LEGO Building Draws on Passion of Children with Autism

Therapists hoping for breakthroughs with the knowledge that ‘play is work’

For decades now, therapists have attempted—with varying levels of success—to reach children with autism through providing each child and his peers with activities that ignite their passions. 

Recently, as this article from VeryWell Health explains, LEGOs have been the therapists’ toy of choice. The article explains the tendency of these children to enjoy a few things quite passionately, and often by themselves or through partially detached peer groups.

While many children learn by observing and imitating—think singing or dancing—children with autism often struggle with collaboration or taking turns. 

Enter LEGOs, which allow kids to build specific and separate skills while still, in many ways, utilizing replicable skill sets. The activity is simple and repeatable enough, but can be accomplished without outside help. One form of the therapy, perhaps the most basic form, involves three children each taking one role (engineer, supplier, builder). With each child taking one role, the therapist encourages cooperation between the group in order to complete their task of building the model.

The article states that therapists are most likely to see success with children who:

  • Actively enjoys building models with LEGO
  • Is more or less at the same functional level as the other children in the group
  • Has the ability to follow verbal instruction
  • Has shown at least some success in interactive play in the past
  • Is able to change his or her set ideas without significant emotional upset
  • Is motivated to build social relationships with peers

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