Monthly Archives: January 2016

Cooking with Autism

I have enjoyed watching TV chefs for years. My favorite is the charming French-American chef, Jacques Pepin. His helpful instructions gave me the confidence to help in the kitchen. Most days I assist my parents in meal preparation. I peel vegetables, chop, stir and do whatever is needed. I also enjoy baking. I love eating the finished products. I also prepare my own breakfast of eggs and toast.

My efforts in the kitchen have produced great results for me. I have gotten much better control in getting my body to correctly follow commands. I am a million times better at retrieving requested food items on demand and searching for them. I am noticing my ability to sustain attention in the kitchen is lengthening, but that is still a work in progress. I see improvements in fine motor too due to using my hands for chopping, peeling, opening cans and so on.

Cooking is also a good opportunity to work on self control and impulsivity. I need to learn to not sample the raw cookie batter, no matter how tempting.

People with autism need to be part of normal life and gaining kitchen skills may be a great way activity to teach participation in the kinds of activities that everyone does.

Emotional Self Regulation and Autism

In autism there is so much work to be done by professionals, by parents and by those of us with autism. I myself struggle daily to do normal things. It isn’t easy to deal with an environment that is visually and auditorally stimulating to a painful level. So my work is on enduring the environmental challenges while appearing cool, calm and collected. The never ending challenge for someone with  a fragile sensory system is that ordinary activities may take extraordinary effort to navigate successfully. Getting oneself able to do this consistently is a big deal because living fully is the goal. Clearly  practice is how one’s tolerance for situations that are challenging improves, but this can be more than tough for parents who have to walk into a behavioral minefield again and again not knowing what will, or may, set off their kid because  outbursts may be consistent or not clearly consistent in cause.

Professionals guess quite often why a person who has autism is acting in a particular way. Guesswork is natural but it is not reliable. This is because the forces that are at play in autism are still not known. So, the guesses may help or they may make things much worse. Nevertheless, working on self regulation and tolerating a wide variety of settings is much more essential than many other goals in autism treatment.