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This article presents the design of Iromec, a modular robot companion tailored towards engaging in social exchanges with children with different disabilities with the aim to empower them to discover a wide rage of play styles from solitary to social and cooperative play. In particular this paper focuses on the user-centred design approach taken to develop a robot able to engage in meaningful interaction with different typologies of disable children - Autistic children, Moderate Mentally Retarded children and Severe Motor Impaired children. Modularity and configurability contribute to the flexibility of the system in creating rewarding games that can be easily understood by the child and can promote fun and learning. Other key features of the system are the combination of autonomous and user-controlled behaviour and a strong emphasis on identity and expressiveness that can be dynamically adapted during play. A main contribution of this work is the lessons learned in applying a user-centred perspective in designing the robot: from user requirements to concept design, from the initial prototype evaluation to the redesign and the final testing.