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McKeesport autism foundation receives board-game donation

| Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, 2:21 a.m.
Endless Games co-owner Brian Turtle offers the Autism Speaks-approved Korner'd to Joey-O Foundation for Autism Awareness president Joe Osinski.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Endless Games co-owner Brian Turtle offers the Autism Speaks-approved Korner'd to Joey-O Foundation for Autism Awareness president Joe Osinski.

The Joey-O Foundation for Autism Awareness received a Christmas gift from classic board game developers at Endless Games.

While visiting extended family in McKeesport for the holidays, Endless Games co-owner Brian Turtle donated dozens of games, including the Autism Speaks-endorsed Korner'D, to the foundation.

Developed in the spring of 2013, Korner'D is a challenge fit for players with special needs. The color-patterned game board fits matching cards that can be placed on the playing surface in only one way.

“The game plays to the strengths of someone on the autism spectrum,” Turtle said. “It's like cracking a code.”

Marketed as a mind-bending, abstract strategy game of perception, Korner'D is geared toward right-brained performance. While Autism Speaks characterizes disorders on the autism spectrum as intellectual disabilities, it notes that many autistic individuals excel in visual skills, music, math and art.

Because individuals on the autism spectrum lack synergy between the functions of their brains' right and left hemispheres, the developmental disabilities of spectrum disorders, including Asperger's syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder, often are compounded by high anxiety.

“Something like Korner'D, because it so favors the right side of the brain, it subdues that anxiety,” Turtle said.

When Turtle wasn't sure how Korner'D would be received, he challenged his autistic niece to a game.

“Today, it seems like everybody knows someone who has a kid or a friend on the autism spectrum. We've found out that something as simple as a board game can be helpful to kids in the autism community.”

The Joey-O Foundation, formed in 2012 to benefit agencies that aid special needs individuals, will take on the task of putting Korner'D into the hands of autistic youth and adults in the McKeesport community.

The organization's president, Joe Osinski, plans to offer games to St. Anthony School programs classrooms at Serra Catholic High School, where his son Joey attends. Some will go to Mon Yough Community Services and other agencies. Games will be offered as prizes during Joey-O Foundation events.

“This is just another tool to help us reach out to individuals in our community with special needs,” Osinski said. “This is something that's geared toward them. It can help them engage in a fun activity like a board game, an experience that many of us take for granted.”

Since its development, Korner'D earned Autism Speaks endorsement, Able Play rating and a National Parenting Publications Gold Award. The game is available at major retailers including Barnes & Noble and Toys R Us and independent stores such as S.W. Randall and Games Unlimited.

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or jvertullo@tribweb.com.

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