Investigating SOcial Competence and Isolation in children with Autism taking part in LEGO®-based therapy clubs In School Environments (I-SOCIALISE)

It is estimated that approximately 1.6% of people in the UK have autism spectrum disorder (ASD) which causes difficulties with social interaction, communication, behaviour, and interests. Such difficulties often cause problems in day to day life and often result in the child feeling socially isolated.

The most common treatment for this is social skills training but while these children may learn to demonstrate appropriate social skills within the setting of the intervention, applying these new skills to their everyday life is often unsuccessful.

LEGO®-based therapy is a new approach that is specifically designed to make social interactions interesting to the child with ASD so that they will not only learn the necessary skills but adopt them in their daily lives. The main aim of this research is to examine whether LEGO®-based therapy groups in schools has any impact on the social and emotional competence and perceived social isolation of children with ASD. The research also aims to look at any changes in the mental and more general health of the child resulting from LEGO®-based therapy.

We want to investigate how effective LEGO®-based therapy is for improving social and emotional competence in children with ASD.  In order to do this we want to recruit 240 children with ASD aged between 7 and 15 years old, their parent and a teacher at their school. We will randomly allocate (this is similar to tossing a coin) the children to either attend a LEGO®-based therapy group or to access usual care which includes support from their GPs, mental health and education professionals.

The therapy will be delivered by an assigned school teaching assistant within the child’s school.

Children allocated to receive the LEGO®-based therapy will be invited to attend a weekly LEGO®-based therapy group once a week for 12 weeks. We are running the study in mainstream schools across York, Leeds and Sheffield.

Please note this study is no longer recruiting new participants. If you would like further information regarding the I-SOCIALISE trial, please contact the research team. 


Prof. Barry Wright, Chief Investigator; Ellen Kingsley, Trial Manager - University of York & Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust; Kirsty McKendrick ; Dr Ann Le Couteur, Consultant - Newcastle University; Anne McKelvey, Consultant - York City Council; Prof. Cindy Cooper, CTRU Support - University of Sheffield; Dr David Marshall, Consultant - University of York; Dr Dawn Teare, Statistician - University of Sheffield; Dr Elizabeth Coates, Qualitative researcher - University of Sheffield; Dr Georgina Gomez de la Cuesta, Consultant - Bricks for Autism