Educational play experiences for children with cognitive and physical disabilities
Many children are currently diagnosed and living with cognitive and developmental disabilities such as autism, epilepsy, and cerebral palsy. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines developmental disabilities as a diverse group of severe chronic conditions that are due to mental and/or physical impairments. Individuals with developmental disabilities have problems with major life activities such as language, mobility, learning, self-help, and independent living. Therefore, there is a critical need to develop effective and motivating educational experiences that will mediate social interactions between typical children and children with cognitive or developmental disabilities such as autism, epilepsy and cerebral palsy. The purpose of this research to determine how to design educational play experiences that effectively engage and facilitate children with cognitive and physical disabilities and their neurologically typical peers into effective collaborative learning situations. As a research method, focus group studies with parents, educators, and caregivers of persons with cognitive and physical impairments such as autism, epilepsy, and CP were recruited to identify how designers can best create effective learning experiences that meet the social, emotional, behavioral, and motivational needs of all of these constituent groups. The research data and its implications for evidence-based design will be discussed.