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Crafts for Mentally Challenged Adults

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Adult painting a picture with watercolors.

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.



Here are questions related to Crafts for Mentally Challenged Adults.

Question: Adapting the Making of a Quilt for Developmentally Disabled Adults

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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By Paulette Gulakowski [7]12/10/2012

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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By jean leiner [14]12/10/2012

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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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.

Question: Crafts for Mentally Challenged Individuals

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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By Jeannie Cerar [5]07/13/2009

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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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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By Di [12]07/13/2009

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 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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By carole [14]07/13/2009

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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