Barrett Prendergast's Son Was Showing Signs Of Sensory Processing Disorder As A Baby

He Was Officially Diagnosed At 4-Years-old—This Is Her Story.

By PJ Feinstein

Barrett Prendergast Family

Parenting can be exhausting, even for a patient and calm person like Barrett Prendergast. Barrett, 36, is the mother of two young boys and the founder and co-owner of Valleybrink Road, a gifting and floral design company in Atwater Village, California.


On top of those responsibilities, Barrett’s four-and-a-half-year-old son, Costa, was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder by an occupational therapist, and she admits it can take a lot of effort and time to help him navigate his issues. “It requires a level of patience and calm, that oftentimes as a tired parent, is hard to maintain,” says Barrett, who is also raising a 14-month-old son with her husband, Andre. 


Barrett first noticed Costa’s aversion to sound and light when he was a baby. “He would do things like covering his ears if there was loud music on,” she remembers. “I didn’t really think much of it, but as he got older, he began to get more aggravated and triggered by certain things.”


When Costa was around three years old, he started to have more difficulty with everyday tasks like brushing his teeth, getting dressed, and wearing shoes. He would also have a bigger, more explosive reaction to music, especially after a long day of school.

Barrett Prendergast Family


Interestingly, Costa wasn’t acting out or exhibiting any of these behaviors at school. Barrett now understands that his meltdowns at home are a result of him “holding it together all day long at school.” To help him calm down, Barrett tries to give Costa her complete attention. Sometimes she’ll hold him, take him for a walk around the block, or let him spend some time in the bath to help his body relax.


“He has big feelings and feels them in a major way. He is sensitive, both emotionally and physically,” she says.


What are your favorite sensory-friendly clothing brands?

We have had a lot of success with Target’s Cat & Jack line, Jamie Kay Leggings, Roux, and Zara (you just have to cut out those insanely long tags).


What are your favorite apps?





Signs of Sensory Processing Disorder

Where is your family's happy place?

The beach. Costa transforms when he is by the water. He is happy, calm, a good listener. It actually makes everyone in our family calmer and more present.


Between running your own business and parenting two young kids, how do you find time for yourself?

I recently started taking a workout class on Sundays called THE CLASS which has been transformative. It is a dance inspired workout that incorporates lots of breathwork. It is so therapeutic and an amazing release.


Who are 3 of your favorite moms to follow on Instagram?

@butfirstparty - always inspiring party ideas

@cupofjo - love the stories and quotes she posts from other moms

@haylieduff - always has me laughing


What TV show, book, or podcast are you currently obsessed with?

TV: “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Big Little Lies”

Podcasts: Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard and Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations


What 5 words best describe you?







What advice would you give a new special needs mom?

The more calm, patience, and understanding you can harness, the easier the bumpy road will be.


PJ Feinstein