Combining LEGO®-Based Therapy and OT
LEGO®-based therapy sounds fun, right? It is! but what does it mean…
LEGO®-Based Therapy is a therapeutic tool used by a wide range of professionals to support with social interaction, play skills including turn taking, listening skills, problem solving and communication during group activities.
Adapting LEGO®-Based Therapy within our practice as Occupational Therapist’s
Employing the Occupational Therapist’s expertise of adaptability and creativity, LEGO®-Based Therapy can be used as a motivational therapeutic tool to overcome barriers, develop skills and independency in meaningful occupations. LEGO®-Based Therapy is a fun and enjoyable activity which can be adapted, graded and individualised to meet the child’s needs and skill level. Occupational Therapists are experts in task analysis; breaking skills and tasks down into small, manageable, teachable components. This enables any activity to be graded appropriately to an individual’s ability level, therefore, allowing skills to be taught in a structured and systematic fashion. Occupational Therapists can maximise the use of LEGO®-Based Therapy in group based interventions as well as 1:1 in the clinic, home, school and community settings to motivate, support and empower children and young people in developing specific skills.
LEGO®-Based Therapy uses group rules, roles and collaboration in a supportive and rewarding environment thus allowing the development of a person’s social interaction skills that are required for everyday situations; such as, turn taking, collaborating, sharing, social problem solving, joint focus, following social rules and communication. Lego®-Based Occupational Therapy can be used as a platform for developing and building upon foundational Occupational Therapy skills; such as, fine motor, bilateral integration, visual and core stability.
How Seirrah OT uses LEGO®-Based Therapy to focus on the OT needs of a child:
Fine motor skills relate to the small intricate and detailed movements of the hands, fingers and wrists which are needed to manipulate, control, and use objects and tools. The use of LEGO® or similar building materials to construct models or just have fun, is a great tool for developing fine motor skills. There are many unique styles and various sized bricks enabling multiple elements of fine motor skills to be focused on and outcomes can be graded in difficulty. If someone struggles with their fine motor movement, LEGO® or similar building materials can be used to help build and promote strength, positioning, dexterity, technique, and movement within the hand, fingers and wrist, building up the foundational elements required for occupations, such as: handwriting, dressing, using cutlery and playing.
When building a LEGO® model step by step or incorporating free play, an individual will need to use their bilateral integration skills, which for some is not automatic. Our bodies are symmetrical and usually both sides are used together, for example, when dressing or eating. Bilateral Integration is the use of both sides of the body and the ability to coordinate the left and right hands to accomplish functional tasks. LEGO®-Based Occupational Therapy allows for the development of bilateral integration skills to enable an individual to become successful when building, these skills can then be transferred over to other functional activities such as handwriting.
LEGO®-Based Occupational Therapy can help with sensory processing by stimulating the senses. Object finding uses tactile perception and discrimination; LEGO® supports this by offering unique textures, shapes and sizes. When using bricks to build models, individuals need to apply the right amount of pressure to ensure they connect; this not only promotes strength in the wrist, hand and fingers but also develops a child’s proprioception. LEGO®’s diversity is great for visual processing when finding and matching shapes, colours and pictures of models. Creating a LEGO® model is a structured process, which is great in supporting children with ASD to build upon their motor planning, following of instructions and concentration levels, as opposed to free play. Auditory support during LEGO®-Based Occupational Therapy activities supports the child to follow given instructions when in their role and listening to specific words to increase interactive group work.
We can use DUPLO®-Based Occupational Therapy in clinic or nursery settings to support early intervention for young children who require support in developing skills required for school/education. It focuses on the children’s coordination, grip, fine motor movements, their visual, auditory and other sensory skills. DUPLO®-Based Occupational Therapy can be graded into simpler activities such as matching and sorting. The therapy also promotes following rules, listening to instructions, communication, and play skills, including turn taking, with other children.
Visual perception is one’s ability to receive, process, organise, and interpret visual information. The skills of visual perception are important for academic tasks such as: handwriting, reading, spelling, and maths. Using LEGO®-Based Occupational Therapy can help support visual perception by matching LEGO® bricks the same size or colour together, following and remembering the instructions to move on to the next step when building a model, finding a specific piece of LEGO® amongst all the other pieces, and being able to put the LEGO® blocks together to build the figure shown in the picture which helps to develop visual motor skills.
Learning to play is vital for any child. Through play children can learn about their environment, their bodies, the world around them, how to interact with others, and develop their social skills. LEGO®-Based Therapy allows children to play together with rules, roles and team work, building on communication skills (verbal and non-verbal), problem solving skills and much more. LEGO®-Based Occupational Therapy provides a supportive environment and motivational tool that allows a child to explore their imaginative mind and build anything they wish to build and share with the group. Foundational play skill elements; such as, gross motor skills, interest, material management, space management, attention, and dramatisation are all promoted within LEGO®-Based Occupational Therapy
Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) experience many difficulties including social and communication challenges. They may have difficulty reading social cues or knowing when to speak or listen, and facial expressions can be impossible to read resulting in social isolation. Therefore, children with ASD may find joining a social group where the members have similar interests to their own hugely beneficial. LEGO®-Based Therapy is run by fully trained facilitators using the child’s own interests to motivate learning and change through building LEGO® collaboratively.
If you would like to register your interest for one of our LEGO®-Based Therapy groups or specialist intervention utilising LEGO®-Based Occupational Therapy, run by our fully trained facilitators, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
This type of therapy is available to individual’s aged 1-25 with or without any diagnosis, and is adapted to meet the individual needs of everyone.
About the Author
Founder of Seirrah OT & Specialist Occupational Therapy Consultant
Joanne is a Specialist Paediatric Occupational Therapy Consultant working with individuals of varying conditions including autism. She has a keen interest in behaviour management, motor skills, handwriting, early intervention and mental health. Joanne is a fully qualified LEGO®-Based Therapy practitioner.