By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
An “A” student at Little Falls Community High School (LFCHS), a volunteer at St. Gabriel’s Hospital and an advocate of Sensory Processing Disorder, Averi Hutton was named Miss Teen Morrison County.
Tall, slim and poised, Hutton, who lives in Randall, said all she did was apply.
“We saw the news item in the Record and mom said to try,” said Hutton. “So I filled out the application in October and I got the title.”
One drawback to retaining the title, Hutton needed to submit a $785 entry fee. But she has covered part of that through local sponsors.
She said there was not much to do between being named Miss Teen Morrison County and when the state competition is held March 8 in St. Cloud.
“I needed to buy clothing for the different competitions,” Hutton said. “I chose a pink, strapless, full-length dress for the elegant part of the competition. For the fun fashion, I bought a short, multi-colored dress with sparkles. Everyone wears the same for the fitness part of the competition and for my interview with the judges, I will wear a long, rather elegant dress.”
During the interview portion of the event, Hutton will talk to the judges about her platform: Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) Awareness.
SPD is close to Hutton’s heart. Two of her nine siblings have the disease.
“It’s a common disorder,” she said. “One in 20 children are affected with the complex brain disorder.”
SPD affects the central nervous system. Hutton said that with SPD, when the brain receives sensory information, such as sight, touch, smell, etc., it turns it into a response that seems inappropriate.
“For example, when my brothers get a haircut, they think it hurts even though it doesn’t. It’s their brain tells them it hurts,” she said. “Tantrums can occur because they are over-stimulated or overwhelmed. It’s a flight or fight response.”
Sensory processing is a term which refers to how the nervous system receives messages and turns them into responses. With SPD, those responses are not suitable for the action; the messages are not interpreted properly.
“Occupational therapy helps, but the disorder cannot be cured,” Hutton said. “It helps to rewire the brain, but only if the therapy occurs before the age of 8. Up to then, the brain is more susceptible to being fixed.”
SPD is many times misdiagnosed as attention deficit hyper-activity disorder or autism, as the symptoms may be similar.
“My brothers, now 3 years old, were diagnosed when they were 1. They heard sounds differently than others,” Hutton said. “One over-responded to stimulus and the other under-responded.”
Hutton’s plan is to educate the judges on SPD.
Since being named Miss Teen Morrison County, Hutton has begun working the nonprofit SPD Foundation. She is planning a fundraiser to raise money for research and for families who need financial help with therapy.
If Hutton wins the Miss Teen Minnesota title, she will receive $10,000 for college expenses, various gift certificates, have professional photos taken and be able to work with a personal trainer. She will also get sponsorship to the International Pageant to be held in Florida in July.
Local entities sponsoring Hutton as of the publications of this article include the Randall Cushing Lions Club, Fleet Supply in Little Falls, Colby Orthodontics and Mike’s Tree Company in Brainerd, Gosch’s in Randall, the Canteen at Camp Ripley, friends and family.
At LFCHS, Hutton takes four college courses: anatomy, chemistry, precalculus, English and environmental biology. Her future plans include a degree in biochemistry: genetics and neuroscience, with an interest in research.
Hutton is involved in the Target Club at LFCHS where she is a role model and mentor for younger students. She also volunteers at St. Gabriel’s Hospital, spending time with patients and restocking equipment for the nurses.
To become a sponsor of Hutton, or for more information, contact her at aehu