Crafts for Mentally Challenged Adults

Finding crafts that are easy enough and at the same time engaging enough for mentally challenged adults can be daunting, as there will be many different skills levels. This is a guide about crafts for mentally challenged adults.
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July 12, 2009 Flag
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I work with people that are mentally retarded and am looking for simple to hard crafts intended for them. Does any one know of a website that may be available out there to help me?

By lee298

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July 13, 20090 found this helpful
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I also work with mentally challenged individuals. I have used several sources for my craft ideas. Thrifty fun has been a big help. Also I use www.familyfun.com, www.kaboose.com, Pac O Fun magazine, and look at Oriental Trader's catalog. Often I take an idea and change it to meet the abilities of my students.

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July 13, 20090 found this helpful
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I used to care for 2 mentally challenged people and what they liked to do was plastic canvas. They started me on it too. It is fun and easy. The plastic canvas is cheap and just use regular yarn. I know they would like it. There are several free projects for plastic canvas on craftbits and several more websites. Good luck and have fun.

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July 13, 20090 found this helpful
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I'm a mom of a son with Down syndrome and I've worked in classrooms for mentally challenged children, a home for adults and am a special Olympics coach. Lots of experience here! A lot depends on the abilities of the people you are working with. Most of the people I have known have loved paint by number kits, loop potholder kits, stringing beads of any kind, simple sewing projects, making things with Popsicle sticks, gluing puzzle pieces to picture frames, putting puzzles together and gluing them to make a picture, many love clay or play doh projects, anything with glitter, stencils & stickers, making sock puppets, gluing things to clay pots, making clay pot figures, planting almost anything, decorating a pillow case or a tee shirt with fabric paints, Sassier299 mentioned plastic canvas which is good and some may be able to actually do cross stitch.

I taught a 7 year old autistic child to crochet, the possibilities are endless depending on the capabilities of each person and the patience of the teacher. Oriental Trading is an excellent place to find kits. Michael's crafts has a lot of ideas on the website. Look at teacher oriented websites and at websites for home schooling. Also, get into the craft section of About.com for ideas. Just go for it! You'll have a lot of fun working with them and you will also learn from them.

I'm sure you meant no offense in using the term 'retarded', but as a parent of a son with Down syndrome, let me say thank you to beacondtspec & to sassier299 for saying mentally challenged. I'm OK with it, but you may want to be more politically correct because some parents & relatives get very offended by the 'R' word.

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Anonymous Flag
July 13, 20090 found this helpful
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A very dear cousin of mine, who is thirty nine years old and mentally challenged, is very good at decorating boxes, envelopes and writing paper with stickers and/or paints. He also likes to help cook and bake.

He loves to do physical work whether it is cleaning, sweeping or washing the car. He tells me he likes doing those things more than crafts ;-)

I too appreciate reading (or hearing) the term mentally challenged rather than the negative implication of the word retarded because the 'R' word is basically the same as calling someone useless and a failure. When my cousin hears that word (he can not read) he becomes agitated. His mind is that of a six or seven year old but deep down inside he must understand the negative connotation or else he would not become so upset :-(

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July 13, 20090 found this helpful
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My sister is a Downs adult. She loves to do hook work, Christmas banners, rugs. Also scrapbooks with cutouts and stickers. She takes photos and chooses what ones she wants. Sites to go through for various crafts is WonderTime and FaveCrafts - both free with many ideas. You can subscribe to their newsletter that comes around holidays.

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July 15, 20090 found this helpful

Both of the following are a link to a book of crafts for the mentally disabled. (I think one you can actually buy it off the site)

http://openlibrary.org/b/OL4557473M ... for-physically-and-mentally-disabled

http://www.alibris.com/search/books ... 20How,%20What,%20and%20Why%20of%20It

Its not exactly cheap though :(

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July 17, 20090 found this helpful

I must quite agree that the 'R' word is a negative one, and I am quite sure you meant not to offend. I am a mom to two autistic beautiful children. I have found a site that both my 5 and 8 year old can navigate easily. It was designed by a grandfather for his autistic grandson:

www.zacbrowser.com

Might some of them be inclined to colour pages and make up a story to go with those pages, even if you wrote them?

