Tucked away on Brisbane’s southside, a group of small sheds is giving men with children on the autism spectrum a place to meet, socialise and support each other, ABC News reports.
South Brisbane Men’s Shed is the first in Australia to have a special interest group for dads, brothers, uncles and grandfathers of children with autism.
In partnership with the Department of Education and Training Autism Hub, the shed allows men to get together once a week to gain information, but also to relax around people experiencing similar circumstances at home.
The shed, which opened in April, is not your typical Men’s Shed — there is the usual workshop element, but it also houses a pool room, computers, art easels and a small library.
Scott Slade from Fathers of Autistic Children Together (FACT) was a driving force behind the project.
He has a 15-year-old son with autism and said the shed allowed him to seek the support of others.
“It allowed fathers to talk about their shared experiences,” he said.
“It can be tough on the family, and my wife was more in tune with my son and the challenges he faced and it can be really hard.
“It can also lead to frustration and there are a large number of families that experience breakdowns or separation due to having children that are on the spectrum.”
Mr Slade said being able to have a meeting place for the FACT group helped break down barriers among the “blokes”.
“We talk to each other and offer ways that could work for one father from another father and it gives a better understanding for the child’s and partner’s requirements,” he said.
“We want to take this concept and replicate it across Queensland and across the country,” Mr Slade said.
Iain Salkield, Norbet Gaulton, Ted Hogan and Scott Slade inside the workshop shed. (ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)