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An investigation of the language produced by a child with physical disabilities while directing a partnered math activity with and without the use of a Lego robot

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  • Previous research at the Assistive Technology Lab at the University of Alberta has found that the use of robots can facilitate participation for children with disabilities in performing mathematics activities. The focus of the current study was to describe the language used by a child with cerebral palsy (CP) while completing math activities with a typically developing peer both without (baseline) and with (intervention) a Lego robot. The researchers aimed to determine whether the child would be able to complete the task more independently with the robot, and therefore produce less ‘task completion’ language (i.e., asking for help). The absolute number of times that the participant asked for help was very similar for both the baseline and the intervention conditions. However, the language itself was different. In the baseline condition, the participant mostly named the object he wanted with the intent of having the teacher hand it to him, whereas during the intervention session the language was more specific, directive and addressed to the other student. It was noteworthy that although the participant was in a wheelchair, he had minimal physical limitations in his upper body at the time of the study; he also had strong language and strong social skills. The researchers concluded that the use of a Lego robot to complete math activities was not particularly beneficial for this child with minimally restricting physical limitations, and that further research is warranted regarding the use of compensatory robots by users who may be more physically limited and also use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems.

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    Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International