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Autism and Legos

  • Posted on February 28, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Legos, autism, and growing awareness: Check it out!

Sibling Rivalry: The Legos Addition

  • Posted on February 26, 2014 at 10:00 AM

All the Legos have been in Alex’s room since we cleaned his room up and reorganized it. While the other boys will play with Legos now and then, Alex is rather compulsive about his Lego creations. He uses a lot of blocks, he’s made a lot of artworks, and he wants to keep them all—all the ones he’s finished and satisfied with—exactly how he wants them.

Ben entered stage left. Alex wasn’t there and Ben had a go at the Legos. That would have been fine, as long as he used blocks Alex hadn’t already used. But Ben was on an American flag kick late last week and Alex had a completed structure that included two American flags. Ben tore apart the structure to get the American flags and carried them downstairs without Mark or me realizing quite what he’d done. (We innocently assumed Ben had made his own.)

When Alex got home from his outing, he went upstairs and saw the destruction. He was rather upset. When he came downstairs and found Ben playing with the American flags he’d made, he went ballistic.

This is where effective communication skills would come in handy. We didn’t know those were Alex’s American flags. We didn’t even know, at first, that Alex was upset about the American flags. All we knew was that Alex and Ben were going at each other and since Alex “started it,” he wasn’t the one we most empathized with. He couldn’t tell us what was wrong and we didn’t know. But Alex’s behavior was strange—he refused to go in to his room and he couldn’t leave Ben alone if they were in the same room. Alex ended up hiding out in Willy’s room, sulking. But he couldn’t tell us what had upset him.

Eventually, I realized that Ben’s American flag Lego creations were a bit suspicious considering Alex’s behavior. So, I checked on Alex’s structures and saw the damage. I took the flags from Ben, gave them to Alex, and escorted Alex upstairs. Together, we fixed the damage and won’t be the last time.

Unleashed Creativity

  • Posted on January 17, 2014 at 7:56 AM

Alex’s teacher mentioned that he’d been playing with Legos at school. We’ve had Legos in the past, though they were usually reserved for Brandon. We didn’t want the younger boys playing with Legos, because of the mouthing issues, so we’d stuck with Mega Blocks for them. The boys had changed, but our patterns hadn’t. So, this Christmas, when I took my brother with me to shop for the boys’ presents, my brother picked out a big box of Legos-substitute. (All the Legos came in predetermined constructions and we wanted enough blocks for Alex to make whatever he wanted.)

Alex was really excited to receive a box of blocks, and when we got home Mark unearthed all our Legos blocks that had been hidden away—here and I’d thought he’d gotten rid of them! Now, Alex had three boxes of blocks to play with. He got started right away, trying different things, exploring what he could do with the blocks.

Then, during his first day back to school, Mark and I went through Alex’s room and cleaned out all the miscellaneous things, discarded two mattresses and boxsprings, replaced them with a single mattress, and put in a toy chest. We also placed all three boxes of blocks in Alex’s room. This left a lot of open space for Alex to play and explore his blocks in.

He’d had his blocks for a week and his “new” room for a day, when he made this:

Then, he made this:
A House made out of multi-colored Lego blocks with a door, windows, and white picket fence.

My brother, who is studying to be an architect and grew up playing with Legos, was very impressed. He took pictures, made them into Tweets, and shared them with others. The general consensus is, “The boy’s got talent!”