Children with disabilities engage in fewer social interactions than their typically developing peers (McConkey et al., 2013). The lack of social invitations may lead to many negative outcomes in the future, including poor academic performance and aggressive-disruptive behavior (Odom, 2006). Preschool-aged children (3-5 years old) without disabilities are aware that their peers with disabilities require adaptive equipment to perform basic motor skills. Thus, they are less likely to choose a child with a disability as their playmate (Diamond & Hong, 2010). The purpose of this study was to compare the social interaction of a child with a physical disability before and during use of the modified ride- on car (ROC). 42 preschool-aged children without disabilities and one child with a physical disability (“Child X”) participated in this study. Child X is a 4.5-year-old male and has a medical history of ventricular septal defect, bilateral clubfeet, and bilateral peroneal neuropathy. He wears a solid ankle foot orthosis and uses lofstrand crutches to aid mobility. The ROC was a 12-volt ROC that could travel forward, backward and steer left and right. The ROC was modified so that in order for activation to occur, Child X was required to pull himself from a sitting to a standing position. Child X was observed in the gym and on the playground first with his lofstrand crutches and then during use of the modified ROC. His social interactions, as well as his peers’, were video-recorded and coded using momentary time sampling to assess play behaviors. Behaviors were defined as solitary, parallel, peer, or teacher interaction. Child X participated in 10% more peer interaction and 10% less teacher interaction when he was using his modified ROC than when he used his lofstrand crutches. These findings imply that children with a physical disability may have a greater likelihood of thriving socially during use of a modified ROC to aid mobility. These findings create a connection between physical mobility and social interaction in childhood. Future research should continue to explore the potential benefits of adapted children’s toys to aid mobility and social development.
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