30 May 2017 – The Brown family have been a part of the Recreate community ever since daughter, Taylor was 14 and was participating in an afterschool dance programme. Taylor has gone through many stages of transition with the support of the Recreate team, says mother Jane Brown.
OUR 24-YEAR-OLD daughter was fortunate enough take part in the Recreate Lifeskills cooking module last year.
Taylor has autism, and in the last few years has also suffered from chronic depression and anxiety.
While attending the Lifeskills course, we noticed a dramatic improvement in several areas of her life.
An increasing confidence in the kitchen was apparent after just a few weeks, as Taylor started actively participating in food preparation at home instead of watching, which was her normal position.
She surprised me on more than one occasion by peeling and chopping vegetables without being asked to, and I was genuinely surprised to see her handling a sharp knife with far greater self-assurance.
This has extended to stirring and cooking on the stovetop- something she would never have previously participated in for fear of burning herself or spilling hot food.
Taylor is now aware of healthy eating. She is now actively discussing healthy eating options, and will snack on a carrot or piece of fruit when hungry, whereas previously she would search the pantry for less healthy choices.
As a parent of a very dependent child, it is uplifting and encouraging to observe these seemingly simple occurrences taking place in our own home. She is also now making her own breakfast each morning.
Once again, this is an example of a task she just would not have bothered with previously.
Another area Taylor always struggled with at home was hand washing. We have tried unsuccessfully for many years to teach her correct hand washing protocol. After a few weeks on the Recreate course I saw a marked improvement in this area of her personal hygiene, much to my delight!
The Lifeskills cooking module has had a much greater impact on Taylor than I imagined. Within this course, the superbly skilled staff at Recreate have designed a programme that covers a multitude of skills apart from cooking- including but not limited to food hygiene, budgeting, grocery shopping, planning, reading, writing and personal analysis.
The small class size means every student gets hands on experience and individualised help- this is most pertinent for our special needs children to be able to thrive and learn.
We have been thoroughly delighted with the programme and the very tangible outcomes we have witnessed with Taylor; not only the practical skills of cooking and food preparation, but a developing sense of self-assurance and confidence.
This article first appeared in the Altogether Autism Journal issue 2, 2017.