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Autism: Playing with Building Blocks of Creativity Help Children

Autism: Playing with Building Blocks of Creativity Help Children

Photo: Two children playing lego 

In an attempt to help children with autism learn the building blocks of creativity, researchers tapped a toy box staple for help – legos. By building lego structures in new and unique ways, children learned to use creativity.

"In everyday life we need to be able to respond to new situations," said Deborah A. Napolitano, the study's principal investigator and assistant professor of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Centers (URMC) Golisano Children's Hospital. "If a child has only a rote set of skills, it's hard to be successful."

Many children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can become frustrated and uncomfortable when asked to break out of repetitive activities and create something new. Using Applied Behavior Analysis, the science of figuring out how to target and systematically change a specific behavior, the study's researchers succeeded in teaching all six children with ASD in the study to play with legos in a more creative way. The children, who had wanted to create the same 24-block lego structure over and over again at the start of the study, began venturing out of their comfort zones to create new structures with different color patterns or that were shaped differently.

Snapping a yellow lego onto a blue one when only red blocks had touched blue blocks in the previous structure, for instance, was a big step in helping a study participant with ASD cope with new situations encountered in everyday life, such as learning to say hello when someone they know but were not expecting to see greets them.

"We really can teach kids just about anything as long as it's systematic," said Napolitano.

By the end of the study, all six participants succeeded in making changes to every lego structure they worked on. The study's participants were between the ages of 6 and 10 and five of the six had moderate problems with restricted or sameness behavior, according to a behavior scale assessment that each participants' parent or teacher completed. The one-on-one sessions with building blocks took place at the participants' schools in rooms with minimal distractions. Participants' names were changed in the study.

A few months later, researchers followed up with the children and found that they were all still able to create new structures in varying colors or shapes.

"The study's findings could pave the way for new studies testing interventions that attempt to improve a wide variety of social skills and behaviors among people with ASD," said Napolitano. "With positive reinforcement and teaching sessions, such tasks as engaging in novel conversations, posing new questions and creating new ways to play could be within reach for children with ASD."

REHACARE.de; Source: University of Rochester Medical Center

- More about the University of Rochester Medical Center at www.urmc.rochester.edu

 
 

( Source: REHACARE.de )

 
 

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