Will Your Child Ever Outgrow Sensory Processing Disorder?

Parents often ask in my online sensory community if their kids will eventually outgrow sensory processing disorder.

Folks are often unsure whether this is a childhood issue or a life-long challenge.

Be sure to learn more about Sensory Processing Disorder and my parenting tips on how to support your child with sensory challenges.

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Will Your Child Ever Outgrow Sensory Processing Disorder?

WILL Your CHILD OUTGROW Sensory Processing Disorder?

Honestly, I think when you’re in the throws of daily sensory meltdowns, it would be comforting to think that these challenges your child is facing are temporary.

But the fact is, children with sensory issues grow up to be adults with sensory issues.

Why is that?

Because Sensory Processing Disorder is not a behavior-based condition.

Sure, when we think of SPD we often think of the behavior that goes along with it. 

But at the core of SPD is a neurological fact that your child is not โ€œneural-typical.”

Meaning, your child’s brain is interpreting sensory data differently than you or I do.

Being neuro-atypical isn’t intrinsically a bad thing or a good thing from my perspective.

It just is the way your child is.

What makes Sensory Processing Disorder so tough is it has hard-core implications for the kiddo with SPD as well as his family. It can have such a daily impact that it gets in the way of life.

I personally found this true with my oldest child – Vman.

We had to fight our way in teaching him how to handle meltdowns, how to recognize his own emotions, how to begin to design a world where not all sensory input sent him into a death spiral.

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Not what you wanted to hear, right? But as the parent of a sensory kiddo, I’m telling you that it does get better with the right steps now to help your child down the line, which includes the right pediatric occupational therapy and hard work at home.

Just this week I was reminded that Vman still has to be active in managing his sensory issues.

I was also reminded that all of the hard work we’ve done together as a team is paying off.

When The Hard Work Pays Off

In our school district, elementary school runs through 4th grade.

On the last full day of school, the 4th graders do a “walk out” where parents line the halls and clap as the students leave the building. I’m sure it’s a lovely tribute… But not to a sensory kid.

No one had warned him this would be happening.

Instead, Vman was in gym, participating in the last class of his day when the din of all of these parents clapping and cheering filled the school.

The way the gym is situated, it has multiple open doors right near the school’s main lobby.

See where I’m going with this?

I can only imagine what his initial thoughts must have been.

Because of his OT, Vman has learned that when he’s overwhelmed he needs to help himself manage the stimulus.

In this case, it meant running from the gym and going into the boys bathroom where the door would close and help muffle the sound.

He didn’t freeze, he didn’t crumple on to the floor.

He didn’t go into meltdown mode.

He did, however, forget to tell the teacher.

Thankfully Vman has an awesome friend who understood immediately and let the teacher know.

Whew. 

But at the end of the day, I applaud my son in knowing what he needed and being proactive about it.

And once the noise had stopped, rather than impacting the rest of his day, he was able to move on.

That’s a victory!  

The thing is, our days are filled with lots of victories, we just don’t always recognize them because we’ve finally gotten to a place where

Vman can still function despite the sensory overload and manage his environment.  

How Your Child May Progress

Let me give you another example…. We went to go see Riverdance a couple of months ago.

(Are we the only people who haven’t seen Riverdance yet?)  

Anyway, in preparation I talked with Vman about the fact that this performance would have loud drums and clogging.

But we were going to try it out anyway.

If my husband or I had to take turns hanging out in the lobby during the performance, so be it.

We packed up our noise muffling headphones and headed off to the theater.

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Initially, Vman wanted to wear the muffs.

But then I noticed he was lifting up one side of the earphones.

Within 10 minutes, he had completely abandoned them all together. Talk about a victory!

But this victory didn’t come along just because he got older.

Instead, he’s reached this point through his own hard work and being in tune with what his body is telling him.

Will your child ever outgrow Sensory Processing Disorder?

No, because this isn’t a childhood thing, it’s a neurological one.

But with hard work and dedication as a team, your child can learn how to adapt to his environment as well as make his environment adapt to what he needs.

And that is the ultimate victory.

 

10 Comments

  1. Wonderful, WISE post.
    So empathetic and yet accepting.
    As a sensory adult, I felt good about it; as a sensory parent, I got it too.
    Thanks and love,
    Full Spectrum Mama

    1. xoxo Full Spectrum Mama. Your words always mean so much to me… reminds me that I’m getting it right ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. Great article! Many of us have sensory issues – we just didn’t have a name for it growing up. Now that my kids have it – I realize that I have had it all along too.

    1. Oh my goodness yes! Many of us have sensory issues on some level. Having sensory kids have certainly spotlighted the things that drive me over the edge. But it’s also taught me that while some of us may be sensitive to certain things, for others it really is impeding and can be debilitating. My goal since we found out about my sons is not to change them but rather help them deal with the sensory input and manage their surroundings as well as themselves.

  3. That’s wonderful to hear, Jennifer! My kid is also making progress this year and started to articulate and understand more what his body needs because of occupational therapy. So now he knows to tell a grownup when he needs to take a break from a large group, or something is overwhelming. Thank you for your perspective!

    1. Keeping working, mama! Your kid will become much more verbal, specific and self-starting for himself as we continues to learn.

  4. My 23-year-old son has come a long way, but still resists hugs, both because they still cause him discomfort and because he doesn’t see the point! (He already told me he loved me ten years ago.) My book is about the early days and discovering what was going on for him and how we helped him along the way. (He will submit to hugs now when I insist. I’m very huggy so we have to compromise.)
    http://www.beyondrainman.com

  5. A great article. No two brains are the same and that brings so much beauty to life. We all process stimuli a bit differently and it weighs into the various forms of intelligence and skill we each possess. I wish more people recognized how differently we interpret the world. Those on the far ends of any spectrum stand out more when we fail to recognize that there is a spectrum and people that fall all along that line.

  6. informative. i have a 16 year old with sensory intergration dysfunction. it sure has been a challenge thus far. i pray that he is able to fit in the expected norm of life and be succesful in all that he does.

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