Feelings of alienation, social withdrawal, and plummeting self-esteem can result from the simple lack of basic social skills. Adults with special needs deserve as many breaks that they can get. The simple act of introducing them to the concepts of common courtesy, good manners, and how to act as a friend does more than just make them well-rounded—it gives them the opportunity to make friends, develop a healthy social network, and enjoy a more rewarding life.
Bad social behavior can cause embarrassment, humiliation, and loss of self-confidence. Introduce your clients to proper social behavior necessary for success in everyday situations, and you’ll give them the tools to meet friends, keep friends, and develop respectful relationships with peers.
Show them examples of what happens when you’re dishonest to your friends, and how it can negatively affect your relationship. By watching videos of the negative consequences of dishonesty, adults with developmental disabilities are able to see how their decisions can affect their friendships poorly—without having to experience the painful situations themselves.
This clip is from our PeopleSmart series. Through a series of dramatizations of typical human interactions, your clients will see the negative impact of being dishonest and learn how good manners and honesty promote respect and acceptance.
In addition to learning the specific “rules of the road” for interacting appropriately with others, your clients should also learn that the essence of good manners and good people skills is based on concern and thoughtfulness towards others.
This concept is applied to occasions such as manners at school, in public, during greetings, and when conversing with others. Illustrate classic right and wrong ways to interact with others that are humorous yet informative. You’ll give your clients a basic foundation in acceptable manners that they will use daily.
Adults with cognitive disabilities have sexual feelings and needs just like everyone else. In order to educate everyone to be healthy, we need to accept the fact that (most of the time) sex is a natural and healthy thing. Adults with special needs, just as much, if not more, than other individuals need accurate and helpful information about sexuality. In discussing subjects surrounding sex and relationships, parents and teachers should start by explaining that everyone has sexual thoughts and feelings.
Although this topic has the potential to cause some awkwardness or embarrassment, educating adults with disabilities about their sexual health and sexual relationships is crucial to helping them lead fulfilling lives. We all want the love and joy of a romantic relationship, and adults with developmental disabilities are not exempt from those same desires. Unfortunately, their disabilities make them more vulnerable to predators and exploitation—this is why it’s absolutely crucial to educate them on which relationship behaviors are appropriate, and which should be reported to a trusted adult.
Not sure how to begin “The Talk”? This blog includes 6 Tips for Talking About Sex to Teens with Special Needs, and it can certainly be applied to adults with developmental disabilities as well.
Last photo via The Arc
The child who is ‘left behind’ most is the one who leaves school without transition readiness.
Dr. James Stanfield, Ed.D.