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Sensory processing disorder makes everyday situations tramatic

By Braid Blanks, bblanks@ktxs.com
Published On: Aug 01 2013 03:35:03 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 02 2013 09:30:42 AM CDT
ABILENE, Texas -

Imagine if most noises, exposure to light, even touch actually caused you pain. This is a reality for kids and even adults dealing with something many refer to as sensory processing disorder.

Meet Kendrick. He's five years old and dealing with something that makes everyday tasks and situations incredibly hard.

"He has Autism and some sensory processing disorder problems," said Brittany Meppiel, Kendrick's mother.

Sensory Processing Dysfunction: it's a condition that deals with how our brain receives messages from our nerves. We asked Amy Gibbs of the West Texas Rehabilitation Center to explain.

"When you're little they teach you about your five senses: eyes, nose, mouth, ears, and touch. Everybody has these senses and our brain processes these senses all day long. When your sensory system is off or dysfunctional, your brain doesn't process it the right way, it's either too strong or not strong enough," said Gibbs.

Kendrick's mom says noise and crowds are triggers for her son.

"He just gets overwhelmed and overstimulated. Being touched, light, sound, like vacuum cleaners, or if I blow dry my hair, stuff like that, really upsets him."

When he was first diagnosed, doctors told Brittany there wasn't much she could do. She decided there was.

"They told me he wouldn't be able to do anything, that he would never talk. That there was no light at the end of the tunnel for us. So I had no hope. And then one day, I was like, no. This is me, this is him. I have to do this for him and we started therapy and haven't stopped," said Brittany.

That's where Melissa Richardson comes in. She's been working with Kendrick for about five months in occupational and behavioral therapy. She sees lots of kids who struggle with sensory issues.

"We do our assessment. We find out what's causing the issue and treat that by replacing the inappropriate way they're expressing their discomfort," said Richardson.

Kendrick's mom made sure he got the help he needed. She has this advice for parents who think they're child might be struggling.

"Not to look at it as a label, because a lot of parents do. They think that because they have sensory issues or they are autistic or they have ADHD, they have a label and it's gonna change their kids future. It's not. It's really not fair for the kid to struggle the rest of their life because the parent doesn't want to admit there's a problem. The help is there, and there's nothing wrong with getting help."

Early intervention is key.  Many adults deal with sensory issues because the symptoms weren't caught and they weren't treated as a child.

If you think your child or someone you know needs help for sensory processing or other developmental issues, talk to your pediatrician or doctor first. They may refer you to a rehabilitation center for therapy. 

Here's a link to the West Texas Rehabilitation Center