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


Our rapidly changing and highly interconnected world makes it increasingly difficult for people with autism to participate and learn - from early childhood education and throughout adult life. This leaves them in a situation where they are unable to put their personal resources to use, often resulting in feelings of hopelessness and low quality of life for the individual and in loss of significant value for society. There is a great need for all children, especially children with autism, to become experienced in collaboration, comprising participation, communication and social problem solving. Children learn and practice collaborative skills through play. However, children with autism tend to engage in solitary, repetitive play rather than interacting with peers and thus miss out on valuable social learning opportunities. Yet, autistic children, as well as adults, have a strong desire for friendships and social belonging, but need support in practicing the social skills needed for this. We hypothesize that a structured and collaborative learning environment promotes play and social learning in this group of children.


The project aims to develop a structured and collaborative learning environment, CollaboLearn, in co creation with autistic children, their parents and teachers. CollaboLearn is developed based on a well-established intervention method, LEGO®-based therapy, in conjunction with the newest research insights on autism and co-created learning environments. LEGO® has proven a valuable medium for engaging children across the world in play, also autistic children. CollaboLearn takes a constructivist approach to learning, and core to the method is a set of facilitation principles derived from this theoretical framework. By making a highly motivating, co created and collaborative learning environment, the project strives to catalyze a paradigmatic change in the practical approach to autistic children to enhance their prospects of social participation - in school, community and society.

Andreas Roepstorff,
Professor and Director,
Interacting Minds Centre, Aarhus University    

Jens Frostholm,
School director,
Langagerskolen, Viby J  

Line Gebauer, PhD,
Associate professor, Aarhus University &
Clinical psychologist, Langagerskolen, Viby J   

Ella Paldam, PhD, postdoc,
Interacting Minds Centre, AU

Rikke Steensgaard,
Research assistant, Interacting Minds Centre, AU 

Stine Strøm Lundsgaard
master in educational psychology,
Research assistant, Interacting Minds Centre, AU

The project is funded by