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Cooking with Kids: Teaching Kids with Special Needs How to Prepare Meals

Tips for How to Help Children Develop Cooking Skills


Studies show that eating the right diet can reduce the symptoms of neurobehavioral disorders such as ADHD. However, getting a child with ADHD or Asperger syndrome (ASD) to eat properly can be a challenge. Teaching children to cook is a good way to teach them about healthy foods and open up their palates to new experiences.

Parents can use these tips to turn cooking with kids into a sensory building activity that their children can enjoy.

Start Simple

Kids with ADHD often find it difficult to focus on preparing a complex meal, while children with Asperger’s can feel overwhelmed by complicated recipes. Parents can introduce their special needs children to cooking by preparing a simple meal, such as baked fish with steamed vegetables and brown rice. This meal provides protein, complex carbohydrates and omega 3 fatty acids, all of which are important for controlling the symptoms of ADHD.

Use Spices to Engage a Child

Turning cooking into a sensory building activity is a good way to engage a child with ADHD or Asperger’s syndrome. Parents can use spices to create strong smells while they are cooking to pique the interest of the child. For example, try cooking up a simple stir-fry with ginger, Chinese five spice powder, and the juice of a fresh lime or lemon. This is a good way to fill the kitchen with an interesting sensory blend. It’s also a meal that can be prepared in a single large pan, which reduces the complexity of the cooking process.

Textures and Tastes

Parents can encourage their children to engage with foods by selecting ingredients that have interesting tastes and textures. For example, a child might be fascinated by the contrast between the bumpy skin of an avocado and its smooth interior. One fun game parents can play with their children is to place ingredients in a box and ask the child to pick out the right one based on texture alone. Children can also be encouraged to sample foods to find out how they feel on the tongue, along with how the texture contrasts with the taste.

Sensations in Cooking

Cooking with kids can be a great experience for both adults and children alike. Turning the process into a sensory experience is a good way to engage children and encourage them to try new foods. With evidence showing that good nutrition is especially important for kids with neurobehavioral disorders, it’s vital that parents teach their kids how to prepare healthy meals.

The Brain Balance Program®

A healthy lifestyle that includes getting enough omega-3 fatty acids, as well as identifying and balancing any other nutritional deficiencies, plays an integral role in supporting proper brain development and function. That’s why The Brain Balance Program includes a nutritional component in addition to our academic and sensory motor objectives. Contact us today to learn more!

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