Keeping Children with Severe Intellectual Disabilities Occupied – A How to Guide!


Children with special needs are generally those who suffer from severe intellectual disabilities. They have a tough time adjusting to their environment as a result of their IQ which is significantly lower than average – between 70 and 89, when the average IQ score is 100. Ordinary tasks like engaging in conversation, or using a pencil for instance seem like a difficult task for children with such disabilities. Here is how you can give your child a better quality of life while giving him an opportunity to develop and grow with structured activities that will help promote fundamental skills in a fun environment.

Learning Activities

The learning ability and grasping power of your child is hindered in various ways depending on his disability. In majority of the cases when a child has an intellectual disability it hampers his language development and will have little or no speech. In such situations they communicate with others through visual aids, like gestures and pictures. According to your child’s disability, you can teach him sign language, picture exchange communication or even any other non-verbal form of communication. You can enable your child to assess and make sense of the world around him with the help of sequencing cards to aid the understanding of the order of events. Make things entertaining and interesting for you child with the help of puppets and other tactile props to make them convey their wants and needs or use them yourself to teach him basic concepts. You can also include joint reading during story time to help develop your child’s language and ability to associate pictures with words.

Sensory Activities

Help promote your child’s ability to process information through the five basic sense through sensory activities while exploring and discovering his environment. Go on a mini expedition by talking a walk through the park or around the block. Encourage your child to listen, look, smell and touch various elements of nature like the Koyal’s song, the silky smooth texture of the rose petal or the mesmerising fragrance of the jasmine. If your child is good with his speech encourage him to describe what he sees, smells or hears and what it feels like.

Creative Activities

The creative arts have always been a favourite among children, and more so when it comes to disabled children. This helps them express emotions and ideas without the fear of being right or wrong. With the help of finger painting and sponge painting activities you can help your child develop and better his motor skills while nurturing his creative tree of thought. Lend your child a helping hand in creating rubbings with charcoal or chalk pastels by gliding his hand back and forth over a sheet of paper. One more interesting and fun activity for you child would be to cover the floor with newspaper, lay down some sturdy paper in the middle and give your child squeeze bottles filled with colourful paints or pre – dipped paint brushes and let them squirt or splatter away to glory. An interesting way to fine tune your child’s motor skills would be to help your child glue large sea shells on to a large wooden box, creating a pattern and use it decorate your house or if your child prefers working with clay you can venture into some clay art as well.

Social Activities

Socializing with other people is a bit of a task for children with severe intellectual disabilities since it takes a little longer for their language and cognitive development when compared to other children. Giving your child a nudge in the friendly direction by playing interactive games like peak a boo will aid in your child’s ability to interact with others. You can always make your child do little interactive errands like bringing the newspaper to Grandpa or handing out the snacks to siblings to bring forward opportunities to interact with family members. One more way to help develop your child’s social skills would be to arrange for a play date with a similar mother child duo or take your child to community events like parades and festivals.