Advice needed: gaming with autism

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3rik

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Could it be even social anxiety disorder? Just the pressure of being "on the spot" trip him up?
I'm somewhat socially anxious myself. I don't think it's something that he suffers from. It's just that he doesn't seem able to think on his feet if there are no immediately obvious optimal choices. Going along with the rest is actually a pretty normal response in an emergency situation so I don't mind if he has his character do that. I do think you may be right about him just not being able to process information very fast.
 

TristramEvans

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I had a GF that was quite smart, heavy reader, but just couldn't react quickly., so in social situations she just sort of shut down or came across as shy It may not be any "disorder", just how they interact with the world. Maybe you could occasionally create situations for them where solving a problem in game takes some time to think, like puzzles or whatnot
 

AsenRG

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I've had a player like this as well. This is possibly the worst flaw in my games, though...

Ah well, we didn't part ways because of that, I just left that job and he was a co-worker.
 

3rik

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I had a GF that was quite smart, heavy reader, but just couldn't react quickly., so in social situations she just sort of shut down or came across as shy It may not be any "disorder", just how they interact with the world. Maybe you could occasionally create situations for them where solving a problem in game takes some time to think, like puzzles or whatnot
When there's a lot of talking going on, he's usually quiet, yes. He's actually pretty good at tactical boardgames, which I suck at because I am too lazy and lack the incentive for such stuff. So yeah, I usually just let him play however he wants. It doesn't bother me, just thouht it was typical because I don't know anyone else like that.

Would love for him to quit his nail biting, though. He says he's already tried everything, but I don't think he has even considered counseling.
 

CRKrueger

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Would you be able to provide a few examples of the behavior in question? I feel like that could less contentious and more productive than a discussion on metal illness.
This is probably best. People say someone is "High Functioning Autistic" or "On the Spectrum" because they are exhibiting any number of personality disorders or various quirks and eccentricities. In the end, his exact Medical Diagnosis doesn't matter as much as what his behavior is like.
 

CRKrueger

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Be patient, be prepared to explain things you don't expect to have to explain, let the player tell you what they need, let the player decide if the game you are playing is for them.

Consider that autism may be far more prevalent among gamers than you realize and you may already have player or two on the spectrum.

I think gaming can be a pretty low risk way for people on the spectrum to engage in a social activity.
Yes, because the social activity is to a degree bound by the rules of the game more than the ability to socialize. The more meta and trope-driven the play, the easier it is to interact. That's why PvP, as mentioned above, is a bad idea. Cooperative based on a framework works better than competition based on social interaction.

In other words, don't play Diplomacy.
 

Acmegamer

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The next campaign will most likely be Solar Blades & Cosmic Spells, which does have a Luck mechanic, so that should be workable.
My reading comprehension decided to fail me and I read that as "Solar Babies & Cosmic Spells". I guess my mind was on the 80's movie, no idea but I was self amused.

 

AsenRG

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My reading comprehension decided to fail me and I read that as "Solar Babies & Cosmic Spells". I guess my mind was on the 80's movie, no idea but I was self amused.

My reading comprehension failed me in turn, and I read your title as "Solar Babes & Cosmic Spells"...:thumbsup:

My first reaction was "oh, PULP", BTW:grin:!
 

FreeGamer

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Him? No, he's the opposite of ADHD.
Yeah, it didn't read to me as ADHD either. You mentioned the university degree and everything, so I wouldn't even say he's slow. I really can't even take a guess with the information we've been given. Even neurotypical people sometimes just have things that are harder for them(learning disabilities, mental illnesses), and maybe there's something about the layout or the presentation that throws him off? But now that I've said it, perhaps he has some kind of specific learning disability - they tend to present in certain ways, but very little is universal even among people who have the same(or roughly the same) learning disability. Perhaps something that makes forms(which is what a character sheet basically is) difficult, but which doesn't affect most normal classroom activities and for which he likely has ways to compensate(or outside help, such as his wife or some kind of accommodations from the school - a lot of people only let those who absolutely need to know know because it can be either embarrassing or just annoying to talk to people about because even well-meaning people say thing stupidest of meaningless platitudes sometime. You know they're trying to be sympathetic, but the absolutely cluelessness of what just came out of their mouth just floors you, y'know? Heck, I've had my ADHD diagnosis for 30 years and my own mom - the one who pushed for me to get properly tested because she did her research and actually knew more about it than most doctors I had seen up until then - still says dumb things about it sometimes.)

