MENDON — Superintendent Maureen Cohen reports that a communications board is now in use at the Memorial Elementary School playground in Upton, assisting children who have communications challenges.
The Mendon-Upton Regional School District was fortunate to receive approval of a grant submission from the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism’s Playground Communication Boards program. The District received the board in the spring, and installed it during the summer.
Visual aids such as communications boards use photos, symbols, and illustrations that allow individuals with communication limitations to more fully express themselves.
“The communication board is a welcome addition to our school community as well as the Upton community as a whole,” Director of Student Support Services Jennifer D’Angelo said. “The board prompts both independence and inclusion for students with verbal communication challenges and allows students to access play opportunities along with their peers.”
The District also received a grant from the Foundation’s Allison Keller Education Technology Program the prior year to replace outdated software with new explicit reading programs that directly support students on the autism spectrum.
“We are deeply grateful to the Flutie Foundation for this grant, and proud that we are the first school district in the area to have a communication board on our playground,” Superintendent Cohen said. “With our district priorities for fostering inclusive environments, where each and every student has a sense of belonging and is an active member of our school community, the addition of the communication board is one step forward providing an inclusive education.”
The District also wishes to recognize the Upton Police Department and Upton Police Association, which sold special patches during Autism Awareness Month in April. The effort raised $1,080, which was donated to the Flutie Foundation.