Students with autism learning skills through cooking at Louisa Co. school

Students taking part at the Foxy Bean.
Students taking part at the Foxy Bean.(WVIR)
Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 5:07 PM EDT
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LOUSIA COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - A classroom at Moss-Nuckols Elementary has been transformed into a café.

Many of the student chefs for the Foxy Bean have autism. The students make specialty drinks and pies, then hand-deliver the finished product.

“I remember when they were barely saying complete sentences, and they can come to me and take their orders. I just like to see the smiles on their faces when they’re bringing the orders,” Principal Anita Roane said.

It’s not just fun, but fruitful. Their teacher, Stacy Dibble, says it helps her students learn.

“It’s really pulled their language skills out,” Dibble said. “Now, one of my students walks down the hallway and goes into a general education class and is like, ‘Hey guys, I’m here,’ and she was not speaking in kindergarten.”

Students have to use math and measurements when they bake and brew coffee. The work also strengthens their reading and fine motor skills.

When it comes to tasting their concoctions, they have a new sense of confidence to trying new things, something Dibble says does not come easy for students with autism.

“If you make it, you have to try it. We now have kids who are eating spinach and greens and vegetables and fruit and pastries and meat that they didn’t use to eat, so it’s been huge,” she said.

Dibble said the café is modeled after Kindness Café in Charlottesville. She wants to expand the program to help other students in the county.

“We want to provide opportunities for our guys that they deserve. A real chance for a regular life,” Dibble said.

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