Hi there! It’s Michelle & Erin again! We recently read an amazing article from our friend, Danny, who is a minimally speaking, apraxic autistic featured in Bon Appetit July 2021. Several things stuck out to us that we wanted to incorporate into our next motoriety teaching…
We all have likely experienced the joy and sense of community when gathering around a table of friends and family for a meal. Sitting and eating is only part of the experience! What if you wanted to contribute more to the meal? If you were passionate about the actual creations, the recipes, but your body didn’t allow you to carry out the difficult tasks? For many, their apraxia can get in the way – not only is it difficult to motor plan and output the purposeful movement, but additionally, the opportunities are limited, and supports are minimal.
So we decided that we wanted to look at various ways we could support our friends and family members with motor differences, especially with the upcoming holidays often centered around food…
First, we need to explore preferences and values.
A lot of therapy is extrinsically driven, but not driven from internal interests, values, and preferences. Let’s make sure we are asking about each person’s passion and providing opportunities to grow in areas that are intrinsically motivating!
Often, when we are engaged in activities that are directed towards a personal goal, we can override the motor demands based on our motivation to learn and do.
We can use cognitive stimuli to enhance our intrinsic motivation such as picking a recipe, learning about the culture associated with that recipe, or learning how the ingredients are grown or harvested.
Next, we need to recognize the complexities required for cooking. Most of the steps require motor initiation, planning, and ideation (praxis), but here are just a few others for each:
- Setting the table: requires working memory and visual-spatial processing for placement of utensils and amount of each item needed (ex: 4 forks, 4 knives, 2 serving spoons, etc.)
- Gathering ingredients: requires visual perceptual skills to find items in visually cluttered cabinets, working memory of each item required
- Measuring ingredients: muscle gradation (modulating force when pouring) of both gross and fine motor (cracking an egg vs. scooping flour), bilateral coordination, tactile processing, visual-motor coordination
- Cooking: auditory and olfactory sensory processing, managing emotional state when ingredients are cooking quickly and are time-bound, sequencing steps of a recipe
You can start small- it doesn’t have to be preparing the whole meal- Danny shared that initially making a salad, picking veggies from the garden, stirring, pouring, slicing- all contributed to his passion and participation.
Tomorrow, this Motor Teach video will air and, in the next few weeks, we will bring together various hacks that can support someone you love in the kitchen to promote autonomy and motor control while also building community and joy! We’ll see you soon to get cookin’!
Erin Clarelli, Owner/CEO of Sunrise Therapies, Inc.
Neurodiversity affirming Occupational Therapist & Autistic Ally
Michelle Hardy of Michelle Hardy Autism Services is a published author and leader in the field of music therapy who works with individuals with neurodevelopmental differences. She has over 25 years of experience as a Board Certified-Music Therapist supporting her clients in sensory processing, sensorimotor integration, cognition, and communication to increase autonomy and motor control.