Robots assist students with autism during summer enrichment program

Published on Tuesday, 27 July 2021 14:58


BRISTOL – Connecticut-based MOVIA Robotics, Inc. has brought their robots into local schools this month to assist students with autism during a summer enrichment program.

The MOVIA Robot Assisted Instruction or RAI program ran at a different Bristol public school each week, offering free summer sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 2 p.m. this July. The robots provide interactive lessons, activities and games intended to help autistic students build both their academic and social skills in order to assist with transitioning back to classroom in the fall.

MOVIA CEO Rob Parenti said that, this year, Bristol’s summer school “extended school year program”, which typically allows 4 to 6 weeks of additional education to help meet Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals and objectives-had gone virtual this year. He worked closely with Bristol Public School special education director Kimberly Culkin to bring the robots to Bristol Schools so that these students would have access to in-person learning this summer.

“MOVIA Robotics is proud to collaborate with Bristol Public Schools to provide a new and engaging opportunity to the special needs students of the district so that they can have an in-person enrichment experience with our Robot Assisted Instruction,” said Parenti. “It has truly been a pleasure to work with these students and see the excitement in their eyes when they are in front of our robots.”

Jennifer Dube, chair of the Bristol Board of Education, said that she was “delighted” that MOVIA Robotics provided this “great opportunity” for students with special needs.

“Having a local partner that shares the same passion and enthusiasm is an asset to the district," she said.

Parenti added that the robots lead children through “learning readiness, daily living, social-emotional, educational and fun activities.” The curriculum, he said, is developed by teachers in association with therapists and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) professionals.

“MOVIA’s technology enhances communication, social interactions and executive brain functions which helps families with children on the autism spectrum and special needs,” he said.

Linda Frenette, whose grandson has been using the summer program, said that it has been going “great.”

“It’s great for my grandson and other children with special needs,” she said. “I hope the school system gets more of them into the schools.”

MOVIA Robotics was founded by scientist, researcher and entrepreneur Timothy Gifford, in partnership with the University of Connecticut.

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Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or

Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol on Tuesday, 27 July 2021 14:58. Updated: Tuesday, 27 July 2021 15:01.