Rob builds enthusiasm for Lego playgroups

ROB Deakin's grand plan is to have Lego clubs for kids dotted around the country like AusKick.

The successful IT specialist turned philanthropist has seen the benefits of his beloved Lego on children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

He confesses to owning tonnes of Lego and decided to begin a playgroup with children and parents encouraged to attend.

"I noticed there were parents who were holding back tears at just seeing their children playing," he said.

And so ASD Aid was formed with the aim to raise awareness and bring the proven benefits of creative play therapies to the disadvantaged, especially children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

ASD includes Autistic Disorder or Autism, Asperger's Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder.

According to the ASD Aid website the signs and symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder may be apparent by the time the child is aged 12-18 months, and the behavioural characteristics of the condition are almost always evident by the time the child is aged three years old.

"Although ASD is a complex developmental disorder, there are three defining core features; problems with social interactions, difficulties communicating and difficulties with imagination or flexibility of thought," the website states.

"Lego is able to bypass their speech," Mr Deakin said.

"It builds togetherness. They're building together.

"It gets a kid in an environment that all kids can be a part of.

"For me it's magic."

Mr Deakin has spent the week at the Fun4Kids Festival. He said the session of free play allowed children to be creative but adults were usually keen to get in on the act.

"In sports-mad Victoria every Saturday it's kick the footy with you Dad," he said.

"If you're a kid with Asperger's, that means Saturday morning might be spent sitting in your room.

"This is a way for the kids to connect with their dad. They can connect and build on their common interest."

About once a month the playgroup clubs are held at the Abbotsford Convent in Melbourne but Mr Deakin wants to see the clubs set up around Australia.

"I want 80 of these clubs around Australia, like AusKick, dance or Scouts," he said.

"The mothers talk to other mothers. The siblings hang out with other siblings."

Mr Deakin said when all is said and done, the playgroup is about providing memories and a common interest for the families.

"This isn't about Lego, it's the memory of building a sand castle with your mum and dad," he said.

"It's not the sand that is important."

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