyperactive and unable to sit still. A behavior problem. Caused by poor parenting and lack of discipline. Magically treated by medication. Something small children just outgrow. Treated with sports or other physical activities. Just a child being “lazy.” ADHD is : The inability to regulate one’s emotions. An inability to identify and pick up on general social cues. An inability to filter out the input around you, therefore, causing extreme distractibility. An inability to control impulses. Difficulty organizing and staying on task. This is just a brief overview of some of the characteristics that are associated with this disorder. A child can have some, many or all of the characteristics. Additionally, any one of the characteristics may be more present and cause greater challenges than others. My son has begun first grade this year, and the transition has been difficult. In kindergarten, he was able to have some freedom to play and roam; the expectations were not as high. Now, in first grade, he is expected to sit still for longer periods of time and do much more class work. Pressures have increased 100-fold. He is facing challenges under these pressures. There are social situations that he seems to perceive or interpret incorrectly. Every day he fights against his own brain and body to tune out the world around him, sit still and focus. He often comes off of the bus tired and wounded from that day’s war. Some days it is so difficult that he just gives up and refuses to do any work altogether. This, consequently, elicits more negative penalties and additional demands from his teachers to try and work harder. I worry that the day is soon coming where he will just refuse to get on the bus and go to school altogether. There are times when he calls out so often that no other student can get a word in edgewise. He is smart, brilliant even, and he has ideas that need to be heard. Waiting his turn to share his thoughts can be challenging for him. I want to help my sweet boy. I want him to feel smart, for he is truly brilliant. I want him to feel socially accepted, for he is the nicest, kindest, most loving child. I want him to feel happy every day, because that is what a 6-year-old deserves. I’m not sure I know how to do that right now, and it terrifies me. I wish society understood this disorder and its challenges more. I want parents to understand that it’s not that our children are “undisciplined” or “lazy”; they actually work twice as hard as a “typical” child to function day to day. I want schools to begin to design programs that work for children who are wired this way. Why is my child made to feel less-than every day because he cannot fit into the mold of current educational expectations? We have to do more for children as a whole. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Image via Thinkstock Images

