Recreation therapy for adults with disabilities works in the same vein as recreational therapy for children with disabilities. It has the same objectives and goals: to improve skills and abilities of people with disabilities and to increase their social time with family and friends. The biggest difference between the two is the activities employed during therapy. Where it is appropriate for a recreational therapist to ask a 3 year old child to play with blocks and name the colors of the blocks, it is not appropriate to ask a 36 year old with a brain injury to do the same activity. Instead, the therapist may do a slide show of different pieces of art and may ask what the 36 year old sees. In other words, the recreational therapy needs to be person-centered.
There are many activities that can be used within a recreational therapy program for both group and individual sessions. These activities may include baking, exercise and sports, museum trips, book clubs, trips to parks, sporting and music events, spiritual services and so on! Activities such as these help with motor control, exercise, hand/eye coordination, sensory stimulation, cognition, and connection to community. These are just some of the areas recreational therapy can address. Through assessment and getting to know each person within a particular program, a therapist can find recreational activities to engage each individual client.
To learn more about therapeutic recreation and recreation therapy visit the Therapeutic Recreation Directory, where you can learn about associations, certification and licensure, education, salaries, resources, different therapy ideas, and more. To learn more about activity directors, please visit the National Certification Council for Activity Professionals (NCCAP) to learn about the different levels of certification. If you are a person with a disability or a caregiver looking for recreational activity ideas, please visit Activity Director for excellent options.