The golden rule is a guide to most situations in life, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It is not always easy to put ourselves in another person’s shoes and try to understand how we would feel if we were them. However, it is important to do in order to be able to adapt activities to allow for our friends or family with disabilities to participate with us. Naturally humans are social beings, regardless of physical limitation, and even many mental disabilities. Because it can be difficult for others to know how to effectively involve those who have disabilities into regular activities, here are some tips to help get started.
Adapting the game
At first evaluation it may not seem that someone can participate in the activity who has a mental or physical disability. All it takes is a little creativity and a willingness to help adapt the game or puzzle to fit the needs of individuals playing. One of the first things to do is think of ways to simplify or change an aspect of the activity according to the needs of the individual you are trying to involve. There are so many different disabilities and levels of impairment, that individual circumstances and status will need to be evaluated for the game or activity to be chosen and then adapted accordingly.
1) If there are different level questions, allow for someone mentally disabled to have the easier level each time, instead of it changing throughout the game.
2) If multiple answers are not given, offer them when questions are read (make it fun and even give silly options so the answer is clear),
3) Make up questions unrelated to the game that are of the person’s interest, but still move them or score when they get it right as others in the game are scored. For example, ask questions about a family members favorite color, a multiple choice about their favorite meal, what they do before they go to bed, etc. Daily interest and activities are great things to make questions about. If a person has a physical disability, such as not having the use of their arms, make another way for them to point to puzzle pieces, such as a stick they hold between their teeth to point to the piece they want picked up. Whomever you are trying to help participate, simply look for ways to change the game or make it possible for them to play.
Although disabilities may cause many limitations, they do not prevent people from being able to do the same things as everyone else. If playing is not possible for the person on their own, create a way for them to be involved. Involvement may not be actually playing, but setting up or sorting pieces. Sometimes it is enough just to have something to do with everyone else.
1) Give options of puzzles to put together and let them choose.
2) Set up two puzzles of different levels on tables next to each other. If they are not able to do a simple puzzle by them self, have someone work with them.
3) Ask them to find all the puzzle pieces with a certain color on them, or with a straight edge.
1) Partner up and have them pick letters out of the bag and place the letters on the board.
2) Change the rules for them, such as two letter words and proper words being allowed.
3) Help form words and then give a choice of what word to lay down.
Most people like for others to ask them what they want instead of assuming. When a situation is new or unfamiliar, it may be uncomfortable to know what to do or how to act appropriately. Because a person feels awkward they try to avoid asking the person with disabilities questions. Asking questions is often the best way to meet a person’s needs and help them find their interests and be involved. Appropriate questions that’s purpose is to understand and assist will not make the person feel belittled or embarrassed. Instead, they will allow for them to comfortably express their likes, interests and opinions. Talk to the individual directly and ask questions, not their parent or caretaker. If they have trouble understanding or communicating the person assisting them will help. When doing an activity ask specific questions to discover what they like and what they want.
There are so many different types and levels of disabilities that these suggestions do not cover them all, but are meant to start the thought process toward thinking of ways to incorporate those with disabilities into the activity. This will take more time and patience, but the efforts will be well worth it. Remember to consider the individual and adapt specifically for them. By thinking of what you would want someone to do for you, it will be easier to think of what you can do for them.