A simple "hey, man, I notice you don't like the character sheet. Is there a way you'd prefer to have the info presented?" might be all it takes to fix it without going there. No need to mention difficulty or disability or anything. Place the blame on the character sheet itself. I know it might not make sense to you, but not laying the blame on him I think is kind of important if you talk to him about it. It can be embarrassing enough w/o others acknowledging it to your face. Again, dunno if that's how he'd even feel, but why test it out if you don't have to?

ETA: . . . I guess I kinda made a guess. Don't think I mean he definitely has anything. Just spitballing possibilities.
 
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FreeGamer

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Would love for him to quit his nail biting, though. He says he's already tried everything, but I don't think he has even considered counseling.
Oh, dude, dude, dude! This was so me throughout all of highschool. Tried everything. It was worked into my counseling. Tried that bad-tasting stuff they put on your nails. Oh, that's a story. See, it did taste bad. But even more than that, it tasted interesting. Guess which impulse won out? I dare you. :wink: Just so many things, and I'd still rip them suckers down to the quick. Toes, too. It was really, really bad.

And I have a potential solution! Can't guarantee anything, but this is what finally, after like 19 or 20 or whatever years, worked for me! And it's super simple, and only costs maybe . . . I dunno, depends where you get the stuff. Like $10 to $30. It was . . . drumroll please . . . starting to take care of my nails properly. I saw one of those filing kits on TV, and of course the informercial(I went through a phase) made them look like freaking magic. And by golly, they worked exactly as advertised, I tell you what.

My nails had gotten just long enough to cut by then, and I somehow made myself hold out until those beautiful, wonderful files came in the mail. So I cut them, as best I could. And I filed the edges down - the file had this plastic thing that kept the file flush against the nail properly, which I appreciated, and worked like a charm. Then I did the whole 3 or 4 step process, where you clean and buff your nails. A more sandpaper like one to just scrape off the crud, which leaves them scratched a bit. A finer one to clear out the scratches and smooth out the nail a bit. And then . . . dunno if it was the buff pad to make them shine, or if there was another one in between them.

Anyway, I did that, and I saw my nails, and . . . just never bit them again. If I felt the urge, which did happen a few times early on, I just grabbed my nail kit and worked out my . . . frustration doesn't sound right, but close enough I guess . . . that way. Having the nail kit with you when the need arises is key, so might have to carry it around somehow for a bit. But they don't take up much room.

Full disclosure - I never bit them for that reason again. There have been a couple times that I've had to bite a nail - like it had already broken, and I wouldn't have clippers for a while and really needed to not catch my nail on my clothes or something(I imagine it's how most people feel about nails on a chalkboard, from what they tell me). But see? It was just that particular nail, and not at all for the same reason.

It's worth a shot. You get the urge, grab your nail kit and use it instead.
 

opaopajr

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Having gamed & GMed with people on various levels of this spectrum (including some gov't classified dependents) the best advice I can give is: clarity and relaxed openness to questions.

Also clarify with any family, friends, or guardians what "best practices" ground rules should be established, which may include 'idee fixed'. (That is like a trigger, but not? Things that are not wise topics to bring up because there is an irrational attachment to their idea how it works or is the 'correct viewpoint' on a matter.) And establish protocols for de-escalation and disengagement as necessary without any self-conscious awkwardness thereafter (for them and the rest of the table).

Otherwise it should be ok and likely very fun for all! Everyone's an individual, so YMMV (your mileage may vary) naturally. But with some patience and accomodation you can get some memorable lateral thinking from such players. :heart:
 

3rik

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You mentioned the university degree and everything, so I wouldn't even say he's slow.
You don't know how long it took him :hehe:. It took him pretty long.
 

3rik

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Toes, too.
Oh boy. I don't think he bites his toenails. But he's biting his fingernails all the time, literally. Now, this doesn't really bother anyone and it certainly doesn't interfere with our gaming. It's more that I would like it for him if he could quit doing that. I'm sure he would like it too.

But anyway, we were here for the autism spectrum players and I don't think I have any experience with that. There's two people at my work, one kid with PDD-NOS who would be a disaster to game with and a woman who I strongly suspect is on the spectrum and would also be extremely difficult to game with, I'm sorry to say. The kid already got fired because he was unmanageable. One of the woman's behaviours that gets tiresome for most if not all people, is her tendency to over-explain everything she tells you. Is that a thing?

Addendum: I do realize these two people aren't exactly mild cases and I would not dismiss any attempt to game with a person on the spectrum.
 
