Bricks for Autism is a social venture that aims at supporting children with communication and learning disabilities through a therapy of building LEGO models. And whilst helping children with autism develop key skills, it also helps funding vital research.

In this form of therapy, children work together and are assigned roles – the engineer who has the instructions, the supplier who has the bricks, and the builder who puts the model together. The children take turns in assuming each responsibility. This method encourages collaboration and interaction with other children and is suitable for most age groups as it can be easily modified depending on specific needs and interests.

Why LEGO?

In talking to the University of Cambridge, founder Dr Gina Gomez de la Cuesta, explained that LEGO is a great medium as it is already familiar to and loved by most children. In addition to this, she notes, “children can achieve something, because they are good at LEGO building, and that is a good motivation to learn and interact with others.”

The idea started whilst Gina was doing her PhD at the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge, where she worked alongside Professor Simon Baron-Cohen and Dr. Ayla Humphrey in assessing the effectiveness of LEGO-based therapy for children with autism. She learned about the approach from its pioneer, child neuropsychologist Dr. Dan LeGoff, and ran the first ever UK LEGO-based therapy groups in Cambridge.

This therapy is slightly different to other approaches to teaching social skills, because children learn in the moment, whilst they are having fun building LEGO together. It is enjoyable, flexible and low anxiety for the children

– Dr. Gina Gomez de la Cuesta.

The therapy

Currently, Bricks for Autism offers one-day introductory training courses for professionals who want to run LEGO-based therapy groups. A share of profits is donated to the Autism Research Trust supporting vital research that can help improve the quality of life of autistic people and their families. 

But it doesn’t stop here. Gina is hoping to expand on this in the future as the demand is high. Gina is also involved with a large-scale randomized controlled trial into the effectiveness of LEGO-based therapy with York and Sheffield universities.

Learn more about Bricks for Autism