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Activities for Adults with Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities

At Community Mainstreaming, we’re more focused on the types of activities adults with disabilities can do — and less focused about what they can’t. Let’s take a closer look at a few different types of activities adults with disabilities can do at home.

Nature Activities for Adults with Disabilities

Whether you’re 6 or 62, virtually everyone enjoys activities that take us outside to bask in Mother Nature’s handy work. One simple activity is a nature walk — where you can enjoy the open air while learning about the environment. You can also set up exciting scavenger hunts to encourage your loved one to identify and find things in nature, such as:

  • Birds
  • Insects
  • Plants
  • Trees

Many camps for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities utilize therapeutic horseback riding. Additional outdoor recreational activities include hiking, boating, fishing, swimming, and participating in outdoor team sports. When it comes to outdoor activities for adults with disabilities, the possibilities are endless.

Physical Activities for Adults with Disabilities

Physical activities and exercise can help adults with disabilities achieve their mental and physical potential. Bowling, exercise classes, gardening, team sports, dancing, and swimming are all activities that can be used to promote good holistic health while having fun.

As a matter of fact, a study published in the “Therapeutic Recreation Journal” in Fall of 2005 reported improved family life, improved social life, enhanced quality of life, and better health for participants with intellectual/developmental disabilities who participated in adaptive and organized recreational activities, such as horseback riding and alpine skiing.

According to the guidelines published in “Frontiers in Public Health” in April of 2014, older adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities are encouraged to participate in a minimum of 150 minutes per week of age-appropriate moderate-to-low intensity exercise. This report suggests that when group activities are combined with exercise and social interaction, it could enhance your loved one’s enjoyment and motivation.

Art Activities for Adults with Disabilities

Art is a viable way of expressing emotions and feelings, especially when someone isn’t able to do so through traditional means. As a result, many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities respond well to therapy involving arts and crafts.

Art therapy inspires creativity and can be used to encourage adults of all ages. Whether it’s creating with canvas, educational coloring books, making jewelry, scrap booking, or any other type of art therapy; you and your loved one will spend hours creating. A few of the most popular art activities for adults with disabilities include:

  • Developing origami
  • Beading activities
  • Crafting with clay
  • Creating paper mache
  • Reusing and recreating
  • Creative toys
  • Decorating with paint
  • Creating with fabric

Music Therapy Activities for Adults with Disabilities

Adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities typically respond well to music activities because it motivates action, captivates attention, brings joy, and offers success. In particular, music can be helpful because it is processed in both the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Music is a multi-sensory activity that incorporates auditory, visual, tactical systems, and kinesthetic systems.

At the same time, music is a wonderful way to connect and express oneself, which can be especially helpful for those who struggle with language or are nonverbal. Whether it’s singing along or playing an instrument like the tambourines, music activities accomplish the following goals:

  • Academics – You can translate virtually anything into a song to improve recall.
  • Communication and speech – Creating custom songs can help increase repetition without monotony while isolating sounds.  
  • Gross and fine motor skills – Implementing adaptive and traditional percussion instruments (such as hand drums) can help address gross and fine motor skills.
  • Behavioral – You can create musical stories and songs to reinforce appropriate behavior.
  • Emotional-Social – Songs can be used to help adults with disabilities identify feelings and utilize coping strategies anytime they’re feel overwhelmed.
  • Quality of Life and Self Esteem – Successful and positive experiences can be commemorated through song and musical experiences.

Contact Community Mainstreaming

The activities you do at home with your loved one with intellectual/developmental disabilities can significantly help them throughout every facet of their lives. When choosing different activities for adults with disabilities, we find it most effective to focus on what they can do — not on what they can’t.

Looking for Community Habilitation, Self Direction, or Residential Services for your loved one? Contact Community Associates today.