LEGO® Therapy and the Social Use of Language Programme: An Evaluation of Two Social Skills Interventions for Children with High Functioning Autism and Asperger Syndrome

  • Gina Owens
  • Yael Granader
  • Ayla Humphrey
  • Simon Baron-Cohen
Original Paper

Abstract

LEGO® therapy and the Social Use of Language Programme (SULP) were evaluated as social skills interventions for 6–11 year olds with high functioning autism and Asperger Syndrome. Children were matched on CA, IQ, and autistic symptoms before being randomly assigned to LEGO or SULP. Therapy occurred for 1 h/week over 18 weeks. A no-intervention control group was also assessed. Results showed that the LEGO therapy group improved more than the other groups on autism-specific social interaction scores (Gilliam Autism Rating Scale). Maladaptive behaviour decreased significantly more in the LEGO and SULP groups compared to the control group. There was a non-significant trend for SULP and LEGO groups to improve more than the no-intervention group in communication and socialisation skills.

Keywords

LEGO® therapy Social skills High functioning autism Asperger syndrome 

References

  1. Achenbach, T. M., & Rescorla, L. A. (2001). Manual for the ASEBA school-age forms & profiles. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont, Research Center for Children, Youth and Families.Google Scholar
  2. APA. (1994). DSM-IV diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th edn ed.). Washington DC: American Psychiatric Association.Google Scholar
  3. Attwood, A. J. (1998). Asperger’s syndrome: A guide for parents and professionals. London, UK: Jessica Kingsley.Google Scholar
  4. Baker, M. J., Koegel, R. L., & Koegel, L. K. (1998). Increasing the social behavior of young children with autism using their obsessive behaviors. The Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps, 23, 300–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baron-Cohen, S. (1995). Mindblindness: an essay on autism and theory of mind. Boston: MIT Press/Bradford Books.Google Scholar
  6. Baron-Cohen, S. (2002). The extreme male brain theory of autism. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 6(6), 248–254.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Baron-Cohen, S. (2006). Two new theories of autism: hyper-systemising and assortative mating. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 91, 2–5.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Baron-Cohen, S., Richler, J., Bisarya, D., Gurunathan, N., & Wheelwright, S. (2003). The Systemising Quotient (SQ): An investigation of adults with Asperger Syndrome or High Functioning Autism and normal sex differences. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Series B. Special issue on. “Autism: Mind and Brain”, 358, 361–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Barry, T. D., Klinger, L., Lee, J. M., Palardy, N., Gilmore, T., & Bodin, S. D. (2003). Examining the effectiveness of an outpatient clinic-based social skills group for high-functioning children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 33(6), 685–701.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Conners, K. C. (2001). Conner’s Rating Scales-Revised (CSR-R). North Tonawanda, NY: MHS.Google Scholar
  11. de Bildt, A., Kraijer, D., Sytema, S., & Minderaa, R. (2005). The psychometric properties of the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales in children and adolescents with mental retardation. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 35(1), 53–62.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Delano, M., & Snell, M. E. (2006). The effects of social stories on the social engagement of children with autism. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 8(1), 29–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Delprato, D. J. (2001). Comparisons of discrete-trial and normalized behavioral language intervention for young children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 31(3), 315–325.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dewey, D., Lord, C., & Magill, J. (1988). Qualitative assessment of the effect of play materials in dyadic peer interactions of children with autism. Canadian Journal of Psychology, 42, 242–260.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Gilliam, J. E. (1995). Gilliam Autism Rating Scale (GARS). Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.Google Scholar
  16. Golan, O., & Baron-Cohen, S. (2006). Systemizing empathy: Teaching adults with Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism to recognize complex emotions using interactive multimedia. Development and Psychopathology, 18(2), 591–617.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gray, C. A. (1998). Social stories and comic strip conversations with students with Asperger syndrome and high-functioning autism. In E. Schopler & G. B. Mesibov (Eds.), Asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism? Current issues in autism (pp. 167–198). New York, NY: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  18. Gray, C. A., & Garand, J. D. (1993). Social stories: improving responses of students with autism with accurate social information. Focus on Autistic Behavior, 8, 1–10.Google Scholar
  19. Hobson, R. P. (1993). Autism and the development of mind. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  20. Kamps, D. M., Leonard, B. R., Vernon, S., Dugan, E. P., Delquadri, J. C., Gershon, B., et al. (1992). Teaching social skills to students with autism to increase peer interactions in an integrated first-grade classroom. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 25, 281–288.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Koegel, L. K. (1995). Communication and language intervention. In R. L. Koegel & L. K. Koegel (Eds.), Teaching children with autism: Strategies for initiating positive interactions and improving learning opportunities (pp. 17–32). Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing.Google Scholar
  22. Koegel, R. L., & Frea, W. D. (1993). Treatment of social behavior in autism through the modification of pivotal social skills. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 26, 369–377.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kohler, F. W., Strain, P. S., Hoyson, M., & Jamieson, B. (1997). Merging naturalistic teaching and peer-based strategies to address the IEP objectives of preschoolers with autism: an examination of structural and child behavior outcomes. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 12(4), 196–206.Google Scholar
