Guess what! Baking is not only a hobby, but also considered as one of the therapies for children with autism. Teaching children how to bake is a great educational bonding activity. Baking and using recipes provides the chance to work on some skills such as reading skills, listening skills, sequencing skills and math skills (particularly for measuring and adjusting recipes). Additionally, parents can introduce the concept of nutrition, portioning, and using kitchen equipment through baking, all of which are important and useful skills for children to learn at any age. Also, baking is a good activity which enriches the sensory experience of autistic children by exposing them to different scents, textures and sounds.
Here are some ways listed below to make baking a sensory activity for children:
- Expose to different textures of foods through touch. For example. A banana is smooth, a kiwi has a furry skin while an avocado has a bumpy skin. Parents can try to put some ingredients in a box and ask children to close their eyes, let them sense the texture of different food.
- Expose to different textures of foods through taste. For instance, parents can ask the children to close their eyes and feed them a particular food. After that, let children to describe the texture and taste of the food such as the banana is mushy and a carrot is crunchy.
- Play soft classical music during baking time. Using classical music can help relax children so they can focus on the task at hand.
- Let children try the heavy work. This can be rolling out dough, mashing bananas or kneading dough. All of these activities can help a child staying attentive to the task.
- Use different ingredients to enhance the sensory experience. For example, use cool whip to top a cupcake and leave some leftover for your child to explore. Put some chocolate chips or nuts in there to add texture and increase complexity.
- Expose children to different temperatures of ingredients. For example, when making scones, children can try to use very cold butter. For other recipes, it can be melted butter that is slightly warm. One thing to take note that expose the children by having them touch certain ingredients with parental supervision, make sure something is not too hot.
- Make cleanup as a fun water play time! When washing the dishes and utensils, fill the sink with soap and water and let children play with the water. This will be fun and they will also be getting the everything clean!
On the other hand, here are several tips for making baking an educational and fun experience as well:
1. Choice matters: Choose a favourite food and flavour
Choose the food (can be cake, bread or cookies) that children love to eat and making the flavour which children go bananas for is something that will probably attract and hold their attention longer. This could as simple as making a chocolate and butter sandwich. If children do not want to eat what they are baking, then it seems difficult for them to engage in the activity.
2. Keep it simple and concrete
After choosing the most suitable dish, present the recipe in a manner that children can understand easily. The text should be direct without all the fluffy language to avoid any confusion. If the child is an avid reader, then having a recipe with only text would encourage them to practise reading skills. Besides that, let children to demonstrate what the instructions are asking before proceed to the next step. This is to confirm that they understand the process without visual aid. It is always great to ask question along the way so the children will not get confused. However, many autistic children are strong visual learners. If that is the case, it would be wise to show them the recipe with pictures included. Pictorial recipes will lead the children to follow along with parents as parents are giving them instructions on the preparation. Visuals are a good way to allow children follow step-by-step directions when they have not mastered reading comprehension yet. Moreover, parents can also make the learning sequencing cards which showing the sequence involved in making breads, cakes, cookies, sandwich, etc. These cards provide children with visual clues of what comes next in the sequence and the clear images provide a literal way for children with autism to learn steps needed for baking.
3. Making it fun
Before the actual baking starts, it is essential to spend time clarifying basic vocabulary. If the children is already savvy with the ingredients being used, the baking session will be conducted much easier and smoothly.
When the children have learned the names of ingredients, it would be wise to talk about the importance of hygiene and food safety procedures. Demonstrating these good habits is a great way for children to follow and develop them. For young children this could mean teaching them how to wash their hands properly before and after handling any food. As for those elders, it could be showing them how to wear oven mitts, being instructed to wash their hands before baking and after handling flour, proper handling of food when serving, etc.
5. Complimentary Task
Allocate the baking task that compliment the children’s strengths. Parents can let children to do what they want to do, but it would be great to be cognizant of their skill set so they can perform well. For instance, if the child is good at measuring then parents can have them begin with measuring the weight and volume of ingredients. Children need to earn the opportunity to build up their skills so they can proceed to more difficult tasks. Mastering the easier skills could allow them gain confidence, and accomplishing the harder task will be a much easier process after that. There are different roles which can go into baking project from setting the oven temperature, stirring, using a mixer/ blender, measuring ingredients and timing.
你知道吗？ 烘焙不仅是一种爱好，也被认为是自闭症儿童的治疗方法之一 。教导孩子如何烘培是一项极具教育性的亲子活动。烘焙和使用食谱有机会学习一些技能，如阅读技巧，听力技巧，测序技巧和数学技能（特别是测量和调整食谱）。此外，父母可以通过烘焙引入营养，分配和使用厨房设备的概念，所有这些都是儿童在任何年龄学习的重要和有用的技能。此外，烘焙是一项很好的活动。通过将它们暴露于不同的气味，质地和声音，丰富了自闭症儿童的感官体验。 以下列出了一些方法，使烘焙成为儿童的感官活动：