Color me happy
A couple years ago, I spotted some feature story on TV about coloring for adults and teens and its calming effects. I saw a few other shows demonstrated adults coloring. Then I noticed specially designated areas in the libraries of two of our high schools that each had a table reserved for students to use crayons and designs to color. Ample supplies were available for all. It seemed that the idea of adults coloring had really caught on to mainstream America.
Though I have many attributes, “calm” isn’t one of them. I could see where coloring would have a relaxing effect on me and, though not a procrastinator, I made a mental note to purchase crayons or colored pencils or markers and a coloring book; but I never got around to embarking on the coloring craze.
Then I broke my wrist on my dominant hand. This essentially put me out of commission for many activities of daily living and that I couldn’t drive nor write was especially humiliating to me and I hated being so dependent on others for generally simple tasks.
After 4 weeks and 2 days, my plaster cast was removed. Being able to drive again was a huge milestone. One of my first drives was to the Dollar Tree store. There I found assorted coloring books for adults for $1 each and a box of 48 crayons with a sharpener on the outside of the box also for only $1. And though admittedly, these crayons were not of the caliber of our beloved Crayola Crayons (a product whose box has not at all changed since I was in elementary school in the 1950s), they were acceptable.
I put on some relaxing music and sat in my living room and attempted to color using my impaired extremity. But, I was embarrassed at these first attempts; I believe that my 2 year old granddaughter had better hand control for coloring than Grandma Debbie! But I practiced, practiced, practiced, and within just a few days, not only could I hold the crayon using the correct pincer grip but I had gained enough strength and coordination to not just color, but to successfully color within the lines of a very small and detailed design.
At this point I knew it was time to try using my impaired dominant hand to write using a pencil and then a pen and was quite pleased with myself not for simply being able to write, no less legibly than before my injury, but that I had enough hand wrist and hand control to write tiny enough to write and sign a check and enter it in the checkbook log, a combination of tasks that just days before I depended on the help of others and of course by handy-dandy signature rubber stamp.
As a semi-retired occupational therapist who is seldom working in a clinical setting, I am quite curious if therapists are using coloring as a medium for developing pre-writing skills for our patients.