11 Skill-Building Hobbies for Adults with Disabilities

Everyone benefits from having hobbies. They provide us with a creative outlet, a mode of relaxation, or simply just a fun break from everyday life. When it comes to adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities, hobbies can be extremely beneficial for their overall well-being. 


Benefits of Hobbies for Individuals with Disabilities 


Studies show that individuals who regularly engage in hobbies experience less stress, an improved mood, and reduced symptoms of depression. Simply put, hobbies have the ability to make us happy and healthy. They can also help build social, emotional, and physical skills for adults with disabilities, such as:


  • Encourage independence
  • Improve physical and/or mental health
  • Build life skills
  • Broaden interests
  • Improve communication skills 
  • Foster personal growth


No matter your passions, interests, and comfort levels, there are hobbies available for people of all abilities. The key? Finding an activity that’s meaningful, skill-building, and most importantly, fun! Let’s explore 11 examples of hobbies that may pique you or your loved one’s interest.


11 Examples of Skill-Building Hobbies for Adults with Disabilities 

  • Biking


Learning to ride a bike gives individuals a greater sense of independence, self esteem, and freedom because they don’t have to rely on anyone else for transportation. Plus, biking around the community is one of the most enjoyable ways to build physical endurance while getting some fresh air. Covey values the skill of bike riding so much that we host an annual Bike Camp, where we teach individuals with disabilities how to ride a bike over the course of five days! Camp participants learn to face their fears, overcome challenges, and find a new hobby that they’re passionate about. 

  • Book Club


Reading is an incredible hobby to have—it exercises the brain, boosts focus, and increases general knowledge. Plus, diving into a book’s story is a great way to relieve stress. Joining a book club can be a great way to build social skills and interact with peers about a shared hobby!

  • Art


Did you know that making art increases our dopamine levels, which in turn improves our concentration and allows us to stay focused more easily? It also increases serotonin, which reduces our stress levels, making for a more enjoyable experience. Whether it’s painting, crafting, or doodling, creating art of any kind is a wonderful emotional outlet for people of all ages and abilities. For those who have a difficult time expressing themselves verbally, art creates a safe space for them to explore their feelings and emotions. That’s why Covey offers an Inclusive Artistry program, where participants engage in whatever artistic medium speaks to them!

  • Swimming


Not only can swimming be accessible for people with a range of physical disabilities, but it’s also a fun way to engage in aerobic activity. Moving through water is a great way to build strength, improve heart health, and alleviate pressure on joints. Although swimming can be challenging, sometimes it feels more like a pleasant pastime than a difficult workout. Plus, you’re always in good company with Covey! We love to swim at the YMCA with our participants. Check out our event calendar to see when we’re swimming next!

  • Gardening


From large vegetable gardens to windowsill flowers, gardening can be a very fulfilling and therapeutic hobby for adults with disabilities. Planting, watering, and nurturing plants can provide a sense of accomplishment for individuals, as well as a newfound connection to nature. 

  • Cooking or Baking


Cooking or baking provides valuable learning opportunities such as improving fine motor skills, fostering creativity, and boosting a sense of confidence. Covey Connects offers a cooking or baking class every single week, because we see how much value it provides our participants. There’s nothing more satisfying than enjoying the delicious treats we made from scratch! 

  • Adaptive Sports


Adaptive sports are competitive or recreational sports, but offer the modifications necessary to participants. From basketball, to skiing, to martial arts and more, there are hundreds of sports that can be adapted for people of all abilities. Any form of physical activity can boost your mood through the release of endorphins, also known as the “happy chemical.” Plus, playing a team sport teaches individuals the power of teamwork, commitment, and good sportsmanship. Special Olympics is a wonderful opportunity for those with disabilities to engage in adaptive sports!

  • Dancing


Dancing is a powerful artform. It gives you the opportunity to let loose and tap into your body’s natural rhythm. If communicating verbally isn’t your strong suit, dancing shows you a new way to express yourself. The best part? There’s no wrong way to dance—people of all abilities are free to move in their own way. Dancing truly highlights the beauty of individuality and uniqueness. Covey partners with Reflections of Grace throughout the year to offer dance classes for people with disabilities! There’s nothing better than watching our participants come out of their shell throughout the duration of the class. 

  • Photography


Photography can be an innovative way to help individuals with disabilities appreciate their own creative perspectives. Art may be intimidating to those who prefer rigidity and structure, so photography opens up a new way of looking at the world and allows the photographer to sharpen their focus on one task at a time. 

  • Music


Many people who create music have a deep passion for it. Whether singing or playing an instrument, music is a universal language that almost everyone can understand. Read our blog on Kodi Lee, the inspiring rock star who has had his fair share of obstacles throughout life. Despite his disabilities, Kodi’s unwavering determination and passion for music allowed him to overcome the hardships and chase his dreams. 

  • Volunteering


Perhaps you have a knack for helping others. Volunteering in the community is an extremely rewarding hobby—helping you to boost self worth, connect with others, and find your place in the community. We offer a volunteer program at Covey for our participants, because we see how volunteering can empower individuals to share their talents and explore new passions. 


When starting a new hobby, it’s important to set realistic goals for yourself. To avoid feeling discouraged when trying something new, start small and work your way up! Look into local organizations and community centers that may offer classes, clubs, or volunteer days!


Covey Connects


Covey is a non-profit organization devoted to fostering growth for adults with disabilities. Located in the greater Fox Valley of Wisconsin, we offer a wide variety of skill-building activities through our program, Covey Connects. 


Our event calendar is full of fun outings that can help get the ball rolling for our participants’ newfound hobbies. We offer activities such as baking, swimming, painting, and even weekly bowling nights! Check out our calendar and sign up for whatever new hobby calls your name!


For more information about Covey, visit our website