Teaching Kitchen Safety to Children with Special Needs
There are lots of great life skills that can be taught in the kitchen; from washing up, peeling vegetables to pouring a drink. Kitchen activities such as cooking with special needs children can be a fun and positive experience for everyone involved. However, it’s important that children understand that whilst the kitchen can be an exciting place to be, it can also be very dangerous. Kitchen safety is paramount at all times.
In this blog, SpecialKids company will give you some tips on how to ensure kitchen safety for children with special needs.
Keep Dangerous Objects Out of Reach and Setting up the Kitchen
Ensuring the kitchen is set up correctly for a special needs child is the first step, for instance ensure;
- Potentially dangerous objects are out of reach, such as knives and cleaning products.
- If possible try using stove locks to keep them from turning on the stove.
- If your child has a tendency to explore, you should consider using child safety locks on doors.
- Keep glassware or breakable items in a locked cupboard or up high out of reach.
Cover Plug Points and Unplug Appliances That They Cannot Accidentally be Turned on
If your child has a tendency to put their fingers in plug sockets, you should consider plug socket covers, which can prevent them from doing so. It is also a good idea to unplug any potentially dangerous appliances so that they cannot accidentally be turned on by your child.
PECs, Symbols and Labelling
PECs or simple symbol cards can be used to reinforce different aspects of kitchen safety. For example, when something is hot, a card can be shown to reinforce a verbal cue not to touch it.
You can also use symbols to label things. Some parents find that ‘no’ or ‘stop’ labels help to prevent children from opening drawers and cupboards that they should not open.
Switch Off Electrical Items Not Being Used
Children with autism and other disabilities tend to be drawn to electrical devices such as microwaves, kettles and toasters, which can be extremely dangerous. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to switch items off at the plug socket when you are not using them.
Take Simple Steps
It’s important to take simple steps with your child whilst carrying out activities together in the kitchen. If you are teaching your child to be more independent in the kitchen, to begin with you could simply encourage them to unpack shopping or help find ingredients for something you want to make together. Taking your time will help to ensure that your child isn’t overwhelmed and that they become familiar with the kitchen environment.
For each step taken, always be sure to highlight any potential dangers.
We often talk about the benefits of social stories and kitchen safety is another example of where they can be really helpful. Social stories can help to prepare your child in advance, letting them know what to expect, for example, if something is going to be noisy or potentially dangerous.
Make Appropriate Adjustments
You should make appropriate adjustments for your child in advance of the activity you are undertaking. For example, if your child has sensory issues, consider the noise of equipment and the smell and texture of items. Sensory seeking can be distracting so you may have to think of ways to modify what you are doing so that it is easier for your child.
We hope that you have found these tips helpful and that you have fun in the kitchen together!