Origin of Crayon Power

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When I was in the ninth grade, I would spend hours and hours up in my room reading books such as The Boxcar Children and Little House on the Prairie. My love of stories was never a problem and my dad (who didn’t know a lot about child development in the traditional sense) was grateful that I “enjoyed” reading and would put so much attention toward the subject. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the ENTIRE reality of the situation…

The truth was this – by today’s standards, The Boxcar Children is suitable for an advanced third grade reader and the Little House on the Prairie books range between fourth and fifth grade reading levels. As I mentioned before, I was in the ninth grade, which means that if I had so chosen to read those books at that stage in my life, it should have taken me about 30 minutes to get through the entire book. Instead, I spent hours and hours of circling words I couldn’t figure out and trying to match them up in the dictionary. Retaining information through reading was an embarrassing challenge for me.

Luckily, my drama teacher saw beyond my struggles and detected deeper issues.

Get this: she made me the cue person and stage manager of the fall production of Hamlet! People must have thought she was nuts! I now understand how *brilliant* this was. You see, she put me in a position that was empowering, utilized my strength (which was my ability to remember what I heard in class), and paired it with my weakness: reading. Additionally, seeing the other children act out the story while I was motivated to keep up with the lines of the script made it easier to grasp the plot and storyline. As Stage Manager, I gained the confidence to take on responsibility for something that was bigger than me and my “reading problem.”

This teacher saw my interest in theater, connected with me, and used my interests to help me overcome my learning difficulties.

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Her strategy worked great!

Today I use a similar system – Natural Play Therapy (NPT) – to help kids identify their alternative learning styles, their interests, and discover the best environments for them to learn. My goal is to ensure that kids don’t fall through the cracks of the school system (like I almost did!) and guarantee that they will have the life their dreams!

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Kristen’s
professional bio

I have been facilitating learning through play, with over 1,000 children, for more than 15 years. My broad experience ranges from 1:1 coaching, museum programs, camps, co-ops, curriculum design and enrichment programs with children, teenagers, adults and parents.

In 2012, I founded Crayon Power Inc., an alternative learning experience helping kids and families learn through exploration in environments that develop both independence and social skills. My goal is to strengthen your children’s problem-solving skills and encourage their emotional intelligence through visual art, music, writing, and just ‘good old fashioned goofing around’ to inspire personal connection and familial intimacy.

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how Kristen found her
crayon power

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Kristen Lee Langelier and she had a very special relationship with a very special little boy named King. Kristen found this very special child through an advertisement (much like in Mary Poppins) that had simply said,

“COME PLAY WITH A CHILD WITH AUTISM.”

Since she’d played with all types of children, children who were blind, children who were deaf, and children with emotional deficits, Kristen  thought playing with King, who loved to sing and have people draw for him, would be a grand idea!

The relationship Kristen  built with King exceeded all her expectations. He went from being a tiny little boy who would not even look at her when he requested she draw a “car wash” for him (this was his favorite thing for her to draw) to becoming a beautiful six year old who would look into her eyes, smile, and play with her in the most loving ways. And at some point in their relationship, it became questionable if King even had Autism anymore because he grew to be so engaged with Kristen and extremely sociable.

All that being wonderful… something still didn’t feel right. Their relationship was still very one-sided. Whenever Kristen would come to play, the conversation always focused on King: what he wanted to do and why he wanted to do it. She started to feel like her sweet little best friend didn’t know HER at all.

That’s when Kristen found Natural Play Therapy which nurtured their relationship so it became an even, 50/50 one that allowed her to know, love, and share herself as a true friend. Soon, King knew just as much about her interests as she did about his. She stopped being just a “mentor” and grew to be his real friend with no agenda other than to love and BE with him!

Where did this change in King come from? Well, Kristen found HER CRAYON POWER… which happens to be PURPLE. One day, Kristen was sitting with King and they were drawing car washes again and he was being specific about how he wanted them drawn and what colors she should use. Normally, Kristen was happy to play along. However, on this particular day, she really wanted to share her favorite book with him, Harold and the Purple Crayon. Unfortunately, it was clear that he was not ready to sit and listen to a story with which he was unfamiliar. So, they continued to do strictly what he wanted and Kristen could feel herself fading away. She was searching for a way to become present and reconnect with this boy she loved – at which point, King felt her disinterest. He walked away and that’s when Kristen had a revelation:

He wants to create a connection with me…I just haven’t taught him or shown him myself in a way that he can relate to!

And that’s when life really changed. Kristen took her purple crayon book and grabbed some butcher paper and started taping it up on the walls. All the while, she talked into the air so King could hear but not feel pressured to respond. “Once upon a time, I was an art teacher,” Kristen said, “and I became an artist and teacher because this book helped me love art and I wanted to share art with kids!” And Kristen read a page and then started to draw parts of the story on the butcher paper that was attached to the wall. She spent a long time reading pages and drawing pieces of the book. Soon, she abandoned the book and started to expand on her drawings… having an incredibly fun time getting back in touch with a part of herself that she thought she’d never get to share with her friend.

As Kristen was drawing and reading, King was on the other side of the room jumping on a trampoline. At first, he had no particular interest in what his best friend was doing because it wasn’t drawing a car wash. But, as time went by, he started to listen to her story! He watched her draw in a way he had never seen her draw before! He had no idea she could make lines that curved rather than the simple straight lines of a soapy towel in his car wash. Eventually, King walked over and picked up a crayon. Usually, he picked red and blue and he would hand them to Kristen to draw for him. But, this time, he picked purple and he wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to draw on the wall! So, he drew a tree just like the tree in the book Kristen was reading to him. And then, they started drawing alongside each other.

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They drew pictures exactly like the ones in the book and then they drew Harold in a car wash and then they drew Harold in King’s room. Next thing you knew, the walls were filled and they couldn’t draw any more.

But, it didn’t matter because they’d found a new way to relate to each other that felt good for both of them.

From that day forward, Kristen was always 100% honest to King about who she was, is, and plans to be in the future… and King really appreciated that.

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