  24. Lecavalier, L. (2005). An evaluation of the Gilliam Autism Rating Scale. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 35(6), 795–805.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. LeGoff, D. B. (2004). Use of LEGO as a therapeutic medium for improving social cCompetence. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 34(5), 557–571.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. LeGoff, D. B., & Sherman, M. (2006). Long-term outcome of social skills intervention based on interactive LEGO© play. Autism, 10(4), 317–329.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lord, C., & Magill-Evans, J. (1995). Peer interactions of autistic children and adolescents. Development and Psychopathology, 7, 611–626.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lord, C., Rutter, M., & Le Couteur, A. (1994). Autism diagnostic interview-revised: A revised version of a diagnostic interview for caregivers of individuals with possible pervasive developmental disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 24, 659–685.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lorimer, P. A., Simpson, R. L., Myles, B. S., & Ganz, J. (2002). The use of social stories as a preventative behavioral intervention in a home setting with a child with autism. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 4(1), 53–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Macaskill, M. (2004). Evaluation of the Social Use of Language Programme. The National Autistic Society. Retrieved from: http://www.autism.org.uk/nas
  31. Martin, N., Oliver, C., & Hall, S. (2000). ObsWin: Observational data collection and analysis. London, UK: Anatam Ltd.Google Scholar
  32. Matson, J. L., Fee, V. E., Coe, D. A., & Smith, D. (1991). A social skills program for developmentally delayed preschoolers. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 20, 428–433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. McConnell, S. R. (2002). Interventions to facilitate social interaction for young children with autism: Review of available research and recommendations for educational intervention and future research. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 32(5), 351–372.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. McGee, G. G., Feldman, R. S., & Morrier, M. J. (1997). Benchmarks of social treatment for children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 27, 353–364.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. National Research Council. (2001). Educating children with autism: Committee on educational interventions for children with autism. Division of behavioural and social sciences and education. Washington DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  36. Owens, G., Gordon, K., & Baron-Cohen, S. (2008). Treating autism spectrum conditions. In J. Trafton & W. Gordon (Eds.), Best practices in the behavioral management of health from preconception to adolescence (Vol. 3). Los Altos, CA: Institute for Brain Potential.Google Scholar
  37. Ozonoff, S., & Miller, J. N. (1995). Teaching theory of mind: A new approach to social skills training for individuals with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 25, 415–434.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Perry, A., & Factor, D. C. (1989). Psychometric validity and clinical usefulness of the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales and the AAMD Adaptive Behavior Scale for an autistic sample. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 19(1), 41–55.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Plaisted, K. C. (2001). Reduced generalization in autism: An alternative to weak central coherence. In J. A. Burack (Ed.), The development of autism: Perspectives from theory and research. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  40. Reynhout, G., & Carter, M. (2006). Social stories for children with disabilities. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 36(4), 445–469.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rimland, B. (1965). Infantile autism: The syndrome and its implications for a neural theory of behaviour. London, UK: Methuen.Google Scholar
  42. Rinaldi, W. (2004). Social Use of Language Programme. Infant and primary school teaching pack. Cranleigh: Wendy Rinaldi.Google Scholar
  43. Rogers, S. J. (2000). Interventions that facilitate socialization in children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 30(5), 399–409.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rutter, M., Bailey, A., & Lord, C. (2003). The social communication questionnaire. Los Angeles: Western Psychological Services.Google Scholar
  45. Shafer, M. S., Egel, A. L., & Neef, N. A. (1984). Training mildly handicapped peers to facilitate changes in the social interaction skills of autistic children. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 17, 461–476.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sigman, M. (1994). What are the core deficits in autism? In S. H. Broman & J. Grafman (Eds.), Atypical cognitive deficits in developmental disorders: Implications for brain function (pp. 139–157). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Assocaites, Inc.Google Scholar
  47. Sigman, M., & Ruskin, E. (1999). Continuity and change in the social competence of children with autism, down syndrome and developmental delays. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 64, 1–130.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Solomon, M., Goodlin-Jones, B. L., & Anders, T. F. (2004). A social adjustment enhancement intervention for high functioning autism, Asperger Syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 34(6), 649–668.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sparrow, S., Balla, D. A., & Cicchetti, D. V. (1984). Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales. Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service.Google Scholar
  50. Spence, S. H. (2000). Spence children’s anxiety scale (parent version). Brisbane: University of Queensland.Google Scholar
  51. Strain, P., Kerr, M., & Ragland, E. (1979). Effects of peer mediated social initiations and prompting/reinforcement procedures on the social behavior of autistic children. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 9, 41–54.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Swaggart, B. L., Gagnon, E., Bock, S. J., Earles, T. L., Quinn, C., Myles, B. S., et al. (1995). Using social stories to teach social and behavioral skills to children with autism. Focus on Autistic Behavior, 10(1), 1–16.Google Scholar
  53. Wechsler, D. (1999). San Antonio TX Patent No. The Psychological Corporation.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gina Owens
    • 1
  • Yael Granader
    • 1
  • Ayla Humphrey
    • 1
  • Simon Baron-Cohen
    • 1
  1. 1.Autism Research CentreUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

Personalised recommendations