I talk about Emma a lot on this blog. Emma is Ayub's speech therapist. Here…
The Many Benefits Of LEGO For My Awesome Kid With Autism
Ayub and Sulaiman have been attending weekly LEGO classes at Bricks4Kidz for over a year. The boys have always loved Duplo, and graduated to LEGO when Mr Ninja came into our lives, bringing with him his love of the little plastic bricks. For Ayub’s 6th birthday, Mr Ninja bought him a 1000-piece box of LEGO. Ayub had a meltdown because there weren’t any instructions.
“He can’t do it,” I said.
“He can. He’s Ayub. Ayub is awesome. He can do anything,” replied Mr Ninja. I was not convinced. But Mr Ninja encouraged him to build anyway. And together they built robots, fighter jets, helicopters and cityscapes.
So many good things have come from playing with LEGO. As usual, just wanna share my experiences 🙂
1. Fine motor skills development
Ayub has never really had a problem with gross motor skills. He’s very fit and very active. He got second place at the Malaysian Homeschooling Network Sports Day recently. With fine motor skills, aside from having pretty ugly handwriting, he seems alright to me. Using scissors, doing fiddly things with glue and string and art. He’s ok with it.
But there’s always room for improvement. LEGO is a really fun way to work on fine motor skills. It takes small, precise movements that need to be coordinated together in order to build.
2. Improves focus and concentration
One of Ayub’s biggest weaknesses. Focus and concentration. I don’t know if it’s the ADHD or autism, probably a mix of both, but this kid really struggles to stay focused. With LEGO, he is dead set to complete his build from beginning to end. The other day Sulaiman insisted on buying this 800+ piece firestation set, while Ayub chose a 500+ piece helicopter set. Sulaiman enlisted the help of Mr Ninja but gave up after 2 hours and a quarter of a station. Ayub finished his helicopter by himself, much to the amazement of Mr Ninja. And subsequently took over the firestation, worked on it non-stop, and completed the entire thing on his own.
No joke, this thing was a mammoth undertaking. On top of the double-storey firestation, there was a firetruck, helicopter, and car.
Ayub built the whole thing on his own.
There is nothing else in this world (right now) that Ayub can focus 100% on, the way he can with LEGO.
3. Increases visual perception
Visual perception is Ayub’s greatest strength (according to his IQ test results.) It means he has a high ability to think in 3D, and has high spatial awareness and intelligence.
Some people look at a map or a blueprint, and cannot figure out what they’re looking at. They have to see a 3D model to imagine what that map or blueprint represents. Ayub can not only imagine it, he can build it. So, LEGO is a great way to build on his existing strength to make it even more awesome. As an added bonus, it also gives a huge boost to his self-esteem and confidence, which is so so important for an individual who is otherwise behind in almost every way to his peers.
4. Creative thinking and problem solving skills
Ayub has a powerful imagination, even though he doesn’t believe it. He’s awesome. Seriously.
With all his difficulties with speech and communication, building 3D things was Ayub’s only way of expressing himself. He would use anything he could get his hands on when he was little. Toys, pillows, household objects. And he would just build.
LEGO is a medium that allows him to express himself creatively. And of course, it lends itself to problem solving. When a vital piece is missing, what can we use to substitute it? How do we pivot from this shortcoming for a different outcome? What can you make with only a limited number of pieces? Problem solving, it’s a vital skill to acquire and bring with you for the rest of your life.
5. Patience and organisational skills
Ayub is not the most patient person in the world. Similar to me, very hot tempered. As much as he loves LEGO, it has led to many meltdowns in the past. Even when he was building his recent helicopter and firestation, there were moments. Not full meltdowns because he understood what was happening and why he was getting frustrated… because it had happened so many times in the past.
Yeah, LEGO teaches you patience. It’s not always going to go your way. You are going to mess up sometimes. Or the LEGO bricks aren’t going to snap into place easily, or maybe you push to hard and the model falls apart so you have to start over. Things happen. LEGO is a great place for things to go wrong, because it isn’t all that hard to rectify, and you get to learn how to deal with it.
Mr Ninja taught the boys to organise their LEGO by colour, which I think is quite ridiculous. I prefer to organise by shape. Anyway, the boys organise their LEGO. Makes it easier to build.
6. Teamwork, communication, and friendship
Just check out Ayub’s work at the FIRST Lego League Jr Malaysia. Teamwork, communication (and comprehension), and friendship. This one is all thanks to Teacher Lisa at Bricks4Kidz. She’s the best. We’re so blessed to have so many wonderful, supportive people in Ayub’s life. Truly.