When we look at a recipe to cook a meal, most of the other directions come naturally to us: wash your hands before you start, where to find the ingredients in the kitchen, etc. However, for people with autism, there is a gap in the exchange of this information, and following directions to make a meal can become difficult and frustrating.
As her thesis project at Syracuse University, Amanda Savitsky decided to explore ways to help people with autism, mainly adults, become more independent. As a sibling of someone with autism, she was aware of the challenges that can arise, and wanted to produce something that could help. The solution was the Match Cooking Prep System, which provides practical tools to help someone with autism learn to cook, thus making them more independent. The system consists of prep bowls, measuring cups, and an Ipad app.
Many people follow the “Mies En Place” cooking system, which involves setting all of the ingredients in place before you start cooking. The Match Cooking Prep System was inspired by this, and provides a structure and system for the person to follow. Each measuring bowl is numbered and filled following the recipe, and the cups each have their own color and shape. As an added bonus, the bottom of each measuring cup has a magnet to provide a tactile positive reinforcement when it is put back in the correct spot. The system also follows the principles of TEACCH (Teaching, Expanding, Appreciating, Collaborating, Cooperating, Holistic) developed at University of North Carolina, designing the layout linearly from left to right.
The last step of the Match Cooking Prep System is an Ipad app that is being developed to break down each step of the recipe into gather, measure, combine, and prep, and then turned into a visual slide show. “Eventually the goal is to master each step and thus master the entire task,” [i] states Amanda Savitsky. The Match Cooking Prep System will enable people with autism to cook meals for themselves, becoming more independent.
[i] “The Autism News” Match Cooking Prep System offers independence to adults with autism. 23 June 2013. Web. <http://theautismnews.com/latest-news/english/match-cooking-prep-system-offers-independence-to-adults-with-autism/>