LEGO® Based Therapy Specialists
0151 792 6530
There are a number of Social Skills intervention strategies which are used to help ASC children. However, evidence shows that when prompted by an adult, children with Autistic and other social learning conditions can demonstrate the correct behaviour, there is little evidence that they are able to initiate sustained and appropriate interaction, communication or play beyond the therapy room, skills learnt in group sessions do not generalise to outside the group.
One theory is that that ASC children are not motivated to take part in social skill programmes themselves but only participate when instructed. Tony attwood suggested that a child motivated by their own interest is the key to reaching autistic children in their own world.
A Different Approach
Lego based therapy is a skill building approach which has been recognised as an effective social skills development method. Evidence is based on research conducted by Clinical Psychologists both in Cambridge University and Yale University. (LeGoff, Gomez de la Cuesta, Krauss & Baron-Cohen, 2014). With LEGO Therapy the children are self motivated to participate;
This is largely due to the success of using LEGO as the medium. LEGO is familiar and predictable in application and the diversity of the sets available ensures that every interest is catered for. Self motivation is vital as autistic children are not usually motivated to please by verbal praise, but when given a project which is centred around their own interest the child becomes very motivated and driven to participate.
LEGO Therapy develops social competency by creating the opportunities to interact. Children are split into pairs or small groups of three. They are then given a small task of building a small LEGO set working as a team using instructions; this method has shown that participating children have a greater motivation to initiate social contact. Furthermore of the social contact initiated by these children there is a significant increase in appropriate behaviour and sustained interaction which generalises to the classroom and playground.
‘It was clear from the outset that the participants were enthusiastic and responded generally more positive to this approach than to other traditional forms of intervention and there seemed to be a fairly noticeable improvement in social responsiveness and social adjustment in a relatively short period of time’
A key feature of autism, as defined in DSM-IV 1994 is a lack of social reciprocity. However children diagnosed on the high functioning end of the spectrum are enrolled in mainstream Schools with their neuro typical peers. They are negotiating the difficult issues around social skills and communication with their peers but have no programme which will help them build the skills needed to reach their full potential.
71% of children with a diagnosis of ASC are educated in mainsteam schools.
Only 22% of Teachers are specifically trained to teach ASC children.
54% of all Teachers in England do not feel adaquately trained to teach children diagnosed with ASC.
Over 40% of Children with Autism have been bullied at school
61% of parents of children with Asperger’s syndrome felt an acute shortfall for specialist provision tailored to support ASC
children in mainstream schools.
Parents state that the biggest gap in provision is the lack of social skills programmes. (National Autistic Society, 2014)
The statistics show a real deficit in meeting the need of ASC children, especially with social skills intervention programmes. Currently there are 2,551 ASC children in Mersey schools. 66% of parents surveyed stated that delay in support had significantly had a negative impact on their childs behaviour and sense of well being.
Recently a puplication which was partnered by University of Birmingham, Autism.West Midlands and Autism Cymru found that a School that had participated in a study into the benefits of LEGO® based therapy found a;
‘Marked difference in the way the children were now able to engage in group work. Not only were the pupils more able to hold joint attention, but also their group listening and communication skills appeared to have improved with fewer instances of dominating group work and improved turn-taking.’
Facilitators role, within the process.
It is important to understand that the adult role within the therapy group is to facilitate positive and appropriate social interaction, and not to get distracted by the build. The adult needs to identify problems and issues to the children and encourage them to solve the problem themselves. The process is reinforced with the adults rewarding the Do’s with tokens which are to be used frequently and consistency. Evaluation and session reports are used to create outcome plans to help children achieve required targets and goals.