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I have other players read out information from my dyslexic player's character sheets when necessary, and I use non-verbal visual aids whenever possible. I generally give out copies of any important visual aids, such as maps, riddles, or red herrings, to be contained in a player binder that can be referenced whenever anyone feels the need to review. The players are all responsible for doing their part to keep the game running smoothly, such as tracking experience and treasure. Generally, my dyslexic player moves minis around a map while my autistic player focuses more on tactics and keeping up general party paranoia.

I plan to start incorporating auditory clues to signal different segments of the game, such as the start of a session, breaks, and ending the session. I will also make up notes in the OpenDyslexic font and see if that helps make things easier.

The major problems I run into are my dyslexic player has trouble keeping track of details regarding her character and the other characters, since looking at character sheets tends to bother her, and that hurts her ability to really get into character. My autistic player often wanders off into "what if" territory, even during combat, such as "what if this unarmed kobold here were actually the leader of a second band of kobolds, and is going to come back and kill us later if we let him live?" That's not a problem itself, of course, but the other players get annoyed with the frequent divergences from what is going on in the game, and momentum stalls while the game drags on.

I would like a better way to help her keep track of mechanical minutiae, and a better way to help keep him a bit more focused during the games.

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First and foremost: kudos for running a games for those two players. –  Sardathrion Aug 5 '13 at 8:10
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Second, you seem to have two questions here: one about dyslexic players and the second about autistic players. I would split them up. Also, it is clear that you have thought about the problem and came up with solutions already. So, what are you looking for? Advice? Tackle a specific problem (if so what)? Pit falls?... To my eyes, it is slightly unclear what you are asking for. –  Sardathrion Aug 5 '13 at 8:12
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Is it possible to describe some of the specific challenges you're facing? While we're pretty experienced with RPGs and strategies for adapting them to the needs of the group, many of us probably don't know which RPG elements would be challenging for people with these conditions. –  BESW Aug 5 '13 at 8:12
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@Sardathrion It won't be as easy to answer, but I think this should remain one question about a group with dyslexic and autistic players. That issue is greater than the sum of its parts. At the very least, it sets the tone that this isn't just one person in the group. –  Jonathan Hobbs Aug 5 '13 at 8:17
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I'm afraid that you haven't actually described anything about the game which shows us how it's not running smoothly, so we're left to just guess what your actual challenges might be. We aren't experts on autism or dyslexia, so please help us by being specific about the challenges you're trying to address! If you need help figuring out how to do this, please join the chat so we can workshop the question together. –  BESW Aug 5 '13 at 17:12
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2 Answers

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To help eliminate your dyslexic player's issues with reading a character sheet, you might try making a "homebrew" stripped-down character sheet with more imagery and iconography than words. For instance, a humanoid shape with notations of the weapons the character is carrying near the hand that is carrying it, and a big number on the chest to denote AC or health. This would help the player to make a better association between the pure data a character sheet represents and the in-game information it corresponds to.

In addition (as Tom Bonner has noted), giving descriptive and contextual names to areas and items can help eliminate the barrier that written word presents. Calling a cave town "Dark Rock Village" or giving the town butcher the last name "Meet" might help.

As far as the issues your autistic player has with focus and concentration, it may be helpful to review tactics that teachers of autistic students use in classes, such as those given here. Structure your gaming sessions well, so they can be used to the pattern. Utilizing multimedia may help improve focus; play the same (quiet!) music every time the party enters a town, for instance, or when they go in to battle. Make an NPC's clues to the party into a song. Have props on hand for someone who can better visualize things by touch than visually.

Incidentally, I don't think that any of these things would impede your non-dyslexic or non-Autistic players. It seems to me that these are all additions that could improve any GM's game, whether they have dyslexia or autism or neither condition.

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It seems like your already going out your way to make it great for them so that's fine enough. I have dylexia myself and often find quick reference memory the hardest bit of games and stories, things like names for example. The best being ones that make sense in the context. If a town is by a giant waterfall, calling it something as obvious as "Water's End" really does help.

For autism I can say (having two friends with mild versions of it) that having depth helps them concentrate. Pictures with clever background points and maps with lots of little dots that actually reveal treasure lets them focus on single tasks which I've often seen them enjoy.

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Welcome to the site! Please take a look at the tour and the help; they're a useful introduction to the site. I'm glad you shared your own experiences on this topic; I was afraid the answers would be largely theoretical. And since you have 20+ rep on another site, feel free to join the chat! –  BESW Aug 5 '13 at 9:30
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