When he was 3, my son would pick up a crayon or pencil and scribble. There weren't any m&m people yet. He would tell a story about this long squiggle that wound around the page. Sometimes we knew what he was saying and other times his speech and odd vocabulary (adapted to avoid sounds he couldn't make) caused us to just nod and smile. One day, he picked up a stick and drew in the dirt on the side of the ball field where his sister was practicing. There was a head and a body. Then arms and legs and a face. A life size person. How great it was to see him draw details. In second grade, he still draws letters instead of writing them. There is no stick and ball for him. Watching him draw the letters you wonder how he sees them. He uses more than the color blue now but painting and drawing don't appeal to him. He has an autism diagnosis, loves Math and is still working on social cues.
Remembering that life size drawing, it is no wonder how great he is at designing in Minecraft. I resisted getting it on my phone even with his begging. We agreed creative only and I thought he'd get bored with it but he did not. He's created and created. He has learned to use pieces in different ways. He doesn't get dizzy weaving his way around or frustrated when things don't come out the way he envisioned. He designs with humor and with love. When my grandfather passed recently, his anxiety was high and then he sat in the funeral home and built into his world. He added in the chapel and cemetery. He listened to stories about his great-grandparents and placed graves with flowers for them next to one another and explained why. He continues to add things that represent events in his life - a valentines house, a store for me to shop in, a bank to pay bills. He adds in inventions and humor: a pirate ship at the bank, aqueducts and a town wall that generates electricity. Creating and explaining his creations helps him connect with events and people. It helps his brain process.
Lately, he has added all kinds of places for family members and from the community around us. He was devastated when my phone died and he had to restart. Now he sits in the same room or very close to us when he is working which is wonderful. It is a talking point to have conversations and great to have contact from him.
How can we tailor instruction for students who express themselves in different ways?