Setting Goals for Adults with Developmental Disabilities

Aspirations, desires, and ambition all describe our need as humans to succeed at something, to better ourselves and our lives by making improvements to our lifestyle. A majority of adults often look at goals as something that is out of reach and may never be met. We may want a job we’re not trained to do or a relationship we haven’t been able to engage in yet, but we continue to take small steps toward achieving our lofty goals each day. 

For individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), goal setting is an essential aspect of personal and professional growth. It enables them to see a path towards an achievement that might otherwise seem impossible due to their disabilities, to know that every small improvement makes them just as capable as able-bodied and -minded individuals.

Goal Setting for Every Part of Life

There is a lot to experience in life, and that means there are goals a person can set for every part of life. Physical, social, community, education and employment goals are just a few that individuals with IDD can set to make the most of life and succeed despite the additional challenges they face.

Start Setting Goals Early 

Adults with IDD are likely to have a majority of their choices made for them from daily activities to employment. Setting realistic goals with them early on, as children, will help them understand they have control over themselves and their life. 

During childhood, goal setting may focus around daily schedules, self-monitoring, and asking for help. Skills like these will be essential for a productive and self-reliant adulthood. 

Physical Goals

Physical activity is good for everyone’s health. Even a few minutes of activity can improve your mood, help you process information more effectively and easily, and help you make better choices.

For individuals with disabilities, it’s important that physical goals include aerobic exercise that makes them breathe harder and increases their heart rate, and should aim to reduce inactivity as much as possible. 

See the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guideline Increasing Physical Activity Among Adults with Disabilities.

Social and Community Engagement Goals

Setting goals for social engagement will help individuals with IDD to communicate better and verbalize their needs in social situations where they may be outside of their comfort zone. 

Actions based on building self-esteem and assertiveness should be the basis for social and community engagement goals. Participating in a new activity each week and supporting decision making will help disabled adults become an active member of their community, while demanding respect and self-worth from their peers.

Angel Guardians offers the Community Connections program, an innovative service that provides thematic opportunities and instruction to improve social skills and independence through various community activities and volunteering. Get involved by calling or emailing our headquarters in Omaha, NE. 

Employment Goals

Research conducted by Project E3 shows that adults with disabilities who had an employment goal were 11 times more likely to be employed in positions of their choice within the community than those who didn’t. 

Career goals for disabled individuals must go beyond “getting a job”. When caregivers and support teams actively work to find experiences and opportunities that fit the personalities and lifestyles of those they care for, the chances of finding empowering employment increase tenfold.

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