The Case for Nurturing Creativity for People with Developmental Disabilities

Boy with hands held in front of his face with colorful paint all over themYou can take it straight from Einstein that, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” And because imagination finds its home in creativity, (and the fact that National Creativity Day is this week), we’ve just got to honor this special day and everything creativity can do for people with developmental disabilities! 

First, imagination and creativity are crucial in the developmental process. The arts are a powerful thing, whether singing, dancing, drawing, or writing. The arts are a way for all people to express themselves and their ideas. While it takes extra planning and flexibility to make the arts accessible to the disability community, we believe that art should be inclusive for all. So, we curated this blog around the benefits of creativity for people with developmental disabilities and a few tips for cultivating it within this community. 

The Benefits of Creative Thinking  

Creativity is arguably the most liberating form of self-expression. Art allows for the freedom of expression beyond judgment and criticism. The process of creating something from personal feelings and experiences can be a platform for people to nurture their emotional health and foster mental growth by trying out new ideas and new ways of thinking and problem solving. 

Developing a creative process cultivates creative thinking and creative problem solving. Both of which are qualities that employers are constantly looking for in the workforce. Creative activities also help to develop basic math skills such as geometry (size and shape), measuring, and sorting. Activities such as painting, drawing, cutting, and pasting each help in developing fine motor skills, hand eye coordination, and dexterity. Creativity is also a way to foster independence and provide a way for nonverbal people to communicate their thoughts and feelings.  

Furthermore, imagination builds social-emotional development by creating the space necessary for individuals to think through various resolutions, build confidence, and encourage collaborative interactions with others. Each of these skills are essential in today’s workforce, and fostering employment opportunities for people with disabilities is crucial for building an inclusive world!  

Ideas for Cultivating Creativity  

Now that you know the reasons why creativity is so important for people with developmental disabilities, here are some ideas for how to cultivate it when you’re working or caring for members of this community. 

Spend time outdoors – Nature is in a constant state of change, and this is the perfect environment to cultivate opportunities for discovery and problem solving. Being in the presence of nature inspires people to develop creative minds, think, and question.  

Incorporate verbal activities – From riddles to rhymes, these types of creative pursuits can encourage and nurture creative minds and build vocabulary. 

Play make believe – By inventing scenarios and experimenting with different roles, the brain organizes and structures thoughts while developing social and verbal skills at the same time. For people with developmental disabilities, especially where their linguistic aptitude is inhibited, they can greatly benefit from performing arts. In fact, studies have shown their participation in the performance arts can improve receptive language skills and reading comprehension. 

Read books – Reading allows for people to engage their imagination and become completely immersed into a story. You can further cultivate creativity in reading for people with developmental disabilities by encouraging their input to make up alternate endings and situations for the characters in the story.  

A Commitment to Creativity 

When it comes to nurturing creativity for people with developmental disabilities, by realizing the benefits of cultivating this powerful skill and some ways to implement it, you’re on your way to be a powerful force for inclusion! And one major reason for this as we already mentioned is Creative expression allows those with developmental disabilities to imagine and develop their skills to be marketable in the workforce. 

Here at Golden Rulefostering creativity within the developmental disability community is a commitment we utilize everyday to reach our mission of helping people with developmental disabilities find and maintain work. And you can find out more about what we do to support independence and build our Oklahoma community right here in our mission statement 

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