Disability and gaming; Share your story.

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I have been a gamer all my life. I have always enjoyed the freedom and worry-free experience I have gotten from gaming. I suffer from a multitude of mental and neurological issues but the worst being severe memory impairment stemming from treatment of long term ADHD/Anxiety/rapid cycling mood disorder . (I have very little short term memory) along with a severe case of involuntary muscle spasms. (I have difficulty typing/hitting the right buttons)

It doesn't sound like much to most people, but to anyone that has any sort of physcial or mental impairment something as simple as completing a quest may be trying. But hey, we are just as capable as others. This isn't a thread for us just to complain. this is a thread for sharing any stories you might have and sharing tips and tricks for others with physical limitations.

Tell me how you get around your challenges? How do set things up to better your gaming experience? any advice you want to share with your fellow gamers? Post it here!

I find that locking all of my toolbars and addon windows and setting things up so I can't double click and turn them off unintentionally really helps with the unintentional button presses.

I also managed to set up my actions bars so the important things I tend to forget to use, such as buffs and enhancements are near eye level, becausxe as long as I can see it I can remember to use it!

For those of you who want the mostly-full story please read on. This was pulled form one of my later posts and I thought I would leave it here for clarification.
((Taken from ucanlearn.net, a resource for people with learning disabilites.

"Working memory is described as “the ability to hold several facts or thoughts in short term memory while solving a problem or performing a task.” We use our working memory all day long without thinking about the process. People with working memory problems can’t “hang onto” the information long enough to do that.

Poor working memory has been proven to influence a person’s ability to learn or to pay attention to a task for a longer period of time. Poor memory can come about because of Dyslexia, ADHD, a brain injury, people recovering from chemotherapy, or persons with generalized specific learning disorders. Whatever the cause, we now know that greater focus needs to be paid to the working memory ability of an individual instead of the person’s IQ or intellectual function."


ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, Is something that isn't easy to explain to someone and have them take you seriously. Nowadays the term is use very loosly and is used by a lot of people as an 'excuse disease' by people who self-diagnose. Like aspergers, its a very real and very serious disorder for many, many people. For those of us that suffer from ADD/ADHD, We can tell you it is very very real, and incredibly frusterating. The best way to explain it in my case would be it's a lot like trying to do 10 things at one. I could be doing something as simple as washing dishes. and my mind is constantly going. its racing and thinking hundreds of random thoughts a minute. No matter what I do I cannot keep myself focused on that task because its like there are 10 other things my brain is focused on and no matter what you do you cannot stop it. At night when you try to sleep your mind never shuts off. Its always going, always moving. You get restless, you get irritable, you loose sleep and the ability to function within normal limits. For those of you have never experienced it the best way to explain it would be You are trying to read a book, but at the same time. there is a TV Blaring, three people talking to you at once about different things, music playing, and a baby crying. There's just so much going on you get overwhelmed. Those of us with ADHD cant seem to finish anything we start becasue of this. It affects your memory since you can no longer keep important things in mind becasue the non-necessary thoughts knock them out. Its frusterating and tiring and it makes functioning on a normal human level difficult. The other side to ADHD is something called Hyperfocus. Once you get focused on something you cannot seem to be pulled away from it and you tend to forget to do things like sleep or eat. I only suffer it rarely but I know others that have a huge issue with it. My ADHD is so bad I cannot sit still and watch a movie. It just feel like I'm always needing to move and my mind is always racing.

I have always lived in a small, and isolated town, in a place where most people have no concept of some of the disorders that are out there. I have had ADHD all my life and it was severe to the point where I couldn't focus on anything long enough to get it done. I was constantly getting things backwards and could never seem to sit still. My cognitive processes were so out of whack that I could barely remember something said to me a few minutes ago since my mind had already focuse on something else, rendering me unable to retain things. The doctor in our little town mere said I had a very 'bubbly' personality and it was just my curiosity and I would grow out of it. They didn't bother to test, they didn't look any further into it.

It never got better. It got worse. I struggled so badly just to focus in school I ended up breaking down in tears. It left me depressed, lonely and I eventually developed heavy anxiety due to it. It wasn't until I was 29 and literally had a mental breakdown they figured out why. Only now, am I getting the treatment I so desperately needed and because it was left so long my chances for recovery to a normal functioning level is gone and my short-term memory is completely fried. My thought process jumps around so much all the information I recieve is disjointed, leaving me unable to remember most of what I am told.

