Autism: Colouring

01 Aug

Though we aren’t leaving for another four days, true to who I am, I have pretty much packed what I am planning on bringing on my camping trip… except food, of course. In fact, Clara and I are lying on a foamie in the tent I have set up in our front yard. I am an anxious person, and do all I can to be prepared. Plus, she hasn’t been camping before, and I think it is best to do a trial run.

It is raining. She doesn’t like the rain, but the tent is dry and comfortable, and she seems to be doing okay. I suppose I should have checked the forecast before I set up the tent – it is supposed to rain now until we leave. I said I like to prepare, but I didn’t say there weren’t flaws in my thinking!

Most… okay all of what I pack for entertainment are solitary activities. The only electricity where we go are the solar panels which provide light in one spot at night, and just enough power to charge a few small devices. There is no internet, no TV, no Netflix. So I bring:

  • paper, pens, pencils, rulers, eraser, sharpener… I am convinced that if I had a constant supply of these materials, I would never be bored.
  • Books… well, I might bring my tablet with e-books to save space. There is enough power to charge that.
  • Colouring books and crayons.

It seems strange to me that only now are ‘they’ starting to promote colouring for adults. For me, I always found it calming to colour, and one of my favourite Christmas gifts was a large set of crayola crayons in a plastic case with a built in sharpener. I think I was sixteen or seventeen when my brother bought that for me. It was well used in the following years.

I will never claim to be an artist – my older brother had that gift, but as in most things, I never really moved beyond a primary skill level. I did love colouring, however, and took pride in keeping my colouring books tidy.

Unfortunately, that never happened. No matter how I tried to hide it, or keep it from him, somehow my younger brother always managed to get a hold of my colouring books… and he scribbled.

Once that happened, the book was ruined for me. No one else seemed to understand. “It’s only a page,” they would tell me. He destroyed it! I thought – though it came out only in tears of anger and frustration as I ran to my room and slammed the door.

They would try tearing the page out, but then the book wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. How could they not understand? The book was ruined.

Perhaps that is where my fixation on colouring came from. Eventually he would be old enough to stop taking my colouring books, and I could finally finish my book the way it was supposed to be.

Well, I am now nearly forty, and am relatively confident that no one will scribble in my colouring books anymore. I am thankful for that, for it really is a very calming activity for me.

Vacation July 2016 002


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