Mustard Seed Autism Trust is a small local organisation, based in Rushmoor and Hart, that offers an holistic approach in dealing with the complex needs of families living with autism.
Mustard Seed Autism applied for a Youth Aspirations Fund (YAF) to enable them to host Lego Therapy sessions with their service users. The grant allowed them to buy enough lego sets to last 20 sessions. Mustard Seed Autism secured additional funding to help cover costs of venue hire, volunteer expenses, storage and training for volunteers and parents.
A total of 6 children benefited from these ongoing sessions, which were run over a 20 week course. Throughout the course, the children were able to effectively develop their communication skills and positively manage their emotions whilst working as a team.
Lego Therapy is a great way to encourage and support the development of communication and social skills for people with autism. The children work together to build lego models and take on different roles to develop specific skills:
Each session, the children swap roles to help develop different communication skills (e.g. requesting, directing, questioning, answering, listening, attending, following multi-step instructions, solving problems, dealing with conflict, disagreeing politely etc.). All 6 users were successful at switching roles and taking on the new challenge week-to-week.
Parents of the participants are extremely thrilled their children have been offered this opportunity. Many children with autism do not attend after school clubs or leisure activities in the community. This project however, will provide these children with the same opportunity to enjoy their special interest and socialise with peers in a safe, calm environment as well as increasing communication and social skills.
The more exposure children with autism have to positive social experiences in a comfortable and autism-friendly environment, the more confident they will be to access activities in the wider community. Increasing social and communication skills can impact positively on school achievement and reduces anti-social behaviour. It is really important to focus on developing these skills at any early age before learned patterns of behaviour become established and are harder to manage.
6 children benefited over 2016-2017 and a further 6-12 will benefit the year after, and so on! As the costs of the YAF simply covered a one-off cost to purchase the necessary equipment, Mustard Seed Autism can now expand on the number of children year upon year, volunteer dependent.
“L is excited because this is a chance to improve his social skills and also learn how to deal with conflict...and it’s fun!” - Anonymous Parent.
“I’m so excited, I never get to go to clubs but now I can!” - Lego Therapy User, aged 8.