Using Utensils

Using Utensils

The objective of using utensils is for your child to be independently able to use spoons and forks.
Most children with autism have a hard time using utensils due to fine motor issues. Just the task of holding a spoon/fork might be difficult. Therefore it is important to practice and teach your child how to hold a spoon/fork and how to get it to and in their mouth.
Choose a food you want your child to eat. I’ll use apple sauce as an example.

What to do.

1. Sit at a table with your child.
2. Get your child’s attention by saying your child’s name and/or touching your child’s arm.
3. Put the applesauce on the table and set a spoon in the apple sauce.
4. After you have your child’s attention say “(Child’s name) pick up spoon and eat.”
5. Perfect outcome your child picks up the spoon and eats the applesauce. Praise!
6. Not so perfect outcome: your child pushes the plate away.
a. What to do: put the plate back in front of your child and repeat your instruction “(Child’s name) pick up spoon and eat.” Then prompt your child through the motion of picking up the spoon and guiding it to his mouth.
b. Put the spoon back in the apple sauce and repeat the instruction. If your child picks up the spoon and put it in his mouth, great! Praise!
c. If not: repeat the instruction again and prompt your child through the process. Try 3 times. If your child still doesn’t get it move on to a different task and come back to it later. Once your child picks up the spoon and moves it to his mouth, have your child do something completely different and then bring back the spoon and plate and repeat the instruction, to make sure your child really acquired the skill.
Tip: When you start introducing utensils and you are not sure if your child uses/prefers the left or right hand, put the spoon/fork in the middle of the bowl. That way your child can choose which hand to use.
Tip II: in order to practice scooping with a spoon you can use dry rice, sand or even water. It makes it easier for your child to understand the motion of scooping and practices it without having to eat the item on the spoon.
It might take your child a while, a couple days maybe even a couple weeks, to grasp the concept of what is asked of him/her. Don’t get frustrated and stick with the protocol. Your child will get there! Reinforce (Praise) if your child is trying really hard. For questions or concerns please join our support desk.

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Autism Support Now is a Parent advisory blog and media site presented by "Ella's Hope for Autism" a 501c3 public charity in Missouri. This site is built for parents dealing with Autism . . . by parents dealing with Autism. Hope and Sam McPheeters (founders of Ella's Hope) have two children on the spectrum, and strive to provide continued advice for other parents, who are dealing with the same issues..