How I Engage Yasin in Play

Yasin loves to be engaged in play. As his sister, I try my best to adapt and tailor play to his needs. He has a gazillion cousins and cousins-once-removed, all of whom love him to bits. But they are often at a loss as to how to naturally include him in play. Well, here’s what I have to say to them. (Not that I know best. They are always free to pick, mix, change, slice, and so on. I’d just like to share with them what works for me and for him when we are playing.)

First, you have to remember that including Yasin in play will benefit you as well. Yasin teaches you to smile even though he’s struggling hard to focus on you and can’t yet respond to your interactions with him in the way he wants to. He perseveres through everything, and though there are times when he feels like throwing in the towel and deciding that playing is as hard as school, they always vanish when you invent some way to include him naturally.

Second, you have to talk to him like an adult. Not in content, but just in tone, inflections, hand gestures, eye contact and so on. This puts him at ease, for some reason. Whilst you are speaking with him, be as animated as you can. Use as wild hand gesticulations as you like.

Third, get some adult to sit with you. They can make suggestions when you’re stuck in a rut as to how to make Yasin feel included. Though, of course, this will backfire if you have an overly-enthusiastic adult who gives guidance every moment you’re silent. If you have the right adult, they’ll also empower you. They’ll make you be coach or mentor to Yasin. It gives you a chance to be a leader, and don’t you want to be one?

Fourth, you have to focus on finding things to do that are within Yasin’s capability. He really enjoys being passed a ball, and having someone guide his hand to throw it back. Doing something will lower your discomfort at being around with a special needs kid.

Fifth, you have to give Yasin a role which he can play. It will make him extremely happy. For example, Yasin can keep score whilst you lot are playing football. You have to help him mark down each point with a pencil, but he’ll be elated at being given an important role.

Those are all the suggestions I can make. If you have any more, feel free to tell me and I’ll include them in the list.