Effect of a Child-Controlled Robot on Mother’s Communicative Dominance during Play Interaction with a Child with Cerebral Palsy: a Case Study

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  • Children who have severe physical disabilities often have great difficulty interacting and learning through play, and their expressive language is commonly limited. During play, mothers are frequently more directive in their interaction with children with disabilities. This might change if the child has more control over the environment. Research on the use of robots during play has shown that children with severe physical disabilities, limited fine motor abilities, and limited expressive language, vocalize more both during and after play interaction with a robot. This study examined the effect of the use of a child-controlled robot on maternal communicative dominance in the communication between a mother and her child with cerebral palsy. Using video recorded free-play sessions collected in a previous project, we coded the communicative functions that occurred between the mother and child during play for two conditions: the first with only the child’s toys, and the other with both the child’s toys and a robot. Results showed that while the mother decreased her use of Yes/No Questions and increased her use of Open Ended Questions as expected, there was very little overall change in her use of Choice Questions, Direction of Attention, and Direction of Action. The child did not increase the frequency of her overall communication. The results of this study indicated that the presence of a child-control robot slightly decreased maternal communicative dominance.

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    Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International