Nov 10

CNNH approach to using LEGO® – Based Social Development Therapy

The Center for Neurological and Neurodevelopmental Health (CNNH) offers an innovative group-based social development program using the LEGO® system. LEGO® therapy has been proven to be an effective way for children with social difficulties associated with Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Anxiety, Depression or Adjustment Disorders to improve their social interaction and communication skills. Improvements in social competence enable children to sustain lasting friendships and reach their highest potential.

How This Evidence-based Therapy Got Started

The LEGO® Therapy was developed over 15 years ago after observing that children with autism and other neurobehavioral disorders were naturally attracted to LEGO® when presented with a room full of toys. Using LEGO® in a therapeutic and structured way was fun and seemed to naturally reinforce appropriate social behavior.

LEGO® Therapy has been systematically evaluated in research studies conducted by Daniel LeGoff, Ph.D., and a replication study completed recently at Cambridge University in England under the supervision of internationally-recognized autism expert Simon Baron-Cohen, Ph.D. Each study has shown that using LEGO® as a modality for group interaction and communication with peers increased self-initiated social contact and the duration of social interaction in other group settings such as in the playground and school cafeteria, and improved social competence in general.

Here’s How It Works

Children come together each week in developmentally staged groups from ages 5-17 years. During the sessions they focus on collaborative projects in a specifically designed LEGO® room. To prompt interaction among the children and help them come up with their own solutions, adult coaches divide up tasks so they have joint and interactive jobs to do. This collaboration requires close interaction and communication among group members naturally reinforcing social contact and good behavior.

The participants collaborate on building sets, freestyle projects and even make short “LEGO®-mation” stop-action films using digital video equipment. Each year CNNH holds a LEGO® Film Festival when children can debut their movies for family and friends and enjoy a “movie star” experience.

How Will This Help My Child

You will see your child identify with a peer group and begin to be motivated by social approval and social status within the group. It has been shown that to become a better LEGO® builder, children need to learn from each other, cooperate, solve disputes, follow rules, and be helpful. These skills are often learned and reinforced by their peers throughout the weekly sessions and generalize to school and home environments.


LeGoff DB, Sherman M: Long-term outcome of social skills intervention based on interactive LEGO® play. Autism 2006;10:1-31.

LeGoff DB: Use of LEGO® as a therapeutic medium for improving social competence. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities 2004;34:557-571.

Owens G, Granader Y, Humphrey A, Baron-Cohen S: LEGO® therapy and the social use of language programme: an evaluation of two social skills interventions for children with high functioning autism and Asperger Syndrome. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 2008;38:1944-57. Epub 2008 Jun 20.