The nerve damage that causes twitching in my hands and legs is related to one of the first treatments I underwent for the anxiety related to the ADHD. I was given an antidepressant/anti anxiety drug to help balance out the incredible mess in my head. I reacted badly and developed a condition called serotonin syndrome, and while it is fixable by stopping the medication causing the problem, some people develop a form of permanent ataxia known as myoclonic temors. It's not nearly as severe as the more well known types of ataxia but it does cause random spasms in my hands, arms, legs and feet. My worst is in my hands and it gives me a lot of trouble some nights when I try to play. You don't feel anything out of the ordinary then suddenly your fingers are twitching and hitting random buttons, you click things you dont want to and/or aggro the wrong mob. I have done this so many times and there is nothing I can do that will stop that from happening. This serotonin overload has also affeted my brain chemistry making an already bad memory worse.

That's what my disability is. That doesn't mean I'm going to let it get to me. I made a decision when I finally got a name to my issue that I would find away to help myself improve!

I outlined a few of the things I do to make my gaming life easier in the first post, but I thought I would share something else that may help any of you that have a hard time concentrating on things.

One thing that really helps me focus is to get goals for myself and increase them bit by bit. For example. If I am working a profession like mining or herbalism, I set a number of skill points I want to get, say 10. Then I turn on the skill up notifier and the node tracker. then I work until I have 10 points. Once I do, I stop myself and take a break or move on to something different. Then as I go I gradually increase the amount I do, teaching myself to focus for longer periods of time. The same goes for levelling or raiding. Its easier when you have a close group to help but I find teaching myself to focus this way byt using WoW's many different features has actually helped me overall.
I am mostly deaf; I can't hear anything out of my right ear, and can only hear a little bit out of my left (have a hearing aid for left ear). I also have a moderate speech impediment.

The only way it really affects my gaming experience is that I can't really use vent; bad hearing and bad speech make something like vent a very unwise thing for me to use. I tried it once, and it was so awkward for me.

With gaming itself, though, it has *almost* no effect. The only way it affects my gameplay experience is if there is spoken audio that doesn't have any text that goes along with it (fortunately in WoW, all spoken audio has text that goes along with it).
Not to go into too much detail but I have a pretty wicked auto-immune disease. (No, not AIDS, children). My son was born about the time I got sick and he's got a ton of problems himself (18 surgeries and counting).

The best thing I can do is keep it simple. Hence this spec. I clean up my UI as neatly as possible so everything I need is right there, close under one hand. The other is for movement.

Probably a little OT, but what gets me going is some 15 YO twit going of on me for "not playing a real spec" and "Mr 1 button lol" crap. Here's the deal....I'm 45 and sick. I play this game to RELAX. I DO "have a life" and it sucks sometimes. Your tiny mind would reach for a gun if you had to spend 10 seconds in my RL shoes. Pray you never have to go through anything like this. I know, "it won't happen to you". That's what I said.

I am pretty decent at playing this toon. I have never been kicked from a group. Ever. I'm nice, respectful, helpful, and besides this post, have never mentioned my problems here or in game. Everyone has problems. It's just a matter of degree relative to your own tolerance threshold. I just don't have any problems except remembering to not kill the obnoxious deuchebag that daddy shoulda taken away his computer time.

Sorry back to the topic lol

Macros are good too. The less you have to hunt for the better. Also don't play a warlock =)

@worgenbeiber - being colorblind is a big deal in a game. I don't know anyone who is so I can only imagine raiding can get to be a struggle. Its good your friends can help you out. Does wow Have a colorblind operation mode. and if it does does it help you?

@Ashryn - I have limited hearing in one ear but nowhere near as limiting as yours. the subtitles and written quests help a lot for PVE. And I can understand the vent thing. A lot of people don't understand some people just cant use it. I Have my subtitles turned on becasue I ten to miss the speech when things are noisy.

@Kerlock - I admire you keeping it out of the game. OUr illnesses shouldn't keep us from enjoying the things we love. A clean UI is somethign I spent a few hours organizing finally the other day. It makes life so much easier. and for the ones that dont get it, they will someday. Usually when it happens to them.

I tried a warlock and that ended quickly. XD
Type 1 diabetic here. Usually causes no problems... except when I forget to eat the food I just dosed for and nearly pass out on the keyboard.

That is my lock and I have ataxia.. Its a brain disease and it impares motor skills and reaction time. Also I have the rarest type with only 30-40 diagnosed in USA and it affects vision too.

Just never pvp and I'm ok.
02/10/2012 04:06 PMPosted by Worgenbieber
I'm color blind so raiding/pvp makes it difficult. Playing with friends help because they generally call me out if I'm standing in something stupid. It's not a big deal for me though when compared to people with physical disabilities.

I have a close friend who is colorblind. After playing with him for several years, I catch myself on what I yell out, just in case there are people in group who can't see what I'm talking about. For example, I no longer say "green debuff means . . "; I usually say "the foot means X, the swirly means Y" (sometimes combined with 'fun' mnemonics like "the foot is a kick in the pants that means 'move it or faceplant!'")

