4 serious mistakes that schools make when organising and running Lego based Therapy
By Beata Bednarska
Hi my name is Beata Bednarska and I’m the special needs leader, mentor and trainer. I’m extremely passionate about helping special needs children to fulfil their full potential. I’m also passionate about helping schools to organise and deliver specialist interventions for special needs children to develop cognitive, physical, emotional and social areas of development.
One area of my expertise is Lego based Therapy and today I will indicate FOUR serious mistakes that schools makes when organising and running Lego based Therapy groups.
Number 1 – Lack of knowledge and training
When I fist started my Lego Groups I didn’t have formal training so I decided to self-educate. I studied every single book about Lego based Therapy. Systematically, I was creating and developing my planning and resources. Some people would be extremely impressed but I wasn’t. In fact, all that additional time I spent learning and that whole situation made me feel unprofessional and I felt that it’s not how it should be .
So if that the mistake your school is making then you need to plan professional development for yourself or for your staff if you are the SENCO and this should be done in your work hours and before you start your Lego groups. It’s a good practice to use safe, child centred and evidence based interventions that you are familiar with as you have a duty of care to all children’s safety and well-being. Being prepared it is a must do. Children an parents count on us. Trust us. They will not have another chance to become independent and happy adults. They need professional help NOW.
Also, a small tip, you need to include the initial training costs such as Lego based Therapy Training in your school’s budget. One more thing – don’t forget that knowledge is changing constantly so you need to refresh on it at least every 2 years.
Number 2 – Lack of assessment tools and evaluation process
Years of studying and the right combination of knowledge, skills and experience allowed me to create my own assessment tools to help me, school and parents to assess children, target deficit skills, evaluate and re-assess. If you would ask me about my pupils I would be able to answer strait away including the questions:
How many children attended Lego based Therapy for the last 6 years, 1 year, couple of months etc?
How many of targeted children made progress?
How much progress the individual child made in area of for example social skills?
What skills did you targeted? etc.
I would be able to answer every single question you may ask, and more. Would you? If you wouldn’t then you need some kind of assessments tools and planning in your school/setting. You need a system that will be known to your staff so everyone and you can evidence number of children entering additional interventions, time frames, initial assessments, possible targets, evidence of child progress etc.
The last bit that I would like to mention is the evaluation process, and believe me, its extremely important for quality of your work to have one. It gives you a chance to stop and think about what you did right, what didn’t go well, what you need to improve on, what you need to change, in with area of our knowledge we need additional training etc. Don’t forget to involve children to evaluate each of your sessions, games, activities as they opinion is extremely important and would influence all sort of things such as motivation, enjoyment, progress and behaviour etc. They need to be part of the whole process if you want them to make significant progress.
Number 3 – Lack of understanding on how to teach social skills, communication, language etc.
To deliver Lego based Therapy you not only have to possess knowledge on:
- how to understand and support children with autism/special needs
- how to organise and run Lego based Therapy in your setting
but also you need:
- how to teach social skills
- how to teach communication and language
For some teaching staff it is very difficult, especially without systematic training, guidelines and planning from SEN School Coordinator’s – leadership). The good news is that you can learn the hierarchy of social skills and gain more understanding on how to explain it to your children. If you want to learn more about that I suggest Alex Kelly books and her hierarchic list of social skills which I’m using in my assessment tools. You can also up-skill your knowledge about developing your child speech, communication and language by attending ELKLAN training. You can also learn these skills through Lego based Therapy Training.
Number 4 – Not using good practice guidelines for schools such as how to support children with autism
I can’t stress it enough about how important it is to use autism good practice guidelines for schools in your setting. It doesn’t matter that you don’t have children on spectrum because one day you might have one and because you are not prepared you will waste his/her only chance to succeed and because you not prepared you will make mistakes which will develop more problems for your child. I strongly believe that incorporating autism good practice guidelines in your school will improve the whole school provision for all children especially in areas of communication, social skills, behaviour and attainment. Also, you will create the respectful culture of acceptance, understanding and high quality interactions between teaching staff and between teaching staff and parents.