Finding activities for people with learning disabilities (LD) to enjoy isn’t always easy. Lots of people with LD find communication difficult, so just catching up with a chat isn’t always possible. If you’re looking for something to do when visiting a loved one with LD, sensory activities are a good place to start.
What are sensory activities?
When spending time with a loved one with learning disabilities, you want them to be calm and happy while also engaging with their surroundings. Activities that engage their five senses of sight, sound, touch, taste and scent, are a good way to do this. Some activities focus on one sense, while others utilise a combination of different senses. We’ve put together some ideas of activities you might like to try.
Sensory activities using touch
Playdough can be great fun. Try making different shapes, or use tools or items to add texture. This activity encourages creative thinking and exercises fine motor skills. You can use different colours or even scented playdough to engage additional senses too.
Hand massage is a pleasant activity that many people find calming. It helps to connect you both through touch and relieves stress at the same time. A scented lotion can enhance the sensory experience.
Cold and heat can be used for touch sensory activities too — how does an ice pack or warm wheat bag feel on different parts of the body?
Sensory activities using sight
If the weather is agreeable, cloud watching can be a relaxing and fun activity. Spotting differently shaped clouds is a good conversation starter and great practice in thinking creatively.
Bubbles are something that lots of people enjoy. From small pots of blow-your-own bubbles to giant bubble sticks or battery-powered machines that produce lots of bubbles, they are sure to elicit smiles.
Sensory activities using taste
Cooking and eating together is a nice activity for some but not for everyone. A taste test of different fruits or drinks can be a different way of using taste in an activity. A selection of different varieties of apple for example — describe the differences in looks, tastes and textures.
Sensory activities using sound
Engaging your loved one with sound could be as simple as listening to music or reading aloud, or it could be more hands-on. Playing with a musical instrument is something lots of people enjoy.
Nature sounds can be soothing, and recordings of different bird or animal sounds can be made into a game.
Sensory activities using scent
We’ve already mentioned scented lotion and scented playdough – scented felt-tip pens are another possibility. For something a bit different, how about making pot pourri? Source some dried flowers and whole spices such as star anise, cinnamon sticks and cloves.
A sensory walk outdoors is a great way to engage with the senses. See the different colours, touch leaves and bark, listen to birds singing, and smell flowers.
Indoors, a busy board can be an engaging activity. This is a board covered in things with different textures, things that open and close, spin, and more. They are good for practising problem-solving and using fine motor skills, and can include learning colours, numbers or letters.
Buttons or beads can make a simple but enjoyable activity. They engage sight, sound and touch, and can be used to make patterns or shapes or be sorted by colour or size.
Find out more about Halland House
To find out more about Halland House learning disabilities care home in Uckfield, East Sussex, and our activities, visit our website or contact us for details.