Acknowledgements. Foreword by Gina Gomez De La Cuesta. Preface. 1. What are Autism and Language Impairments?. 2. Building Language using LEGO (R) Bricks and LEGO (R) Therapy (LeGoff 2004). 3. Aims. 4. Why Building Language using LEGO (R) Bricks Works. 5. Starting Off. 6. Progressing Skills: The Role of the Facilitator. 7. Guidelines for Setting Up and Running Building Language using LEGO (R) Bricks. 8. Measuring Outcomes. 9. Examples of Cases. Resource Appendix.
Practical guide to running language therapy sessions using LEGO (R) bricks
Dawn Ralph gained her Speech Pathology & Therapy degree from Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh in 1985 and has worked as a paediatric speech and language therapist ever since. She has worked in a variety of settings from a paediatric brain injury unit to both specialist and mainstream schools. Jacqui Rochester has been working with SEN children for over sixteen years. In 2014 she gained her Bachelor of Philosophy in Special Education: Autism (Children) from the University of Birmingham's Autism Centre for Education and Research. Both Dawn and Jacqui run Building Language using LEGO (R) Bricks workshops for schools and training for professionals.
It was a pleasure and an honor to read Dawn Ralph and Jacqui
Rochester's guidebook for language development using LEGO (R)
materials. The work is an extension and expansion of the LEGO
(R)-based therapy approach that has been previously published by my
colleagues and me. That work focused on social development
strategies using LEGO (R), which necessarily involved an emphasis
on effective communication. Ralph and Rochester have taken that
emphasis a step further, and have focused in particular on the
language-based aspects of the LEGO (R) therapy process - the
receptive and expressive components of functional and social
communication that are emphasized by the joint, collaborative LEGO
(R)-building process. They have also shown how the method can be
utilized with children with cognitive and language-based
disabilities who were not included in the original LEGO (R)-based
Ralph and Rochester's work is clearly and succinctly written, well-researched, but not mired down in theory or the minutiae of research literature. It is, therefore, a very pragmatic, commonsense, and yet evidence-based methodology, accessible to anyone in the helping professions who has an interest in improving functional and social communication in children with language-based disabilities.
It is a special pleasure for me to read this pragmatic and well-considered manuscript. When I first started doing LEGO (R)-based therapy groups in the later 1990's, there was very little literature available on effective interventions, and none of my colleagues were aware of LEGO (R) as a potential therapy tool. It was really only Tony Attwood, and Robert and Lynn Koegel who were supportive of this type of approach - using naturally-reinforcing content and materials, and utilizing peers to help shape social development. Later, I was also encouraged by Fred Volkmar's kind words about my first published study. He said the method showed promise.
In that first paper, I invited other clinicians and researchers to consider utilizing the LEGO (R) materials, and to try variations of the method I was using, with different populations, etc. Since that time, there have been other publications based on the original method, but this is the first real modification and extension of the LEGO (R)-based therapy method. So, twelve years later, the manuscript by Ralph and Rochester, does show evidence that the original approach can be modified and generalized, and provides a long-awaited response to my invitation. I will pass along the encouraging words that I received from the venerable Dr. Volkmar: this work of Ralph and Rochester certainly shows promise. I hope it catches on.