UK researchers to use Lego in new autism study

A group of researchers at the University of York are planning to investigate the potential of Lego in helping children with autism to develop social interaction skills.

The study, which has been inspired by other Lego-based therapies made famous in the USA, is being funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

Professor Barry Wright, from the University of York’s Department of Health Sciences, and director of its new child mental health centre, said: “Lego-based therapy can help children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) develop co-operative and interactive skills around mutually enjoyable play.

“Previous pilot work has shown that many children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), both boys and girls, engage with Lego”.

He says that children with ASDs typically “enjoy the sensory aspects of Lego” and “the geometric patterns and … engineering involved in building models”.

He adds: “Research shows that children with ASD are not asocial. They do not wish to completely avoid social interaction.

“Children with ASD are ‘differently’ social, preferring to engage socially with others in much smaller groups than neurotypically developing children, and usually around common interests”.

Separate research suggests that as many as one in every 100 people in the UK has an ASD – and that young boys are more likely to be diagnosed that young girls.