Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Titanic therapy for autism

An Icelandic boy who built the world’s largest replica of the Titanic in Lego is to visit the model as it is exhibited in a museum in the US for the first time.

Brynjar Karl Birgisson originally used 56,000 bricks to make the eight-metre replica, but “after the front part broke we had to buy more, taking it to a total of around 65,000”, the 15-year-old said. Lego subsidised the build by giving Brynjar a discount on some of the bricks needed for the project.

And in a move that echoes the sinister plan of Lord Business in the plotline of The Lego Movie, the teenager has glued the model together. “One hundred twenty tubes of crazy glue were used,” he said.
The model, previously displayed in Iceland, Sweden, Norway and Germany, has travelled to the Titanic Museum in Tennessee, where Brynjar will be making an appearance on 21 April.

He said the experience had helped him with his autism. “Although I’m still autistic and will always be, I have trained myself to be ‘as normal as possible’ – whatever normal means,” he told the museum in an interview.

“I was totally unable to communicate when I started the project and now I’m standing on stage and giving interviews. It has given me confidence. When I started the building process I had a person helping me in school in every step that I took, but today, I’m studying without any support. I have had the opportunity to travel and explore and meet wonderful people.”

Brynjar has previously travelled to the US to deliver a TED talk about his autism and the Titanic replica project.

He said he recalled first playing with Lego when he wasfive, and explained that his grandfather helped him with the calculations to scale the Titanic’s plans down so that the ship would suit the 4cm Lego mini-figures.

Brynjar’s mother, Bjarney Ludviksdottir, told the museum: “When your child comes to you with an interesting big or crazy dream or goal he or she would like to reach, and need your help, listen carefully, and make an attempt to find ways to support the child to reach that goal. It might be the best investment you ever make for your kid.”

She added that the story was an inspiration of other parents with autistic children: “When parents of autistic kids start their upbringing, they are often totally blind on what the future looks like. There are so many hindrances that their kids will have to overcome to become functional citizens.

“It’s a really good feeling to be able to share with other parents that it’s more than possible to train autistic kids to the overcome these hindrances.”

Brynjar does not intend to follow up his Titanic success with another large-scale Lego creation. “I never build anything after the Titanic. I turned more towards exploring ships and their stories because I’m interested in becoming a captain when I grow up,” he said.


TED talk available at link or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BoSy5CxJMLs

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