More on-topic: I've known several people who have only limited use of one hand. The nostromo (AKA Belkin N52te; a hand device with 20 programmable buttons that is often easier to use than a gaming mouse) has been a godsend for them.

Personally though, my only problem is frequent low blood sugar leading to the shakes. Sometimes makes healing that ADHD tank a bit more interesting, but pretty far down on the oh-cr@p-o-meter :)
I'm hypoglycemic and suffer from about the same problem as Krinu at times. Sometimes I can feel it coming on, and sometimes stress makes it worse. If I get rushed in a dungeon or a raid, it seems to speed up my issues and in a short time I have to just stop and eat something, though I often keep a butterfinger at my computer (Sugar, starch, protein may not be the healthiest but usually a quick pick me up).

edit: I doubleposted sorry.
02/10/2012 04:19 PMPosted by Kerlock
what gets me going is some 15 YO twit going of on me

I'm cringing at the thought of this becaise I sometimes think that when someone is calling someone out, what if that person is playing badly right that moment because they are having the absolute worst day of their life and logged in to escape and this just sets them over the edge...not the same senerio exactly but anyway...

We used to have a hunter that was deaf in our regular raid group back when I was doing ICC every week with my old guild. I'd sometimes transcribe into chat what was being said in vent because I type fast. It never seemed to impede her, she was spared some drama by not hearing vent though.
I have Aspergers which, for those of you that do not know, is form of Autism (I forget if it's high-functioning or low-function). Anyway, this disability makes it hard for me to hold a conversation. Especially, if someone randomly says hi to me.

I'm 22, btw.
I have carpal tunnel in both hands, so I have trouble getting my fingers to move the way I want them to sometimes. >:(
I have nothing too severe, thankfully.

I am prone to rather nasty headaches like my mum. Unlike her however, the headaches have a tendency to focus in one eye and make it painful to see out of that eye until it's too painful to even have it open.
Advil/Tylenol does nothing, I need to either endure and hope they go away or sleep them off.

And they're only going to get worse as I get older. Oh joy.

Also, self-induced poor hearing and some bad short-term memory.
I am deeply sorry for each and every one of you. Reading your stories reminds me of how truly blessed I am.

Keep your spirits strong. :)

Do NOT be sorry for me. I have a wife and 3 awesome kids that love me unconditionally. When I first got sick about 14 years ago, it sucked. I was suicidal to the extreme. Then something cool happened. I "got it". Life, that is. we're here for a very short amount of time. Some shorter than others. I pity the people that go through life doing exactly what they think they are "supposed" to do because tomorrow is not garaunteed. I spent my pre-sick life working endlessly and saving every nickel and doing the "right things". When I got sick, I lost it ALL. Think insurance is gonna cover your bills? Think again. You don't have enough money. Nobody does. When you're so sick you can't get out of bed, much less continue to work 70-80 hr weeks, and your medical bills plus life bills come rolling in, it's a matter of time. My sons expenses alone were around $450k the first year. Good luck.

Then you figure it out. That crap means NOTHING. What does it matter how much money you have when you're laying in the bed wondering if you're about to die? If you wanna do something in this life, you better do it. ASAP.

So back on track, what peace said is really relevant. When you zone into RDF, all you see is pixels. but there's a real person BEHIND those pixels, and that part is NOT a game. I don't understand why some people don't get that part. The conclusion I'm drawing is they don't care. Sorry, but no that's not ok kid. If someone isn't doing DPS up to your standards or makes a mistake and runs face first into the nasty purple stuff, it's not your place to degrade them for it.

Some days my joints hurt so bad I can feel every little bone in my hand and it feel like I pushed it through a bed of nails. I can vegetate on the couch, lay in the bed and suffer, or play WoW and forget about it until a nasty fight when in the middle of it the pain gets crazy. It's pretty rewarding to down a nasty hard boss when you wonder if your hands will lock up and stop moving, go numb etc before the boss dies.

At any rate, before shooting your mouth off (or fingers actually) take a second and think about who's behind that screen. That's my #1 pet peeve with this game but one I was prepared for before I ever started.
i have ADHD OCD and Torrets and that hasent stopped me from playin video games and mmos :) fight the power! hehe jkin on that :P
While I don't have quite as many problems as some, I do have partial blindness (total in left eye, severe nearsightedness in right eye) as well as pain and stiffness in my joints (which may be simple wear-and-tear or may be something worse, I don't know, as I'm not exactly able to afford regular doctor visits for every small concern), which make my reaction times and perception a bit slower than most. So I largely have to limit myself to "simpler" classes with uncomplicated rotations, such as mages and hunters.

Even my tank here is simplified, with me "forced" to basically just spam my AOEs to retain threat - thankfully paladins excel at that.

Problems aside though, I love this game.

There's no way I could post in this thread without sharing this link - it is majorly inspiring.
I do not have a left arm :O

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