How learning to bake has helped Luke grow in confidence

Luke has cerebral palsy and epilepsy, and he’s autistic. He attends Sense College, where he’s learning about life skills like cooking. Here, his support worker Della explains how learning to bake has helped Luke work on his fine motor skills, focus and confidence.

Luke pouring mixture from his mixing bowl into a baking tin, with help from his support worker.

Luke is a cheeky chappy. We call him a gentle giant, because he’s over six foot tall and such a happy, bubbly gentleman. 

Since I first met him four years ago, he’s become much more confident. 

When we first started doing cooking sessions, it was hard for him to settle into it. He would often get up and walk out of the room.

Or he would try and get in the fridge, or the cupboards, and pull everything out. He’d try to eat the butter. 

Luke, a boy wearing a helmet, laughing with some chocolate around his mouth.

We worked out that he finds it easier to focus when it’s just him in the classroom, and it’s quieter. 

Learning how to bake is helping Luke become more independent

We started out by learning about weighing ingredients in the scales. 

This was all about using Luke’s fine motor skills, by doing things like scooping out flour and putting it in a bowl. It was also about him understanding what he was doing, and how to follow instructions. 

One day, I weighed all the ingredients out for him and put them in cups with handles. Then I gave him a tick list. We wanted to see how far he would get with the list on his own, and how independent he could be. 

I went through the list with him, then I waited to see if he knew what to do with the ingredients, and he did! 

As he put each ingredient into the bowl, he ticked each one off his list, with minimal support from the staff. The progress he’s shown is amazing. 

Baking helps with Luke’s focus and fine motor skills

Luke using the electric whisk independently.

One of the things I do is put out chocolate chips for him to pick up and put in his cakes. Because he has to pinch to pick them up, it helps him develop his fine motor skills. 

Each week I put out a few more for him, to see if he will pick them all up using the pincer technique. Luke has to really focus when doing this. One thing about Luke is that he doesn’t give in, he doesn’t stop. He won’t stop an activity until he’s completed it.

This term, he’s also started using the electric whisk independently. And he can load the dishwasher, too!

In the past I always felt like I had to work in a fast-paced way with Luke, because otherwise he wouldn’t be involved and engaged. 

Now, even when we take things a bit more slowly, he stays focused. 

We’re all so proud of how far Luke has come – and his delicious cakes!

In the past, when he wasn’t engaged, Luke would eat the ingredients instead of baking. Now, he doesn’t do that. 

He knows that at the end, once he’s put the mixture into the cupcake cases, he can have a little taste of the mixture. 

This is great progress, because he’s understanding that he has to make the mixture, then he gets the reward of tasting it. 

These days, he’s so focused when he’s in the kitchen. He knows when he comes into the kitchen that he’s coming there to work. 

There were a lot of hurdles to go over before we could make these cakes. His confidence has grown so much in the kitchen, and it’s wonderful to see how much he enjoys it.

Your baking can make a difference for people like Luke

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