Laura Russin

Woman Explains Why She’s Hesitant to Discuss Her ADHD Diagnosis

I’ve been writing a blog for about five years now. I write a lot about myself as a parent — my mothering triumphs and failures, frustrations and fulfillments, surprises and bits of wisdom. However, I don’t seem to talk much about myself as just Laura. That’s my real name, Laura. I’ve been able to write about my son’s ADHD with little hesitation, but it’s been difficult for me to come to accept and disclose that I, too, have recently been diagnosed with ADHD. When reading up on the disorder following my son’s diagnosis, it was undeniable that most of the characteristics felt alarmingly familiar to me. I wasn’t just reading about him, I was also reading about myself. My most important piece as a blogger has been, “ADHD, a Real Medical Diagnosis.” It stresses the importance of removing the stigma associated with this diagnosis for my child’s sake and for all who carry the diagnosis. So why not move it along by sharing my own story? I am in no way ashamed. There is absolutely nothing that could have been done to prevent or change it. The hesitation is simple — putting it out there means being seen differently. The truth is that transparent. As an adult, the same stereotypes that worry me about my kid’s future are like giant barriers that stand in the way of my own day-to-day life. I guess, in the end, moving forward means being willing to be seen as exactly who I am, and honestly, there is nothing wrong about that. When the initial diagnosis was made official, I felt a surge of empowerment. There was a reason for some of the things that have plagued me, in one way or another, my entire life. Yet, months later, the sheen of this shiny new diagnosis, this “answer to my problems” has worn off. The realization of what it means has just begun to settle in. I don’t want to preach to you about what it feels like to be me — to live in my brain. There are people with far worse fates than my own. Similarly, there are people with far better. We are who we are, better to work with that than try and be something else. I will, nonetheless, try and provide some information on how a brain like mine works. I work from the inside out in a world that works from the outside in. I literally have no less then four or five thoughts going on in my head at all times. My brain is never ever quiet. Yoga and meditation are my kryptonite. I take in everything that’s around me in detail. I see, hear, smell and feel it all — the passing glance, the broken window latch, the plant in the corner, the banana peel that the guy just threw away across the room. Nothing filters, it’s all just there. Did you hear the bird tweet as it flew by the widow on the other wall? Well, I did. I have absolutely no idea how to be quiet or subtle. Never take me to library. Most things don’t have a designated place. No, that’s not true; its designated place is where I last put it down. You will never get a word in edgewise with me. Ever. It’s not because I’m not interested in what you’re saying — it’s quite the opposite, in fact. There are just so many thoughts, and I don’t have the ability to judge which should be kept and verbalized and which should just return to the small recess of my brain from which it came. They. All. Must. Be. Said. Period. I’m never doing just one thing at a time. Yet, if I attempt to do too many things, I implode and none of them get done. I have begun a million projects — I’m still in the middle of most of them. Unless it’s “do or die,” making a decision is difficult. It’s the overthinking and the thoughts again, people. I can rationalize, rethink, get new information, hem and haw, be wishy-washy, make a decision and then immediately change my mind because of — yes, the thoughts. It’s going to take me about a year — maybe several years — to learn your name. However, I will remember your face, how and where we met and likely some random factoid or two about you. But I still won’t know your name! I have an acute awareness of how the aforementioned characteristics make me appear to others. This makes me anxious and sometimes sad. On any given day, my ADHD can either be overwhelming or not noticeable in any way. Inconsistency is ADHD’s hidden talent — its secret weapon. There is no way of knowing if it will be a good, highly functional day or an ADHD kind of day. Can you see now why I hesitate to discuss it? That list is just the tip of the iceberg, and it already makes me seem unreliable, flaky, anxious, strange, scatterbrained and a bit of a pain in the ass. Well, yes, at one time or another, I am all of those things. However … I am also extremely creative and see things from a multifaceted perspective. I blossom under pressure. While you’re still asking yourself if that’s the fire alarm ringing, I have cleared the room of all living souls and am halfway down the street with them. (True story: On a layover in London’s Heathrow airport, a man had a heart attack in line in front of me, and I was the first person to begin administering CPR.) I have learned to understand and embrace others’ limitations, as I have to live with my own every day. I am an “empath.” I can sense your feelings and emotional state just by seeing your face. I know, I know, it sounds like I’m trying to tell you that I am the star of “Long Island Medium.” No, I don’t talk to dead people, I don’t read palms and I can’t read your aura. However, because I do take in every detail of what’s around me, it means I’m taking in the details of your facial expression, body language, word choice, etc. I can tell if someone is pretending to be happy but truly hurting inside. I can feel your pain, happiness, fear, excitement, anger and boredom right along with you. I love challenges. If I’m not challenged, I’m bored to tears. I’m quick on my feet. Having a bevy of thoughts at the forefront of your brain often comes in handy. One or more of my random musings are usually at the ready for any situation that may arise. Taking in information all at once often means I can see a problem before it becomes a problem. So why did I just take to the time share the inner workings of my brain? The simple reason? Because I don’t think enough people truly understand the depths of this disorder and why in permeates our lives in the way it does. But on a larger note, I want to highlight that we are all different, none of us an exact clone of another. This is not only incredible, but vital in continuing to make this world thrive. Our very success as the human race has risen from our differences, not our similarities. All of our brains play a role in this world. Personally, I am equally enamored with the brilliant brains that tackle today’s problems, as I am with the brilliant brains that created the Cronut and other such delicious foods and sweets. A version of this post originally appeared on Man Vs Mommy. Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

