According to Autism Speaks, every year approximately 50 000 American children with autism become adults. During this transition, much of the support systems they enjoy in childhood vanish as products for adults with autism are often infantilising and fail to address overall wellbeing. A US-based organisation, Autistic Self Advocacy Network found that a structured board game is an ideal activity for those on the spectrum. With this information, Stanford University students Devika Patel, Claire Jacobson and Nina Lagon decided to develop one such board game for their senior project.
The resulting multiplayer board game, Me, Myself and You, works by facilitating interactions and helping to build connections. Specifically designed for autistic adults, the game includes four types of cards: Solo, Partner, Team, and Challenge. These cards advance the players forward on a course to get to know each player better and partake in silly and sometimes profound activities together. Solo cards are meant to encourage players to talk about themselves, partner cards initiate a conversation between players, team cards ask all players to participate and challenge cards ask players to step out of their comfort zones.
The designers interviewed numerous members of the Autistic community prior to beginning work on the product. It wasn't always an easy process and they faced some resistance in the beginning. "The community is initially pretty hesitant to let outsiders come in," Jacobson told Fastco Design. "It’s hard to work with them unless it’s going to be on their terms and something that they specifically asked for."
Based on their research, the designers learned that making and sustaining friendships can be a persistent challenge for many living with autism, so the board game was developed to help make this process slightly easier.
Me, Myself and You incorporates a sense of structure, appropriate language, and accommodations for sensory sensitivities. Colours used are neutral so as to not trigger any emotional responses in any of the players, and the board consists of hexagons that show a clear path.The game aims to provide an easy to understand structure for socialising. This characteristic enables players to share their passions while learning about others at the same time.
Currently working to begin mass production, the team behind Me, Myself and You recently concluded a successful crowdfunding campaign via Indiegogo, and if the accolades they’ve already received are any indication, the game looks set to be a success.
Aside from receiving an honorable mention in the student category of the 2016 Innovation By Design Awards, the board game also took first place in the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America’s Student Design Competition, and won the Award for Device Most Likely to be Commercialized from the Center for the Translation of Rehabilitation Engineering Advances and Technology.