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Using cooking as a learning tool for my special needs’ child (or my version of Eat, Pray, Love)

It’s been a week since I’ve started my “TV diet” experiment with my son and it’s been a learning experience for both of us.

After two more days of no school due to snow and me trying to work it was extremely difficult to find activities for him and not revert back to the electronic babysitter.

Weaning him off his favorite TV shows was truly like going through detox. He would plead, yell and try to sneak them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not depriving him of all TV but I am trying to replace some of the shows that get him over-excited with other shows in which he can learn something and support a hobby.

Enter Food Network. It’s opened up a new world for him (one that I already enjoy!) It took him a while to get into it but now he’s cooking up a storm and was really excited about the “chocolate show” that was on last night.

I’m now strategizing with his teachers to work together and use this new found interest to learn math, science, geography and other skills. So far this week he’s made Baby Back Ribs, Meatballs, Chicken Cutlet and Shepard’s Pie. Next week we’re already planning pudding brownies, Steak Fajitas and Buffalo Wings!

So, now we eat, I pray that this will help him find a passion and I continue to love him with all my heart.

A few tips I’ve learned when cooking with a special needs’ child:

• Help select recipes with only a few ingredients
• Teach the importance of kitchen safety – understand their abilities when it comes to using the stove and knives
• Resist the urge to “take over.” The beauty of cooking (as opposed to baking) is that it doesn’t have to be perfect. Even a sloppy pizza is delicious!
• Find some great teaching opportunities – measuring ingredients, understanding how water boils, etc.
• Be sure that they follow through with clean up
• Congratulate them on a job well done!!!!

Alison Rhodes is the founder of Safety Mom Enterprises and Safety Mom Solutions, the premier baby proofing and child safety company in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area. Alison is a family safety expert, TV personality and consultant.


  1. Cooking is by far one of my favorite educational “tools”. Bravo to you for recognizing the value of a yummy lesson with educational value.

  2. karamelissa

    My son Sebastian has cp and he loves cooking shows. We do baking together and he hangs out with me to make other meals and I talk him through what I’m doing until he’s old enough to help. Great ideas.


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