We all love to watch Rachel Ray and Emeril Lagasse, as we seek to become even more creative in the kitchen. Who knew that cooking can be such a fun way to share with others our inspired dishes and self-expression? Well, cooking can actually be a fun way to share time and space with your child with autism. We have some tips to try when cooking with your little chef.
Let Them Pick a Dish
Giving your child an opportunity to help decide what dish you will be preparing together can boost his/her self-esteem and make the experience more fun for them. Try suggesting dishes that you know your child loves to eat, because choosing to make a meal that your child likes will likely heighten his/her attention when cooking. Even if it is mac-n-cheese, the process of creating a meal together can be incredibly beneficial to the development of your child.
Keep Things Simple and Concrete
You may be a truly gifted chef in the kitchen, but making the process of cooking too complex can overwhelm and confuse your child, so keep is simple. Once your child has decided on the dish that you will be making together, write out the recipe in simple steps that your child can understand. We even recommend creating a visual board ahead of time to help your child see what the steps are; pictorial recipes can do wonders! Don’t have time to find pictures? The internet is filled with easy-step recipes that show images of each step.
Talk About Cooking Hygiene
Cooking is a great way to insert a conversation about basic hygiene in the kitchen. You can show your child how to wash his/her hands and reiterate why washing your hands is so important when cooking food. Since we are fans of visual images, you can even use a visual board to show how to wash hands and when it is appropriate to do so in the kitchen.
Build Their Knowledge Base
If you are introducing ingredients that your child is unfamiliar with, it can be a great idea to play a game beforehand that incorporates those ingredients. Your child can feel more confident when cooking with you if he/she is already familiar with the food items that you will be talking about in the recipe. A great activity to prepare younger children for a cooking activity is to play Stages Learning Fun Foods Bingo Game before cooking. There is a new App for iPad or iPhone that lets you choose which food cards to include.
Share the Love
Once you’ve finished making the dish, enjoy a few bites with your child and suggest that he/she shares this meal with friends or family members. Whether you made cookies or mac-n-cheese, your child can learn about the importance of sharing and enjoy knowing that he/she helped make the meal.
Cooking a meal together can be a fun way to bond with your child. You might be surprised by all the smiles that you see in the kitchen!