Monday, February 28, 2011

Fostering Independence: Breakfast Cereal

I will be doing a series of posts on ways that we have helped to foster independence in Gess over the years. I have found that sometimes when she was being destructive or disobedient it was simply because she wanted more freedom and power then she had. It's really tough on a special needs child when their mind wants the freedom they should have at their age, but their skills will not allow them to exercise it. While we have had many steps leading up to what we do today, I will start with the here and now.

Gess wants to be able to fix her own food and get her own drinks. So to help her to do that I try to buy things that she can do by herself. For breakfast we started with getting the individual sized variety packs of cereal.
This way she can pour her cereal in the bowl by herself without having too much come out of the box. Plus it gives her more options to actually "choose" which one she wants that day. First we make sure that we keep things like her bowls and cups within reach. So when it's time for breakfast, Gess can go and get her own cereal, bowl, spoon and milk and bring them to the table.

The small boxes of cereal are actually hard to open once you get them out of the box and she always needs help with that part, but she tries first before asking. Recently I started having her use her safety scissors to open them, but I don't keep them available in the kitchen. I bring them in when she is fixing breakfast and then put them away. Once she has the box open and cuts the top off the package she pours it in her bowl all by herself.

Next is the milk, which is the trickiest part. We started buying it in the half gallon rather than gallon, which is easier for her to maneuver, but only when it is less than half full. When it's full I still help her pour it but she puts her hand on the carton, even if she is not actually pouring it. It makes her feel as if she in involved. When it is less than half full I let her do it herself, though I talk her through using both hands and am close in case it starts coming out too fast. We sometimes also have individual milk cartons as well and while she sometimes needs help opening them, the pouring is much easier on her that way. Now her cereal is ready to eat, unless it's the kind that needs extra sugar, which we use sparingly.

You don't know how many times I have found messes in the kitchen over the years. When Gess wasn't given the opportunity to do this on her own, she would try it anyway (without permission) and make such a mess. That was a cue to me that it was time to let her try. Now that she is "allowed" to do it, she seldom tries without permission, and even if she does, she is less likely to make a mess because she knows how.


Brandie said...

This is great! I'm so tired of piles of cereal on the floor. We keep all the plates and bowls In the bottom cabinets. It makes it easier for them to srt the table or fix a snack for themselves.

Lori said...

My cabinets are still up too high, though she can finally reach the bottom shelf. Even my bathroom sink is so tall she needs a footstool. We love this house but it was obviously previously owned by very tall people! Anyway, I just leave her cups and bowls on a shelf in the pantry where the cereal and her snacks are anyway. She has her own little shelf there. :)


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