Toddler transition issues: EveryBuddy needs someBuddy sometimes…

Sensory and social issues are something that a ton of my fellow moms deal with on a regular basis. They are even more amplified in new and different social situations outside of a child’s familiar environment. As if it’s not difficult enough to bring a tiny new being into adulthood without all of this extra icing, right? Please don’t mistake this for a lack of gratitude because I have nothing but that in abundance, honestly, but there are days…days where I just wonder how I will look with all my hair tugged out.

Though lately…I have learned a little trick that makes life easier for both of us.

Transitions are difficult for children with sensory and social issues like my son. There was a time -that went on for longer than I like to admit- that I barely took him anywhere at all. The behavior problems were unreal. Kicking, screaming, thrashing…it was all a very typical afternoon out for the two or three of us. It became more than I could bear and it actually caused friction between my husband and myself because neither of us truly knew how to handle it. What I wasn’t taking into consideration was that Jp doesn’t have the ability to switch gears the way other children do and his ability to adapt is ‘a work in progress’- to put it in the kindest light.

So, meet Buddy.

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This is Buddy. To you and I he looks like a Marmoset (or sloth, I’m not sure which) but to Jp he is a Grounding Object. Buddy is the familiar in an unfamiliar world. No matter where we go or what we do now, we always take our Buddy with us, and outings have become a thing of peace most of the time. Or I should say…not something that causes great anxiety for both of us. A peaceful outing with a toddler is an oxymoron!

Jp isn’t alone in a new situation. He has his Buddy.

Buddy is a gift from above, I promise you. Though, as with the case with many children with developmental disorders, Jp doesn’t attach to objects the way many kids do. If you have a child that is an over attacher (the opposite response to the same issue) then it would be easier to do but Jp is very ‘out of sight out of mind’ when it comes to toys. I worked HARD to bring Buddy into the fold. When Jp was upset I would give him Buddy. When Jp was playing I would always ask, “Where’s your Buddy?”. Whenever I thought of it, I would ask Jp to go and look for him. Finally, after about a month, Jp became attached to Buddy.

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And now his ability to adapt to social and new situations is significantly improved. I even took him to the MALL, people, and he went from store to store with ease. When he started to be upset with the constant change, I would just ask him to hug his Buddy and he would center and we could move on. It was magic.

This is a child that was almost certain to lose it every single time you took him to more than two stores in the same day. The same little boy that the last time I took him to the mall he ran away from me and I had to chase him clear across the entire place before I finally caught him and managed to get him to the car kicking and screaming like a lunatic.

We are even considering taking him to Sea World for his birthday if you can believe that. He loves fish and anything that swims so it is a dream trip for all of us but I would never –ever- have considered it just a few short months ago.

The kid I can’t get on a slide or swing?

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Who’s he looking for?

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Got on a carousel with Buddy by his side!

Every kid with transition issues needs a Buddy! It can be anything, really, as long as it is portable and constant. I would suggest you not make the same mistake that I did and get something with a sound box (plays music) because Buddy is going to have to be washed a lot and those break in the washer and then you are paying to have a stuffed animal dry cleaned (small price, my friends, small price) but whatever you can get them into will work.

Happy Traveling!

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Childhood Development Parenting

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Amber Perea View All →

I'm just living minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day.

23 Comments Leave a comment

  1. i read an article in the paper recently about a little boy who was eight. He was autistic I think, but you know yourself it’s just a label. He had a lot of issues, but got a specially trained dog. His life and his families is transformed. A lot of what you said about your little boys buddy reminded me of it.

    • Jp would qualify PDD-NOS which is autistic. But since we are looking at mainstreaming, for the moment, we are waiting on a label to see what will come with more communication skills. But yes, I tagged this as autism because both the inability to bond with objects (or over bond) and the transition issue is a common autistic trait. πŸ™‚

      • True! I assumed you were going to say that either you or Chris was from San Antonio, lol.

        We actually had a nice time at Sea World but were underwhelmed with the rest of the city. I spent a week there for Final Four and had a great time, but the Alamo and River Walk weren’t what I was expecting. In defense of SA when the wife and I visited, it had been over 100 degrees for many many days and it was miserable everywhere in that area.

      • SA is okay…I would rather go to Mexico with a “Rich Tourist have cash” sign than go to Houston! πŸ˜‰

        Chris is from Lubbock and I’m from Tyler. We’re small town texans! Lol

  2. Great idea, Amber. But I’m thinking these days, I might need a Buddy. Not handling multiple stops in one trip well at all. The screaming, the whining, the temper tantrums – and that’s just me.

  3. My Amelia has “woof” the puppy. My mother took her to the build a bear for her 2 year old birthday, and it was totally a sensory overload place for her, but we took it like a classroom setting, naming all the animals, and she got to narrow them down and ultimately pick her’s out. She panicked a little at the stuffing part, but now, woof goes everywhere.

    We did Seaworld with her when she was 18 months, Dude was 9 months, and my niece (autistic) was 3. All of them did fairly well. I will say, we had “JetSetBabies.com” ship us baby and toddler foods, and I had ordered some extra for my niece. That was her way of dealing, she regressed in her foods and wanted the toddler meals and treats, and Amelia was amazing even with the animals, as long and hubby or I were there against her back. It was a wonderful experience for her. Dude loved it all…he puked regardless of stress or situation back then πŸ™‚

    • That’s wonderful! I’ve always wanted to do all of the fun parent stuff but figured if we couldn’t nail a trip to Walmart them it wasn’t happening!

      I think the only thing ill have to worry about is keeping Buddy out of a fish tank! πŸ™‚

      • I’ve actually had to worry about that one before too…I took an old t-shirt (strip of knit fabric), made a X of the fabric around my kids buddy (imagine ninja like weapon strap for boys, cute scarf for Amelia’s things), tie it in a knot, and then tie a loop at the other end. Can fit around kids wrist, on a belt, or over a stroller handle. It’s our “buddy seatbelt”…keeping them safe during adventure. I know…I’m a dork…but with a Dude that is growing some impressive pitching skills…it takes all kinds of tricks not to lose things!

        We did one of the VIP tours at Seaworld, so we could have a tour guide plan our day, and we got to feed three different animal habitats, and had easy seating at the shows. It was great! We let the tour guide know about my niece’s autism, and how crowds might affect her, and I told her about my Amelia’s super introvert status. When we were at the shows, the tour guide would let me and my mom take our kids to the outer area if we had a problem, and they made sure to give us time to work through moments of trouble. Once the guide knew we were aware things might go astray, she was more than willing to work through whatever we needed.

  4. I’ve tried for 2 years to get Stella to attach to something if only to help at night. Last night, the official animal total in our family bed was 7: 2 rabbits, an elephant, Brobee, a white tiger, and 2 giraffes. I went from zero to seven in about 2 weeks. Thank goodness she doesn’t want to take her entire entourage with her everywhere we go!

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