Autism Spectrum Australia

Ben and Nathan's story

With the help of our generous donors, Ben and Nathan have been fortunate to receive early intervention and educational support and are now starting to realise their full potential.

Ben and NathanBen (10) and Nathan (7) are Kylie’s boys. They both have autism.

Ben was diagnosed just before he turned 7. Following a not so helpful experience with a counsellor and then a paediatrician, Kylie was able to have Ben assessed by his school psychologist, who – thankfully – referred the family on to Aspect.

During Ben's assessment, Kylie had to answer a lot of questions and kept finding she was answering “No Ben doesn’t do that, but Nathan does” to a lot of them.

That’s how she found out both boys had autism, but with different areas of difficulty.

Life can be hard at times for Kylie and her husband, Phil, but day by day their boys are learning to better manage the challenges of their autism.

Ben and a bus picture he drew for usBen’s coordination is poor and he struggles to do the things other boys can, like catch or kick a ball. As a result, he has experienced quite a lot of bullying, which really impacts his self-esteem. He often finds it hard to tell you if something is bothering him – sometimes it takes weeks for him to process things enough to articulate them.

He struggles with problem solving and other things at school related to comprehension, but he’s incredibly bright when it comes to maths with straight numbers, reading, spelling or anything that relies on visual memory.

His great passion is buses. He can spot a local bus from about 200 metres away and tell you what model and make it is, and where it was built. He even knows them by their individual numbers and will remember details about the last time the family took that particular bus, even if it was months ago!

Ben draws buses as a way to soothe or comfort himself. The pictures are incredibly detailed and he draws from memory. He has a bus simulator game on the computer that he absolutely loves.

Nathan at the local park

Nathan was 3 and-a-half when he was diagnosed. He is unusually social for a kid with autism and very physical. If you change something or things don’t go the way he expects he gets very angry. He’s getting better every day though. He has only had three or four meltdowns this year. Around this time last year, it was closer to 20 or 30.

Nathan received help from Aspect’s Building Blocks early intervention program, which offers concurrent training for parents alongside therapy for the children. He then got a spot at Aspect’s Vern Barnett School.

The support Nathan received took a huge weight off Kylie’s shoulders, and after two years of early intervention, he successfully made the transition to the same mainstream school that Ben goes to.

The teachers there have made the effort and done some extra training through Aspect so that they know how to help both boys. It’s still a work in progress but it’s heading in the right direction.

For Kylie, Aspect was a lifesaver.

“It was like a little ray of light coming in to our lives that just gets brighter and brighter,” she said.

Ben, Nathan  and KylieThe biggest turning point for her family was the Aspect Positive Behaviour Support workshop.

“It was fantastic,” Kylie enthused. “We learned so much about autism, how it affects our boys and what to do to promote positive behaviours.”

“The whole experience was putting huge pressure on my husband and I. He felt helpless and stressed about Ben and Nathan’s future - whether they would be able to hold down a job, live independently or maintain relationships of their own.”

“Then Phil attended the Fathers and Grandfathers Evenings. He was able to listen to other fathers talking about their experiences and realise he wasn’t alone.”

“Had we not had all the help from Aspect we probably wouldn’t still be together as a family unit. And our boys certainly wouldn’t be doing so well.”

Your generosity can help other children like Ben and Nathan get the crucial support they need.

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Ben and Nathan's story