Community Support Services, Inc.

Community Support Services, Inc. is committed to the provision of quality community-based services to individuals with developmental disabilities. We provide innovative services to support an individual with their needs in school, work, home and the community. We strive to serve individuals in the environments in which they desire to live, work, recreate, and learn. Our services are flexible and designed in accordance with each individual's self-directed life goals.
Jan 23, 2014

Salad Group at CSS

Introducing new foods and skills through healthy cooking

We all know a picky eater. Many of us have friends that are impossible to cook for and we’ve all heard stories of children who refuse to eat anything that isn’t orange. These traits often become more pronounced when someone is on the autism spectrum. Up to seventy percent of children on the spectrum have narrow eating habits making it a challenge for families and caregivers to expand food choices.

CSS has a new Salad Group which utilizes independent input and decisions while broadening the list of “good” vegetables that individuals want to eat. This group is composed of individuals with developmental disabilities including autism. Many members of the class used to dislike vegetables but now they all enjoy not only making their salads but eating them too.

Every week there is a new vegetable to try that is not part of the salad. This week it’s cherry tomatoes. Each taster gets the opportunity to taste and vote with their picture if they like or dislike the vegetable. Everyone likes the chance to put their vote on the board and they see that their choice matters. All but one group member decides that cherry tomatoes are good.

Ingredient lists are handed to every group member at the beginning of class. The week before each person picked out items for their salads and will now use these ingredients to truly make their unique salad. Based on this list they then choose what they’d like to cut first. The knives are made out of special blunt nylon material that will not accidentally cut skin but still easily cuts vegetables with a sawing motion. By using a safe knife more people can participate fully. Every step of the way is a choice for the individual. No vegetable or task is forced on anyone. No one is ever told they must eat something or that they need to hurry up. By giving the opportunity to decide for oneself, an individual becomes involved and interested in participating. Group members became invested in their salad creations

Initially, when the class first met, there were a few individuals that refused to even chop any vegetables using the safe knives. After a few weeks even the most reluctant began to enjoy cutting up the vegetables for their salad.

Everybody’s salad is different giving each salad artist the opportunity to express himself. On top of flavor, much of a salad is texture and color. Each salad becomes a work of art that many people appreciate. After the class others enjoy dropping by to eat the leftovers, sampling one or several salads. This increases vegetable exposure beyond the salad group itself. Individuals who normally won’t eat salads are excited to visit the kitchen for a chance to taste the creations.

At the end of each class, each participant picks out the ingredients to go into their salad for the following week. As ingredients vary so do the salads. Joey says his salad is good this week, but he thinks next week he’d like to try a different dressing. Everyone leaves happy with what they’ve made and looks forward to the next week and the chance to do it again.

Oct 30, 2013

Art as Communication

Back to school means back to camp! With the school year beginning in August comes the return of yellow school buses pulling up to CSS in the afternoons. Kids getting off the bus are all smiles not realizing that they are going to be learning valuable skills for the next few hours.

One of the many therapy activities in the CSS After-School Camp is art. Art Therapy gives participants the opportunity to engage in different creative outlets. Communication is often a struggle for children diagnosed with autism and art provides an alternative to traditional speech. Art is a window for the imagination and gives individuals visual tools for expression. Therapy groups are clearly structured with themes and art materials, but allow the artists to freely express themselves within the given frameworks while ensuring each child has his or her individual needs met .

Even the most affordable art supplies do come at a cost and it can really add up over the course of the school year. Fifty dollars can provide one week of art supplies for the camp. Over fifty children attend the after-school program at CSS. Each day the program ensures that every child has the chance to engage in activities and therapies designed for him or her. The difference art makes in a person’s life is evident in the smiles as children proudly show off their masterpieces at the end of the day.

Oct 22, 2013

Look Who's Coming To Dinner!

Having friends over for dinner is a time-honored tradition, and it’s no different here at Community Support Services. It’s not just a meal; it’s an event that gives individuals a chance to strengthen social interactions in a safe environment.

Dinner groups meet regularly at the CSS kitchen, but they also bring the fun into their own homes. Friends take turns having each other over, preparing and hosting the meals.

The planning begins earlier in the week, when individuals discuss possible meal options with their staff. While favorite meals can take precedence, dinner group offers the opportunity to introduce new options to guests. The individuals use what they can from the CSS gardens, and plan a trip to the grocery for the rest.

Eating in a group is a great time to work on table manners. Practicing meal etiquette with friends allows individuals to build on their skill sets, which they carry beyond the group into other meals and social interactions.

Bringing dinner group into the homes is a chance for individuals to fine-tune the life skills they are learning at CSS, building the confidence to do the same when they are out in the community and having fun with friends at the same time!


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