Chen, R. S. Y., Ninh, A., Yu, B., & Abrahamson, D. (2020). Being in touch with the core of social interaction: Embodied design for the nonverbal.

In The Interdisciplinarity of the Learning Sciences, Proceedings of the 14th meeting of the International Society of the Learning Sciences (ICLS 2020) (Vol. 3, pp. 1681–1684). International Society of the Learning Sciences.

Abstract: The core of human connection is prelinguistic. Synchrony, co-constructed musicality and improvisation, and mutual attunement through the body are present from infancy. Although everybody has the capacity to be co-present, the focus on referential spoken language in day-to-day interaction makes communication inaccessible to some students, hampering their participation in learning. Designing educational tools for nonverbal autistic students thus forefronts a design challenge: How can we design for the interactional participation of students anchored in the foundations of social interaction? This paper outlines an embodied design solution that centers the body as the nexus of social interaction, prioritizing affordance versatility that is core to communication. The Magical Musical Mat (MMM) is a domain-general platform that allows people to communicate through non-speaking modalities of touch and music. It removes interactional asymmetry between diverse people, and surfaces the basic human capacity to connect with one another in the learning context and beyond.

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