Hunter is a cheeky, adventurous five-year-old. He’s full of character, has no fear, loves people and is on the autistic spectrum. Hunter started at the Champion Centre in 2016 when he was almost four and attended the Relating and Communicating Programme on Friday mornings with his Dad, Tom. He is currently in the Transition to School program.
When Hunter started at the Champion Centre, he barely spoke and struggled to cope with new situations and unfamiliar surroundings. His mum, Natalie, was uncertain about his future and didn’t know if Hunter would be able to attend a regular school. Her biggest hope for Hunter was that he would learn to communicate more effectively.
Natalie had heard about the Champion Centre from several people she knew and believed it would be a great fit for Hunter. When Hunter first started, they both found the Champion Centre team so welcoming.
“Right from the start it felt like they had known us for years. They made us feel at ease and it was a relief that the staff seemed to understand my child so well, so quickly,” Natalie says.
Since starting in the Transition to School program, Hunter has made significant progress. There have been big improvements in his verbal communication, he can follow a plan and does much better with playing and interacting with other children. Hunter loves interacting with people, going to new places and will even try new foods now. Natalie is really excited about these achievements as she would love to be able to travel with him one day.
While not every day can be a great day, Natalie says that they always leave their sessions feeling happy, “There is always an achievement, no matter how small.”
Hunter is thriving within the Champion Centre environment and Natalie speaks very highly of the staff. “The team sets the agenda and like to push and challenge Hunter, but they also empower him and give him opportunities to lead his own activities and make decisions.” Meeting Champion Centre children and families has taught the whole family to be more open and empathetic. Hunter’s brother, Benny (7), feels more confident in explaining to others why his brother sometimes does things differently and it has also helped him to understand that there are lots of people out there that are different in all sorts of ways.
“We have always been proud of Hunter, but the Champion Centre has given us the confidence to be his advocates and to talk to anyone about his strengths and challenges.”
Natalie believes that attending the Champion Centre has already made a significant difference to Hunter’s future. “With a bit of support, Hunter will be able to attend a regular school. Something we weren’t sure about earlier. With the support of the Champion Centre, Hunter is set to start at St Martins Primary School later this year. This shows the amazing progress Hunter has made and we are so excited for him!”