There isn’t much better of a time to start cooking with your child than during the fall season with holidays around the corner. It can be a great way to bond with your child while helping him or her in other ways as well.
The act of cooking can be very calming and therapeutic. Working with different objects and textures, following written directions, and sometimes coordinating with a partner can help with the development of motor, reading, and communication skills. The feeling of completing a product that can be enjoyed is a great self-confidence booster. In addition, encouraging your child to share his or her creation with friends and family creates an opportunity for further social interaction and affirmation.
Given the nature of autism, there are particular challenges that may arise when trying to teach your child to cook. Some careful strategies can help you and your child to reach this goal.
First off, choose dishes your child loves to eat. This will help create excitement towards the activity and keep their focus.
Start small and simple with the recipes you choose to make together. As your child progresses you can begin to take on more complex recipes to expand on his or her skills. Start your child off with being in charge of the simpler tasks involved in the recipe and eventually progress to other roles that involve more attention and skill.
Remember that simple and concrete communication will best help your child understand what is happening and allow him or her to follow directions more accurately. You can find recipe cards online made for children with behavioral issues to be able to follow the directions easier than a typical cookbook. Asking your child to act out your instructions and giving feedback will clarify if he or she has understood properly.
Once done with your dish, be sure to enjoy it together and share with friends and family. Give plenty of praise for a job well done, discuss what further cooking skills your child wants to learn, and figure out what delicious and fun recipe to try next.