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Pickens County picked for Robots4Autism initiative

The Easley Progress - 9/29/2017

Sept. 29--PICKENS COUNTY -- The School District of Pickens County is one of 15 school districts across South Carolina that will implement the Milo robot and Robots4Autism curriculum beginning this October, the S.C. Department of Education announced on Tuesday.

"I am excited about the opportunities that Milo and Robots4Autism curriculum bring to our students with Autism Spectrum Disorders ," State Superintendent Molly Spearman said. "Through the use of this state of the art technology, we can provide intense support to the academic and social behavioral needs of a growing population of students in our state."

Since 2011, the number of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in South Carolina has nearly doubled from 4000 to over 8000 students in 2017.

Recognizing the need to provide an evidence based curriculum for students with ASD and the need to support educators, the Office of Special Education Services invested in Milo and through the use of federal funds will pilot the humanoid robot and curriculum in 15 districts for a three year period.

Developed by RoboKind, a company based in Dallas, Milo teaches elementary and middle school age students the understanding and meaning of emotions and expressions, and demonstrates appropriate social behavior and responses.

Through interactions with Milo, students learn to tune in on emotions, express empathy, act more appropriately in social situations, self-motivate, and generalize in the population.

The curriculum encompasses over 100 lessons that include visual, audio, and kinesthetic learning opportunities. The robot and curriculum are considered a tools and implementation requires both the robot and a teacher or therapist.

Each robot can assist up to 15 individual students with ASD by providing a minimum of 60 minutes weekly of special education services related to behavior, pragmatic speech, or social/emotional learning.

As part of the pilot, the SC Department of Education has provided schools and districts with educator training, on site support and visits, and will over the course of the pilot monitor progress and collect data on student outcomes.

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