I have written previously about my love of cooking. Cooking has given me a lot, and I’m not just referring to the food.
I have to remember instructions in recipes (multi-step planning, for all you OTs out there). I have to search for and retrieve ingredients, utensils and cooking tools. This is important for people who have autism.
I have to handle sharp objects and hot objects. I am aware of personal safety.
I have to control impulses and not eat unfinished food (especially cookie dough).
I have to work on fine motor skills in chopping, pouring and measuring.
I have to be patient, plan, anticipate and multi-task.
I have to be present while it cooks.
I learn self-help skills washing up.
All in all, it’s an “OT session” I can have fun with since I’m actually doing something meaningful.
When I was a small boy I went to occupational therapy. They had me go on swings, hammer pegs, climb on ladders, and jump on trampolines. I remember one occupational therapist telling my mom that I had low muscle tone. In this case wouldn’t exercise, including weights, improve my muscle tone? We worked on my vestibular processing so I went from one swing to another instead of stretching, becoming more fit, or becoming more muscular. The result is that I was not fit enough, which is a problem in a mind/body communication deficit. Being fit enables me to tell my responsive body what to do. I work out with a trainer now because I need to have my body learn to be responsive. Now I see where my problems lie. My soft muscle tone needs to get stronger. My cardio endurance needs to improve and I need more core strength, so I work on everything. Stretching is my most necessary thing and I detest it because it is painful. I will do it because I need to and it is worth the hurt. A lot of my current problems could have been prevented if people had worked on this when I was small. I think it is essential to work on fitness and flexibility for autistic people in a regular program.