How Lego therapy can be a ‘massive win’ for kids with autism

Melanie Lester: We’ll find motor skills for one, social inclusion. he’s actually getting out of the house and meeting new people. He’s actually a little bit more outgoing, he’s willing to talk to people, especially where Lego is concerned, but it has actually helped him feel like he fits in somewhere. Sophie Meixner, ABC reporter: For kids with autism, why do you think Lego is so special in allowing them to bond together? why do you think Lego is so special in allowing them to bond together? Melanie Lester: It’s a colourful thing, for one. It’s something they all enjoy, they can let their imagination run wild. They’re all on the same road, through the autism road. So, they’re all accepting each other. The fine motor skills is probably the big one. Sophie Meixner, ABC reporter: Did he struggle with that previously? Melanie Lester: Throughout primary school, yeah, he did. Doing PE was a bit of a struggle, he just couldn’t catch the balls, even just down to holding a pencil was a bit of an issue for him, so this has really helped. Someone can come in and go, ‘my kid is doing this’, and nine times out of ten you’ll find someone that has been through something similar and they can help you out, so yeah, you don’t feel so alone. Seth Lester: It’s really good, because some people think people like me can’t do that much. But having these people go to the Lego day and see all these people’s creations and being amazed at what these people can achieve, yeah. Doug Knight: I think it’s not only the kids who get the benefit out of it, it’s the fact that people who are actually experiencing autism and their families get a chance to talk to other people and pick up clues on what to do and how to do it, I think it carries over in self-confidence, mostly. They’re comfortable in their own right and that’s a big thing, because a lot of these kids get picked on because they’re different in school and different in society. Lydia Irvine-Collins: The goal of the group is that they work together, they learn how to describe the pieces, to explain them to each other. We do have a manual that we work through and base it on, we try though as much as possible to integrate the individual goals which is what I really like about this program is that while it’s quite structured and basically your group goal is working together to form this Lego project, you also can be targeting individual goals of where the kids are at. A lot of ours are around self-regulation, so managing emotions and working in a team, but also a lot about language skills, of ‘how do we explain pieces in a way that others understand’. Generally, if you’ve got three kids, you get an architect or an engineer — that is the person that has the instructions, they’re the one describing pieces. You get your supplier, who has to find the different pieces, and then you get a builder, that’s the one who puts it together. It’s really good for their own self-esteem and self-confidence to feel like they can do those things and are capable of working with others.

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