Unlocking autism, one ingredient at a time.
Here at Cooking Autism, we are driven by an amazing mission; to do our part in supplying monetary, material, curriculum, and logistical support for in-school programs that focus on teaching children with neurological disorders (including autism) how to cook.
The purpose is not to create culinary experts, although that would be amazing; the goal is to allow these children to take part in the food preparation process...THEN THEY EAT IT!
The purpose is to help them to expand their palates while they learn critical, real-world communication and life skills, as they work together toward a common goal.
Why Cooking Makes A Difference
Life skills cooking classes impart a variety of curriculum fields. Academically speaking, life skills cooking classes may help build knowledge in math, reading, and science… but there is so much more to be learned through the use of cooking classes!
For the student, utilizing step by step directions to prepare simple meals can improve independence, nutrition, and help reduce food anxiety caused from sensory stimuli. Those with disabilities often find meals to be a time of stress due to the sounds, smells, textures, and taste of food, especially when introducing new food.
Cooking classes can help to relieve symptoms of anxiety towards meal time by slowly introducing food preparation in small steps and allowing processing time based on the need of the individual. By doing so, those with disabilities are gaining confidence in their ability to follow step by step direction, communication, safe handling of food, and understanding textures of new foods, all while gaining independence. While doing this, your students may build enough confidence to try their cooking creations.
Meanwhile, individuals are learning an important life skill. Those who acquire cooking skills may have an increased chance of employment, gain the ability for more independence by earning money, have developed an important yet fun hobby, and may have the opportunity to build new relationships and friendships. Success!!!
What would a life skill cooking class look like for a class with exceptionalities?
There are many behind the scene supports, but don’t be alarmed…we are here to help!
Here is what yourspecialchef.net states:
Visual recipes make use of task analysis, which is an evidence-based approach for breaking down a complex task into manageable steps. Each task is separated into discrete skills, and individuals can learn to complete skills in a specific order to learn new tasks. Students may require visual, physical, or verbal prompts to complete each skill, and prompts may be gradually removed as the individual becomes more independent.
Assistive technologies are available in a variety of low and high-tech options. Cooking apps can be found in the Apple app store, and include images of cooking supplies, actions, and appliances that can be combined into recipes and viewed on a phone or tablet. Parents and teachers can also produce video or audio-based prompts, which can be played on phones, tablets, computers, or portable DVD players.
Kitchen equipment can be adapted to make cooking easier and safer for individuals with physical disabilities.
4. Take one step at a time. This will be a learning process for everyone involved. Cooking should be fun for all.
PLEASE NOTE: Cooking Autism, Inc. does NOT recommend, or condone, forceful feeding of any type. Each student should always have control over what they eat. Our heart is to provide support to each student so that they can build confidence and life skills for their independence.
“Everything that is done in the world is done by hope”