Bricks, wheels, hinges, doors. With the right combination, one can assemble a castle, a robot, an animal, racecar, spaceship, train, or anything else that could be lurking in one’s imagination. Legos, and the nearly-infinite design possibilities the building blocks represent, are a shared interest for many children. Lego therapy draws on this shared interest in Legos to aid in the acquisition of social skills, development of perspective-taking and sharing, as well as increasing an overall interest in engaging with peers and building friendships.
Lego therapy is not simply gathering children together and providing them with Legos. Lego therapy is ideally conducted in a fairly structured environment, in which the children have clearly assigned roles, and rules are formulated to dictate appropriate behavioral conduct. For example, if there were three children in the Lego therapy session, then one of the children could be the Engineer, who looks at the illustrated guide to building the Lego set, and is responsible for letting the other peers know what they are building and how to build it. Another child could be the supplier, who has all of the necessary parts to assemble the project, and is responsible for supplying the builder with the correct pieces. The third child could be the builder, who is responsible for taking the individual pieces from the supplier, and putting the pieces together to form the project. During the Lego therapy sessions, social conventions can be directly instructed or prompted, based on the needs of the peers. For example, if two peers are physically fighting over a Lego piece, the clinicians can redirect the peers to use language, negotiation, and compromise to settle their dispute.
Research studies have found Lego therapy to be an effective means of developing “verbal and non-verbal communication, joint attention and task focus, collaborative problem-solving, sharing and turn-taking” (Legoff and Sherman, 2006). In a 2008 study, children who participated in Lego Therapy demonstrated increased learning and generalization of social skills and reduction of behavioral concerns in comparison to a control group who did not receive intervention (Owens, Granader, and Humphrey).