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Collaborating to Learn & Learning to Collaborate (CollaboLearn): Development of a collaborative play-intervention for children with autism

Research Grant from TrygFonden

2019.02.28 | Anne-Mette Pedersen

Researchers at IMC, AU and Langagerskolen have received 1,0 mil kr. from TrygFonden for the project "Collaborating to Learn & Learning to Collaborate (CollaboLearn): Development of a collaborative play-intervention for children with autism".


Project summary

Play is essential to human development. When they play with their peers, children learn how to build friendships and how to navigate social relations and collaborative problem solving. Children with autism, however, tend to engage in solitary, repetitive play and they thus miss out on valuable social learning opportunities. The project develops a play-based social intervention that implements a new approach to social learning among children with autism. Through structured play tasks that are co-created with the children and through facilitation principles that are co-developed with teachers and parents, the project provides a highly motivating and meaningful space where children can practice social interaction.

For decades, the dominating view of autism has been founded in the assumption that people with autism lack social competence and social motivation. In recent years, researchers are increasingly challenging this assumption because it equates competence with motivation. In fact, people with autism report strong desires for friendships and social belonging. By providing a highly motivating play environment, the project gives children an opportunity to develop social strategies. Rather than shielding them from potentially difficult social situations, the intervention supports them in finding a strategy that allows them to navigate social interaction. Through structured play with LEGO bricks, the intervention facilitates positive participation, constructive communication, and shared reflection to help the children build a personal repertoire of social experiences.


The project is co-funded by Langagerskolen and the LEGO Foundation.


Research team

Andreas RoepstorffJens Frostholm (School director at Langagerskolen), Line GebauerElla Paldam and Rikke Steensgaard