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Keep Your Cool This Summer With Fresh Sensory Activity Ideas

Summer presents a wonderful opportunity for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs) to engage in activities that stimulate the senses, foster creativity, and promote relaxation, all of which are good for mental health. You can do this by going on an accessible family vacation or getaway, of course, but you can also do sensory activities on any average summer day at home. 

Sensory Gardens: A Touch of Nature

Creating a sensory garden is a fantastic way for adults with IDDs to connect with nature while stimulating their senses. A sensory garden features plants and accessories designed to engage the senses of sight, smell, touch, and even taste. Incorporate a variety of textures and scents with plants like lavender, mint, and textured foliage, like lamb's ear. You can add brightly colored garden ornaments for extra visual interest. If a full-sized garden isn’t practical for you, try creating a “fairy garden” in a pot, tub, or planter. 

Water Play: Splashing Fun

Water activities are a no-brainer when it comes to summer fun (and staying cool). Activities such as playing with water tables or engaging in gentle water games can be soothing and provide sensory feedback that many adults with IDDs find enjoyable. Additionally, the quiet swishing sounds of water can be particularly relaxing and help in reducing sensory overload.

Arts and Crafts: Creative Expressions

Engaging in arts and crafts is a therapeutic activity that allows for expression through texture and color. Consider mini-projects like creating custom wind chimes or assembling bead bracelets. These activities not only stimulate fine motor skills, but also provide a tactile experience that can be incredibly satisfying. Moreover, the visual satisfaction of creating something beautiful can boost self-esteem and provide a tangible sense of achievement.

Music and Movement: Rhythmic Harmony

Incorporating music into daily activities is a simple way to treat the ear and can include everything from listening to calming tunes to participating in a drum circle. Musical activities, or activities with music in the background, can help in improving motor skills, reducing stress, and elevating mood (especially if you choose fun summer-themed songs). Singing, drumming, or dancing to music can also provide beneficial forms of physical exercise and sensory input.

Sensory Bins: A World of Discovery

Sensory bins are containers filled with materials that allow for exploratory play and tactile exploration. Use fun-to-touch items like rice, beans, squishy toys, or water beads to fill these bins, focusing on summer themes, shapes, and colors. For example, you might try a beach-themed bin with sand and shells to make the experience more seasonally appropriate.

Culinary Activities: Flavorful Creations

Cooking or preparing simple snacks can be a delightful sensory activity, offering not just taste but also the aroma and the tactile experience of handling food. Try to use sensory-rich materials like dough or textured seasonal fruits and vegetables. These activities also encourage participation in daily life skills and make for a fun (and mouthwatering) experience.

Enjoy Summer More 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. 

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. Contact us today to learn more about living the Progressive Lifestyle!



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