LEGO-Based Therapy: How to Support Social Development in Neurodivergent Young People

by Lisa Rivers, MMFT, LMFTA

Is social connection one area of difference for your young person?

Or do you observe social interaction with others as a stressor for your tween?

Does your child need structure, clear rules, and clear boundaries to support their social growth and development?

Does your child need support in areas that come natural to neurotypical individuals?

Neurodiversity encompasses mental and/or neurological functioning within the human experience that differs from that commonly experienced by neurotypical people. ADHD, Autism, Dyspraxia, and Dyslexia are all within the spectrum of neurodiversity. In simple terms, neurodiversity means each individual has a unique and individual cognitive functioning. Therefore, some of us may connect differently to the world around us. However, play connects us all to a common human thread.

The origins of the word LEGO are from the Danish phrase leg godt or “play well.” Although LEGOs have been around since the 1930s, they are constantly being adapted to represent each new generation of those who want to play well. For example schools and libraries are offering LEGO Robotics Clubs, there are LEGO video games and movies, and even LEGO amusement parks. 

LEGOs are everywhere. You most likely know one home (maybe yours) that has piles of LEGOs neatly stored using IKEA hacks on Pinterest. I personally love this one… 

LEGO Therapy came along in the 1990s; developed by Daniel LeGoff. Group LEGO Therapy, often referred to as LEGO Club, promotes social development through social interaction and communication with one another in a structured environment. It has been utilized with neurodivergent young people as an impactful resource in the development and growth of social skills

For example, in a group setting LEGO Therapy bridges the communication gap by encouraging neurodivergent youth to solve problems through the joint construction of LEGO builds within a framework of clear roles, boundaries, rules, and structure.

Specifically, youth are encouraged in LEGO Therapy to initiate and maintain conversation with peers. Meanwhile, the role structure (Engineer, Supplier, and Builder) in LEGO club enables participants to lead interactions, share an expression of themselves with confidence, and bring their uniqueness to the group while working towards a common goal. Additionally, group rules develop communication and interaction skills between participants which empower young people to build the foundation of connection in unstructured social environments as well.

Here at Modern Wellness Family Counseling Greenville we will be offering Lego Club for the Summer of 2022. If you are interested or know someone who is, please have them contact us at 864-383-9002. My wish for you is to play together and play often whether it is at home with your family and/or in your community. If you can’t join us, you can engage your child at home in the below LEGO challenges or find local LEGO Robotics Club.

At home LEGO Challenges to model communication and social interaction skills:

Begin each build by setting the rules of collaboration such as one person speaks at a time, at the end everyone helps clean up, etc

Next pick roles for each person. Who will be the engineer, the supplier, or the builder? The engineer picks from the below prompts and determines what is to be built. The supplier listens to the engineer, follows their directions to gather necessary LEGO pieces for the build, and asks for clarification from the Engineer as needed. The builder collects the pieces from the supplier, connects the pieces, and asks for clarification from the supplier as needed. These roles can be altered to fit the number of people in the group-think of an assembly line.

Let’s begin! The engineer picks one of the following prompts.

Pick a color, any color, and use only that color of LEGO to build anything you want. 

Build something that would cast a large shadow. Take your build to a sunny spot. Trace the shadow cast from the build. 

Build your dream playground. 

Build a caterpillar and then transform it into a butterfly.


Lego challenges were adapted from


945 E Main St Ste 5
Spartanburg, SC 29302

Got Questions?
Send a Message!