LEGO® is an incredibly popular toy with children all over the world. It is also a fantastic learning tool particularly for children with autism who are often motivated by this fun, systematic construction toy. LEGO® therapy is a therapeutic approach for children with autism and related social communication difficulties which utilises their interest in this toy to help them develop social skills.
How does LEGO® therapy work?
A group of 3 children work together to build a LEGO® project.
Each child takes on a different role:
- Engineer – oversees the design and makes sure it is followed
- Supplier – finds the bricks requested by the engineer and gives them to the builder
- Builder – positions the bricks as instructed by the engineer.
LEGO® therapy groups also have an adult facilitator whose role is to keep the children focused and on-task, help resolve conflicts, encourage positive interactions and prompt the children when needed
What skills are targeted in LEGO® therapy?
- Joint play– the children are required to take-turns, share and work together in order to build the LEGO® projects
- Following instructions– the children need to listen carefully and follow the instructions provided by their peers in order to build the LEGO® projects
- Giving instructions– the engineer needs to ensure that the instructions he/she provides contains all the necessary concepts e.g. size, colour, shape etc.
- Asking for clarification– Children are encouraged to recognise when they have not fully understood an instruction and use a strategy to ask for help.
What the research says…
LeGoff (2004) found that children and young people aged 6-16 made significant improvements in 3 measures of social competence as a result of participating in LEGO® therapy. This included improvements in the following areas:
- Ability to initiate social interaction with peers.
- Ability to sustain interaction with peers
- Reduction in stereotyped behaviours
A later study by LeGoff and Sherman (2006) also found that LEGO® therapy had a positive impact on developing ‘’task focus, joint attention, collaborative problem-solving, sharing and turn-taking’’ (LEGO®ff and Sherman, 2006)
Speech and Language Therapist