Some Original Intervention Ideas

During the past month, I’ve really been trying to create at least one original intervention/song for my sessions with my adults with IDD. Mostly, this is due to the fact that I’ve been trying to revamp my sessions and work on appropriate goals with these particular clients (which I’ve already hashed out in this blog post).

When creating my themed sessions, I’ve really found that as I go along in planning, I already have a fairly clear idea of what I want my outcome to be, so I simply have to create the plan of action to get there. Recently, I’ve been writing a lot of simple A & B style songs, as these are typically the most straightforward for these clients. I want them to be able to sing along easily upon introduction of the song in Part A, but also challenge their skills and abilities in Part B. Here are some examples of what I’ve been creating:


We’re Playing Our Song

Goals: Impulse control, sharing, increasing social skills & awareness

Intervention: This is a simple hot-potato style activity. Within the circle, one unique instrument is chosen as the “potato” to be passed around the circle (can be anything – cabasa, kokiriko, drum, etc.).  This instrument is passed around from person to person during Part A of song. When the Part A ends/stops, Part B enables the client to have a 4-bar improvisational or exploration solo with the special potato-instrument. Part A resumes and the instrument continues around the circle. This repeats until all clients have been given a chance to improvise.

Considerations: How difficult is it to be handed an instrument and NOT play it immediately? Keep in mind that you will need to continually give instructions on the “rules” of this activity (e.g. not playing the instrument until it is your to turn to improvise).

Adaptations: Have clients choose a style for Part B when it’s their turn (pop, country, reggae, etc.) or choose a direction (e.g. fast/slow, loud/soft, etc.) and match with accompaniment.

Listen to the song here but please bear in mind these are rough recordings!


That Is Why We Like the Springtime

GoalsCreative/abstract thinking, increasing communication skills

Intervention: Clients participate in open instrument play during Part A, which I consider to be the introduction to the song, or setting up the story. The story is that spring has newly sprung (which is even more abstract to consider in Florida…) and there are many activities that we do in the spring (e.g. playing sports, gardening, picnics, swimming, etc.). After Part A, each client receives a turn to choose an activity they enjoy. During Part B, they consider what that activity might sound like and play that sound on their instrument with the accompaniment mirroring their sound.

Considerations: Creative thinking is difficult for anyone, so be prepared to offer choices and sounds. However, don’t expect that someone can’t create their own idea OR an improvisation to match! I had quite a few clients surprise me with their ability to create a “swimming sound” or “baseball sound”!

Listen here to this song


Pat’ the Hat

Goals: Creative thinking, following directions, increasing communication skills

Intervention: Choose a fun or funky hat to be “Pat”. Fill Pat up with cards that can be chosen by each client with directions of a style or way to play music. Such examples include, “play on your head”, “play with a neighbor”, “play like you’re underwater”, etc. During Part A, which I consider to be setting up the story again, clients can have open instrument playing. During Part B, each client receives a turn to choose a style of playing from Pat the Hat. The client then leads the group in playing instruments in that particular style.

Considerations: Again, with some of the more creative thinking, you may need to brainstorm with the clients how “moving underwater” might look and how that might affect how you play your instrument before you enter Part B of the song.

Special Note: Each chosen style pulled from that hat has a corresponding rhyme to it. Talk about memorization! Example: “Play on your shoulder” – “At least it’s not a boulder”.

Listen to the song here

You may notice some themes or recurring foundational ideas with each of these interventions. Not only do I want to work on these various goals mentioned above, I want to make sure that I create interventions that allows each client to be successful, which is why there is a lot of turn-taking. I also believing in conversely challenging each person as I know they are capable of more than meets the eye. If you have any suggestions or questions about these interventions, please feel free to share by replying to this post. Let me know what you think!

One response to “Some Original Intervention Ideas”

  1. could you leave chord sheets to your songs if we wanted to learn them and use them in future sessions? Thank you!


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