Exploring types of play in an adapted robotics program for children with disabilities

Purpose: Play is an important occupation in a child’s development. Children with disabilities often have fewer opportunities to engage in meaningful play than typically developing children. The purpose of this study was to explore the types of play (i.e., solitary, parallel and co-operative) within an adapted robotics program for children with disabilities aged 6-8 years. Method: This study draws on detailed observations of each of the six robotics workshops and interviews with 53 participants (21 children, 21 parents and 11 programme staff). Results: Our findings showed that four children engaged in solitary play, where all but one showed signs of moving towards parallel play. Six children demonstrated parallel play during all workshops. The remainder of the children had mixed play types play (solitary, parallel and/or co-operative) throughout the robotics workshops. We observed more parallel and co-operative, and less solitary play as the programme progressed. Ten different children displayed co-operative behaviours throughout the workshops. The interviews highlighted how staff supported children’s engagement in the programme. Meanwhile, parents reported on their child’s development of play skills. Conclusions: An adapted LEGO® robotics program has potential to develop the play skills of children with disabilities in moving from solitary towards more parallel and co-operative play. Implications for rehabilitation Educators and clinicians working with children who have disabilities should consider the potential of LEGO® robotics programs for developing their play skills. Clinicians should consider how the extent of their involvement in prompting and facilitating children’s engagement and play within a robotics program may influence their ability to interact with their peers. Educators and clinicians should incorporate both structured and unstructured free-play elements within a robotics program to facilitate children’s social development. © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Purpose: Play is an important occupation in a child’s development. Children with disabilities often have fewer opportunities to engage in meaningful play than typically developing children. The purpose of this study was to explore the types of play (i.e., solitary, parallel and co-operative) within an adapted robotics program for children with disabilities aged 6-8 years. Method: This study draws on detailed observations of each of the six robotics workshops and interviews with 53 participants (21 children, 21 parents and 11 programme staff). Results: Our findings showed that four children engaged in solitary play, where all but one showed signs of moving towards parallel play. Six children demonstrated parallel play during all workshops. The remainder of the children had mixed play types play (solitary, parallel and/or co-operative) throughout the robotics workshops. We observed more parallel and co-operative, and less solitary play as the programme progressed. Ten different children displayed co-operative behaviours throughout the workshops. The interviews highlighted how staff supported children’s engagement in the programme. Meanwhile, parents reported on their child’s development of play skills. Conclusions: An adapted LEGO® robotics program has potential to develop the play skills of children with disabilities in moving from solitary towards more parallel and co-operative play. Implications for rehabilitation Educators and clinicians working with children who have disabilities should consider the potential of LEGO® robotics programs for developing their play skills. Clinicians should consider how the extent of their involvement in prompting and facilitating children’s engagement and play within a robotics program may influence their ability to interact with their peers. Educators and clinicians should incorporate both structured and unstructured free-play elements within a robotics program to facilitate children’s social development. © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

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