Tips for Teaching Jewelry Making to Developmentally Disabled Adults

by Nancy Hatcher.
(Republic, MO)

I worked with Developmentally Disabled individuals until I retired. One of the crafts they enjoyed was making jewelry.

Here are a few hints I found to be invaluable:

1. Bright pretty colors are a must. Shapes like hearts, animals, fairies, sports, etc. were always favorites.

2. Use large holed beads – many I worked with had shaky hands due to either medications or health problems.

3. Use a good quality stretchy beading cord and glue.

4. Most of the people I worked with were very loving and giving individuals. Suggest making a gift for a loved one or friend.

5. Use the jewelry they make as a fund raiser for a special trip or event. We used some of the money to buy a WII and one to eat out. We also made money to give to someone else whose need was greater than theirs. The extreme joy of being the giver instead of the taker was tremendous!

6. Most important! Be patient!! You may get frustrated trying to teach but can you imagine how frustrating it is to learn with a disability? Can you also imagine the joy when they do learn and can say “I made that”!

Working with people with disabilities was the most satisfying job I’ve ever had. If you are as fortunate to meet and/or work with them, one of the first things you’ll learn is to live in the moment because that is where they live.

Nancy Hatcher
CaN Bead

Information contained in this website should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. No products mentioned in this post have been tested or endorsed by Rena Klingenberg.

FREE - Get 7 Super Jewelry Making Hacks

Get Rena's 7 Super Jewelry Making Hacks, plus the Jewelry Making Journal Newsletter - all for FREE.

We Respect Your Email Privacy

  • Maritza Schwindt says:

    Hello Nancy ,
    What a lovely story and one that I would like to find out more about. I have some young adults that like to do crafts and I need more information on how to help them. My own son is Developmentally disabled and also one that had an auto accident years ago wants to do something he will feel good about. How can I learn more about this craft to teach them and myself? Thank you for sharing these ideas.

  • What a nice read! THIS IS EXACTLY OUR WORLD! In our little corner of Chalfont PA – Danny strings and I clasp!!!! Our story is on our etsy page (in detail). I was told to place him in an institution over and over again. I found out he likes to string beads and can do tiny ones too! He doesn’t like to use elastic but likes the beading wire and wire…. so we work with what he likes! His favorite color is sparkle (specifically Swarovski). We have sold a few things – and someone just posted a picture of her wearing Danny’s necklace and earrings on our facebook page which truly gives my life true purpose. I was put here to help him in this world. I love him like no other. His autism and mental retardation are severe and brings to the table many ugly things… however, when I see him calming while he strings – life begins to breathe again.

  • With my fibromyalgia and other chronic conditions, I know what it’s like to drop things and become frustrated. Six years ago, I worked in a full time position with the mentally/physically challenged in their duplexes. My day ended as I sent them off to work for the day, but I soon discovered that for the entire day at ‘work’ they were expected to stack blocks by color, shapes and sizes or do puzzles, which became redundant and so boring day after day. After reading this, I am going to volunteer my services to teaching them to make their own jewelry. I have tons of beads to share! So it will be fun for all.

  • R says:

    Any good resources for large sized beads – preferably with texture? Thank you.

  • R, you might do a search for those types of beads on – there’s a huge variety there of every jewelry component you can imagine! 🙂

  • Isabel says:

    I too would like to learn how to teach jewelry making to adults with disabilities. There are two women in my son’s day program that love jewelry and have nothing to do all day. Can I get the details of how to do it from you? I would be greatful.

  • >