What is Lego® therapy?
Lego® therapy is a social development program for autistic children and other children with social communication difficulties. It uses children’s love of Lego® play, as well as their strengths and interests, to develop communication and social skills.
Who is Lego® therapy for?
Lego® therapy is for autistic children and other children with social communication difficulties aged 6-16 years.
What is Lego® therapy used for?
Lego® therapy is used to teach children skills like turn-taking, sharing, listening, conversation, teamwork, shared attention and problem-solving.
Where does Lego® therapy come from?
Lego® therapy was developed in the early 2000s by Dan LeGoff, a clinical neuropsychologist in Philadelphia in the United States.
LeGoff noticed that many autistic children were more interested in interacting with each other if they were playing with Lego®. He set up groups for autistic children to learn social skills while playing collaboratively with Lego®.
What is the idea behind Lego® therapy?
When children play with Lego®, they’re more likely to interact with each other through collaborative play. Children who might not be keen to go to a social group might go to a Lego® group, because they like building with Lego®. The shared focus on building uses children’s strengths and helps them practise communication and social skills while having fun.
What does Lego® therapy involve?
Trained facilitators run Lego® therapy group sessions. The sessions usually run once a week for 1-2 hours, often in schools or other everyday settings.
In each session, children work together to build a model following instructions. Each child is assigned a role. There’s usually:
- an engineer, who has the instructions
- a supplier, who has the bricks
- a builder, who builds the model
- a foreman or director, who makes sure everyone works as a team.
The children take turns playing the different roles, and together they build the model. Towards the end of the session the children have some time to build whatever they want.
This way of working encourages children to use verbal and nonverbal communication skills, take turns, share, and use problem-solving skills.
Costs vary, but you can expect to pay around $50-$60 per session.
You might be able to include the cost of Lego® therapy in children’s NDIS plans. You can contact the NDIS to find out.
Does Lego® therapy work?
A few studies have shown that Lego® therapy helps improve children’s social skills. But more high-quality studies are needed.
Who practises Lego® therapy?
Parent education, training, support and involvement
Your involvement is usually just taking your child to a weekly Lego® therapy group. Sometimes parents are encouraged to do sessions at home with their autistic child and siblings.
Where can you find a practitioner?
Your local autism association or local council might be able to help you find a Lego® therapy group.
If you’re interested in Lego® therapy, it’s a good idea to talk about it with your GP or one of the other professionals working with your child. You could also talk about it with your NDIA planner, NDIS early childhood early intervention (ECEI) coordinator or NDIS local area coordinator (LAC), if you have one.
There are many therapies for autism. They range from those based on behaviour and development to those based on medicine or alternative therapy. Our article on types of interventions for autistic children takes you through the main therapies, so you can better understand your child’s options.