Putting It Together
The most important part of teaching cooking to persons with intellectual disabilities is providing directions in a way that the student can understand. Like the shopping list, the way the recipe is written will be determined by the cognitive and physical abilities of the student. While some are able to read the recipe right off a container, others might need it to be printed bigger or to have picture instructions. Once certain steps are mastered such as setting the oven to the proper temperature, measuring out ingredients, and mixing appropriately, they will be able to follow multiple recipes by adjusting just a few things based on those directions.
Once the recipe is presented to the student, the amount of help needed will vary. The student should be prompted to collect the ingredients listed so they are handy, along with any tools such as measuring spoons, appliances and dishes. Then, each step of the recipe should be followed in the order presented, beginning with preheating the oven, if necessary.
As the students go through each step, there are accommodations that can be made to increase their Independence. Providing clearly marked measuring spoons and cups can assist with liquid ingredients so the student has a visual cue of when to stop pouring. Things such as the start button on the microwave could be clearly marked along with dials on ovens for preheating. Ideally, these things will eventually be faded and the student will learn to cook without it. However, these are simple accommodations that could be done at home if necessary.