Can a child outgrow SID?

by JoAnn

I was thrilled to find this site. If only I had this resource when my daughter was an infant and toddler, I would have been in heaven.

In brief, my daughter is now 9 and 1/2. I "self-diagnosed" her with SDI as a toddler, after an article totally caught my eye. It was "The Little Girl Who Hated Hugs". Oh my gosh, that was my daughter to a "T".

Having an SDI child, as you know, is so lonely. Especially for a single parent (as I am) for there isn't even a spouse to share the experience(s) with.

My daughter absolutely hated to be held. Within 5 seconds of being picked up she would be in hysteria mode and her back arching was extreme. It was so bad I was in great fear to have someone hold her for they always wanted to hold her face in, over their shoulder, with one arm. This often resulted in a sharp arch and almost flying out of their arms.

She wouldn't eat from a spoon until she was close to a year old. I had to feed her baby food on broken up graham crackers.

The beautiful swing I got as a shower gift was never used; same for the bouncy seat. I never rocked her to sleep in my life.

Loud sounds resulted in despair and too many people "closing" in on her caused hysteria.

Thank you so for listening. What I had planned to be a brief email is not!

When I finally read the article many of her symptoms seemed to have improved and I really didn't know there was any type of therapy that could help.

Now in 4th grade, she is doing quite well academically, but suffers with instruction. This has been a constant issue since attending school, and seems to worsen as she moves into the higher grades, for the teachers expect them to remember more and be more independent.

I am wondering if this an issue of her SDI. She can process instructions, but I often have to "ask for her eyes" and allow her to process one part of an instruction before moving on. This is a very real problem for her.

So, can children "outgrow" SDI? Can the difficulty with following/processing instructions be related? Would occupational therapy at this stage of the game be helpful?

Thanks for any assistance you can provide.

The SPD Help Line Answers...

Wow, sounds like it was a rough start for you and your daughter! Be proud... you made it through and have helped her in more ways than you know. You made the accommodations she needed along the way, thank goodness and you have recognized her individual needs.

What makes me sad, not just for you and her, but for so many others is that, until now, the majority of kids with SPD have gone undiagnosed and untreated. This is/has changed over the past few years as more information has been put out there and finally talked about in more schools, clinics, and hospitals.

You say, "if only I had this resource when my daughter was an infant and toddler, I would have been in heaven." Honestly? This is the very reason

I created this site. So parents and professionals can both recognize and treat children with SPD as early as possible. So people will know that SPD is real! That it is treatable. That there are tens of thousands of other parents out there walking a similar road. That we can all relate to and help each other, fight for our kid's needs, get them the resources they need, thoroughly understand this disorder, and find hope!

Oh, just to clarify... you refer to the diagnosis as "SDI". In the past, it has been called SID (Sensory Integration Dysfunction) and/or DSI (Dysfunction of Sensory Integration), but is no longer referred to as those names. The new term (and should be the final one) is SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder)... for anyone who is confused :0) (Hehe, it was never called SDI; you probably were just mistyping the letters).

Anyway, I want to address your specific questions/concerns. First, what you are describing about difficulties "processing instructions"... could definitely be related to the SPD and is probably a result of what is called poor auditory processing (or auditory processing disorder, depending how severe).

Auditory processing difficulties are frequently seen in kids and adults with SPD. It is one of many processing issues that can affect those with, or even without SPD. The best place to get an evaluation and treatment for this is through a Speech Language Pathologist. They have standardized tests that, at your daughter's age, can definitely evaluate whether she has an auditory processing disorder. I would try to additonally find one that is familiar with SPD and that perhaps can work closely with an OT that you will want to get hooked up with for an SPD evaluation. And YES, OT will definitely be needed and helpful at this point in her life!

Your other question about whether children "outgrow" SPD? The general statement from the experts, for example Dr. Lucy Miller, is no... it is not something they outgrow through basic maturity. However, it can, and does get better, more manageable, and/or barely noticeable with proper treatment (sensory integrative OT and other companion programs). It is a neurological disorder. If neural pathways are changed, re-routed, better integrated, etc. symptoms will improve and/or fade. Usually, with treatment, SPD becomes quite manageable. At times, it may rear it's ugly head during times of stress or developmental stages, but can be addressed more quickly and effectively during those times if there has been previous treatment.

