There are some meal times when having a ready made microwave dinner, snack, or take out food can be the most convenient, especially when a schedule is involved and experimenting with new tastes can be daunting. Many times, parents/guardians feel the need to step in and care for their autistic child when it comes to cooking, but the question comes in on “What happens when they are adults living on their own and I’m not here to cook for them all the time?”. But there are many new ways to learn to cook for both beginners and for those with autistic disabilities alike.
Enroll them in ABA Therapy
This is a life building skill class for those with autism, in the beginning of early childhood, children first learn how to build a sandwich and use a microwave for kid friendly foods. Using sharp utensils and ovens are set for adults to use only, but they can still learn and observe. In their later years as a teen and adult, ABA therapists can teach them how to follow step by step recipes, hold a knife and cut carefully, and work an oven. With much patience and practice, these therapists give a head start on independent self care.
Enroll them in a Cooking Class
When your child is in middle school or high school, see if the school offers a home economics class or possibly a culinary class or club. The teachers can help teach students how to get around a kitchen, use knives/tools, and put together basic recipes, yet also prepare them for the real world whether its a career in culinary arts or just to cook for themselves and the family. I took one in high school as well, and it opened doors for me to get my first jobs in a bakery, pizzeria, then fine dining. What I or your child can learn can give good job experience after high school.
Let them cook at home with you
If you are good cook at home and are patient and talented in teaching, then make a set schedule with them to cook dinner with you. Show them a recipe book with pictures, and help them decide what to make and see if you have the ingredients. Write a list of tasks to follow and show them step by step instructions, then monitor them to see if they can try on their own until they are responsible enough in the kitchen.
However, if no one at home really cooks at home, perhaps follow a cooking video with a cooking host/teacher, that way both you and your child can learn together. Not only will both of you learn new cooking techniques and different cuisines, it can involve great bonding time (whether or not it gets difficult). Not everyone can be the perfect cook, but taking the first steps for your autistic child/teen/adult to make their own food can be one of the greatest accomplishments to self care and independence.