If your interactions are age-appropriate, it means you treat people with disabilities the same way you would treat other people who are the same chronological age. Age-appropriate activities and interactions are based on respect. The following are examples of age appropriateness. 

Offer people choices that people their age would consider appropriate:

Situation

These age-inappropriate activities or responses foster childlike images

These activities or responses are age-appropriate 

Movies /Television

Cartoons, children’s shows (e.g., Sesame Street)

Comedy, sports, suspense, game, western or animal shows

Music

Children’s tapes, CDs and music

Radio or tapes (mix tape, relaxation device, etc.)

Diversional (distraction)
items (not toys) 

Infant toys (i.e. rattle, top) 

Maracas, sensory stimulation items

Hobbies

Children’s coloring books, playing Candyland, watch- ing Sesame Street  

Special collections
(e.g., stamps), computers, art projects, magazines, card games with card holder 

Reading Materials

Children’s books

Magazines, poetry, books, newspapers 

Room Decorations

Cartoon characters
children’s theme

Sports figures, appropriate pictures of actors or actresses, landscapes, nature 

Speak to people with disabilities as you would to others who are the same age:

Situation

These age-inappropriate activities or responses foster childlike images

These activities or responses are age-appropriate 

Nicknames

Tommy, Billy, Janey 

Tom, Bill, Jane 

Tone of voice, speech 

High-pitch, baby talk 

Use normal voice and words the person understands 

Social interactions 

Speak only to parents or
caregivers 

Speak to the person, make eye-contact, include in
conversations and at the table

Negative conversations
(i.e., speaking about the
individuals as if they
cannot hear)

Speak about people as if they’re not there; discussing topics individual should NOT hear   

Step out of room to discuss sensitive topics; assume people can understand you 

Communication

Assume people cannot
understand 

Ask caregivers if a method of communication is used

 

Offer help and assistance that lets people be as independent as possible :

Situation

These age-inappropriate activities or responses foster childlike images

These activities or responses are age-appropriate 

Partial Participation

Individuals watch a game as you “play” for them 

Use physical or verbal assistance such as a card holder; adapt activity so people can participate (i.e. break down the steps) 

Responsibilities / Control 

Do chores for them, dress  them, feed them, push their wheelchair when they’re
capable of pushing themselves 

Encourage problem solving, decision making, initiation; give responsibilities to allow for independence and choices 

Free time

Telling an adult, “Someone is here to PLAY with you”  

Instead of “play”, use age-
appropriate term such as, hang-out 

Examples of Age-Appropriate Diversions:

Reading

Music

Television

Games

Arts/Crafts

Other

newspaper

magazines

poetry

comic strips

Guinness Book of World Records

riddles, jokes

books (novels, short stories)

radio

tape/cd

TV station

play instrument

sound machine

movies

game shows

comedy

westerns

sports

suspense

dramas

animal shows

card games

catch

computer

board games

video games

crosswords

word search

basketball (sports)

painting

drawing

models

simple projects

sewing

journal

stencils

beads (jewelry)

walk outside

conversation

gift shop

sensory stimulation items

chapel

cooking

dance

This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace the advice of your health care providers. If you have any questions, talk with your doctor or others on your health care team.