New life skills kitchen aims to help adults with autism gain independence

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Sunday, July 7, 2019

SUGAR GROVE, Ill. (WLS) -- A new kitchen in Sugar Grove is helping teach adults with autism life skills.

Giant Steps' new life-skills kitchen will give students in the Canopy Adult Autism Program the opportunity to learn day to day task to help them lead more independent lives.

"First we did not have a full size kitchen in the building. We want to teach cooking skills, life skills that include being able to set up your own space and being able to take care of day to day activities," said Lillian Peterson, who it the program director of the Canopy Adult Program.

Interior design students at the College of DuPage and many local business owners came together to create the new educational space.

"They studied about evidence based design for vocational centers for autistic adults and learned a little bit about visual stimulation and focusing on instructions that have visual cues," said Suzann Nordstrom, an interior design instructor at COD.

"This really opens up approximately a 1,000 square feet for programming and it will be focusing on life skills and laundry which is really important for individuals to live an independent life," said Dr. Sylvia Smith, who is the executive director of Giant Steps.

The life-skills kitchen will also allow for group and one-on-one learning.

"Participants will work on group activities which are concrete vocational tasks and then we will be able to pull them and do individualized programming. While there is a group working there is a staff working with that group and then a staff would be able to pull and work one on one with a participant on designated skills in this area," Peterson said.

The end goal is to make sure each participant has the opportunity to live a full life.

"They too, just like you and I have a future. That's what we want to do with these individuals is really better prepare them to lead an independent and happy future," Smith said.

Giant Steps Canopy Program will host an Open House Saturday, July 13, from 11 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. It is open to the public.

For more information about the Giant Steps' Canopy Program, visit their website.

So many people came together to make this possible:

Jerry Rich, Keith Rich, Roger Smith, and Ron Baczunski - Rich Harvest Farms

Jake Karamol - Development Solutions, Inc. General Contractor

Balta Gutierrez - Cranked Construction Demolition

Noe Perez - Trim Tex, Drywall, Framing & Taping

Susan Klimala - The Kitchen Studio of Glen Ellyn, Cabinet Supplier

Dan McFadden - PB Kitchen Design, Cabinet Supplier

Damian Banasik - Ultimate Stone, Counter Installer

Nathan Wheeler - Terrazzo & Marble, Counter Supplier

Mike Slusarz - Slusarz Corporation, Millwork Installer

Brett Strohl - Lankford, Painting

Ken Smith - Vortex, Flooring Supplier

Hal Nagel, Peerless Floring, Flooring Installer

Mike Roberson - Regency Tile, Ceramic Tile

ABT Appliances

Rule Bransford - Plumbing Instillation

Matt Weisz - MVP Plumbing, Plumbing materials

Tiffany Moscicki -Hart Travers and Associates, Plumbing, Sinks & Faucets

Sherry Schultz - Crawford Supply Plumbing Sinks and Faucets

Frank Esterle - Climate Services HVAC

Rich Prendergast - CECO, Electrical