Some tips to make cooking fun for children with autism
Cooking can be a lot of fun provided one is careful not to hurt oneself. It can be made fun for children with autism as well as long as care is taken that there is an older person present to guide them through the process.
Griva Shah, Co-founder, Pearl Special Needs Foundation in Ahmadabad, says showing them pictures is a good way to start.
If they want to make bhel puri for instance, show them pictures of the different steps that go into making it. Show them pictures of masalas, cut onions, etc. It is just like teaching basic alphabets to children. Everything must be explained with accuracy. Show them videos of how to use a knife, the danger of putting chillies in eyes and so on. Parents must ensure that all safety measures are taken. - Griva Shah, Founder, Pearl Special Needs Foundation.
Here are some tips to make cooking fun for kids with autism.
- Simple and minimal - Plan something in advance and keep it simple. Children with autism are strong visual readers. Including images of the recipe will give them an insight into what it looks like.
- Focus on hygiene - Stress on the importance of washing hangs thoroughly before starting to cook. Show them how vegetables need to be washed properly, etc.
- Beauty of sharing - Cooking and eating food is a great way to bond. So make it a small party! Call their friends home to watch as your child puts the dish together. It also builds a sense of confidence as they showcase their skills.
- Involve the child - Let your child feel involved in choosing the dish that is to be cooked. Give them an idea of the steps involved and guide them in making the right choice.
Suba Rajesh's son Ritwik, who is on the autism spectrum loves to cook. She says giving them prior information and making colour a big part of it always works.
“Firstly, the child must know what they want to cook. All children love seeing colours and learning new things through colours. I show Ritwik different masalas and introduce him more to colours. He thoroughly enjoys it. Since he is a teenager now, he can handle things on his own. By now, he can manage basic things like sandwiches and fruit salads on his own. This is also a way of making them independent. Try and avoid fire for cooking as much as possible”, says Suba.
Cooking is therapeutic for everyone and for a child with autism, it helps with cognitive development, building social skills and overall well-being. So, go for it and plan a session this weekend.
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