Group uses Legos to bring together children with autism

Sean Meehan

Carla Graham's Lego Lovers are creating more than castles and spaceships. They're building social skills.

Graham started Plano Lego Lovers as a way to bring together kids who have a passion for Legos but difficulty with social situations. The idea came to Graham as she searched for a play group for her 10-year-old son, Ian, who has Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism.

"Legos were all my son was interested in," Graham said. "He needed to have something where he was forced to communicate with other kids. With Legos, they have to talk to each other and work together."

In a year and a half, the group has grown to more than 100 members, not all of whom are autistic. The club meets once or twice a month at schools and area restaurants. Recently, about eight children convened at a Yumilicious frozen yogurt shop in Plano.

Children on the autism spectrum, or with other learning differences, struggle with developing social skills. Graham said the gatherings provide opportunities for the kids to practice those skills by discussing their shared interest in the colored building blocks.

"They learn how to share, which is incredibly difficult for them," Graham said. "They learn how to look beyond themselves at what somebody else is interested in and explore those possibilities."

At a recent meeting, some kids toted elaborate Lego sets with detailed instructions, while others came with just a handful of bricks and their imaginations. Although they started working on individual projects, within minutes they were asking one another about their creations and explaining their own.

According to Graham, even the smallest steps make a difference.

Full article from Dallas News here

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