I remember the first time I saw Ethan color in a coloring book. He was about 5 years old and had just taken his first pill of an ADHD medication about an hour prior. This is a whole story in its self and sometime I will tell it to you.
I distinctly remembering asking Dennis, “What is that? How do you give a kid a pill and he suddenly develops a hobby?!?! How can that happen? How can a drug facilitate that?!?!?” For several weeks, we called it his sit-down-and-color-pill. The difference was extraordinarily stark – like a flicked switch. Not only did he not color before that trial of medication, he didn’t sit. Or make eye contact. Or lots of other things. But here he was coloring.
So he sat in the primary-colored fisher price folding chair with it’s clip-on tray and colored.
I am very grateful that Ethan spends his time the way he does. I know families whose children do not have activities that interest and please them and that makes their days long and difficult. I have friends who would give their right arm if their child had an interest in anything – something. So I am grateful.
Ethan likes playing Xbox and he recently binge-watched the Munsters on Netflix 🙂 He spends a lot of time perusing Autabuy Magazine. When I tell him to go read his books, he reminds me that he’s ‘just looking’. Semantics with him are a big thing. Don’t call his day program ‘school’ either. He likes to arrange and rearrange items in his room and is completely devoted to his book collection. Sports, field guides, atlases, books about animals, weather and cars top his charts. He likes to play with matchbox cars. By play, I mean look at them, cross reference them to his Hot Wheels and Matchbox books and check their wheels. He rarely sends them racing – but does if his youngest brother, Sean, is involved.
Ethan colors a lot. He can do it for a really long time and there is a method to his madness, although I am not privy to that method. He used to vacillate between colored pencils, markers and crayons. I don’t recall when the firm switch to crayons occurred. As of this writing, his working pile of books numbers 49. That is his ‘working pile’. He has given me several bags, categorized in a way that I do not understand, that he says are ‘finished’. But he uses that term loosely and I keep them stored somewhere because at any moment he could ask for one or more back. The ‘working’ books are currently stored in a rubbermaid bin that I can tuck away if needed, although it mostly doesn’t happen. I have expended a lot of time and energy coming up with solutions and systems so that Ethan’s ‘studio’ does not have a constant presence on our dining room table – but it does. Oh! The thought of a studio for Ethan. Dreamy! For right now, it’s the dining room.
We have had to UPS his entire collection to a beach house on Sanibel Island in order to maintain his happy presence on vacation. We have hauled it to barbecues in several canvas tote bags. When we went on a cross-country RV trip, we limited him to one drawer in the rig that kept sliding open each time we made a right turn, because of its weight. He loves it in way that is obsessive and pathological – sounds like an artist, right?
I cannot picture Ethan without his crayons and his books – it is a match made in some other-wordly dimension for the benefit of all of us. His focus on it is intense and he derives genuine pleasure for producing his ‘work’. Coloring brings Ethan peace and seems to center him in a way that nothing else does ~ I fully support ANYTHING that does that for him, but I am glad it is rainbow-colored artwork.