At the Hamilton County Educational Service Center, students with autism were treated to a new teacher that happened to be a robot named Milo. Milo is a social instruction robot created by Robots4Autism. Milo teaches students the basics of social communication skills.

One of the challenges individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) face is reading nonverbal social cues, such a facial expressions. Facial expressions play a huge role in the way individuals communicate to one another. The human face is able to express countless emotions without saying a word. The facial expressions for happiness, sadness, surprise, worry, fear, disgust and much more are the same across all cultures.

Milo can walk, talk, and even model human facial expressions. Milo delivers lessons that students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can respond to. With the help of Milo, students will be able to tune in on emotions, express empathy, act more appropriately in social situations, self-motivate, and generalize in the population.

The Hamilton County Educational Service Center provides support to educational entities, non-profits, and other government agencies in instruction, administration, personnel, and finance.The Educational Service Centers (ESC) have been making a difference in Ohio’s schools for over 100 years.

ESCs were established in 1914 through an act of the Ohio General Assembly. The law created 88 County School Districts and charged them with the task of “elevating the state’s system of education to a proper standard.” This effort required county office staff members to draft courses of study for school systems, and provide in-service training for teachers and guarantee excellent classroom instruction through supervision and evaluation.

The experienced autism and behavior coaches at ESC provide coaching that is individually tailored to meet the needs of each district. The coaches work with school teams to identify specific needs of the staff and students. They then provide support in carrying out strategies to address the needs of the students. which results in teacher and student growth. The coaches address various areas with the school staff and students including assessment, environmental supports and classroom design, curriculum adaptations and modifications, evidence based instructional methods, behavior support, and social skills programming. This service allows the school/district to have consistent access to an autism and/or behavior consultant ranging from 1⁄2 day a week to full time throughout the entire school year.

The ESC has tested Milo with students in three area schools.

In a recent interview with WCPO Cincinnati, Teresa Clevidence, an ESC worker spoke about the features and importance of Milo. “With Milo, he’s always the same,” Clevidence said. “He always looks the same, he speaks at the same rate, he gives those same cues all the time. It helps them to really pick up on those cues and learn it.”

As stated in our previous blog, Milo delivers lessons verbally. Symbols are displayed on his chest screen that will help the student to better understand what he is saying. Through the lessons, Milo will ask the student to watch four to five second video clips on the tablet. The videos show individuals displaying the skills or behaviors both correctly and incorrectly that Milo is teaching. The student will be asked “yes” or “no” questions to determine if the individuals in the video are doing the behaviors right or wrong. 

The Hamilton County ESC has been dedicated to helping overcome the challenges that cannot be done alone. Learn about ESC services and how the services can help your district or organization.

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