11 Activities for Adults with Disabilities to Support Self-Determination

A man with one leg puts on a belt so he can rock climb

Self-determination is about putting power over your life in your own hands. For adults with disabilities, self-determination can play a key role in protecting personal freedom. Below, we’ve compiled a list of fun and easy activities for adults with disabilities that support the idea of self-determination. Use these tips to work on specific skills to help yourself or a loved one set and achieve personal goals.

11 Self-Determination Activities for Adults With Disabilities 

These activities for adults with disabilities target key principles of self-determination like freedom, independence, authority, and support. Let’s take a closer look.

1. Create a Goal Guide or Journal

Target Skills: Freedom, personal autonomy

In order to act on the things you want to achieve, you have to know what they are! Keeping a journal is one easy way to identify your inner voice. If you’re not a fan of writing, a goal brainstorm might be a better choice. Set a timer for 15 minutes and jot down your wildest hopes and dreams.

2. Take a Cooking Class

Target Skills: Independence

Learn how to prepare some fun new dishes on your own by attending a cooking class. This is also a great way to work on other skills like knife safety, meal planning, and grocery shopping.

3. Visit a Career Counselor

Target Skills: Support, authority

Pursuing a dream career might look a little different for you than others, but that doesn’t mean it’s not doable! Schedule a session with a career counselor to sit down and think about your goals. A counselor can help you figure out what you need to do to make your vision a reality.

4. Pick Up a Musical Instrument

Target Skill or Goal: Self-Expression

Being in touch with your feelings is important. It helps you advocate for what you need and know when to ask for help. Music helps many people connect with and understand their emotions. Try a new instrument or practice one you already love to give yourself the chance to do the same.

5. Volunteer in Your Community

Target Skill or Goal: Responsibility

Volunteer work naturally builds life skills in a low-stakes environment. You can pick them up from the volunteer work itself (like serving meals at a soup kitchen). It’s also possible to gain skills from the process of volunteering (like time management skills that help you show up when you’re supposed to). 

Activities for Adults with Developmental Disabilities

6. DIY Modeling Clay Creations

Target Skill or Goal: Self-Expression

Shaping, sculpting, and having fun with modeling clay is a great way to build some fine motor skills and listen to your inner self. Create whatever strikes your fancy, let it dry, and decorate it to your liking.

7. Start an Indoor Garden

Target Skill or Goal: Responsibility, independence

Keeping your plants healthy and happy is no easy task. But it will help you work on your independence and responsibility skills. Those little guys depend on you, after all! Gardening is also a good way to practice routine.

8. Create a Memory Box

Target Skill or Goal: Authority, self-expression

Hold on to important memories and work on your organizational skills by making a memory box. Any old shoe box or cardboard box will do. Gather some belongings that are important to you, organize them in your box, and then go crazy with the decorations!

Activities for Adults with Intellectual Disabilities

9. Try a Fun New Puzzle

Target Skill or Goal: Independence 

Challenge your noggin with a new jigsaw, Sudoku, or crossword puzzle. Problem-solving and cognitive skills help boost your independence!

10. Create Sensory Bins

Target Skill or Goal: Support

Stimulating the senses can be overwhelming, but when done right, it may have the opposite effect. Work on sensory regulation and learn what feels good (and what doesn’t) by experimenting with some sensory bins. You can fill them with any texture you’d like, from water to homemade playdough to sand and more. 

11. Put on an At-Home Fashion Show

Target Skill or Goal: Independence

Practice routines and self-dressing by hosting an at-home fashion show. Try on different outfits, experiment with new hair styles, and strut your stuff in front of family and friends.

Learn What Self-Determination Means to You

NeuroNav is here to serve as your source for disability resources and insights that help you live the life you deserve. We also work closely with participants of the California Self-Determination Program, serving as Independent Facilitators that help individuals connect with the services they need to bring their goals to life. 

To learn more about our services, feel free to contact our team. For more disability information and advice, be sure to check out the rest of our Self-Determination Hub.

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