Active Engagement: Development of Cooking Skills for Young Adults with Autism

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Autism is a broadly defined disorder of communication and social development of neurobiological origin. While adults with autism are generally invisible in the national public health surveys, increased rates of overweight and obesity among this population are apparent and few nutrition programs have been developed for this at-risk population. The objective of the research was to test the feasibility of a community-based nutritional intervention for young adults (18- 25 years of age) with autism founded on the premise of teaching introductory cooking skills. This nutrition intervention program was guided by Hodge et al.'s conceptual framework for developing life skills and is focused on four motivational climates that contribute to autonomy, self-efficacy, social-relatedness, and preference. Active Engagement was found to be a feasible program for involving young adults with autism in their food preparation process, contributing to an improvement in their variety of diet, and promotion of fruit and vegetable consumption.