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3rik

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a lot of people only let those who absolutely need to know know because it can be either embarrassing or just annoying to talk to people about because even well-meaning people say thing stupidest of meaningless platitudes sometime. You know they're trying to be sympathetic, but the absolutely cluelessness of what just came out of their mouth just floors you, y'know? Heck, I've had my ADHD diagnosis for 30 years and my own mom - the one who pushed for me to get properly tested because she did her research and actually knew more about it than most doctors I had seen up until then - still says dumb things about it sometimes.
Uff, tell me about it. Try explaining to people that you were the target of a workplace bully and developed PTSS and mild depression and spent two months on sick leave and a half year re-integrating and they will ask you why you didn't just ignore the bully or tell him to fuck off. *shrugs*
 

AsenRG

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One of the woman's behaviours that gets tiresome for most if not all people, is her tendency to over-explain everything she tells you. Is that a thing?
If that's a thing with autism, I should go and get checked, too...:shock:
 

3rik

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If that's a thing with autism, I should go and get checked, too...:shock:
No idea. Do people stop paying attention while you're talking, do their eyes glaze over because they already understood perfectly what your point is?
 

AsenRG

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No idea. Do people stop paying attention while you're talking, do their eyes glaze over because they already understood perfectly what your point is?
I should pay attention and report back...:devil:
In all seriousness, not to that extent (I think), but I sometimes/quite often decide that it's better to overexplain, than to remain misunderstood:shade:.
 

FreeGamer

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If that's a thing with autism, I should go and get checked, too...:shock:
It really, really is. Again, nothing's universal, but it's one of the reasons I myself am going to get tested for it as soon as I find a place that does adult testing and can save up the money(it's not cheap). And another common, sometimes related thing, is that people on the spectrum(or with other neurodiversities) have trouble being understood in communication. It's happened more than a few times to me. Recently, even, though it's been a pattern. So sometimes(not always) the tendency to overexplain is actually intended to compensate for the frequency they get misunderstood. Even if I don't end up being on the spectrum myself, that's something I can totally relate to. I'm sure some of you guys have noticed that my tendency to be more verbose than I need to be. In the moment, I can't really see it - I'm just trying to be clear and thorough - but eventually it hits me sometimes that I really didn't need to do that. Like look above - there's no reason it should have taken me 4 or 5 paragraphs to say "try a nail kit." I see that now, but in the moment . . . yeah. Sorry about that. But yeah, from what I've read, and from what some of my friends have told me, they do it too. Not always for the same reason, but enough to give me my suspicions about myself.
 

Fenris-77

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This is probably best. People say someone is "High Functioning Autistic" or "On the Spectrum" because they are exhibiting any number of personality disorders or various quirks and eccentricities. In the end, his exact Medical Diagnosis doesn't matter as much as what his behavior is like.
What we're actually talking about here is often termed executive function deficit, or something like that. You're correct, it really does apply legitimately to many more instances than just the autism spectrum - FASD and ADHD both, just off the top of my head. I share this particular bit of atypical neural wiring to a certain degree, so this is something I have some empathy for.
 

3rik

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Yes, I've known many women like that
I haven't, but I've experienced a number of people supposedly or officially on the spectrum who do it. I usually let them finish whatever it is they want to say out of politeness, but it's difficult to not appear like I'm losing interest...
 

zanshin

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It really, really is. Again, nothing's universal, but it's one of the reasons I myself am going to get tested for it as soon as I find a place that does adult testing and can save up the money(it's not cheap). And another common, sometimes related thing, is that people on the spectrum(or with other neurodiversities) have trouble being understood in communication. It's happened more than a few times to me. Recently, even, though it's been a pattern. So sometimes(not always) the tendency to overexplain is actually intended to compensate for the frequency they get misunderstood. Even if I don't end up being on the spectrum myself, that's something I can totally relate to. I'm sure some of you guys have noticed that my tendency to be more verbose than I need to be. In the moment, I can't really see it - I'm just trying to be clear and thorough - but eventually it hits me sometimes that I really didn't need to do that. Like look above - there's no reason it should have taken me 4 or 5 paragraphs to say "try a nail kit." I see that now, but in the moment . . . yeah. Sorry about that. But yeah, from what I've read, and from what some of my friends have told me, they do it too. Not always for the same reason, but enough to give me my suspicions about myself.
Just to say I enjoyed your try a nail kit story/advice. It was eloquently expressed. I don't bite my nails, so I didn't 'need' the information but it was a good read.
 

