Using Cooking to Work on the Master/Apprentice Relationship

Are you working on the master/apprentice relationship with your child with autism? If so, using cooking is an easy way to complete this objective. With cooking, there is a clear  beginning, middle, and end. You make something, eat it, then clean up.  It can be modified for any level.  

Throughout our RDI journey, we have used cooking to reinforce goals as well as introduce new ones. I have always enjoyed cooking with Logan; it’s one of my favorite  RDI activities.  Of course, one of my favorite activities to do with any of the children is cooking. 

Using Cooking to Work on the Master/Apprentice Relationship

There are some hallmarks of a good master/apprentice relationship.

  1. He  trusts that I have something worthwhile to teach him and am not wasting his time. 
  2. He trusts that I will set him up for success by making any modifications necessary.
  3. He trusts that I won’t keep him there for an inordinate amount of time.
  4. He wants to spend time with me to learn new things.

using cooking to work on the master/apprentice relationship

While you work on mastering this achievement pretty early in RDI, it’s always good to do some activities that focus solely on it from time to time.  It reinforces how important this relationship is, as well as helps us in other areas as well. I can’t be a good homeschool teacher if my student doesn’t want to learn from me.  Most kids with autism don’t like to be apprentices as it messes with their static worlds.  It’s unpredictable and scary to them. 

Using cooking to work on the master/apprentice relationship

Cooking can be modified for any level with modifications:

  • Beginner:  Have all the ingredients measured out and sitting on the counter as well as utensils and cookware.  At this level, you are merely going to have the child pass the ingredients to mix  up together.  After this part, the child is allowed to leave or watch the actual cooking but no more demands are placed on him. He is free to come and go at his leisure. 
  • Intermediate: Have all the ingredients out on the counter but not measured out. Also, have your utensils and cookware ready.  For this child, you are going to measure ingredients together, pass them to each other to put in the bowl, then mix it. Again, the child is free to go at this point or stay if they like. Nothing else is expected of him. 
  • Advanced or Mastery: Help your child gather needed ingredients, measure them, mix them, and cook them (with your assistance, as needed).  At this point, he stays in the activity until completion.  (For us, I did clean up after cooking. He was welcome to help me but not required.0 More often than not, he would continue to help me. 

Using cooking to work on the Master/Apprentice Relationship

As you can see, cooking certainly makes working on this objective easy.  I have a rule that anything Logan cooks has to be edible to him, so it’s always gluten and peanut-free.  He needs to know how to cook as a life skill.  He will never need to know how to cook with gluten and/or peanuts in order to cook for himself.  Besides, when a kid is cooking, they want to be able to eat the end result; that is part of the payoff of cooking.  Go ahead and make many happy memories of cooking together.  You won’t regret it. 

Here’s a simple recipe that we have enjoyed cooking together. Hope you like it too!

Almond Pancakes

You will need:

  • 1 cup almond flour (I’ve used pecan flour, rice flour, rice/garbanzo mix ,and all have worked)
  •  4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons  honey  (heat in microwave just until it’s clear and bubbling but not quite boiling and it will incorporate into the batter better)
  • 1 teaspoon  vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon  baking soda


  • Beat eggs.
  • Add honey and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  • Add flour, salt, and baking soda. Mix well.
  • Cook like pancakes or use on a waffle iron.

Watch carefully as they can burn in an instant!  

These will freeze beautifully and are easily reheated in the toaster or microwave.