Therefore, what I suggest is an official Occupational Therapy evaluation for SPD by a SIPT Certified OT, an auditory processing evaluation by an SLP, and weekly treatment for both if indicated. It is NOT too late by any means. And, it appears it may be necessary. I would also get your hands on the following books to help you better understand your daughter's issues...

Sensory Integration And The Child

Auditory Processing Disorder Books

The Out-Of-Sync Child; Revised Edition

The Mislabeled Child

Sensational Kids

I do hope you can take the time to read some of these. I also hope my answer was helpful. Please get some OT and SLP evaluations for your daughter, and treatment if recommended. This should help significantly!

Take good care.
Michele Mitchell

Comments for Can a child outgrow SID?

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Mar 16, 2010
Real help for SPD
by: Anonymous

I have seen children make amazing improvement with their sensory processing with the Sensory Learning Program. Check it out at

Apr 06, 2008
Auditory Processing
by: Kristy in NJ

Hi, My 5 year old son also has an auditory processing delay in addition to ADHD, Anxiety Disorder and SPD. His difficulties with language processing are, without question, the result of SPD. You can almost "see" the delay sometimes. He has an age-appropriate vocab, however those words can't make it from the brain to the mouth because they get stuck in a traffic jam! Although my son clearly has a language delay, my husband and I often say that we don't think anybody else knows how much language he does have because when we're outside of our house, he's got to put so much effort into absorbing and processing all of the sensory stimulation, that he literally can't use much, if any, language. It's honestly like seeing two different kids!

The book When The Brain Can't Hear is a fabulous book that discusses CAP Delays. I wish I had it as a resource while I was still teaching special ed. It's available at Amazon. Good luck!! :)

Feb 05, 2008
Auditory Processing
by: Anonymous

Hello, my name is Jessi and I have a son that is 3 1/2 that has been diagnosed with SPD. He was also diagnosed with a mixed receptive/expressive language disorder - which has to do with his trouble understanding language as well as speaking it. I've always thought that perhaps my son's "language disorder" has more to do with his SPD than him actually having a receptive language disorder. He does have trouble speaking, but SPD can affect their oral motor skills as well, so who knows.

The point is that he has had a LOT of difficulty following directions in the past. He's still fairly young, but even pointing at his shoes and saying, "bring me the shoes" would be met with a blank stare. He got his diagnoses when he was 3 years, 4 months. Now he's 3 years 9 months - and you cannot even imagine the progress he's made. I've posted his story under the Real SPD Stories link on this web site if you're interested.

After he was diagnosed, I got him into speech therapy and OT, twice a week. In 3 months, he was a new child. You can understand about 50% of what he says, he can follow 2 step (!!) directions, his SPD symptons are better. And he transitions between activities much better as well.

If you have any trouble with transitions - your daughter may respond well to a picture schedule. I don't know if they are typically used with kids who are already talking, but if she is having difficulty processing verbal instructions, it may help - especially if her teachers were willing to implement it during class time.

My son's is a strip of laminated paper with velcro down the middle. Then there are laminated squares with velcro on the back that have pictures of various tasks. I can fit about 5 at a time on the strip, and it gives him a visual step-by-step of what we are going to do and in what order. I stopped using it for a while because his language improved so much, but lately I've seen the reappearance of resistance when we transition between activities, so I think I'm going to start again.

It may help your daughter follow directions better if she has some kind of visual aid. It only takes a few seconds to velcro a couple of pictures on the strip, so I don't see why a teacher wouldn't be willing to try it. It improved my son's behavior about 10 fold.

Our kids aren't trying to be bad when they act the way they do - but it's hard for outsiders to understand. I was trying to get my son qualified for free speech therapy through the school system (which I finally did so now he gets it 4 times a week) and they were trying to tell me he had a behavior problem and maybe I needed to take him to a psychologist... but I knew in my heart this wasn't the problem. AJ is very sweet and loving and polite - he just couldn't handle certain things. I'm sure your daughter is the same - she doesn't want to disobey the directions she's being given, she may be missing them altogether.

Hang in there!!


Feb 02, 2008
re: outgrowing SPD
by: Anonymous

One thing I have discovered in kids with SPD is that those with visual involvement may benefit from vision therapy. You may want to check that out as well. It may be impacting her ability to remain focused in school. Good luck!

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