Building Blocks A Road to Creativity for Autism

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Be creative.  Think outside the box.  Find a new way to do the same thing. Use your imagination.  These are the mantras that I grew up with as a child of Sesame Street, Polka-Dot Door, and various other children's shows from the 70's and 80's.  From an early age we were encouraged to be creative in our approaches.  Sometimes it was successful, and other times these creative methods would fail miserably.  But in the end, life would be varied, and new situations were seen as challenges, not road blocks. 

But for some people, such as those with Autism, creativity is not something that breeds comfort.  In fact, it can be a source of irritation and frustration when things change, because the necessary creativity needed to deal with new situations does not come easily. 

To overcome this problem, researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center used a common toy from my child-hood:  lego blocks.  They started with children on the spectrum using the blocks to build their standard structures.  Then using Applied Behavior Analysis, they were able to help these children start using their blocks in more creative ways.  They no longer looked at this same task as a series of memorized steps, but as a process that could be altered for a different outcome. 

The importance in creativity in daily life is clear:  new situations need to be dealt with, and the more creative the solution the easier the stress of the new event can be managed.  Also, tedious tasks can be better handled, adding an enriching level to life. 

So, if you are thinking of a Christmas toy that could be helpful for your child with Austism, think of building blocks.  Then sit down with them and build.  Try making changes, being part of the process, and give lots of praise.  These steps can help your child express creatively, and therefore open new horizons.