Lego Clubs help children with autism build lasting relationships

legoTri-Cities Lego Club, Northeast Tennessee – Every two months, The Autism Society of America sponsored Friendship Club hosts a recreational outing to give local children with autism a chance to get together.

Libby Theiben’s son, Wesley, 10 had no friends and there was no support group for children with autism or their parents in Northeast Tennessee until they accessed the Friendship Club in the fall of 2012. She told the Johnson City Press:

“I had heard the same thing from other kids at therapy, so I went to my therapist and I told her ‘I want a place where these kids can play.’ ”

Rosellen Ryals who is a pediatric occupational therapist at Johnson City Physical Therapy Service arranged for her employer’s therapy gym to be opened to autistic children every second Tuesday evening of the month.

Libby then spread the news to the Friendship Club and the Lego Club was born.

Fifteen months after the launch of the Tri-Cities Lego Club there are now on average between 20 and 30 children and an equal number of parents.

The ASA East Tennessee Chapter has copied the club’s model and will be launching a second Lego Club in the Knoxville area in January.

Libby said:

“Socialism is the hardest thing. We meet every second Tuesday at 6:30. There’s no agenda. They just build what they want to build (with Legos) and they build friendships they’ve never had before. … These kids become a part of each other’s lives.”

The original article by Sue Guinn Legg in the Johnson City Press can be read here