Laura Russin

Mom Responds to People Who Think ADHD Isn't Real

I’m angry. Well, maybe that’s too strong a word. I’m frustrated. No, that just won’t cut it. I’m angry, frustrated, sad, disappointed, surprised… Over the past week this amalgamation of negative emotions has reached its boiling point. Suddenly I’m on fire. In this past week alone, I’ve read no fewer than seven articles relating to childhood ADHD, and most of them have left me white knuckled and aggravated. All of them, in one way or another, have touched on feelings of shame — both parental and child — associated with this diagnosis. They reeked of an essence of bravery, a feeling that these authors were courageous in publicly admitting their child had ADHD or used medication to control it. Don’t get me wrong, these women are absolutely brave for sending these thoughts into the vastness of the Internet; but they shouldn’t have to be. It shouldn’t be this hard to discuss a valid medical diagnosis with very real effects. There’s such an intense stigma attached to this acronym; it’s astounding. Four little letters, that in any other combination could carry a benign meaning, have parents embarrassed into silence — as if something their child was born with, that neither they nor that child had absolutely any control over, was their family’s dirty little secret. My son is almost 5. He has a medical diagnosis called ADHD. This disorder results in severe impulsivity, great difficulty waiting for turns, interrupting children’s play activities, interrupting conversations, blurting out answers to questions not directed him, acting recklessly, and so much more. I often try not to air his dirty laundry to the masses; but guess what? This isn’t his dirty laundry. It’s a simple fact. He has brown hair, he loves pasta, he has ADHD, and he has a little sister — all just facts. Would you have felt differently after reading the sentence if it had said, “He loves pasta, he has asthma, and he has a little sister?” I’m not embarrassed by the documented medical condition that causes his challenging behaviors. It seems that most have forgotten or have chosen to ignore the fact that behind all the hype and possible over-diagnosis of the past few decades is a very real disorder with very real taxing characteristics. When people don’t believe in its existence they’re left uninformed. Parents are unaware and uneducated about the signs and characteristics to look for in early childhood. They’re sure their child will absolutely outgrow this. They’re left with family members and friends saying things such as, “All kids have a lot of energy,” or, “You just need to discipline a little better,” and my absolute personal fave, “Boys will be boys.” They’re left questioning their own instincts that something else, something bigger, might be brewing inside their child’s brain. I’ve found that unless you’re actually living through it, it’s extremely difficult to grasp just how significant this diagnosis can be, how much it can invade the daily life of an entire family. It really is so much easier to assume a child is defiant, to watch him at the playground dumping sand over everyone no matter how many times he’s reprimanded, to see him running wildly away from his mother into a parking lot while she runs after him calling like a maniac. Then to witness that kid doing the same thing again the next day and the day after that; same kid, same behavior, different day. How many of you have seen that child and that parent? How many of you have secretly thought, “What a terrible parent—she can’t keep her kid under control,” or “Won’t that kid ever learn?” and even, “Note to self: steer clear of sand dumping kid.” Stop and consider this for a second: Do you really truly think she wants him to continue to do these things day in and day out? That it’s so much easier to let him just behave that way? That she hasn’t tried everything, everything in her power to help him control himself? That every time she goes out in public with him she considers where the potential pitfalls lie? It’s time to look harder, to start understanding this mom is dealing with a medical diagnosis, just like the mom of a child who has diabetes. It’s not fair of me to say something like that? Diabetes can cause lifelong health issues and potentially death, whereas ADHD is only a behavioral issue? Guess what, the lifelong effect of social anxiety, depression and poor self-esteem are pretty significant too. Being unable to maintain a job as an adult or to function successfully in society is a colossal problem. Being unable to have the vigilance to participate in a hobby or learn a subject matter that truly interests you is a colossal problem. Having potential difficulty making friends and maintaining friendships while feeling isolated, lonely and misunderstood is not insignificant; it’s an important factor in development and the person they grow up to be. I will not begin to tell you there are an infinite number of parents whose kids have medical diagnoses far more challenging than this. I’m in awe of these families, and I give them the full respect they deserve. However, facing a diagnosis most people think is made up comes with its own set of unique challenges. It’s time to stop hiding, put the kibosh on the unnecessary shame. The more we bring this into the open, the more we help our children. Follow this journey on Man Vs Mommy .