Every holiday celebration contains good food, so we love this idea of pairing cooking and therapy. Unity Hospital in Rochester, NY had patients at the rehabilitation center help prepare their Thanksgiving meal two weeks ago. While they cooked, they also spoke, using the time to work in a low-key speech therapy session.

Speech Therapy and Activities

Cooking can be a distraction in a good way. Focusing on the task at hand gives the mind a different route to language. Rather than focus on the therapy in an office setting, the therapy is moved to a comfortable place where you have always used language: the kitchen or the dinner table. Unity Hospital reported patients telling stories while they peeled potatoes. It not only served as a bonding activity for patients and their families; it also opened up minds to talking about past Thanksgivings and meal preparation.

Bring This Idea Home

This simple idea can be repeated in any clinic, hospital, or home as we approach the next set of winter holidays. It doesn’t require any special tools except the ones found in any kitchen. Pull a meal together and talk, anything from a naming the ingredients and tools to longer conversations relaying stories from past holidays. Have everyone bring their favourite recipe and cook together, making quick work of getting the food on the table while also weaving in a therapy session.

If you’re doing this at home, encourage everyone to talk while they chop, peel, and stir. If you have time before you begin, have people write thought-provoking questions on slips of paper and drop them into a dish. Kick off the conversation by grabbing one and having everyone in the kitchen answer the question. Ask about past holidays and childhood memories and favourite foods.

The point is to get people talking without thinking about talking. This isn’t formal speech therapy, but it is a type of therapy. And maybe it’s the best kind because it stems from happy memories, good food, and connection. That’s what the holidays are all about.

So grab a potato peeler and get talking.

Image: Photo by Igor Miske on Unsplash