What is LEGO®-Based Therapy?
LEGO®-Based Therapy is an evidence informed social communication program that works by teaching the participant observation and adaptability skills rather than rote language or a checklist of social information. LEGO®-Based Therapy doesn’t aim to make a participant communicate more typically, but, instead, it gives the participant the tools to become more adaptable in their social activities.
LEGO® -Based Therapy is a play-based approach that encourages the development of communication and social skills, using a participant’s natural interest in LEGO®. Participants work in small groups to build LEGO® models under the guidance of a qualified therapist. Participants can be grouped and matched based on compatibility of age, developmental level, with due consideration given to the dynamics of the group.
LEGO® -Based Therapy has five levels of achievement with specific goals and challenges. Each level builds upon the skills achieved in previous levels. The Levels are: Helper, Builder, Creator, Master and Genius. Groups usually consist of 3-5 participants. Participants at Helper Level are often 1:1 with a therapist or a small group of 1:2 in order to develop the skills required to move to a larger group.
Sessions are facilitated by trained therapist with an understanding of working with participants with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and/or developmental or social skills difficulties to help support skills such as sharing, turn-taking, collaboration, conflict resolution, and verbal and non-verbal communication.
LEGO® -Based Therapy was originally developed for children and adolescents diagnosed with ASD. However, it can be helpful for young people aged 5-16 with other communication and/or social difficulties such as social phobia, or mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.
Each session starts with informal greetings and a reminder of the rules and ends with some free LEGO® play time for further developing relationships, creativity and play skills.
Some of the skills worked on during LEGO® -Based Therapy include:
Collaboration – participants work as a group to achieve a common goal
Joint problem solving, sharing and turn-taking – taking turns in different roles, dividing up the tasks and working on the build together
Maintaining attention – participants need to remain focused on the task to build the models
Verbal and non-verbal communication – using language and non-verbal skills (such as eye contact) to express ideas and feelings
Conflict resolution – working through differences for a shared aim
Creativity – in coming up with a group name, building the models and free playtime
Fine motor skills – for manipulating the LEGO® blocks
Concepts – participants get to learn about colours, numbers, categories, describing and more.
LEGO® -Based Therapy was first developed in 2004 by US paediatric neuropsychologist Dr Daniel LeGoff. Dr LeGoff noticed two of his clients with ASD, who had previously shown little motivation to interact, having positive exchanges while playing with LEGO® in his waiting area.
From this observation, Dr LeGoff developed the role-based LEGO intervention to encourage interaction and help children foster crucial skills such as sharing, collaboration, conflict resolution, and verbal and non-verbal communication.
While the therapy was originally aimed only at children with ASD, it has also been found to benefit participants with other communication and social developmental issues. Research into LEGO® -Based Therapy is continuing.