Getting your child involved in the kitchen for family meals can be rewarding for everyone. If your child has special needs, having an extra set of helping hands can be challenging. Here are five tips from Blogger Becca Eisenberg, on how to get your child involved in the kitchen this Summer.

1. Use Visuals

Using visuals such as pictures, charts or videos can be helpful during cooking activities. This helps as a guide for children and can help with easier communication of steps. Think about taking pictures of yourself or your children while cooking to make a connection to the instructions. Make sure you print them out ahead of time or use baking friendly technology like the iPad in a protective case.

Find visual recipes on websites, the sites below provide great starter places.

2. Make it Multi-Sensory

Encouraging your child to touch, smell, taste and look at ingredients. This is great for dough or smelling spices.Label the actions as they are occurring (e.g. “I like the way you are mixing”). Pair your words with pictures! When you are using spices, have your child smell the spices to experience it. Have your child close their eyes and have him or her describe the smell to you. If your child is sensory defensive, have them direct you to what action you need to do next. Put them “in charge” of telling you what to do which can feel empowering for any child.

3. Make it Motivating

No one knows your child like you do, so find an opportunity to make what your child likes best. If its macaroni and cheese,  make that! he best way to get your child involved and motivated is to make sure that you use foods that your child likes and are familiar with. You can vary the food slightly with your child such as adding a different spice or modifying or substituting an ingredient. When a child makes something themselves, it gives them pride and ownership AND more excited to eat it.

4. Make it Simple

Making simple recipes works the best, especially if this is a new activity for you and your child. Making something complicated can create a situation that your child loses interest and then feels unsuccessful. Start by having your child help with making a pizza with already prepared dough, sauce and cheese. Let them choose the toppings or how they want to shape the pizza. Even with the simplest recipes, you can create opportunities for choices and creativity.

5 Tips for Getting Your Child With Special Needs Involved in the Kitchen

5. Be Creative and Make Mistakes

Have fun with the recipe! Be creative ask for their input along the way. Make a book together  documenting all the recipes you create, make the book sensory-friendly. Include the step-by-step pictures of the recipes. Also, it’s good to have your child see you make mistakes. It’s okay if the recipe doesn’t turn out perfect as long as your child learned something from the cooking experience. Cooking is also a great time to bond with your child, so enjoy!