GAMING has proven benefits for people with cerebral palsy, with the potential to improve both cognitive and physical well-being. For Twitch streamer Shaun, gaming has helped improve his dexterity whilst simultaneously helping him connect with others through a shared passion. He says, for these reasons, gaming has been a lifesaver.
Sheffield local Shaun, who goes by Smokin-Shaun on Twitch, has been gaming for most of his life. But it was only in 2021 that he first decided to stream himself and his gameplay on the streaming platform. Just last month, Shaun also set up a Kick channel and now uses both platforms to reach his audience.
The 31-year-old is supported by the national learning disability charity Hft which supports adults with learning disabilities to live their best life and discover interests that are important to them.
Describing how he discovered streaming, Shaun said:
“When Covid hit in 2020, I wanted to find something to do. I moved house that summer which helped a lot with the boredom but I was still looking for something more. Then, when 2021 came along, I was talking to a few gaming friends who also stream on Twitch and went to watch how it all works. I loved it!
“In April, I started to stream myself just for fun. I then made my own discord server and started to build a community.”
Shaun now streams a variety of games to over 500 followers across the two platforms, with the football video game FIFA and the battle royale game Fall Guys among his favourites.
Shaun’s gaming and streaming helps him build connections that are often harder for adults with a learning disability due to the lack of opportunities in an immediate community. Research by Hft, which was carried out post-lockdown, found that over a third of people with a learning disability felt lonely nearly always or all of the time.
“Streaming makes me very happy. It benefits me because I enjoy gaming with other people and I get to do this every day.”
Gaming also has a number of cognitive benefits which can help people with a learning disability. For Shaun, this helps improve his dexterity which is limited by cerebral palsy.
“It also relaxes me and, due to sometimes not being able to go out, gaming has been a lifesaver by helping me build my own community.”
Shaun is hoping to continue gaming and streaming, and building a community with his Twitch supporters. He has even created his own merchandise and set up his own company for a future game.