By Erin Meyering
Kirkman Group, Inc.
Cooking with a child can be a challenge, no matter what age the child is or level of ability the child has. However, cooking promotes a multitude of skills such as motivation, independence, fine motor skills and sensory awareness. In most homes, the kitchen is an important part of daily life. For a child, spending time in the kitchen can result in meaningful and positive educational experiences. Plus, cooking can be fun and teach children to be confident! It can be highly satisfying for a child to start a project and see its end, resulting in a delicious, homemade treat.
Here are some general tips to help involve your child in the kitchen:
• Be sure to be patient and to encourage the child to be patient as well. It will take time, maybe lots of it, to get the process started, select or create a recipe, explain things fully and to clean up.! If your child is not accustomed to helping in the kitchen it will certainly take some getting used to, which can turn a 30 minute prep time into a longer commitment – just be prepared to spend the extra time.
• Consult resources if you need them. Your Special Chef is a website dedicated to providing recipes, tips and tons of resources to help ease the possible challenge of cooking with a child that has special needs. Although most of the recipes are not gluten and casein free, the resources offered are great. The The Kid-Friendly ADHD & Autism Cookbook, Updated and Revised: The Ultimate Guide to the Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet is also a phenomenal resource you can use. In addition, you should try to get help in the kitchen, if possible. If the child has an additional friend or family member he/she trusts, invite that person! It’s always nice to have an extra set of hands. Talk About Curing Autism (TACA) also provides several articles on cooking classes for ASD kids and lots of great gluten-, casein- and soy-free classes and recipes.
• Use adaptive cooking tools. Your Special Chef provides a comprehensive list of common cooking tools that have been adapted specifically for special needs children. Adaptive cooking tools include spring-loaded tongs (for an easier grasp), non-skid bowls or trivets (so the cooking tools don’t slide across the surface during use) and a can drainer (to avoid spills when draining liquid out of the can). These tools can make it easier and safer for the child to grasp and use, which can further develop his/her fine motor skills and provide encouragement for the child, making it far less frustrating.
NOTE: Cooking with a child who has special needs may not be safe. It is up to the parent and caregiver to determine the child’s abilities and decide how, if at all, the child can help in the kitchen. Children with special needs should not be handling anything with a blade, or be near the oven or stove.
Easy Thanksgiving Recipes to Try
Don’t miss out on seasonal favorites. Thanksgiving can be a time to settle down with the family and enjoy a thoughtful meal. Try this simple, gluten-free, casein-free and vegan pancake recipe that everyone can enjoy to start the day off right. You can even freeze extras to reheat for another day.