Block Play and Social Relationships

Block Play and Social Relationships

In 1999 Dr. David LeGoff, a US pediatric neuropsychologist, discovered block-play therapy by pure happenstance. Two of LeGoff’s patients, both eight-year-old boys with Asperger’s syndrome, were found excitedly playing together with building toys in the waiting room of LeGoff’s office. It was very uncharacteristic for the boys to be playing together since both children struggling with social interactions of any kind.

The doctor invited both boys into his office and watched in awe as they worked to together to create. Building toys allowed them to share, bond, take turns, resolve conflicts, and most importantly: become friends. When asked if they would like to continue to have their sessions together, the boys agreed they would, as long as they could play with blocks. Other children were invited to join Block Club and within a few weeks, seven children were participating. LeGoff found that Block Club led to a significant improvement in the children's social skills and overall behaviors.

Today in a village not far from Cambridge, LeGoff’s block-play therapy is being used to build social competence in children who present social difficulties. At Harston and Newton Primary School, a group of three students crowd around a tub of kids building toys, and each child has their own job; one an engineer, one a supplier, and the other a builder. The engineer tells the supplier which blocks to give the builder, describing a structure the builder must construct without instructions or pictures. The engineer, supplier, builderformat was created by Gina Gomez-de-la-Cuesta at Cambridge University’s Autism Research Center after she studied Dr. David LeGoff’s research on block therapy. The format was designed to encourage children, especially those who struggle with social interactions, to work together.

Gomez-de-la-Cuesta claims blocks are very appealing to children. There is not a stigma attached to going to Block Club, whereas there might be to going to a social-skills club. Children with autism are often not motivated to learn social skills, but by using blocks we can get them to communicate in a fun and naturalistic way.

Research has mainly focused on children with autism, but it is believed that block therapy could be used with a large scope of difficulties including emotional problems, psychological problems, and nonverbal learning disorders. Logoff and Gomez-de-la-Cuesta suggest children who participate in block therapy are more likely to apply the skills they learn in block club to their everyday lives, whereas traditional therapy sessions tend to be used only in therapy. The collaborative play exercised by block therapy is exactly the kind of educational play Brackitz hopes to promote. Brackitz requires imagination and cooperation, ultimately leading to shape recognition, an exchange of ideas, and questions about concepts that would otherwise be unexplored. Children develop respect for the work of others, learn to cooperate and negotiate, and are given a sense of self-confidence by their peers.

About Brackitz: Brackitz is the only construction and building toy that actually lets kids design any structure they envision –anything! Our one-of-a-kind Brackitz enable connections at any angle, allowing kids to use real-life architectural and engineering principles to create large-scale, gravity-defying, 3-D structures –with no limitations!

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