Lego and Children on the Spectrum
Recent research is showing that Lego play therapy for children on the spectrum improves social and play skills.
The LEGO® System of bricks and other elements is a highly structured, predictable and systematic construction toy. It is therefore likely that children with ASD will be motivated by tasks involving this toy, due to the fact that individuals with the condition are particularly attracted to systems. LEGO system based interactive play groups provide a potentially promising approach to improving social skills in children, especially those with ASD.
LEGO system play therapy is not simply gathering children together and providing them with LEGO bricks.
LEGO System Therapy takes advantage of the inherently rewarding nature of LEGO activities for many children, with ASD. The approach uses a number of important elements;
– Children participating first learn a set of clear ‘LEGO Club’ rules and develop LEGO brick building skills, including collaborative building, in individual therapy.
– They are then introduced to a group of peers, including some group members who do not have social skills deficits.
– The group meets on a regular basis (preferably weekly) for ~90 minutes and during that time engages in collaborative LEGO brick building activities and other projects, tailored to the skill level of the participants.
– The tasks are analyzed and different responsibilities are assigned to group members (typically these roles a”director”, ‘engineer’; ‘supplier’; and ‘builder’).
– The team works together to assemble the project with and an emphasis on verbal and non-verbal communication, joint attention and task focus, collaborative problem-solving, sharing and turn-taking (switching roles during the task).
– During the LEGO system therapy sessions, social conventions can be directly instructed or prompted, based on the needs of the peers. For example, if two peers are physically fighting over a LEGO elements, the supervisors can redirect the children to use language, negotiation, and compromise to settle their dispute.