Effect of Others on Children's Exploration, Play, and Learning

The lack of meaningful opportunities for exploration and manipulation may be affected by the perceptions of clinicians, parents, and teachers who limit the number and type of opportunities they afford to the child. Parents of children with physical disabilities often perceive their child as seeking more adult approval and help, being less motivated, and preferring easy and familiar tasks (Blanche 2008; Jennings and MacTurk 1995). This can have an effect on exploration experiences of children; for example, mothers may encourage less exploration by their children with disabilities than mothers of typically developing children with the same cognitive capacity (Jennings and MacTurk 1995).

Parents of children with disabilities have no clear role in children’s play (Brodin 2005); that is, parents do not know clearly whether they should take play as an opportunity for training their child in specific needed skills or whether play should be an opportunity for enjoyment that they should facilitate (Brodin 2005). Generally, caregivers and playmates dominate the play, so that children with CP, for example, become more spectators of others’ play rather than active players (Blanche 2008; Brodin 2005). This was seen in a study in which mothers of children with severe CP generally decided what to play and how to play when playing with their children (Rios-Rincon et al. 2016).

Low expectations of teachers can prevent children from thriving in the classroom. Adults who had speech and physical impairments were critical of the special education they received, saying the expectations were not high enough (McNaughton, Light, and Arnold 2002). Several studies have shown that teachers’ perception of the abilities of children with disabilities has increased after seeing children’s skills when they use robots in playful or academic activities (Cook et al. 2000).

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