Activities for Mentally Challenged People

Updated June 16, 2017

There are many types of disorders and conditions that may make a person mentally challenged, also known as intellectually or developmentally disabled. These people are limited in abilities reliant on intellectual functioning, including conceptual, social and practical life skills. People with these challenges often require support in their daily lives, including settings such as home, community and work. Certain activities may help people with intellectual disabilities develop skills to increase independence in these areas.


Some basic activities can help people with intellectual disabilities develop work skills. Many of these skills are a challenge for people with intellectual disabilities but can go a long way toward helping them gain more independence. Courses geared toward people with these challenges provide activities meant to teach the skills needed for work and life. These may include role-playing activities using props such as cash registers, phones and groceries; travelling on public transportation; cooking; dressing appropriately; and balancing a checkbook.

Activities of Daily Living

Activities of daily living include basic hygiene and grooming skills such as bathing, cooking, tooth brushing and washing clothes. Neglect of these activities can lead to medical problems. Many people with intellectual disabilities need support in these areas, and developing these skills can increase independence as well.

A therapist or counsellor can help a person work on these skills. Techniques include helping the individual to see her own strengths and weaknesses with these activities and understand what specific activities need improvement. An individual can team up with a close friend or relative to help her practice these activities and make them part of her daily life. For people who are in need of more support, behavioural rewards may be used to help encourage participation, such as offering incentives for certain activities. For people who need less support, explaining the consequences and benefits of developing these habits may be helpful.

Social Activities

There are many types of social and recreational activities geared toward people with intellectual disabilities. Some individuals with these disabilities are often unaware of basic social skills, which can impeded their ability to interact with others and become more independent.

Social groups offered by many non-profit organisations include activities such as sports, dancing and other hobbies that are geared towards socialisation. Counsellors working with individuals with include intellectual disabilities may use specific activities to aid social development as well. This can include instruction in interaction, modelling of social interaction and role-playing. Counsellors may also create group games and recreational activities that can help individuals practice these skills.

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About the Author

Rebeca Renata has been writing since 2005 and has been published on various websites. She specializes in writing about clinical social work and social services. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Connecticut as well as a Master of Social Work from the Smith College School for Social Work.