Dad finds confidence to support son

Dad poses with two sons in front of tree

Nathan Saunders, a father from the NSW Central Coast, used to find his son’s behaviour quite baffling. Like all parents, Nathan’s goal has always been for his son, Jake, to be happy but sometimes he felt like Jake’s autism got in the way.

Nathan had many questions about how to help Jake, but without a network and the right strategies, he wasn’t able to find the answers he needed. Frustratingly, he often felt that he lacked the confidence to deliver the right support for Jake.

The situation

Jake is a lot like other nine year old boys in many ways. He enjoys riding his BMX bike, drawing, hip hop dancing and playing with his younger brother Charlie. However what sets Jake apart from his peers is that he is also living with autism, a lifelong developmental disorder that can have a profound impact on his experience of life.

Nathan and his wife, Jennifer, have worked hard as a couple to adapt to the additional set of challenges that stem from Jake’s autism.

Their greatest frustration, explains Nathan, was a lack of practical strategies to support Jake’s behaviour. Since his diagnosis at age three, they have tried a range of approaches - including reward charts, therapies and meetings with school teachers – to no great success.

When a flyer for Positive Partnerships came home from school, Nathan was immediately keen to attend. He and Jennifer came to a two-day workshop in Swansea, and were impressed with the depth of the presenters’ knowledge.

Nathan explains that he particularly enjoyed smaller group sessions, where he was able to discuss challenges specific to Jake. They met other parents on the autism journey and learned ideas and strategies to trial at home.

What has changed?

For Nathan, the greatest shift has been in his perception of challenging behaviours. The strategies he learned at Positive Partnerships has given him the confidence to make changes to support his son at home and at school.

“Positive Partnerships has given us the tools to be able to encourage Jake to make friends and interact with other children,” he says.

“We have also been able to better see the world how Jake sees it, particularly in regard to communication issues and the challenges he faces expressing his thoughts and feelings.”

As a result, Nathan reports Jake has become a calmer and happier child.

“I would recommend Positive Partnerships to other parents as the presenters have an amazing amount of knowledge and experience and gave us the confidence to strive to make positive changes to our family and Jake's life,” says Nathan, who adds, “if we could have their phone numbers on speed dial, we would!!!”