Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Lego Therapy

Marie McCullough of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes of pediatric neuropsychologist Dr. Dan Legoff's approach to social skills therapy using a common interest among some children on the spectrum - Legos.
"In Legoff's opinion, too many popular strategies involve "skillstreaming" - systematically explaining, modeling, and role-playing acceptable social skills to children.
"I found that approach to be, first, boring and painful to go through for the kids. And second, it didn't seem to work," said the psychologist, who has treated children with neurological disabilities for 20 years. "I needed to find something that they could practice but that they would enjoy and be motivated to do."
About 15 years ago, during post-doctoral training in Honolulu, Legoff noticed that his autistic patients, most of them boys, ignored a playroom full of toys - except for Legos.
A hallmark of autism is an obsessive dedication to one or two interests or activities - typically involving taxonomies, mechanical systems, hierarchies.
"A couple kids came with Lego creations they made at home," Legoff recalled. "In the waiting room, these kids started talking to one another, which surprised their parents. These are kids that don't have any friends because they're socially rejected or isolated."
Thus was born the Lego Club."


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miss pea said...

Chris--thanks so much for the link to this article. I have been encouraging our system to add blocks to our materials budget. I can honestly say they are as important as books!!