Do you have fond memories of cooking with your family as a child? Or, do you remember the special dishes that your parents would make for the holidays? One of my favorites was my grandma’s lemon cake and homemade frosting. Yum!
Wouldn’t it be awesome to create some of those same memories with your child? But maybe you’re thinking that you can’t because of their challenges related to an Autism diagnosis. Well, don’t let that stop you. Below is a list of just four of the benefits of cooking with your child with Autism. Happy cooking!
2. Fine Motor Skills Practice: Cutting, dicing, slicing, stirring and even pouring are all great ways to practice fine motor and self-help skills. For example, research shows that cooking provides the opportunity to use hand strength and eye-hand coordination (Colker, 2005).
3. Executive Functioning: Planning, attention and problem solving are just a few of the processes of executive functioning. These can be easily developed through cooking through tasks such as following a picture recipe, prepping ingredients, and monitoring food while it bakes in the oven.
4. Improve Variety of Food Choices: When kiddos are involved with meal prep, it helps to increase their interest in eating more of a variety of foods. My kiddo ate half of half of a blueberry waffle (pictured here), which for her is great! She has also begun drinking a few ounces of the fruit & veggie smoothies that we all make together in the mornings.
I hope that you are inspired to try cooking with your child with Autism. Check out these resources for more information: The Cookbook for Children with Special Needs, by Deborah French. The Picture Cookbook: No-Cook Recipes for the Special Chef, by Joyce Dassonville. Everybody Can Cook, by Cricket Azima. Brain Balance Achievement Centers www.brainbalancecenters.com/blog. www.friendshipcircle.org. www.difflearn.com. www.education.com Cooking with Children, Bullard, 12/2010. www.thekitchn.com,
J. Thompson, May 2017. Highlights magazine, www.highlights.com.
Crystal Sanford, M.Ed., M.A. CCC-SLP has practiced in the field of speech-language pathology since 1998. As a licensed clinician and fellow parent, Crystal's passion is supporting families of Autism and related social language challenges. In her free time, she enjoys gardening and spending time with her husband and two children in San Diego, CA.