LEGO® Therapy by Danielle O’Sullivan

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)

Danielle O’Sullivan

Speech and Language Therapist