A few more, not designed specifically for autistics or special needs, but you may get some ideas:

http://pbskids.org/

http://kids.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Dow ... ble_Games_for_Special_Needs_Children

http://pbskids.org/cyberchase/games.html

http://www.education-world.com/a_curr/curr139.shtml

These are just some of the sites I found through google.

I hope they help.

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July 18, 20090 found this helpful

I don't care for the use of the "r" word, either, unless it is used in its true context which it seems in this case it is/was. Society has, unfortunately, put the stigma on the word.

But I, too, am the mother of a wonderful young man who happens to have autism and am a special education teacher as well, and I have to say that the big letter introduction by the grandfather at www.zacbrowser.com using "suffering from... autism" is offensive as well. I typically use "lives with autism" or "endures autism" or "happens to have autism".

As for crafts, Discount School Supply (.com) has a lot of good craft items and kits: http://tinyurl.com/nxneq3 I particularly like the picture frames that can be decorated as they seem to be favorites of children and adults as well. They also have a blog for persons working with people with challenges and many excellent resources and links. Sending blessings to all.

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September 29, 20140 found this helpful

http://m.psychologytoday.com/conditions/mental-retardation

A diagnosis IS politically correct. If you are that sensitive about correct usage of the word, maybe it's because of the connotations in your own mind. My client has a MR diagnosis. That doesn't mean she is useless. It is just a term that describes her.

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Anonymous Flag
December 10, 20150 found this helpful

Whewwww....I was surprised someone in the field would use that word..glad you said what I thought.

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September 25, 20160 found this helpful

Well, first off I would suggest refraining from using the word "retard". Our clients are people first, which is why we say "people with disabilities". If you ask any person who struggles with illness, using the word "retard" is very rude.

Now to answer your question, any arts and crafts would be fine. Really, it depends on your clients mobility and mental determination. Start with something small, I,e. modelling clay, finger painting, paper mache...

If your clients seem to take this head on and enjoy themselves then move up to something that requires a bit more patience and skill. I hope this helps you on your journey!

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December 7, 2012 Flag
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I would like to do a quilt project with a group of developmentally disabled adults. I have been able to adapt the process for how to use a pattern, cut out the pattern pieces, etc., but I really need a way for them to sew it semi-independently.

I'm looking for a way to make an inexpensive "guide" for the fabric seam so that the seam stays straight even if the individual cannot hold it in place or lets go by mistake. I have seen those sticky strips of orange plastic, but I really need something higher that won't accidentally slip under the foot and be sewn on. These strips are also very short and would require constant replacing. If anyone has any ideas, I would love to hear them.

By Lisa

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Anonymous Flag
December 9, 20120 found this helpful
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I work with children that have handicap and I use large paper clips to hold paper together so they can glue it together or even show them how the two piece fit together for their project. I have tried this with material and it works just as well, all you have to do when the sewing is done is to remove the paper clips and you have the project at a great point so you can combine the pieces together from other people who maybe working on more squares. I hope that this will help you in some way. Have a great day and thanks for being the type of person who would take the time to work with us old people.

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December 10, 20120 found this helpful
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Could you use painter's tape on the fabric where the stitching goes? Painter's tape is minimally sticky, and pulls off with no residue. It would give straight stitching lines, and not fall off. Hope this helps.

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December 10, 20120 found this helpful
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I don't know if this would work, but maybe you could try double sided mounting tape (foam kind). It's about an 16th of an inch thick and you could lay it on the fabric in line beside proposed stitching.

Second idea: tape the mounting tape in layers on the machine to run the edge of the fabric against as they sew. Good Luck! I used to work with developmentally disabled adults with physical disabilities. Believe me, I had to figure out many adaptions!

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