Mindstretch School - Special needs school in Cape Town - Autism, ADHD, Learning delays.
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Baking Benefits Children with Special Needs

If it’s not enjoyable, kids won’t stick with an activity. Baking is fun and interesting, and there’s always something new to make. We find that baking benefits children with special needs. 

Baking Practice, Many Benefits, Much Fun

Learn more about the many benefits of baking here. Find also our favourite healthy muffin recipe. Your child will love them, promise.

  • Calming: Baking calms our children, who nicely focus on the task and invariably enjoy it.
  • Bi-lateral integration: Baking needs both hands on the job and that promotes interhemispheric integration.
  • Strength work: Activities like kneading dough build hand and finger strength. Moulding and decorating help fine motor skills.
  • Sensory immersion: Touching and working with different textures – gloopy, stiff, sticky, dry – helps children with sensory issues overcome their sensitivity.
  • Basic numbers and planning skills: Learners need to measure, weigh and divide ingredients during their session, all important basic mathematic skills. Baking also helps with planning and sequencing. We help our early readers to read and interpret the recipe.
  • Building confidence: Our learners get a great sense of accomplishment when they produce something. Such proud moments build confidence and willingness to try more. We also encourage language and communication during the session.

Oh, and we all just love sampling the finished product!

Applesauce Muffins, Yummy, Healthy

One of our all-time favourites – Applesauce Muffins. Children love them and we love that they’re downright healthy. Grab your child, put on your aprons, and try our recipe below…

Print version: Applesauce Muffins Recipe.


  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or another oil or butter)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk (dairy or unsweetened plain nondairy)
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup honey (or sugar or another natural sweetener) 

Optional: a handful of chopped nuts and/or dried fruit. But always check for nut allergies if you’re baking in a group or sharing with others.


  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C and grease a muffin tin well. Plan on 12 medium-sized muffins.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the applesauce, oil, milk, egg and vanilla.
  3. Add the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and sugar/honey, and gently mix all together. If you’re using them, add in the nuts and dried fruit with the other dry ingredients.
  4. Fill the greased muffin tin to the edge of each cup.
  5. Bake for 16-20 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out cleanly.
  6. Remove from oven, let cool for 2 minutes in the pan, run a knife around the edges if needed, and move to a wire rack to cool.


  • We use paper cup cakes in the muffin tin to avoid sticking and reduce cleaning time.
  • Top the muffins with a few nuts or currants for interest – maybe make a smiley face with them.
  • Eat with a little butter and honey. Have your child do the spreading, it’s good fine motor work.
  • The muffins freeze well.
  • Got applesauce over? Try one of the other recipes here: a couple of cooks.

Baking boosts confidence. Our children make something they can enjoy and share with others. They feel accomplished.

Our Programme, Offers Much

Learn more about the Mindstretch School Programme here. Lots of serious learning happens. There’s also plenty of socialization, and many fun events too. 

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