Keeping a bored disabled adult occupied

Discussion in 'disABILITIES Community Board' started by lovetoscrap, Oct 18, 2010.

  1. lovetoscrap

    lovetoscrap Sees tag fairy posts that aren't there. Moderator

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    Parents especially, but anyone with any experience/ideas.

    My brother is 35 and is quite developmentally/mentally disabled. He is at about a 1st grade level. He only reads very simple things, does K level math, and gets frustrated easily. He can't be left alone and really is incapable of entertaining himself. He does love to watch TV-- mostly sports and the news --although he doesn't really understand it, but TV is one of his main fixations.

    As a child he did entertain himself and played for hours on his own, but as an adult he no longer does. He is capable of doing tasks with repeated training like sorting laundry or using the microwave- but it is time consuming and he constantly asks if he is doing it right and seeks approval for each tiny step even for things he has been doing all of his life. (I've got my toothbrush. I put toothpaste on it, now what do I do? I brushed my teeth. What do I do with the towel?)

    Since high school he has worked so that has occupied a good part of his day so it wasn't that big of a deal, but for various reasons he is no longer working and is bored. He is driving my mom crazy! My stepfather is very ill so she is taking care of him, he is at the hospital for chemo for several hours a day and mom is trying to keep their business going. DBro has to go where ever they go and sit around for hours at the hospital, at the office and at home.

    He needs something to do! But we just can't figure out what. He has a Gameboy but isn't very good at it so it gets boring fast when you just keep dying/losing. He can't read or do any type or word or number puzzles. His fine motor and hand eye coordination are not great-- again, at like a very basic K or 1st grade level. But he does know he is an adult so rejects anything that would be for kids, like easier video games. I suggested some coloring books and crayons but don't think he is interested in that. He could probably use a computer with training and they have a laptop, but he doesn't want to go to "kid sites".

    Any type of group activities or respite care is not an option. My parents simply refuse to let him out of their site (that is a whole 'nother issue all together!). He has no friends so no one to hang out with or to talk to. And he isn't allowed to do any chores around the house because mom feels it is just easier for her to do it than to try to teach him (again, a whole 'nother issue:sad2:)

    Any ideas on things that could keep him occupied? Portable and at home? Nothing that involves anything sharp, hot or messy. If you wouldn't let a 5 year old do it mostly unsupervised then it is probably too much for him. My sister are trying to think out of the box and come up with anything that he could do. Any ideas or suggestions? Money isn't really an big consideration-- if it was something he would enjoy and keep him busy we would make it happen. Heck, he doesn't even have to enjoy it -- just stay busy!!
     
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  3. peemagg

    peemagg <font color=blue>We are doing the AKL tri-fecta<br

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    What about something like Lincoln Logs, or legos? Playdough?
     
  4. Bearshouse

    Bearshouse Mouseketeer

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    It is a shame that your mom doesn't even want to consider respite care. I was a staff for 3 years. We did all sorts of things from the zoo, mall and eating out, to self help skills and even cooking a frozen pizza. Of course I have my own disabled son and we only use staff to be my "extra hands" when we are out in the community. :lmao:

    But I digress.

    What about sequencing cards, or other cards on those lines. Also maybe mega blocks instead of legos they are bigger but not much. Even a portable tv with a stack of dvds maybe. What about daily activity cards that he looks at to "work" on what order to brush his teeth, etc.

    It is a hard place to be, so sending big hugs your way.

    Bearshouse
     
  5. dunbarfamily

    dunbarfamily I'm a proud homebirthing crunchy mama who loves Wa

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    The first thing that came to mind was sorting larger-type beads. But I'm wondering if he'd need to see some value to it in order for him to not see it as a child's passtime. Hmmm...what about sorting laundry? But I suppose he'd eventually run out of clothes to sort. You mentioned coloring....does he like to draw? Could he make drawings of the rooms he's in at the hospital? What about making a book of the rooms he's in?

    I will give this some thought, and will post again when I have more ideas.

