Old Bridge School District Receives Second Grant from Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism

  • The Old Bridge Township Public School District has received a $7,500 grant from the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism as part of its Allison Keller Education Technology Program. These funds will support the Milo program, a RoboKind humanoid program used to engage children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) with social and emotional learning. Milo is a facially expressive social robot.

     

    This marks the second year Old Bridge is the recipient of an Allison Keller Education Technology grant. Since October, about 56 ASD students in grades K-3 have worked with Milo at Raymond Voorhees Elementary School.

     

    With the grant, the Old Bridge School District will expand its pilot program by continuing to use Milo at Voorhees School, and it will lease a second Milo, which will be used at the Walter M. Schirra Elementary School during the 2018-2019 school year.

     

    Voorhees Principal Courtney Lowery said Milo is an excellent tool for all students to use.

     

    “The unique experience of interacting with a robot is intrinsically motivating to children, and the information Milo shares (with the students) is pertinent and useful for school and home situations,” Lowery said.

     

    Maryann Russo, a speech therapist at Voorhees, helped pilot the program this year, using Milo with her K-2 students.

     

    “Milo is a robot designed for kids with speech needs,” said Russo.  “It is used with students with autism on their communication and social skills. Milo was a great motivator for many of my students.”

     

    He addresses conversational, emotional, and situational topics, including how to behave on a play date, how to solve problems, and how to behave as a guest at a birthday party, Russo said.

     

    “We’ve seen many students make significant progress in communication and social skills since introducing Milo,” said Denise Lombardi, supervisor of pre-school and elementary special education/ELA.  “The best part of the technology is that he’s non-threatening and fun for our kids to interact with. The staff at Voorhees has done a phenomenal job integrating him into our programs.”

    The Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism awards grants annually through a competitive application and review process. The Allison Keller Education Technology grants that the Flutie Foundation distributes each year help to provide technology tools and training that improve learning outcomes or performance for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

     

    The Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism (DFJF) is a not-for-profit public benefit corporation helping families affected by autism live life to the fullest. Through programs and partnerships, DFJF helps people with autism get access to care; lead more active lifestyles; and grow toward adult independence.

     

    NFL Quarterback Doug Flutie and his wife Laurie, whose personal experience raising a son on the autism spectrum inspired their passion to help other families, established the Foundation in 1998. DFJF serves families throughout New England, New York, New Jersey, Southern California, Central Florida and Canada.