Lego
26/02/2016 | PlaySpeech and language

The building blocks of Lego therapy

I absolutely love Lego. Seeing the brightly coloured blocks makes me feel nostalgic for my childhood; spending hours imagining and creating magical faraway places with my brothers’ hand-me-down Legos with the smell of freshly baked lemon drizzle cake drifting in from the kitchen. It is therefore very exciting when children come to see me in the clinic and love Lego as much as I do. It is no wonder that Lego’s timeless appeal has been developed into a therapy method known as Lego Therapy.

What is Lego Therapy?
Lego Therapy falls within the ‘play based’ therapy methods for children. These methods apply the therapeutic benefits of play and build on the natural way that children learn about themselves and their relationships in the world around them. Through play-based therapy, children learn to communicate with others and express their feelings, learn a variety of ways of relating to others, modify their behaviour and develop their problem-solving skills.

The Lego System of bricks is a highly organised, systematic and predictable toy. This is therefore highly motivating for children with ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) as it removes the unpredictable and ever-changing concepts that occur during free play. This allows the children to feel calm, regulated and engaged during play.
Lego therapy is delivered as a therapy group where children learn to play together while developing a range of specific skills.

What does a Lego Therapy session look like?
1. Setting the rules: during the first session the children set simple rules that everyone understands. The rules are read at the beginning of consequent sessions. It is the concept of ownership (from children setting the rules themselves) that makes them easier to adhere to therefore decreasing the need to manage behaviours.
2. Allocate ‘jobs’: each child is assigned a specific role and roles are rotated during the group, or every session. The ‘jobs’ are:
a. Engineer – reads the instructions from instruction booklet
b. Supplier – finds the right bricks
c. Builder – puts the bricks together
d. Director – makes sure that the team is working together and communicating
Older children wear their badges with pride as they enjoy the ‘adult’ titles, while younger children love dressing up as the different occupations.
3. Let’s build: the children work together to build the model. At the beginning of therapy group blocks children rely a lot more on the therapist to model and prompt them through the process. As children grow comfortable undertaking the different roles, the groups run with minimal adult prompting and supporting. Of course, when emotions run high, the therapist can support positive interactions, suggest compromises, provide prompts as necessary and keep the group on task.
4. Free Lego play: following the rewarding achievement of working with others to build a model, children have some time to engage in calming free Lego play to continue to unwind, continue to explore relationships with others in the group, as well as develop their creativity.

What are the benefits of Lego Therapy?
Lego Therapy is research proven and several educational and medical studies conducted in the UK and USA found that facilitated group projects with Legos can help develop and reinforce language, play, and social skills such as:
• Language – understanding language and using it
• Social communication and pragmatics – using non-verbal communication such as eye contact, facial expression, body posture and proximity
• Social skills – functional skills such as requesting help and clarification
• Joint attention
• Task focus – including task initiation
• Sharing and turn-taking
• Problem-solving collaboratively – also improving negotiation and compromise

More specifically, research studies have shown the benefits of LEGO play in three measures of social competence:
• Self-initiated social contact
• Duration of social interaction
• Reductions in “stereotyped” behaviours
Children showed significant gains across all measures following treatment.

If you like to speak to us about Lego Therapy groups give us a call on 03 9578 7560 (Ormond) or 03 8560 4050 (Moonee Ponds).

References:
ASD Aid: International LEGO Therapy Advocacy for Autistic Kids (http://asdaid.org/lego-and-asd/lego-therapy)

Lindy Sadriu
Speech Pathologist
Sensational Kids

2 Comments

  1. Kerry lewis — 4 April 2017 — 9:22 am

    Hi my name is Kerry and I was wondering if you can forward me more information on your Lego therapy . Or if you know of any training courses I could participate in, I work at a Special developmental school in the Eastern suburbs and our kids would love this.
    Kind regards

    Kerry

  2. themightywonton — 4 April 2017 — 11:06 am

    Hi Kerry,
    Our therapists apply our training in social skills, communication, behaviour and motor skills in our Lego therapy groups. We use Lego as the medium for kids to be able to explore ideas and actions such as thinking, sharing, negotiating, planning, and understanding social boundaries. I’m not sure if there is any specific training you can undergo for Lego therapy. Can I suggest http://bricks4kidz.com.au as they may have training programs for schools. Kind regards, Fran.