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Univ. of New Haven students improving lives of autistic children

WEST HAVEN -- College projects come in all shapes and sizes. And, sometimes students can even see them come to life.

This was is the case for one University of New Haven communications class.

The symbol for Autism is, of course, a puzzle piece, in part because the disorder is puzzling. Some University of New Haven students have created a piece that fits, though.

TJay Foskey, diagnosed with autism at age 3, loves what most kids do.

"I like playing basketball games and football games, any games," said the 13 year old 8th grader.

So, a communications class, at the University of New Haven, hit a home run with him and others on the spectrum. As part of their final projects, students designed all sorts of games to stimulate autistic kids. Dino Ball was the winner.

"It’s kind of like baseball, but with dinosaurs," said Benjmin Morgan, a University of New haven freshman​. "Instead of the ball, you have dice and whoever scores higher gets to move."

"When we were able to have the kids play the game and see how it actually worked and that it was actually a successful game, that was probably the best part," said co-creator Allessandra Mix, a University of New Haven sophomore.

And, the students efforts were very much appreciated.

"It worked on his social skills, his interaction with his peers, and so it was great," said TJay's mother, Tracey Foskey.

And the diagnoses of autism is on the rise according to the CDC.

"Last year, they came out with stats with one in 45 kids, which was scary enough because that’s about 2% of children," said Dr. Jared Skowron, Medical Director of the Pediatric & Family Center for Natural Medicine in Wallingford. "Now they just announced this weekend one and 36 children are diagnosed with autism."

One reason for the increase: more awareness of the signs by parents.

"They're going in seeking services from their pediatrician, from birth to three, from bio medical offices, such as ourselves\," he says.

His practice's treatments include a hyperbaric chamber.

"We flood the chamber with oxygen, which gets into their bloodstream and into their brain and starts to heal them and we see improvements in language, improvements in behavior and improvements in their function and attention," Skowron says.

For the record, Benjmin and Allessandra received an A+ on their grade.

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