This year is really moving forward with plans for independence. Microwave meals, shopping, developing further independence with the coffee shop, moving tasks to unfamiliar shops and cafes to generalise skills. It’s an exciting time, albeit a bit out of our comfort zone but it seems that with every step forward there’s a splurge of dangers and unpredictability.
For example – Microwave meals, a fantastic concept in the future that Dylan can go to the shop, buy himself some microwave meals and then come home and feed himself; that would be marvellous and will make himself sufficient for a couple of hours!
The plan is to get Dylan being as independent as possible, not a difficult one you may think. However within the first 5 minutes of unpacking the ready meals there are a range of dangers which we realise all need to be managed or will require extra teaching programmes.
Firstly, pricking the plastic lids. Dylan doesn’t have the coordination to force his physical strength on the fork through the plastic lid despite trying but failing, he then defaults to picking up a rather large serrated knife to try with– ‘No no no Dylan!’
REALITY – We need to work on either directing more force on the fork or persevering with the wimpy pricking of the plastic until success. Otherwise he will lose focus and require adult intervention to continue with the meal prep thus reducing his independence.
Next is reading the instructions – when planning this it was described as Dylan seeing the number of minutes on the back of the packet and setting the microwave accordingly.
REALITY – On the sleeve of a meal there is oodles of instructions, ingredients, descriptions and options often to either microwave or oven cook – Can you imagine microwaving a ping meal for 25 minutes??! It’ll be dust!
So again this will need teaching – to pick out the minutes required, to identify if the item is to be microwaved or oven cooked and if so then on what setting.
Then we come to the microwave, Dylan has no electrical safety. He, as far as I am aware, does not know about the dangers of metal and microwaves.
REALITY – The health and safety risks are huge and if he is to be fully independent then he needs to be taught about electricity, the dangers and how to deal with them.
All being well, the microwave pings and the food comes out; Boiling hot food. Dylan needs to coordinate handling the hot container with a tea towel and bring it over to the plate. He needs to carefully remove the plastic wrapper – which is not an easy feat at best- and avoid being burnt by the escaping steam.
Food and plate and go eat. Done.
In addition to this, even if he does everything right but by some unfortunate circumstance the fuse blows, there is a mechanical malfunction, the food catches alight or the food comes out uncooked; What does Dylan do? We have to teach to cover every eventuality? I feel exhausted at the concept.
However more and more we are finding this; lessons and tasks need to be broken down further and retaught to cover variants and build confidence in situations which ultimately cannot be regulated nor controlled.
Exciting times brings with it trepidation.