Cooking activities are a great way to bond with your children. If you’re the parent of a child with ASD, you may read that with some degree of skepticism. But trust us, food is fundamental to life, and when you cook with your kids you impart important life skills and connect with them in a meaningful way.
Visual instructions make cooking activities simple. Start with a rule chart that addresses washing your hands before preparing food and simple kitchen safety. Then create visual or adapted recipes to make things easier for children to remember.
Preparing ahead of time is the key to success. All of your kitchen equipment, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, and so on, should be ready ahead of time. You should also make sure you have all the ingredients and that they’re stored in logical places easy for children to locate. This helps children learn where various items are kept.
Working in the kitchen helps kids develop important skills. As they scoop, measure, chop, cut, spread, and stir, they’re working on fine motor skills and coordination. Following a recipe helps teach them to follow directions, and cooking and eating with others helps improve social skills. It can also be a good time to bond with them and have fun as you help them learn these new skills.
Recipes don’t have to be elaborate to be fun for kids. You can start with making sandwiches and letting them help you make cookies or cupcakes. Even young children can place cupcake liners in pans or put sprinkles on a cupcake or cookie. If you’re looking for recipes that are more in depth, here are some great examples, complete with visual versions for your child with ASD:
Embrace the sensory joys of cooking. Kneading bread, rolling dough, breaking and separating eggs, and many other kitchen tasks provide opportunities for messy, sensory fun. If, on the other hand, you have a child with sensory challenges and aversions to certain textures, there are a few ways to approach this problem. You could provide non-latex medical gloves, which are thin enough to provide sensory input while protecting against direct touch. You can also expose the child to different textures in play situations, with things like Magic Sand or slime.
If your child has been diagnosed with ASD, The Stepping Stones Group is here to offer support, keeping you informed of opportunities and providing important support services.