Scenarios of robot-assisted play for children with cognitive and physical disabilities.
Gelderblom, Gert Jan
This article presents a novel set of ten play scenarios for robot-assisted play for children with special needs. This set of scenarios is one of the key outcomes of the IROMEC project that investigated how robotic toys can become social mediators, encouraging children with special needs to discover a range of play styles, from solitary to collaborative play (with peers, carers/teachers, parents etc.). The target user groups in the project were children with Mild Mental Retardation,(1) children with Severe Motor Impairment and children with Autism. The play scenarios were developed against specific educational and therapeutic objectives that were discussed with panels of experts (teachers, therapists, parents) in various countries, during several user panel meetings for each of the above mentioned target user groups. These objectives were classified with reference to the ICF-CY, the International Classification of Functioning - version for Children and Youth. The article presents a detailed description of the play scenarios, each with its relevant educational and therapeutic objectives in five key developmental areas (i.e. sensory development, communication and interaction, cognitive development, motor development and social and emotional development). While the play scenarios described in this paper originally were developed for and tested with the above user groups and with the IROMEC robot, the play scenarios can potentially be applied to other user groups and to a wide range of other applications involving human-robot interaction using different robotic toys.