Nine-year-old Louis Mushrow has trouble sleeping, eating, hearing, and speaking due to a rare developmental disorder that also causes him to cry when he hears certain music. Louis’s parents Lisa and Martin Mushrow hope their family will be able to eat in public restaurants again, once more attention is given to the condition that has affected Louis since the day he was born.
"As a mum I just knew something wasn't right," Lisa told ABC News. "So we decided to have genetic testing done. The results came back saying he had Smith-Magenis Syndrome. We walked away with a sickening feeling. It was the worst day of our lives."
According to Parents and Researchers Interested in Smith-Magenis Syndrome, Smith-Magenis syndrome (SMS) is a chromosomal disorder that causes physical, behavioral, and developmental delays. The disorder was first identified by genetic counselor Ann C.M. Smith and Dr. R. Ellen Magenis back in the 1980s. Even though it is estimated that one in 25,000 children is born with SMS, a majority of experts say that it is underdiagnosed.
After Louis was born six-weeks premature, doctors were concerned when they discovered that he was unable to feed himself. In fact, Louis couldn’t eat without choking until he was three years old and cried when he heard certain music like the Welsh national anthem.
"Certain music always makes him cry," Lisa explained to ABC News. "Especially classical music or pop songs about love. People sometimes think he's crying because he's upset. We found out it's because certain music releases all these emotions in his brain."
This flood of emotions also causes him to lash out a times and throw temper tantrums in public venues. Louis’s trouble with eating as an infant has made going out to restaurants near impossible, especially with the nasty comments directed at the Mushrow family. Lisa and Martin hope that by shining a light on SMS, people will better understand Louis's outbursts.
"People don't understand because he doesn't look like he has special needs. People look at us and think we're bad parents," Lisa added. "I hope that he'll go on to college one day. I just want him to be safe and happy."