My Autistic Child

Parenting Children on the Autism Spectrum

PIP Application: Preparing Food

In my last two posts, I gave an overview of the PIP application process and a guide how to fill in Section 1 and 2. In this post we will be looking at the first category on the PIP form: Preparing Food. The form needs to be filled out as accurately and honestly as possible. Some of the things that I will mention will apply to your child, and some will not, but this guide will hopefully give you some ideas of things to consider when filling the form. It is particularly important to pay close attention to the points system and how many points are allocated to each section.

Preparing Food: The Points System

For the sake of this article, “preparing food,” means cooking a simple meal with fresh ingredients from scratch. Imagine the processes involved in cooking a basic meal; chopping and preparing ingredients, following a recipe and cooking the food. Bear this in mind when considering the points system.

  • If you can cook a basic meal with no help, supervision or special aids you score zero points.
  • If you need a special aid or appliance to cook, or if you can only use a microwave rather than a cooker, you score two points.
  • If you need prompting to cook a meal you score two points.
  • If you need help or supervision whilst cooking you score four points.
  • If you cannot cook food at all, you score 8 points.

When filling in the form, you need to think about whether your autistic child would be able to cook a meal from scratch safely. Here are some things to think about. Remember that this article is aimed at autistic children so I wont be including things that might affect other disabled people, such as the deaf or those with limited mobility. There are some excellent guides online that cover ALL types of disabilities.

Safety When Preparing Food

  • Does your child understand kitchen hygiene such as cross-contamination when cooking meat?
  • Is your child safe around hot surfaces and would they be safe taking hot dishes out of the oven?
  • Do they have the ability to use different appliances and kitchen equipment? A tin opener? A kettle? Knives?
  • How is their understanding of time? Do they know that certain things require different times to cook and can they be alert to take things out of the oven at the right time so that the item is neither overcooked or undercooked?
  • How would they cope in an emergency such as a fire? Would they know what to do?
  • Do they understand that metal can get very hot to the touch? Do they know that metal should not go in a microwave?
  • Do they understand “use by” dates and can they identify if food is bad or dangerous?
  • Can they keep their work area safe and mop up spills immediately, especially floor spills?
  • Can they follow written instructions such as a recipe?
  • Can they cook independently or would they need someone to supervise or help them with certain stages, such as chopping vegetables?
  • Are they clumsy and likely to cut or burn themselves?
  • Do their sensory needs become overwhelmed when preparing food? For example, with strong smells or high temperatures?
  • Do they have the multitasking skills required to do several things at once when cooking?
  • Can they keep their attention on the task in hand, or does their mind wander?
  • Can they tell when food is cooked?
  • Would they know when to cook a meal, does their hunger signal that it is time to cook or do they need a prompt?

Filling in the Form

When filling in the form, always be accurate and specific and try and include examples if you can. The more detail you include, the better. Try and include real-life incidents. For example, I have a very dear friend who is autistic and one day she was cooking chips and got distracted. She forgot about the chip pan until she could see thick smoke coming from the kitchen. The pan caught fire and damaged part of her kitchen wall. It is useful to be able to include an incident that really happened because then the assessor can understand why a person may need a particular type of aid or supervision when cooking.

Even if you can’t recall an incident, you could try to explain what could happen in certain situations. For example, if my son were to cook unsupervised I know that he wouldn’t think to protect his hands when touching hot objects and would burn himself if unsupervised.

Try to fill the page with as much detail as you can. It may help to write a rough outline on scrap paper before filling the form in ink. Remember, if you think about other examples afterwards, you can add them on another sheet of paper and put them inside the form.

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