top of page

Speech Pathologist Ballina


Nicole Rappell - Ballina Speech Pathologist on the Northern Rivers NSW


Nicole Rappell is  a mobile  speech pathologist working with children in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales. She has a passion for helping children communicate more effectively and has worked extensively with children who have various speech and language difficulties, specialising in stuttering and social communication. 


Nicole has extensive experience using Lego (trademark in here) -Based therapy which is primarily  designed to  promote social communication & participation for children with autism and other communication difficulties. She has participated in a broad range of training programs worldwide to provide contemporary, evidence based practice across a spectrum of communication needs. Nicole is dedicated to helping all children reach their full potential and communicates effectively with both parents and professionals to ensure that all children she works with receive the best possible support.


In addition to her work with children, Nicole also has experience working with adults who have communication difficulties. She has a strong belief that effective communication is vital for everyone and enjoys helping her clients improve their communication skills. Nicole is a member of the Speech Pathology Association of Australia and is registered with the Health Professionals Board.

What is Lego therapy?

Lego-Based Therapy is a highly structured 5 level program designed to work from childrens’ strengths base to build their communication skills & social participation. The speech pathologist provides the child/children with roles and structure that are stable & predictable from week to week. Initially using simple Lego structures the children are provided with strategies that enable them to build their skills as a talker (The Engineer), as a listener (The Supplier) and as a ‘doer’ (The Builder).


Each role requires developing  and watching others non-verbal communication skills such as using your hands to describe the shape of a Lego brick. helps the child to build various structures with the Lego brick. This type of therapy is effective in not only helping children with autism develop social and communication skills, but extending language, self-regulation and attention skills for children across many communication conditions.

Why is Lego therapy effective?

Lego therapy is an effective intervention for children with autism because it helps to develop social and communication skills. The therapist helps the child to build various structures with the Lego bricks, and the child is then encouraged to communicate with the therapist and other children to complete the task. This type of therapy is effective in helping children with autism develop social and communication skills.

How does Lego therapy help children with autism?

Lego-Based Therapy is known to help children with autism by furthering their abilities to communicate and socialise. The child may need initially to work only with the speech pathologist and peers may be  added to the group as skills develop. Whilst the activities in the group are highly predictable creating a ‘safe’ place for the children to learn, their skills are changing over time because they can experiment with new communication strategies without fear of failure. Lego-Based Therapy has several decades of professional, peer-reviewed research evidence.


How can parents help their child with autism to benefit from Lego therapy?

Parents can help their children with autism to benefit from Lego-Based Therapy by initially supporting them by taking on a role in the therapy sessions. This can be further extended by referring to the roles or strategies used in general daily communication  - ‘Hmm I wonder what the Builder would do now?’. Friends from school can be invited home for Lego play dates to extend friendship bonds with school peers. Many schools have structured or non-structured Lego spaces for children as ‘quiet’ play/exportation time during recess break and the wider community often have very successful, public Lego clubs which can be a great place to meet new friends.

How Lego therapy can help children communicate more effectively.


At SBSP we have seen wonderful outcomes through using Lego-Based Therapy in Ballina. Here are some examples but by no means them all!:

  • Moving from pointing to picture cards of  bricks and colours to full 6-10 words sentences explaining how to put bricks together.

  • Increased use of gestures and watching other people's gestures (remember that 93% of communication is not words!).

  • Learning to wait for a a peer to finish what they are saying before acting on the instruction (even when you're very excited and a busy kiddo).

  • Telling peers that you think they have built something really cool  (compliments).

  • Asking for help instead of withdrawing.

  • Being able to be OK with things not working out or going your way.

  • Moving from talking to people with their back facing the group and so fast that nobody understood, to speaking towards the group and clear enough that the message was understood first time!

  • Starting to express their own creative ideas.

  • Fine motor skills.


Frequently Answered Questions for Lego therapy

1. What is Lego-Based Therapy?

Lego-Based Therapy is not lego play as we know it at home. Lego-Based Therapy is a type of intervention that uses Lego bricks to help children with autism and other communication conditions to  develop social communication and participation skills.

2. How does Lego therapy work?

The  speech pathologist  acts as the ‘project manager’  providing a safe & highly structured communication space whilst modelling communication strategies for the child to try.  This is done through taking on a role, and building simple Lego structures with the usual instruction booklets. Sensory tools are provided and visuals that may support that child./children.

3. What are the benefits of Lego therapy?

Some of the benefits of Lego-Based Therapy include improved social communication skills, broader participation skills, language accuracy, listening and waiting, self-awareness and self-regulation (how to manage my bouncy self) and self-advocacy (what are my superpowers & barriers).

4. Who can benefit from Lego therapy?

All children with communication difficulties. The program was designed for participants with Autism but has been used successfully across a broad range of conditions  (receptive/expressive language issues, ADHD, trauma, social anxiety, self-regulation issues) Children with autism and other communication disorders can benefit from Lego therapy.


SBSP has a modified version of LBT for children who are non-verbal or younger. Here we take the principals the underpin LBT and apply them to sensory-play-exploration.

5. How much does Lego therapy cost?

Fees on application. LBT can be funded through private health care funds, medicare or NDIS. 


6. Is there research that supports the efficacy of Lego-Based Therapy?


Yes, there is published peer-reviewed research that supports the efficacy of Lego-Based Therapy for children with autism and other communication disorders. Importantly it stands up very well against other social communication programs.    

7. Are there any risks associated with Lego-Based Therapy?

There are no known risks associated with Lego-Based Therapy.


9. Do I need special equipment or supplies to do Lego-Based Therapy  at home?


No, you do not need any special equipment or supplies. SBSP will provide everything that is required during sessions.


 10. How long does each LEGO therapy session last?


Each LBT session lasts for 45- 60 Minutes. This is usually broken several times for a physical or sensory break. Roles may change every 5- 10 minutes depending on the participants' attention skills. Generally half of the session is using the structures roles and half is doping a ‘Freestyle’. This is when participants build based on their own imagination, often connected to the item we have built in the first part of the session. This enables the speech pathologist to monitor how skills are being laid down by the clients - can they develop ideas? Can they engage in simple negotiation? Can they ask for help? Can they support a peer?


Most importantly children love engaging in Lego-Based Therapy. Children who have been aversive to the idea of therapy barely seem to notice that they are practising, growing and changing. Words and interaction come more easily. They love moving up the 5 levels. Even children who did not seem to have a great interest in Lego appear to really love this form of therapy.


If you are concerned about your child's communication skills, or if your child has been diagnosed with autism or another communication condition in Ballina, Nicole Rappell can help. Lego- Based Therapy is an effective intervention for children with autism and can help them develop social and communication skills. Nicole Rappell can be contacted at or by phone at 0413 358 457

bottom of page