    Until then, sending you lots of hugs. This is a hard thing to work through. I am blessed to know several differently-abled people in my life and am familiar with the blessings their families receive and the challenges faced by their families.

    Take care.
     
  6. 2luvmickey

    2luvmickey Where my dreams always come true...

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    I too have a mentally and physically disabled brother and he was in my parents care all his life (he's nearly 60). Just 18 months ago, he moved into an apartment with another disabled adult (with 24 hour care) and he LOVES his independence.

    I can understand your mom's need to protect her baby, but this is a great disservice to your brother. Believe me, it was hard for my mom to let my brother go, but he calls her every day (touch phone with her picture on a programmed dial).

    I don't know where you live, but is there a sheltered workshop in the area? Your brother can go there during the day, socialize and be with people, and come back home to your parents. This is a positive for him and your mom. If that is not an option, is there an adult "day care" service? I see that this is a "whole 'nother issue" - mom just needs to let go and let your brother live! I'm sure you have talked to her until you are blue in the face, but she needs to think of your brother's future. Okay, off my soapbox and back to helping you...

    Do you have any boxes of family pictures? Could he be put to work sorting those? How about music? I bought my brother a child's mp3 player, loaded it with songs and gave it to him to use during his down time. Can he help your mom at the office with simple tasks like empty the trash, sweeping, recycling? (Come on mom, give him some independence!)

    You say he loves sports - how about some DVD's of sport movies like Rudy, Hoosiers (yes, I am from Indiana and went to ND, but these are the best!). They could be played on a portable DVD when your mom takes him to work or the hospital. How about lacing cards? You could make some of your own that don't seem too babyish and sport themed - like a basketball, football, baseball bat, etc. Just print up the picture, put it on cardboard and hole punch all around. Give him some shoelaces and let him have fun.

    In the meantime, thoughts, prayers and hugs are being sent your way. Special siblings are a blessing, but they are first and foremost people that only want to be treated as such. My brother was reluctant to move, but we told him that we all moved out of the family home and it was now his turn. He adjusted beautifully and is doing very well with a wonderful support system of caregivers, caseworkers and family.

    My best to you and your family. :grouphug:
     
  7. 3BoysRDisneyFreaks

    3BoysRDisneyFreaks DIS Veteran

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    I do not have a disabled person in my family, but I am queen of trying to occupy small children out in public.

    I would vote for the dvd player or mp3 player.

    Also a digital camera. I think Fisher Price makes one that can be 'abused' by little hands. We use our old spare camera. Most of the pictures are of peoples butts, self portraits, pictures of the sky but let me tell you that is good for a long while of entertainment. The beauty of the digital camera is you can just delete the pictures every day and start new. Now I don't know how many pictures one of the kids cameras can hold so that might be an issue. I know my 3 year old can snap 100 pictures in 15 minutes.

    Kindergarten level puzzles? Like the 4 or 5 piece puzzles.

    Good luck!
     
  8. lovetoscrap

    lovetoscrap Sees tag fairy posts that aren't there. Moderator

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    I am surprised you could fit on that soapbox with me and my sister already up there! Yep, we have gone beyond blue in the face. And as the ones that will eventually be responsible for his care we are really dreading the future. He has lost all of the skills that he had gained in school. He was taught to use the bus, to do some basic cooking, to do his own laundry and to contribute around the house. He was completely ready to move to a group home with good supervision but where he could be more independent. But my mother has always been a "easier to do it myself" kind of person-- and martyr. I left home with no idea how to do laundry, very little cooking skills and no housekeeping skills (and boy does my house show it!).

    Sis and I are hoping this might be a wake up call because having to take care of him while dealing with his father's illness is really taking a toll on everyone. It is doubtful that my stepfather will survive the cancer and there is no timeline but he is declining rapidly. My mother has refused to accept that they will not always be around to care for DB. She is seeing some of the consequences of her actions but we are pretty sure when things get back to some sort of normal she will go back into denial.

    So yeah, that soapbox is pretty worn but just not anything we can do. There are a lot of behavior issues too that shouldn't be happening but they allow it so he is really less capable of things than we truly believe he should be.


