Block by block LEGO motion is building social skills for kids with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome. Using LEGO therapy, the program aims to spark communication, eye contact and other social niceties among the middle school aged participants. Nicole Arabie, who dreamed up LEGO Motion and launched the weekly program through the Junior League of Lake Charles, Inc., is the parent of a child who fits in the Autism Spectrum and knows first hand the limited amount of programs for kids in the pre-teen age range. She simply said, "there is nothing."
Children in the program are given certain roles: engineer, builder or supplier. They are then asked to communicate and work together to build LEGO sets and creatures for a movie. The kids produced and shot over 4,000 pictures to create their movie "The Attack of the Shadow Crawler," which is now on YouTube.
"It was a great way to kind of squeeze in some learning and working on social skills while having a really good time with LEGOs," explained Scott Williamson, Director of the McNeese State University Autism Program.
"It can kind of takes them out of their comfort zone where they have to delegate responsibilities to someone else and it's almost forcing a bit of communication," added Williamson. He also emphasized eye contact and addressing each child by name through the eight month program. He and volunteers used positive reinforcement like tokens to reward good behavior.
Williamson consulted on the program and collected data on each participant to track their progress. Arabie was thrilled with her son's social growth. "Just seeing the children and how happy they were and how much they loved to be there every Thursday. If they missed it they were really upset," gushed Arabie.
Participant, 11 year old Karson, has asperger's syndrome and has trouble recalling friends' names. By the end of the program he said he was able to recite all of his friends' names. He said, "I love LEGO motion."
Enrollment for next year has already started. Contact the Junior League of Lake Charles, Inc. or go to their website http://www.jllc.net/lakecharles/index.jsp