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Art Therapy Activities For Adults With IDDS


Art therapy can be great for anyone: it’s excellent for everything from simple stress relief to recovering from trauma. It can also be quite beneficial for adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDDs). Here’s what you need to know about art therapy and how to harness it at home.

What Is Art Therapy?

Art therapy is a creative approach to mental wellness that uses art materials and techniques to help individuals express themselves and explore their emotions. The process promotes personal growth and healing. It’s particularly beneficial for adults with IDDs, as it provides them with a nonverbal outlet for self-expression and communication.


Art therapy can be conducted individually or in groups under the guidance of a trained art therapist. Activities involve engaging with various art forms, such as painting, drawing, sculpting, collage-making, and more. The process of creating art allows individuals to tap into their imagination, increase self-awareness, and develop new coping skills. Through the act of creation, individuals can express their feelings, thoughts, and experiences, even when verbal communication is challenging.



Art Therapy Activities To Try at Home

Here are some art activity ideas you can try at home that have proven to be effective:


  • Collage self-portraits. Participants can create collages that represent themselves using materials like magazines, photographs, fabric, and colored paper. This activity promotes self-reflection, self-identity, and self-expression.


  • Nature-inspired art. Go outdoors to gather natural materials like leaves, flowers, and stones. At home, create art pieces using these materials, such as leaf rubbings, flower paintings, or stone sculptures. This activity fosters a connection with nature and encourages sensory exploration.


  • Emotion paintings. Provide a range of colors and ask participants to paint what different emotions look like to them. This activity helps individuals recognize and express their emotions in a safe and nonverbal manner.


  • Group murals. Collaborative art projects can be immensely rewarding for individuals with IDDs. Assign a large canvas or a blank wall where everyone can contribute to a group mural. This activity promotes teamwork, social interaction, and a sense of belonging.


  • Sensory art. Experiment with different textures, such as sand, rice, fabric, and paint, to create tactile art experiences. Individuals can explore these materials using their hands or various tools. This activity stimulates sensory integration and can be calming for those with sensory sensitivities.


  • Memory boxes. Encourage individuals to create personalized memory boxes using photos, trinkets, and other meaningful objects. These boxes can serve as visual reminders of cherished memories and promote a sense of nostalgia, which helps to facilitate storytelling.


  • Guided drawing. Provide step-by-step instructions for drawing simple objects or shapes. This activity helps individuals develop concentration, fine motor skills, and visual-spatial abilities.


Art therapy should focus on the process rather than the final product. Tailor the activities to each person's abilities and interests, ensuring they have the necessary materials and adaptations.


Enjoy Creative Well-Being With Progressive Lifestyles

Progressive Lifestyles, Inc. is dedicated to providing innovative support services for people with disabilities. Our mission is to provide supportive and caring residential opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout Oakland County, Michigan. Browse our blog for additional resources to help you and your child live your best and healthiest lives.


A primary focus of our organization is to interact with the individuals we support through the “Culture of Gentleness” model. We seek to create a positive environment to help them feel safe and valued while maximizing praise, limiting demands, maintaining consistent structure, and reducing stress during transitions.


We are hiring! No experience? No worries! You bring a warm heart and we'll teach you how to be a fantastic caregiver plus give you skills that you can use to further your career. Apply now!



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