People with severe or multiple disabilities may exhibit a wide range of characteristics, depending on the combination and severity of disabilities and the person's age. Some of these characteristics may include:

  • Limited speech or communication;
  • Difficulty in basic physical mobility;
  • Tendency to forget skills through disuse;
  • Trouble generalizing skills from one situation to another; or
  • A need for support in daily living and major life activities.

A variety of medical problems may accompany multiple disabilities.

Programming Considerations

  • Need to be aware of participant's abilities and disability and what level of support they would require to successfully participate in activities.
  • The focus should be on providing a sense of achievement and full participation.
  • Have alternatives in mind.
  • Ensure the necessary support is available and that adaptive equipment is prepared.
  • Individuals who are non-verbal will need their name and phone number placed somewhere such as on a bracelet or chain.
  • Careful consideration should be given to programming as to some individuals will be unable or afraid to try activities. It will be necessary to develop a rapport and provide encouragement to build confidence.

Strategies for Inclusion

  • Have extra support staff and equipment available.

Behaviour Management Issues

  • Be aware of physical dangers both to leaders and other participants due to potential for biting, kicking or punching.