    Anyway, I am going to make some of these suggestions to my sister. I may see if I can put together a goody bag of things to send him. Maybe if I tell him it is from me and are things I enjoy he won't see them as being for kids. I am half a country away so I am not directly involved in the day to day, but she is only a few hours so she is helping some (it is her father, my stepfather). I am afraid that he would see most of those things as for little kids (another opinion that has been fed to him from my parents) but anything is worth a try. I think playdoh is great but I know that is out-- he doesn't like to get his hands dirty (some OCD things there)

    I am wondering if I am actually seeing a niche that could be filled in the adult disabilities world. He would read simple books and do simple K and 1st grade type of workbooks if they weren't for little kids. If they were aimed at an adult. Same with simple puzzles and games. Does anyone know of a supplier for things like this? Continuing Education/Adult Education materials for delayed adults.

    Unfortunately he also has a strong sense of gender roles (another set of warped ideas he was given). My sister and I could probably find a lot of more "girl" stuff he could do like some crafts and things. Even some of the games my girls play on their DS and online with fashion and cooking might be good but he won't have anything to do with it, and has no interest in it.

    I think that is the big problem, he has no real interest in anything. He has always had fixations but for his adult life that is TV Stations, because he worked for one. He really needs some hobbies!

    I appreciate the hugs. I will pass them on to my mother and my sister-- they are dealing with this hands on. I am just the sounding board and idea person.

    Any other ideas are greatly appreciated.
     
  9. kehlyrsmom

    kehlyrsmom Mouseketeer

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    How about latchhook rugs, paint by numbers which can range from something easy for kids to something more difficult, painting cermics or someother type of craft item that would be suitable for a younger child.

    Maybe a simple model plane/boat kit. What about lego's they sell all sorts of neat ones but they can be pricey and you can find them in several leveals of fairly easy to more difficult. I don't have any disabled siblings but I am a parent of two children on the autism spectrum and I to worry about if they will be able to live on their own, abiltiy to hold a job etc.
     
  10. lovetoscrap

    lovetoscrap Sees tag fairy posts that aren't there. Moderator

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    Good ideas. I will do some searching this week.


    Any ideas for somethings he could collect? The more collections the better so if he loses interest in one he can go to another for awhile.

    Something small/portable and not to expensive that we could buy a bunch of and dump on him! I think he would like something he can sort and compare and look at. I was thinking about stamps. He does like travel related things--especially things about the 50 states. Even just a huge bag of basically worthless stamps from all over that he could paste in a book or put in pockets.

    Or something like baseball cards he can take in and out of a binder with plastic pages. But he isn't in to baseball. Maybe I can look for baskeball ones.

    I will check ebay tomorrow. I am on my way to bed for tonight. Other ideas would be great!
     
  11. EllenFrasier

    EllenFrasier DIS Veteran

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    Is there a Center for the Disabled in your brother's area? I would think that they would have some ideas for you on ways to keep your brother occupied. Maybe they have places where he could be a volunteer. They may also have
    things to keep him occupied at the center. Check the phone book in your brother's area and see if you can find something.
     
  12. lovetoscrap

    lovetoscrap Sees tag fairy posts that aren't there. Moderator

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    Thanks but that is not an option. As I said, parents won't let him out of their sight. Just looking for ideas for things he can do at home and can take to the hospital and office.
     
  13. mytripsandraces

    mytripsandraces DIS Veteran

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    What about coloring books that are geared towards adults? There are coloring books of geometric designs, of pieces of art, etc. Would something as diverting as that, but designed for adults be acceptable? Have you tried puzzles games like Rubik's cube? He doesn't have to have a goal to solve it. He could work on getting one side the same color (that was about as far as I ever got with it). Does he like to draw? Maybe a sketchpad and colored pencils would be helpful.
     
  14. peemagg

    peemagg <font color=blue>We are doing the AKL tri-fecta<br

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    They have these hidden object games out there now that are in a clear plastic tube filled with beads and objects that they need to try and find. I wonder if these might work for him. They come in many themes and there are a lot of things inside it to find.

