Last weekend, we were out and about at the Inner West Brick Fair at Croydon Public School sharing info about Lego Based Therapy. We thought that we would write this post to continue spreading the word about this amazing therapy that is relatively new to Australia!
What is Lego Based Therapy?
Lego Based Therapy is a group therapy programme developed for children with Autism, Asperger's Syndrome and children with Social Communication Difficulties. It can also be adapted for children with purely language difficulties, learning difficulties or those who are reluctant speakers / selectively mute or want to work on their confidence in working in a team/group. The groups are usually run for children aged 5 and upwards - all the way up to young adults! Specific targets for each child or young adult are identified by the Speech Pathologist running the group and these skills will be facilitated over the course of the programme. The groups can help develop:
Attention and listening skills
Receptive language skills
Expressive language skills
What Does it Look Like?
A group of 3-4 children/young adults work in a team to build a Lego model. Each has a job:
The only person who can look at the instruction booklet
Tells the rest of the group which bricks they need and where to put them
Checks that the rest of the group have followed the instructions correctly
Modifies their language if they have not understood
Problem solves if something has gone wrong
Keeps the bricks until told to give them to the Builder
Listens carefully to the Engineer for what bricks are needed for the build
Asks for clarification if they do not understand which bricks are needed
Problem solves if a brick is missing
Ensures that the build is going to plan
Checks that everyone is following the rules
Checks that everyone is doing their job
Can help the others if they ask for help
At the end of the session, free play or free building is carried out where children are supported to play together rather than on their own.
As our programmes are very individualised, we will consider your child's needs and may recommend completing some introductory individual sessions before starting a group. Others may initially benefit from working in a pair and developing their skills prior to group therapy.
Why Does it Work?
A vital feature that is required for any therapy is attention. Using Lego means that the very centre of the activity is interesting and motivating.
It is highly structured. People with Autism find unstructured social situations difficult. Completing a task in this structured way means that the group know what is expected of them as the roles are clear and set out from the beginning.
It requires use of key communication skills in order to complete the build. This means that the children see the use of communication as meaningful. This is SO important for people with Autism. Therefore, they have a want and need to communicate in the sessions, meaning we can support them to develop these skills.
It targets skills in real time. This is where Lego Based Therapy differs to lots of other therapy programmes. The children learn to adapt their communication skills and social skills during the activity, rather than practising a skill that is to be used later.
What Evidence is There?
Research studies have shown that:
Children who attended groups made positive gains with their social communication skills
They also continued to use these skills after they had completed a block of sessions.
Children were able to use the skills they learnt in the group sessions in other environments, which is difficult for children with Autism.
For more information on evidence, have a look at the Bricks for Autism site, which lists a range of articles on the evidence base for Lego Based Therapy.
If you would like to discuss whether your child would benefit from Lego Based Therapy or to book a group near you, contact us for a free phone consultation!