Art Activities for Adults with Developmental Disabilities

Along with helping improve independence and social skills, the community-based care at Integrity helps adults with developmental disabilities nurture their creative skills through arts and crafts. Here’s how arts and crafts can help build critical skills and how those skills can translate to other areas in life and community-based care.

The importance of arts and crafts

There are far more benefits to art and art therapy than you might think. In fact, if you’re looking for the best activities for adults with developmental disabilities, you’ll find arts and crafts high on that list.

And there are many reasons for this. Not only does it provide those adults with a creative outlet, but it also lets them show off their creative accomplishments to others. This promotes social interaction, builds confidence, and helps ease the transition into a new group or community.

Other benefits include:

  • improved cognition
  • better psychological resilience and coping skills
  • improved memory
  • a positive outlook
  • improved fine motor skills
  • calmer emotions

Art ideas for disabled adults

One of the other benefits of arts and crafts is that you have many projects to choose from. Here are some popular options, some ideas for how to create them, and how they can help build important life skills.


A blank scrapbook is an individualized art project waiting to happen. Scrapbooks can contain anything and everything, as long as they’re meaningful to the person creating it. Scrapbooks help people to hold on to important memories while also building photography and computer skills.

If an adult has sensory needs, a scrap book can also be changed into a sensory book by using different pleasing materials. Consider using these items for your next scrapbook project:

  • Photographs of loved ones, holidays, or other memories
  • Printed images from the internet
  • Tickets
  • Cut-outs from maps, showing where you’ve been
  • Magazine cutouts of images and words that mean something to you
  • Newspaper clippings
  • Letters
  • Postcards
  • Leaves and other bits of nature
  • Poems and other written words
  • Hand drawn pictures


Although knitting can require a lot of time and patience, it can be a highly enjoyable and creative experience. It also helps those with disabilities build coordination and fine motor skills.

For more creativity, you can get specialist knitting magazines with different knitting patterns to try out new objects. Here are some fantastic items to knit once you get the hang of it:

  • hats and scarfs
  • baby clothes
  • toys
  • Christmas decorations
  • key rings
  • house decor
  • pet clothes

Paper mache

Helping build find motor skills, paper mache is a fantastic art activity for adults with disabilities. It’s also very cheap and easy to do. Simply decide what you want to make, get plenty of newspaper, make a paste, and begin your creation.

Paper mache can take a few days to dry, so this is a project that you’ll need to come back to in order to finish it. Once it’s dry, you can paint it, and decorate it however you like. Some great things to make with paper mache include:

  • an ornament for the house
  • a figurine of a movie character
  • a globe
  • a model head
  • a piece of abstract art

Building models

Building models of cars, trains, airplanes, or boats can help adults achieve a great sense of accomplishment. And since they have to follow steps to build a model from start to finish, it really helps with problem-solving and cognitive skills. It can also help them bond with others, and learn to work in a team if others are involved in the model building projects.


No matter someone’s ability level, providing that they can hold a pencil (with or without support), they can sketch a picture. Using different kinds of of pencils, you can sketch anything from landscapes and portraits to pets and fruit. You may be able to attend a still life class or life model drawing class, which also improves social relationships and communication skills.

A sketch pad is also just a great thing to own. It can be a very personal and proud item for those who have one. Filling it with favorite shapes, images and patterns is a great way of passing time and developing coordination skills.

Fabric or glass painting

Painting a picture is one thing, but painting glass or fabric is quite another. Grab a vase, a white sheet, an item of clothing, a piece of furniture, and, if possible, some specialist paints, and you can turn glass or fabric into something extraordinary. You can even use fabric painting to upcycle an old cushion or the couch itself!

There are also many YouTube videos and other online tutorials to help complete this project. A long as you can get the supplies, there’s nothing that you can’t improve with a lick of paint.


Upcycling is incredibly popular right now. It’s the process of taking an item that needs repair or refreshing and using do-it-yourself (DIY) skills to make it new and shiny again. For example, an old pine desk with marks and chips all over it can be sanded down, painted in chalk paint, and waxed to look new and trendy again.

You can also upcycle nearly everything! This includes clothes, shoes, and bags. Check out a few YouTube videos on this process, and you’re sure to be an upcycling master. This creative task helps adults learn to use new tools and provides a sense of ownership over their newly painted items.

For more information

Arts and crafts is a great way to for adults with developmental disabilities to have fun, build important skills, and maximize their quality of life in community-based care. For more information on Integrity’s Day Programs for Adults in Little Rock, contact us today at (501) 406-0442, or submit this form today.

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