    What about some simple science type kits that he could do. Things with magnifying glasses or something?
     
  15. Ruewen

    Ruewen Earning My Ears

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    Have you tried an online game like World of Warcraft? The age requirements should be good and he can build a character and level it up with minimal dying. It has a big game world he can explore as well. My whole family plays from starting ages 7.
     
  16. Piper

    Piper DIS Veteran

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    My cousin had menengitis when he was 3 and didn't progress much beyond there mentally--he is 75 now. He had several "jobs" that he did every day.

    He would sit on the porch watching for the mail carrier every day. When he saw him coming up the street, he would tell his mother. My aunt would fix a cup of coffee, ice tea or ice water and Oren would take it out to the mail carrier (who was very appreciative.) Two purposes--kept Oren occupied and gave a nice pick-me-up to the mail carrier.

    Then he would walk around the yard looking for the little sticks that fell off the trees. When he found one, he would put it on the sidewalk--if there were more than one, he would line them up in straight rows. My aunt or uncle would come out and they would count how many, then put them in the trash. This came about because my uncle ran over a stick when he was mowing one day and it flew up and hit him in the face. Oren loved this job even though there were some days when he didn't find a single stick! He still got some exercise walking over the yard.

    The next thing he would do is get a nickle (you can tell this was about 40 years ago!) and sit on the porch to wait for the ice cream man.

    In between times, he would:
    nail nails in boards, then take them out.
    hand my aunt the clothespins when she hung the clothes
    fold socks (he was very particular and they had to be just right)
    put the silverware on the table



    Oren never went to school and was never really taught anything. When my uncle died and my aunt couldn't care for him, he went to live in a home for disabled adults and absolutely loved it. The routine and activities suited him to a tee!

    I understand your mother's mindset--but there is so much your brother could do if she would let him (I know -- preaching to the choir)
     
  17. DipsyDoodles

    DipsyDoodles Mouseketeer

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    Have you looked at the Apple IPad? There has been some recent research done on how the IPad is helping disabled adults. There are so many applications available and they are always adding more. http://www.apple.com/ipad/apps-for-ipad/
     
  18. DannysMom

    DannysMom DIS Veteran

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    Along these same lines, I was thinking video games. My son (7 year old, 2nd grader, w/ mild CP, no mental/ intellectual disabilities) really loves his Wii & Nintendo DS, especially the Mario games. There are so many different games for both the Wii & the DS, there is likely something he'd enjoy.
     
  19. lovetoscrap

    lovetoscrap Sees tag fairy posts that aren't there. Moderator

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    I was actually wondering about if an Ipod Touch might have some applications that he would enjoy. I was going to look in to that. I can also add looking into the IPad.



    Thank you for sharing that Piper, what a great life it sounds like Oren has had. :)
     
  20. swimlib

    swimlib Mouseketeer

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    The iPad is bigger so if he has any fine motor issues it might be better for him. There are apps out there for everyone! on my touch I have apps for the 5 year old I babysit for so just look at where he is developmentally and I'm sure you could find something.
     
  21. nyrebecca

    nyrebecca DIS Veteran

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    We have an Ipod Touch for my son. He is 12 now with moderate Autism. One of those deals where he knows in his heart he isn't a little boy anymore, but he still loves his little boy cartoons and movies and what not. We are looking into the IPad as Christmas present.

    I can attest the Ipod is great...not only can you put the apps on it to play and fiddle with, but I also have music on there that he likes, and movies/videos of his shows he likes.

    I wish you the best of luck, not only with the gathering of ideas to keep your brother busy, but with the possibilities of letting Mom and Dad give him some more freedoms in life.

    Your parents remind me so much of my own Grandmother and my aunt with Down Syndrome. It is tough, but in the end, we were able to point out to my grandmother that she had fought so hard to make sure my Aunt had opportunities, yet she, her mother, was hindering her own daughters quality of life. Who wants to sit around and be bored when they could be out exploring the world !!!

    Much love and best of luck to your entire family :love:
     

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