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.
Jul 25, 2014

Vegetables as sweet treats!

grating the zucchini
grating the zucchini

This time of year gardens tend to produce an overabundance of one vegetable or another, and in this region we start to see more zucchini than most people usually know what to do with. But in our creative kitchen Chef Adam knows that zucchini is simply a great opportunity to introduce more healthy foods into our diet!

Narrow eating habits are reported in over seventy percent of those on the autism spectrum. And while it’s okay to simply not like some foods (most of us have foods we don’t like!) we do want to encourage healthy eating choices. Which brings us to this week’s recipe – Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes!

 It may sound strange at first, but adding zucchini to our sweet baked goods keeps them delectably moist. By adding vegetables in friendly vehicles like chocolate cupcakes, we build familiarity and positive associations. Individuals start to think of zucchini as something fun and not something scary!

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar or low calorie sweetener
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¾ cup olive oil or apple puree
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease & flour a muffin tin
  2. In a mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Break up any lumps and mix until evenly combined.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl combine the oil, water, zucchini and vanilla. Add this to the dry ingredients, stirring until no traces of flour remain.
  4. Pour into prepared muffin pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. This recipe makes about 24 muffins.
Mixing the batter
Mixing the batter
Ready for the oven!
Ready for the oven!
May 12, 2014

April Showers bring May Gardens!

Untilled earth waiting to be cultivated.
Untilled earth waiting to be cultivated.

We had a long winter this year in Maryland. Schools were closed, roads were terrible, schedules were askew, and even worse, now we are now a month behind in our planting season!

Here at Community Support Services we maintain five community garden plots and each plot takes a lot of work to get ready for planting.  This year we are working with new plots and have to start our ground cultivation from the beginning. The dirt was hard but everyone persevered because we needed to start getting our seedlings in the ground!

First the ground was tilled. A tiller had to be rented every time which was one more cost in our budget.  Then we laid a mix of organic soil and fertilizer on the tilled earth before covering it with a weed block fabric. And then it was finally time to plant!

Our first crops making it to the gardens are Lacinato kale, collards, and onions. But we have a lot more waiting in our greenhouse to be planted! This weekend we began planting in our home gardens. It’s going to be a vegetable rich summer for everyone!

Every dollar contributed to our project makes a difference. Several of our garden tools are old and starting to break but we are still putting our broken trowels to good use.  This is the time of year to help us expand our backyard garden program. We hope to increase the number of raised beds so that more individuals with autism have the opportunity to grow their own vegetables. With your help we’ll be able to grow more than ever before!

A garden plot finally ready for planting!
A garden plot finally ready for planting!
Everyone enjoys a sunny morning in the garden.
Everyone enjoys a sunny morning in the garden.
Planting kale!
Planting kale!
A broken trowel still digs!
A broken trowel still digs!
Shoveling mulch to lay bed and path foundations.
Shoveling mulch to lay bed and path foundations.
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.

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