NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Students from the University of New Haven recently embarked on a meaningful project to help those with autism.

“I remember growing up and loving Monopoly, Candy Land, all of those great games,” said Laquita Joyner-McGraw, a professor of communications, who instructed her students to make a game geared toward kids with the developmental disorder. “The purpose of the assignment was to have the students contact Tracey – interview her just like a client.”

Tracey Foskey is the founder of Total Joy Are You, a New Haven support group for parents of kids on the spectrum.Related Content: ABC’s “The Good Doctor” aims to humanize a character with autism

The group is named for her 13-year-old-son, TJAY.  “My son, Troy – TJAY – was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3,” she says, noting that she advised students to consider social skills, patience, and focus when creating the game.

After a month of work, the students presented a creation called Dino Ball.

“Once Tracey told us that the kids don’t like loud sounds, we came up with the idea of dinosaurs playing baseball. Dice aren’t that loud and all that,” explained freshman Benjamin Morgan, of the game that involves a pitcher and a batter.Related Content: FOCUS Center for Autism

Recently, the students invited children from Foskey’s group to campus to try-out the game. “It’s just nice to do something to benefit others, to see a smile on a kid’s face, knowing you’re helping someone,” said Morgan, who didn’t know anyone with autism, prior to this assignment.  A learning experience all around.

The next TJAY Foundation support group takes place on Dec. 23 in Woodbridge. More kids will be there – celebrating the holidays and sampling the board game.

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