Building Familiarity through Food
PWAs are often stuck in a vicious cycle of social exclusion, often lacking the necessary opportunities or ability to leave the cycle. This cycle arises from an underlying social issue. A study showed that individuals are more comfortable being around a person with a physical disability rather than someone who has a learning or mental disability.
This form of social exclusion creates less opportunities that a person with autism has, negatively impacting their daily life. A lack of opportunity also perpetuates a cycle of social isolation, a lack of skills and the inability to contribute meaningfully to society. The consequence of social isolation is an increased mental strain on both the individual as well as the caretaker.
The diagram below helps to illustrate the above described vicious cycle.
In partnership with St Andrew’s Autism Centre (SAAC Sengkang), we are piloting the project, ‘Feed 52’, to facilitate social integration for People with Autism (PWA). In the process of engaging community stakeholders to cook together, we want to increase familiarity towards PWAs to strengthen their social acceptance and integration.
We intend to test the methodology that PWAs can be socially integrated, by increasing the sense of familiarity that the community has towards them. This will be done through the process of empowering them to cook together with the community.
Beyond engaging the PWA community as a whole, we want to befriend and get to know each autistic person as an individual. By taking time to know each individual, with cooking as the vehicle, the process of engaging PWAs would help people ease into understanding the bigger autistic group.
Subsequently, Feed 52 could be scaled to implement similar ecosystems or models in different communities to increase familiarity in other communities. Thus, the growing acceptance & integration of the autistic group to the larger public, by first knowing specific individuals.