Going into my first Honors Colloquia class, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had made a couple inferences based off the name: Toy Based Technology for Children with Disabilities, and read the class description, but those didn’t begin to scratch the surface of what I would learn in this class.
On the first day of class, the professor had us fill out a survey about our attitudes towards people with disabilities and what we thought about social mobility. Now, I had never heard the term social mobility, let alone knew what I thought about it, so my interest was piqued. I soon learned social mobility is a term used to explain the relationship between mobility and a child’s social development.
The class was divided into two parts. In the classroom portion, we had discussions about scientific papers centered around studies on social mobility and case studies of children using modified toy cars. In the lab portion, we got to work on modifying toy cars in our professor’s lab. Now, I am no engineer, so I was skeptical about how the lab would be. Luckily, our professor realized most students in the class wouldn’t have an engineering background, so he made sure to simplify everything we were expected to do and let us practice first.
Before this class, I had no idea how important mobility was to children’s development. For a long time, the way to work with children with disabilities was to try everything to get the children to walk on their own before introducing a powered mobility device. The thought was if children were given a powered mobility device, they wouldn’t be motivated to learn to walk on their own. However, studies have shown this is not true. Beyond that, it has been found that being immobile at the age when most children are beginning to walk negatively impacts social development. Children who are less mobile have been observed to engage in less play and interaction with peers while in school than their abled body peers, but when they have a powered mobility device, the amount of play and interaction increased.
This class changed my perspective. Going into the class, I had never heard of the term social mobility, but now I believe that mobility is a right for all, including young children, because being immobile can have severe consequences on a child’s social development. I highly recommend this class because I learned a completely new perspective that I know will be valuable for my future career, and I’m sure you will too.
By Alexa Elliot: Student Ambassador, Honors College