AsenRG

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It really, really is. Again, nothing's universal, but it's one of the reasons I myself am going to get tested for it as soon as I find a place that does adult testing and can save up the money(it's not cheap). And another common, sometimes related thing, is that people on the spectrum(or with other neurodiversities) have trouble being understood in communication. It's happened more than a few times to me. Recently, even, though it's been a pattern. So sometimes(not always) the tendency to overexplain is actually intended to compensate for the frequency they get misunderstood. Even if I don't end up being on the spectrum myself, that's something I can totally relate to. I'm sure some of you guys have noticed that my tendency to be more verbose than I need to be. In the moment, I can't really see it - I'm just trying to be clear and thorough - but eventually it hits me sometimes that I really didn't need to do that. Like look above - there's no reason it should have taken me 4 or 5 paragraphs to say "try a nail kit." I see that now, but in the moment . . . yeah. Sorry about that. But yeah, from what I've read, and from what some of my friends have told me, they do it too. Not always for the same reason, but enough to give me my suspicions about myself.
I, for one, needed the explanation why a nail kit is supposed to help - before that, my reaction was "why would you purchase that before you stop biting your nails, right:thumbsup:?"
 

FreeGamer

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What we're actually talking about here is often termed executive function deficit, or something like that. You're correct, it really does apply legitimately to many more instances than just the autism spectrum - FASD and ADHD both, just off the top of my head. I share this particular bit of atypical neural wiring to a certain degree, so this is something I have some empathy for.
For the record, my post #60 was supposed to quote this. I guess I clicked the wrong post's reply button. Still weird that the post I was trying to quote is #61 and is now below mine. I . . . am honestly kind of confused right now. Glad to see my nail kit story didn't rub people the wrong way, though. And honestly, I didn't get it with the purpose of it helping me. I really did fall for the informercial claims(which actually happened to be true; can't say that about the food dehydrator). That it helped me stop was just a happy accident, so thought I'd share what worked for me.
 

Alai

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As I mentioned in the 'What are y'all up to these days?' thread, one of the potential new players in the game I run for some local teens is, in the words of his friends, a 'high-functioning autistic'. He seems like a good kid, and potentially a good roleplayer. However, I'm not certain if my relatively loose approach to GMing is going to be a problem for him, as he seems to like rules that are very clear-cut.
As several others have said, very hard if not impossible to generalise over. Because ASD people are still very individual simply by dint of being individuals, and maybe also because the 'spectrum' could actually be a cluster or continuum of different things, that affect different people very differently. Things tend to end up as 'disorders' or 'illnesses' if there's either decently crisp diagnostic criteria, or a somewhat predictable course of treatment -- if there's both, we're really batting 1000! -- and a 'syndrome' if they're a squishy thing in the middle without really either.

But a couple of things spring to mind from that last observation, which might be worth considering at least to the extent of asking him, etc. Firstly, you say your approach is 'loose', but that could cover a lot of different things. Are there vast chunks of the (supposed!) system you basically ignore, and have an in-your-head alternative? Are you a 'story logic' sort of GM? Some other style entirely to make this a three-part list, but that I'm totally failing to think of right now? Those might be worth spelling out, either in general terms or case-by-case.

Secondly -- and don't hit me, but almost diametrically opposedly! -- some players really dislike too much 'meta'. Sidebars to discuss and explain decisions and other elements of the game might themselves be worse than the issue they're trying to resolve or explain. Clearly that's a legit preference either for the 'typical or the 'diverse -- immersion! (That reminds me, must turn the water-heater on.) I could speculate about whether there might be some possible connection with a hyperfocus sort of thing, but I frankly have no idea, and I'm not sure how it'd help even if I did.

At times in play he seemed to be very risk-averse, and he often wanted to know what was the 'correct' choice to make.
'Correct' result is the one that leads to the most fun! Now, while he may be directing these questions to you as the GM looking for the Objectively Optimal Outcome(TM), maybe indeed be coming from a place of character-resource anxiety or the like, perhaps they can be reframed as opportunities for other players to chime in how particular choices might work for them, either ICly or OOCly.
 

chuckdee

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I think that's actually one of my favourite features of FATE. The invoke-against and compel mechanics are a great way to bribe paranoid players into coming out of their shell. To the extent that I've got a back-burner project of finding a way to do compels without all the baggage of the FATE point economy - i.e. in a form that can be easily retrofitted to other systems.
We use it in OSR games with little modification. Characters have aspects - having them invoked against you gives you a +1forward (mixing Fate and AW terms) and using them gives you a -1forward and free reroll (or +2 forward if combined with a +1forward). Works pretty well in practice.
 
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