My work as Teacher Outreach Coordinator for Spielbound often challenges me to think of games in different contexts. A gentleman recently asked me for thoughts on games for adults with developmental disabilities. I am no expert in special education, but I don’t think it hurts to share those thoughts here in case someone is looking for ideas on resources.
I’ve done some research for you and come up with some suggestions for games that might help engage your program participants.
I did some research online, thought about your needs, and have come up with a variety of suggestions based upon your thoughts in prior emails.
I think your personal collection isn’t as modest as you think. As you read through my suggestions below, you might think of games in your possession that could serve similar roles!
I know that you personally may not be impressed by “Ameritrash” games, but in my eyes the right game is any game that helps someone to engage their mind and have fulfilling interactions with other people. In this vein, two games that come to mind that are easily available and that would likely meet the preferences of your group members are UNO and Yahtzee. They consistently come up online in group chats about helping adults with developmental disabilities as games that have the right blend of a variety of benefits. They have straightforward rules and “deeper than the base rules” tactics and strategy prospects for differentiation. They offer motor skills practice, whether a shake of the dice or participation in the draw/discard pile and shuffling. They offer social interaction. They offer simple numerical or visual matching and could unlock deeper thinking. Seriously consider them.
This isn’t to say that I’m not prepared to suggest other more “sophisticated” games. The first genre that comes to mind, perhaps because of the natural therapeutic nature of pattern thinking, are tile-laying games. Online support groups seem to confirm that Carcasonne (minus the farms) have been shown to offer great experiences for people with differing abilities. I’d also consider Blokus, Blokus Trigon, and Blokus 3D. The Tsuro games (Tsuro, Tsuro of the Sea) and Ingenious, in particular, offer pattern composition possibilities whether or not you use the game mechanics. I’m thinking of the “deconstructive” nature of Jenga, which your group loves, and simply flipping it around. Perhaps even a modified Cataan or Ticket to Ride could be useful. All of these games are in the Library. You may also consider Ta Yü, which is not in the Library, but is also recommended by many who work with adults with developmental disabilities.
For social interaction and development, Apples to Apples, Love Letter, and The Resistance: Avalon are also potential choices that are available for checkout.
I’d also like to suggest some possibilities for the future. Are there ways that you could get your group to construct unique versions of classic games? Could you construct “giant” size versions of dice for Yahtzee or even Jenga (without compromising safety)? That might seem “pie in the sky”. I’m just wondering if those unique experiences might be an enriching grant that could be written for your members? Involving players in game construction and/or development is in of itself a worthwhile goal. That might be a stretch financially or logistically, but I believe in throwing out ideas at all levels of feasibility.