Adults with special needs have physical, developmental, learning or mental health challenges. Consider the adult's specific disability, functioning level and interests to tailor activities to do with them that boost their self-esteem, provide a sense of accomplishment and improve their quality of life.
Participate in Sports
You can adapt sports activities such as biking, swimming, running, tennis and weight training to the challenges of special needs adults. Visit your local YMCA for health assessments and wellness coaching. [Disabled Sports USA](disabledsportsusa.org), a nationwide network based in Rockville, MD, and [Special Olympics](specialolympics.org) also provide a variety of sporting opportunities. Other physical activities may include skating, bowling, rock climbing, hiking, camping and taking nature walks.
Hang Out at Home
Cooking with a special needs adult may involve simple, motivating recipes with repetitive tasks such as cutting and rolling. Kitchen activities include using appliances and correctly setting the table. You and your special needs family member can enjoy creating a family recipe book together. You can also help a special needs adult adopt a pet, fostering responsibility through such chores as feeding and grooming. You could introduce a special needs adult to online learning and using computer skills; Internet [Special Education Resources](iser.com) offers a nationwide directory of opportunities. Additional indoor activities may include playing video games, board games or ping pong.
Go Out Into the Community
Take a special needs adult on a trip to an amusement park, fair or zoo. Other outings may include going to a movie, dining out or attending a baseball game or concert. You can offer special needs adults opportunities to volunteer in the community, such as bagging food for a food bank, picking up trash or raking a neighbor's leaves. Connect with nature by visiting a nursery and participate in garden-related activities, such as planting, pulling weeds, making compost or creating a terrarium.
Engage in Art and Music Therapy
Introduce a special needs adult to art activities such as coloring, painting, making collages, scrap-booking, sculpting or pottery making. Offer therapeutic art lessons for creative expression provided by [Art Shop](artshoptherapy.com). Craft projects may include knitting, quilting, jewelry-making, woodworking, or molding with clay or papier-mache. Provide songs focusing on music and dance therapy using [Songs for Teaching](www.songsforteaching.com), and help with lyric writing, recording music, singing karaoke or playing an instrument.
- National Association for Adults with Special Learning Needs
- The Special Needs Cooking Experience; Marion P. Thomas
- Activities for Adults with Learning Disabilities: Having Fun, Meeting Needs; Helen Sonnet and Ann Taylor
- Age Appropriate Activities for Adults with Profound Mental Retardation; Nina Galerstein
- College of Adaptive Arts
- CPaulussen/iStock/Getty Images