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.
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.
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?
Who’s he looking for?
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.
I'm just living minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day.