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Case studies: how SpecialEffect have helped

Twin Town Challenge support the gamers' charity SpecialEffect. This unique cause helps people with physical disability to get a new lease of life through assistive technology.

The Twin Town Challenge is proud to support SpecialEffect, and all proceeds from by the Twin Town Challenge go towards the cost of their one-to-one support. It helps to fund the customised equipment and software that allows disabled people to work, play and enjoy life.

Lewis's story

Lewis has been diagnosed with Batten's Disease, a progressive disorder that has impacted his mobility. He has now lost much of his muscle control and is only able to move his eyes.

Natalie, his carer, contacted SpecialEffect to see if they could help. Here's what she had to say about the experience:

"Mick, the founder & CEO of SpecialEffect, got straight back to me saying he’d come round straight away and try a few eye-gaze systems. Lewis got to choose which one he liked the best, so he chose the bigger one of course! SpecialEffect have been three or four times since and added things onto the eye-gaze which has really benefited Lewis. He uses lots of different games; one of his favourites is ‘Splat’ where he has to splat some faces that move across the screen. He also loves watching his videos and laughs and smiles which is really precious to see because he doesn’t often do it. It takes a lot of effort for Lewis to smile and laugh, so it’s really nice."

"Lewis got the opportunity to control his TV. It’s connected to his eye-gaze, which is connected to the TV. Miraculously, the TV turns on and plays the channels he chooses just by moving his eyes, which is absolutely amazing."

Natalie has been staggered by how far SpecialEffect have brought Lewis. As his carer, she finds it really hard to see Lewis go through what he goes through. Despite his disability, SpecialEffect have been able to give Lewis his independence back.

Lucy's story

Lucy would love to be able to play and challenge her brothers at computer games. Her muscular dystrophy means she's lying down most of the time, and she has little mobility. Despite this, she's determined to join in the fun.

Lucy got in touch with SpecialEffect and explained her situation:

"The main issue is I can only use one hand and even then, I have limited mobility. Hope this isn't too much of a challenge for you!"

SpecialEffect's occupational therapists were up for the challenge and visited Lucy to see what they could do to help. They found a way to make use of some finger movement on her left hand and a way she could use her thumb too. They also found they could capture the movement in her right hand and, after adding in some voice controls, Lucy’s ready to take on her brothers.

Lucy is embracing the fun and creativity of designing new worlds in Minecraft and she’s looking forward to having fun in other games.

But it’s not just about games, it’s about joining in, being included. SpecialEffect have enabled Lucy to achieve things that weren’t possible before, have fun and given her an improved quality of life. She can now enter a whole new world of fun, freedom – and a little independence.

Rob's story

SpecialEffect help to support people through the most difficult times in their lives. Rob was in a car crash aged just 19, leaving him tetraplegic and on a ventilator. SpecialEffect helped him through his rehab, enabling him to gain a degree of independence in his life and go to university.

Rob had just come back from a gap year at the time of his accident. He was a keen sports person, enjoying rugby, rowing and going to the gym. He was due to start at York University to study politics, philosophy and economics when he had the accident towards the end of 2015.

A friend of the family saw Dr Mick Donegan, Founder & CEO of SpecialEffect giving a talk and thought he might be able to help. Rob’s family got in touch and SpecialEffect arranged to go to the hospital to assess Rob and see if their eye-controlled computer could help. The first visit was very promising and SpecialEffect loaned Rob a system. It tracks Rob’s eye movement; a blink is like the click of a mouse. Seeing the system in action Rob’s Dad, Ian, said:

“It was the first thing Robert was able to do for himself after the accident, so that was a huge thing, to realise he didn’t have to rely on everyone for absolutely everything”.

Rob used eye-gaze mainly for accessing the internet – especially Facebook and Skype to enable him to keep in touch with friends (he had almost 800 emails to catch up on!). He could play games and check the rugby scores! He told us:

“It’s just nice for me to be competitive again”.

Rob’s Dad Ian explained the difference eye-gaze made to Rob's life while in hospital:

“Robert had three months in intensive care and to give him mental stimulation during that time was huge in coping with his condition. It’s made a huge difference; it almost doesn’t bear thinking about how he would have coped without it.”

Rob has gone on to study at Bristol University and became the first tetraplegic in the world to take part in a Tough Mudder! He’s now an Ambassador for SpecialEffect.

See the difference SpecialEffect have made to Rob and his family in this video:

You can make a difference

By registering to take part in the Twin Town Challenge 2018, you can help us to raise essential fund for SpecialEffect. All of the money raised will go directly to the charity helping them to provide one-to-one support to more people like Lewis, Lucy and Rob.

If you don't want to take part, you can always donate to SpecialEffect and support their fantastic work.

See how SpecialEffect helps

SpecialEffect make a real difference to people's lives. Their one-to-one support allows people to enjoy themselves in ways their disability has previously made impossible. See what taking part in the Twin Town Challenge can do.

Read the case studies

Experiences of Twin Town

The Twin Town Challenge is a great experience and offers you the opportunity to meet new people, have a great time and raise money for charity. Read what previous participants have to say and get an idea of what Twin Town can offer you.

Read testimonials

Donate to the Twin Town Challenge

Your donations help SpecialEffect to provide disabled people with one-to-one support, making a real difference to their lives. All money raised by the Twin Town Challenge goes directly to SpecialEffect so please donate what you can.

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