Orientation and order in the kitchen

Recommendation 101
Make the layout of the kitchen functional and logical

Chapter (theme)
Interior design (kitchens)

Because of
executive functions (planning and organization), Central coherence, sensory issues

In order to
make the kitchen into an optimal living and learning environment.

Elaboration
As explained in the theme ‘kitchens’, this space poses exceptionally high demands on many senses and also on bodily and cognitive functioning. People with autism who respond well to these challenges are richly rewarded, those who don’t will experience considerable disadvantages in daily life because of it. For these reasons it is crucial that optimal conditions are created through building, the choice and installation of machinery and appliances and interior design, which is at issue here.

In the case of people who live independently, mastery over their own kitchen is both ego-supportive and socially relevant. One can take care of oneself where (healthy) food is concerned and one can invite others for a meal. In order to achieve this situation for many on the spectrum optimal order in the kitchen is an important prerequisite which is helped by:

  • fixed places for kitchen utensils, detergents, cans and pots versus fresh products;
  • preparation sites such as the kitchen counter and a job board or block which connect logically to the stove;
  • practically ordered kitchen cabinets where spreads, possibly animal food, glasses and pans are separated;
  • keep stuff for setting the table (such as plates cutlery and glasses) not too far from the dining table and where they are washed.

A general condition is – as elsewhere in the home – ample space, mainly in view of possible motor awkwardness.

A double sink, one for rinsing, the other for washing the dishes won’t be a great necessity for someone living alone, unless there are concerns about executive functioning. In that case these should so be placed that the main working direction is from left to right.
Where cupboards for kitchen utensils and supplies are concerned, the same considerations apply as elsewhere in the house. As mentioned in recommendation 94, avoiding litter is important and requires well organized cabinets and racks. As mentioned in theme ‘visualizations’ it may sometimes be necessary to keep things in sight lest they be forgotten. In most cases closed cabinets are advisable and visualizations can be used as reminders of what is behind closed cabinet doors, and drawers.

Relevant in this case are some of the recommendations by Brand such as fitting kitchen units with drawers rather than shelves so contents can be easily accessed. And to attach wall mounted cabinet doors with piano hinges for durability. A dedicated location for waste disposal, separate waste collection and eventual composting is noteworthy too.

from left to right

One of the recommendations from teacch, the primordial American autism-program which still informs many treatment principles and practices.
Brand
Brand, Andrew Living in the Community Housing Design for Adults with Autism, London, Helen Hamlyn Centre, the Royal College of Art, 2010. PDF
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