April 2 is officially known as World Autism Day. The reason I am making this aware to you is because a new Lego based therapy is being promoted to improve social skills through playing with the bricks.
Disability services provider Therapy Focus is using the principles of Lego-based therapy to develop communication and social skills in children who have autism and other disabilities.
The new program named Lego Club is encouraging collaborative play by providing a safe place for children all ages to develop attention skills, body language, listening and conversation skills.
The West Australian based provider, supports over 2500 children and adults with a range of disabilities and employs more than 250 staff.
The program is also an opportunity for children who feel socially isolated to be part of a group and interact with peers in a club environment outside of school. Anne Haug, mother of 11 year-old Thomas, said Lego Club has given her son a place to fit in.
“Now Thomas has the opportunity to socialise with like-minded friends while doing something he enjoys. Lego Club has given him the chance to go to an after school activity, and have something to look forward to and be a part of,” said Anne.
The term-long program sees participants grouped into teams of 2-3 based on age, goals, functional capacity and communication needs. Each week group members are assigned the following team roles with opportunities to progress to advanced roles and receive certificates as skills develop:
Builder: Builds the model
Supplier: Finds the bricks
Engineer: Provides instructions to the supplier and builder
Foreman: In charge of making sure everyone works as a team
Therapy Focus Family Connect Worker, Karyn Grosvenor, hosts the Lego Club program and says that studies have shown children who participate in Lego play see significant gains in three key areas.
“The benefits of Lego therapy include social competence in terms of self-initiated social contact, duration of social interaction and reductions in stereotyped behaviours.”
Anne can attest to the benefits of Lego therapy, having seen a significant improvement in her son Thomas since he started Lego Club.
“Lego Club has really helped Thomas, especially in terms of listening skills, following instructions and working in a team,” Ms Haug said.
“I recently saw Thomas sitting with his younger sister demonstrating skills we rarely saw him use before he started the program. Lego Club is so much more than just playing Lego.”
If you wish to find out more information about Therapy Focus, head over the their website here.